Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas Musak

Busy wandering around the local Mall listening to Classic Christmas Rock - Slade I do believe - and realising how much it has become a part of Christmas.
Not just there in the background as advertising technique, but expected. It sets a cetain mood - and, wry smile that comes to my face not withstanding, it does lift the spirits a little. The kitch and glitter is Modern Christmas and is enjoyable.

More serious music at home (I was off to buy some Bach to listen to on Christmas Morning - Eliot Gardener's version of the Christmas Cantatas). There I listen, think, contemplate - a curiously intellectual pleasure - for despite how I phrase it, the first listen-through does give a bit of a kick- and later listenings are a pleasure.

But the shock came on listening to a cheap-o I picked up in Romania a couple of day's ago: Royal Phil and a girl's school doing modern (Rutter) carols, all very nice, and exceptionally well sung which suddenly shifted to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen . .

I felt a serious kick at that - all sorts of emotions surged around inside and a tear came: Silly Old Git I might be - but strange how it worked.

It is as if there are three types of music (or three effects ?).

And the deep level of gut feeling is buried in some experience I must have had back when a child - I have sensations of brass band and Sally Army: of shining silver and green pine - red and white.

All very odd.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Blue remembered hills . . .

I recently posted a message on my old school website: So hello to any visitors from there.

As one gets older ones memories mix with fictions. I know from meetings I have had with ex-students of mine, what they remember is very different from what I remember.

School was a sort of pleasure to me - or so it seems now. I am sure, at the time, I would have said differently.

Individual episodes stick in the memory - singing one of the Three Kings in front of an audience at the Manchester Albert Hall - with Mr Knight conducting; Don Boyle at the piano writing a setting of a Shakespeare song for me to sing (I still hum away to it); Alison Steuart (?) / Berry doing a thousand things - but mostly making Geography live - especially physical Geography (she was the only person who could get me to understand the effect of gravity on the weather); Ms E. Stone (one of the truely great teachers) - rather large humps in a see-through blouse (or is memory playing a trick?).

There was a tomato once - Paula Collins knows all about it.

Steve Keating - strange, one looses touch of people, friendships die even if the friend lives on: But the memories are there.

And the plays: Ruined me for life - ideas of talent - but not got the drive needed to be a success. Never take the stunning hights we reached in them though.

Thank You to all who contributed to a time lost but not totally forgotten.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Another Off the Air

After aCNN interview with a journalist:

The trouble with today's journalists is that they are looking for conflict. They also think balance is to report both sides of a conflict.

A much better view is to find agreements - and publish areas where people agree. If you do that you actually help sort the problems, the world becomes a much better place and looking for solutions that are already working is much more interesting.

Friday, November 25, 2005


A slight aside, and reaction.

George Best is close to death.

There is an image of Mr Best burnt deep in my mind - a young man, playing fantastic football.
As he comes to the end of his life, I feel a loss: I am not a great lover of the game (I prefer cricket), but still, there is an emotional kick coming - and I am sure there will be tears close to the surface.

Why do we react like this to events in the lives of people we do not know?

Each a part of the maine?

Ask not for whom the bell tolls - it tolls for me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Perhaps the most interesting event I have 'eyewitnessed' was in Russia at the end of the millenium (1999/2000 version).
I was in Red Square, Moscow, for the New Year celebrations - I had been there on the previous three years also, and it was full. It was also sub-zero, so most people were fairly well wrapped-up.
As usual, a mixed bunch had gathered - mainly male, but quite international, mostly armed with fireworks, which they used to 'attack' the Kremlin guards - a sort of annual ritual. There must have been several thousand people in the square.
Because of the special year, there were television cameras and a big screen.
We were able to watch the year change around the world - and I thought we could see the flashes of our own celebrations as they were broadcast internationally. My sister says she was watching the celebrations in Red Square in England. On reflection, I am not so sure we did see Red Square.
Around a half past eleven, pm (approxiamate time) the screen changed image. An announcement was made in Russian (a little hard to hear above the noise of the full square) and the television feed to the square, which was from Russian state television, started to broadcast Yeltsin's resignation - and announce Putin's take over.
Shortly after that, an image was broadcast of an empty Red Square - complete with clock at the correct time - and that was how the New Year was shown to the whole of Russia.
Let me make this clear, that night, and for several days after, the official media version of the millenium change was of an empty Red Square - subbdued celebrations in the rest of Moscow, and the suggestion of deep felt loss at Yeltsin leaving.
At the same time, Russian State Television cameras were broadcasting to the rest of the world images of the celebrations in Red Square (my sister watched them).
The West gets the reality, the Russians a lie.

Several points arise from this to my mind.

If the State Television service had stored away images of an empty Red Square in the snow at midnight, they must have recorded them at least 24 hours before - the snow covering, etc were right - suggesting recent recording.
Why had they done this ? - the only answer I can think of is that they had already been informed that Yeltsin was going to resign - which goes against all the media follow-up stories I have read. Officially it was a decision taken on New Year's Eve.
It also suggests Putin and others manipulation of the media to be fairly complete - this was the greatest New Year's celebration of the current era - and the powers that be were able to tell a totally false story - across the whole of Russia (I guess, certainly in Moscow).

Why was it not picked up by the western media? I never saw a single report about this - and the broadcasts of Russian Television is certainly monitered by the western media. There is an active and large presence of Western Reporters in Moscow - I never saw any reference to these events. I have heard nothing and seen nothing of it since.

The control exercised by Putin today is sometimes projected as developing and strengthening: The reality is that it has been there from before the very first day he officially took over.

The Western Media, (BBC, CNN, included) must activly co-operate in this. If not, why no broadcast about the events?

As a little coda, I am very aware of the Tiawan issue in China - I lived there for just over a year.
A couple of days ago I was watching BBC World News and a live feed via telephone from their Beijing correspondent on Bush's visit. Everything was going fine until he started to talk about Tiawan - then the sound cut out. He came back, used the word Tiawan again - and again cut out.
No one on the News programme said anything other than 'technical error'. I know from my own experience of using the internet and attempting to send emails in China there are some quite sophisticated systems in place that will automatically cut out and crash programmes if certain key words or phrases are used.
Is this what happened with the BBC Reporter?
If it is, why have they not told the World of the censoreship they are working under and, by the look of it, co-operating with?
Which other 'Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth' news organisations are operating covert censoreship agreements?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Off the Air

Reconstructed Quotes
(A Preamble)
  1. ...the worst witness is the eye witness - they only know what they see - they project the specific to the general - assume everywhere is the same as where they are - distort the reality by enlarging there small street view to a whole world. (from an MTV interview at the time of the attempted but defeated military coup which brought Yeltsin to power in Russia - I think)
  2.'s what the police call passive survailance. It doesn't matter what the punishment is, people will still commit crimes if they think they will not be seen - won't get caught. We're not "watching" people, we're just making all movement visible so people think they will be seen if they do something. from an interview with the headteacher of a redesigned school where openning up the places pupils move, making them more public, lighter, visible to everyone, behaviour improved, bullying has been reduced - shown on BBC World, Design for Living)
  3. One way to think about identity is to think of it as a story you tell about yourself - to other people and to yourself. (from BBC website on war)

At the centre of this is a very big I . The question I ended up asking when I sat down on Sunday morning to start thinking about these quotes was the old chestnut - who am I? and how do I perceive the world around me? What controls me? and what do I control? What do I know and how do I know it?

To be aware of what you don't know:

  • The more I know, the less I know I know.
  • The wisest man knew nothing.
  • Expect the unexpected.
  • The older I get, