Rule of three …

There is no direct connection between the image, the music and the poetry other than I became aware of them over the last forty eight hours.  The picture is from a walk to the aptly named Crow Wood near Newbrough on the southern Tyne.  The music was brought to my attention by my eldest son, Patrick – @smallhours2 – it pays to take notice of junior. The poetry is an extract from Norman MacCaig’s Close-ups of Summer – I am slowly working through his entire works. Poetry should not be rushed:

Hens sloven. But the cock
struts by – one can almost see
the tiny set of bagpipes
he’s sure he’s playing

The sun’s the same – pipemajoring
across space, where the invisible judges
sit, wrapped in their knowledge,
taking terrible notes

Above the south Tyne ...

This is all a reward for keeping the mind open to new things.
(click on the image to enlarge)

Money money money …

Failed bank

There was a time when Joe Public had a fairly neutral attitude towards banks – they exist, they do a  fairly straightforward job reasonably reliably, end of story. It is not rocket science is it?  Except that it is apparently and it is so complex and so clever that they can reward themselves with vast sums for creating monstrous systems that few of them understand.  Here is a small example from everyday life as incompetence and misdirected priorities seep down the lowest rungs of the ladder:

Dear Sir/Madam – I am not often prompted to contact customer service but your recent email entitled “Improving our service” was a classic example of the law of unintended consequences.

1. When I login to my account I find that the inactivity timer is set so low (in seconds) that I am continually logged out as I switch between pages;

2. Why am I switching between pages? – because I wanted to send a secure message;

3. Why did I want to send a secure message? – because your “good news” email prompted me to look at my savings account which I find is generating an inglorious 0.1% interest per annum

4. Is this the best you can do? I suspect not – why then, as a longstanding customer, can you not automatically transfer my accounts to the best rate – far better to invest in real improvements to customer service than tarting up website interfaces.

I have copied to my wife who has a similar account and will be similarly disappointed – so that little marketing initiative worked well didn’t it.


V Meldrew

Rant over, I feel better for that :-).

Last of the Summer Wine

Weekly Photo Challenge: Relics – this happy bunch puts me in mind of Compo, Clegg, Foggy and Truly except this is Arzechena in Sardinia, not Holmfirth.  From their mischievous expressions you can believe there is a devious plot in the making.

Last of the summer wine

If truth be told, I never found Last of the Summer Wine particularly funny, I much preferred Dad’s Army. But, neither came close to Open All Hours or anything starring the late, great, Ronnie Barker; they are all, however, relics from a gentler time. (click on the image to enlarge)

Max Headroom

Weekly Photo Challenge: Room – I have used a similar image to this once before but regardless of the repetition, when I get an idea in my head, I find it hard to dislodge.  These heads hang in the East Court, a magnificent exhibition space within the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum in Glasgow. There is maximum head room as East Court is open to the ceiling, the atrium space being surrounded by the Picture Promenade, the gallery where this image was taken.

Max Headroom

These heads and this space reminded me of something, and suddenly it came to me – Max Headroom – the World’s first computer-generated TV host.
(click on the image to enlarge)

Cruel sport

For years they have ignored me, now they want to be friends.  It started as an innocent discovery – I was walking to the end of our driveway to put rubbish in the bin.  It was carried in a stiff plastic bag which crackles in the wind and this sound must share the same properties as the bags used by the local farmer to carry their feed. This sudden friendship feels a little sinister, like something from the mind of Guillermo del Toro (his Pan’s Labyrinth period)  – click on the image to get the full cinematic effect:

Sheep selfieI can now summon them from across the field at will but of course it all ends in disappointment – it is a cruel sport:

Ness Walk

Travel theme: Romance – Here is a romantic notion – Nessie deserted the Loch years ago, disgruntled by the media attention.  Making her way north she finally washed up on the Ness Islands just to the south of Inverness town centre:


