Life on Ogygia|
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Below are the 19 most recent journal entries recorded in
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|Sunday, December 14th, 2014|
|Sunday, November 30th, 2014|
|Thursday, November 27th, 2014|
"The other star was a kid no one in South Africa had heard of - Phillip Hughes. The 20-year-old opener looked, technically and aesthetically, like a club No. 9. Maybe No. 10. Yet his idiosyncratic style earned him 415 runs in the series, and played a vital part in winning it. He will either threaten every batting record ever set, or fade quickly after a couple of years once bowlers work him out. It almost seemed as if he had started out with the idea of doing everything the opposite way round from the coaching manual - but those who had known him best and for longest were betting on 10,000 Test runs even before he had faced a ball. It's not how that matters, it's how many."
- Neil Manthorp in Wisden 2010
on Phillip Hughes's first Test series for Australia, in South Africa in early 2009.
Actually, Hughes's first Test innings, at Johannesburg, was a fourth-ball duck, but he fought back with 75 in the second innings, and in the next match, at Durban, he became the youngest player to hit two hundreds in a Test. Only three Australians had completed a Test century when younger than his 20 years and 98 days; one of them was Archie Jackson, who was to die of tuberculosis aged 23. Hughes lasted a little longer than that; he would have been 26 on Sunday. But, like Jackson, he's fated to be remembered as one of the players we lost too soon.
He didn't recapture the promise of that first series in South Africa; there was one more Test hundred, and another half-dozen fifties. His final total was a respectable 1,535 runs at 32 in 26 Tests, the last of them Australia's disastrous defeat at Lord's last year. But he was still a regular in the one-day side, and last played in a one-run win against Pakistan at Abu Dhabi last month.
England didn't really see the best of him, apart from an astonishing burst for Middlesex - three hundreds and two fifties in five innings - in 2009 as he warmed up for the Ashes. That form didn't carry over to the Tests that followed; he appeared in three series against England, all of which Australia lost, and managed a single half-century. He also played briefly for Hampshire and Worcestershire. But he averaged over 50 for both his states - he moved from his native New South Wales to South Australia in 2012 - and he scored a career-best 243 not out for Australia A against South Africa A in August, so it was entirely possible that he might have returned to the Test arena as a stronger, more mature batsman.
But all that ended on Monday: retired hurt, 63, after being hit on the neck by a bouncer from Sean Abbott at the SCG. He died at St Vincent's Hospital today. Abbott is 22, and made his international debut alongside Hughes in October, in that series against Pakistan. Like most of the New South Wales team, he had previously played with Hughes before his move to Adelaide; the accident was all the more distressing because both sides knew him so well, and his mother and sister were in the crowd. I read a moving account of how David Warner, who was fielding, stood guard as Hughes lay on the ground receiving treatment, while his batting partner Tom Cooper tenderly removed his pads.
The game was called off, and by the next day so were the other two Sheffield Shield matches in progress. Today, on hearing of Hughes's death, Pakistan and New Zealand suspended play in their current Test at Sharjah; it will resume tomorrow. Most of the time, talk about cricket as a family seems like sentimental cliche; on days like this, it's true.
The wave of sympathy for poor Sean Abbott has been good to see. I don't know what he will do, and it's too soon for him to decide. I keep thinking that this is where I came in, nearly forty years ago: the first incident in a cricket match which I remember was at the end of the Auckland Test of February 1975 when a bouncer from Peter Lever hit tail-end batsman Ewan Chatfield on the head. It was Bernie Thomas, the England physio, who saved his life when he realised Chatfield had swallowed his tongue and his heart briefly stopped. Chatfield was carried off on a stretcher, followed by the weeping Lever, but he was soon fine; that was his debut, and he went on to play another 42 Tests. There was a very good interview with Lever on Test Match Special
yesterday. He said his first instinct was to give up cricket, and he probably would have done had Chatfield died. As it was, he refused to bowl bouncers for a while; he said it was Glenn Turner, the New Zealand batsman who also played for Worcestershire, who talked him round. Worcestershire were playing Lancashire, and Turner asked Lever "What's happened to your bouncer?" Lever said he just couldn't, after what had happened (Turner had also been in that Test), but Turner told him not to be silly and to bowl him a few bouncers. They can be lethal, but mostly they aren't.
It was that incident with Lever and Chatfield that really pulled me into cricket. Maybe it would have happened anyway; I dimly remember talk about England's problems with Lillee and Thomson earlier that winter. But it was the near-death that grabbed my attention - not the potential goriness of it, but the intensity of emotion it involved. When I first watched cricket that summer, Peter Lever was Lancashire's star bowler, and my favourite player: I can still recall his birthday and his best first-class bowling figures without thinking. Peter and Ewan were lucky. If you pray, pray for Phillip Hughes's family, and for Sean Abbott.
And Happy Lancashire Day.Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Tuesday, November 25th, 2014|
Fanfic came up in Radio Four's Front Row
tonight (about twenty minutes into the programme), in connection with Diana Souhami's novel Gwendolen
which reimagines George Eliot's Daniel Deronda
from the heroine's point of view. Viv Groskop from the Bath Literature Festival seemed to think it was All Very Dangerous.
Talking of fanfic and dangerous women, I am indebted to selenak
for pointing me to prochytes
's The Mind Is Its Own Place
, a subtle and beautifully written crossover between Doctor Who
, in which Toshiko is working quietly throughout recent events in the Nethersphere. (If you prefer AO3, it's here
.)Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Sunday, November 23rd, 2014|
|Birthdays, brides, and a satisfied customer
Happy Birthday to the Doctor (sort of) and Clara (in at least two incarnations)! And Happy Birch Moon!
I keep thinking I need to report on Opera North week at the Lowry, but I find that last year I merely alluded to the two operas I saw while posting about other things, so maybe I don't. I actually saw all three on offer this year; the one I was most keen to attend was The Coronation of Poppea
, because I saw it on television years ago (I think Maria Ewing was Poppea) and was terribly impressed by the intelligence of the libretto, but I also decided I might as well go to The Bartered Bride
, because I'd never seen it and we used to sing the opening chorus at school, and then the review of La Traviata
said it was a really good one, so I thought I might as well do the lot.The Bartered Bride
had been updated to post-Prague Spring, so had a lot of extra political satire. I think the plot would be stronger were it less bloomin' obvious who Jenik is from the start... but I'm pleased to have seen it at last, even if two ladies next to me left at the interval. La Traviata
took the tuberculosis theme very seriously - there were a lot of projections of the TB bacillus; I had a sobbing fit in the final act, which I think was partly about losing Tabitha and partly about my grandfather's first wife Lucy dying of TB in 1894 (we haven't got over it yet).
But I think Poppea
was most rewarding, though I was disappointed that they didn't give us surtitles, which we had for the other two (TBB
was also sung in English). The musical director said it was so that we could "experience the text directly" and that "very little text in Poppea
is repeated, so the neck movements required to read the text from surtitles would be exhausting". But personally I find I can absorb the written word a lot more quickly than the sung word. In fact, the singers mostly did a good job on enunciation, and I could understand quite a lot of it, but there were a few points where I couldn't make it out at all (including Arnalta's song for the sleeping Poppea, which I remember as one of my favourites - not sure why, as I could follow Arnalta's final number about how everyone would suck up to her now she was an Empress's confidante). So I think Busenello, whose authorship of the text is apparently more certain than Monteverdi's of the music, was sold short, because from what I could hear of the translation the libretto was as good as I remembered. I liked the suggestion that the amorality of the storyline, in which the moderately good characters die and the wicked couple Poppea and Nerone triumph in a ravishing love duet, was influenced by Venetian scorn for the ways of seventeenth-century Rome.
That was more than I expected to say about the operas...
Meanwhile, ( Rosie has accepted the new armchairCollapse )Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Saturday, November 22nd, 2014|
|Got it in one
I had another smear test this week and, as I found my report on the unsuccessful and successful attempts three years ago very useful for planning this time, I'm writing it up again.( Cut for gynaecological stuffCollapse )
So I was able to go to the first of Opera North's three operas this week with a clear - not conscience, exactly, but with a sense of responsibility discharged.
And the other cause of satisfaction is the return of the armchair which I bought from Oxfam four weeks ago. The arms needed reupholstering because the previous owner's dog had chewed the fabric, but fortunately it was being sold with a length of the relevant material, so I found somebody to do it for me (for more than what I paid for the chair, naturally!)( This way for the armchairCollapse )Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Sunday, November 16th, 2014|
|Tuesday, November 11th, 2014|
|Remembering Barbusse's billet
Happy birthday, kerravonsen
This morning I went back to the village war memorial. There were a few hundred there on Sunday, and it was interesting that a lot of people were saying afterwards that the ceremony, which is organised by the local churches, was too Christian, and something must be done to make it clear that remembrance is for everybody. Today there was no ceremony, just a crowd - still more than sixty of us - standing around the memorial, keeping the silence in our own way. I like this better, though I suppose it is a good thing that November 11 and Remembrance Sunday will coincide in 2018, which I think will be the biggest gathering in my time.