More romantic perhaps is that we were there for Valentine’s day. I have travelled the A9 on many occasions by car and have always liked the idea of the train journey which follows the road to Inverness for much of its path. On a couple of occasions I drove north in deep winter, en route to Dounreay, but the worst I had to contend with was black ice. We chose the right day to travel by train – last week there were blizzards near Dalwhinnie and the road was blocked in both directions by jack-knifed lorries. Some drivers were in for a long cold night. The train continued serenely on its way and on time. The next day we would see McGoldrick, McCusker & Doyle at Eden Court but not before we had done the walk to Ness Islands:

The River NessBench sculpture

The weather was foul throughout the three days, even the seagulls preferred dry land; this one seems to have expressed an opinion about it all. The the local fishermen are made of sterner stuff:

Sterner stuff

(click on the images to enlarge)

The wet walk was invigorating, the train ride wonderful but the undoubted highlight was McGoldrick, McCusker & Doyle.  First class musicians in a first class setting with guest appearances by Julie Fowlis and Eamon Doorley. Music to make grown men cry:

The Outer Limits

I have been sat too long at the keyboard again this week so I became determined to take some ‘exercise’. This is not exercise in the conventional sense as it involves playing around in the garage, my second home. To be precise I am cleaning underneath the arches, the bits of the beloved that nobody sees; this is an annual ritual.  Emerging from the garage into the light, I chanced to look up and see this cloud formation above the trees. It reminds me of The Outer Limits – to be precise Series 1, Episode 4, The Man with the Power. A man’s anger is transformed into a menacing cloud which ultimately wreaks vengeance upon the subject of his resentment. This line of cloud looks like it might become something else – like I say, I have been at the keyboard too long in recent weeks. (best to click on the image to enlarge as the tree looks very fuzzy in its compressed state).

Above the trees

It is that dead time of the year in the northern hemisphere. This morning the temperatures have risen but the rain and heavy clouds have returned. One way of alleviating the winter blues is to plan adventures for the rest of the year – I am Googling around planning three at the moment. And then, a tweet from Craig Potter announces a new Elbow video. Album #6 cannot be far behind – suddenly, there is a spring in my step:

Talking Heads

We had gone to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to see the Jack Vettriano Retrospective.  He has his critics but I love his paintings – they are accessible, instantly recognisable and memorable.  Some of his images have suffered from over-exposure and in the way that popular music can lose its edge after the 500th time of placing the needle on the record (metaphorically), the same can apply to the visual arts.  The great thing about this exhibition was that there was so much I had not seen before, so much to appreciate for the first time. By helpful symmetry, many of his paintings take their inspiration from song lyrics and titles.

Fifty years ago the album With the Beatles was released, by dreadful coincidence, on the same day as JFK’s assassination; that 1963 Christmas, the album was under the tree.  I played it endlessly and despite the mono sound and the monochrome album cover, the coloured lights came on and have stayed on ever since; as an exception to prove the rule, the tracks remain as fresh as they ever were – “the same as it ever was”.

David Byrne was born twenty miles west of Glasgow in Dumbarton; a boy of a similar age, I imagine him listening to the same music that long ago December (although by then he was living in Maryland):Talking Heads

(click on the image to enlarge)

(The Kelvingrove installation is better known as the Hanging Heads but I will conveniently ignore that).

John Cooper Clarke & Joy Division

Now that the great John Cooper Clarke is on the GCSE syllabus (in his own words – that’s what happens when hippies run the education system), is it not time he became a fully paid up member of the establishment by doing some sessions on a P&O cruise.  Having spent two weeks in an entertainment time-warp, a return to classical poetry readings would be entirely consistent with Carnival’s strategy.  I wouldn’t care where the ship is going, I would be on board.

Then we could head for the Seascreen for a showing of Control – the glorious Joy Division and Ian Curtis, Macclesfield’s finest.  There is even a cameo appearance by JCC.  A perfect night’s entertainment – sod the dance routines!