I usually think of the grimness of the war during the silence - Graeme West's account of searching for bodies after a trench was shelled
, or Erich Remarque's description of Paul carrying Kat from the battlefield only to find it has been for nothing, or Sassoon's bleak report of the burial of Dick Tiltwood. But occasionally I remember something more touching, like this brief interlude in Henri Barbusse's Le Feu
(translated by W. Fitzwater Wray, under the title Under Fire
).( An Idyll, from Le FeuCollapse )Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Sunday, November 9th, 2014|
|Saturday, November 8th, 2014|
|Sunday, November 2nd, 2014|
|Saturday, November 1st, 2014|
|Coming to the end
Happy with the end of Scott & Bailey
. (I was told by someone who'd worked on it that this was going to be the final season, which makes sense given [plot development commemorated in final scene], though I suppose Blake's Seven
was supposed to end with Terminal
and we all know what happened after that.) Anyway, they solved the crime (as they usually do), Scott ended up with the only man in the cast I fancy, Bailey may or may not have ended up with someone but it doesn't much matter, and I am of course convinced that Murray will end up with Dodson, because they are my OTP. And it continued to be a story in which competent women do their jobs well, ie solve crimes by doing solid police work and thinking about the evidence, not by breaking rules and being brilliant mavericks. Actually, they did break rules from time to time, but I think that usually happened in their private lives not their jobs (the worst thing I remember is Bailey using police info to get back at her ex in the first series, and she was thoroughly Murrayed for it).
I don't seem to have a tag for Scott & Bailey
, but it's a bit late for one now if that really was the end.
Meanwhile, re ( In the Forest of the NightCollapse )Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Saturday, October 25th, 2014|
|Far from flat
A busy day, during which I bought a new (well, second-hand) armchair, which I hope is the one I've always wanted, from Oxfam, and gave them the old one in return; I also bought a bowler hat, but didn't give any headgear away.
I have got the Christmas cakes ready to start baking, though I think I miscalculated the quantities badly so both may be disasters.
I have eaten cauliflower cheese, for what seems like the first time in ages.
But I've run out of time to talk about Flatline
- well, probably I don't have much to say. I enjoyed it very much - it was a classic Who adventure in many ways, with modern twists such as the survival of the least appropriate, and the companion as Doctor (but see my icon). Be sure your lies will find you out...
Possibly more later. I am looking forward to watching In the Forest of the Night
from the new armchair when I get home.Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Monday, October 20th, 2014|
|Sunday, October 19th, 2014|
This is for fengirl88
; it is a companion piece to Love Starts at Midnight
, and both are based on Powell and Pressburger’s glorious 1943 film, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
The film begins in 1942 with a military exercise, in which a young lieutenant from the regular British army decides to steal a march on the Home Guard commanded by the elderly General Wynne-Candy (played by Roger Livesey). You can see their confrontation here
, and how it triggers Wynne-Candy's 40-year-old memories of the events leading to his first meeting with Theodor Kretschmar-Schuldorff (Anton Walbrook) and Edith Hunter, the first of three characters played by Deborah Kerr. At the end of that clip, you can hear him singing along to I am Titania
, an aria from Ambroise Thomas's opera Mignon
(which is not a setting of A Midsummer Night's Dream
, but one of its characters is an actress who sings about playing the part).I AM TITANIA( 943 words. After a night in captivity, Clive Wynne-Candy offers an account of his ruminations to Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff.Collapse )Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Saturday, October 18th, 2014|
|Thursday, October 16th, 2014|
|My birth day radio listings
People have been linking to a site
giving entries from historical issues of the Radio Times, so that you can find out what was on the day you were born.
All the reports I've seen so far concentrated on what was on television when they were born, but as I'm addicted to Radio Four I naturally turned to its predecessor, the Home Service
This started up at 7.50 a.m., a couple of hours after my arrival, with Preston Lockwood reading from Equality and Excellence
by Daniel Jenkins.
In Home for the Day
at 9.10, items included three provincial newspaper editors talking about the sort of youngster they were looking for, presumably as trainee journalists, and "Letter to Someone Else's Daughter" by Janet Teissier du Cros.Your Concert Choice
at 10.30 included "Solveig's Cradle Song".
At 1.40 p.m., Can I Help You?
featured the National Assistance Scheme, having things dry cleaned, wills and miscellaneous income tax allowances.
I am unsurprised that Gardeners' Question Time
, which followed at 2 p.m., featured Fred Loads, Bill Sowerbutts and Alan Gemmell. (Surely that was always "Professor Alan Gemmell"?)
At 5 p.m., a series of The Just So Stories
arrived at "How the first letter was written", which I think was one of my favourites.
Alistair Cooke filed his Letter from America
at 7.30, and John Betjeman presented The Week's Good Cause
- the Commonwealth Society for the Deaf - at 8.25.
There was a radio portrait of Frederick Delius
, whose centenary fell the following day, at 9 p.m.
At 10.10 Bernard Shaw's Secretary
featured an interview with Blanche Patch, who "put up with his eccentricity, his fads, and the general air of commotion that surrounded him" for nearly thirty years, and presumably pointed out to the producer that he didn't like the name George.
And the Home Service closed down at 11.36 p.m. after a broadcast of Hans Pfitzner's Sonata in F sharp minor, Op. 1
, played by the St. Cecilia Duo.
Who needs telly?Also posted on Dreamwidth
|Saturday, October 11th, 2014|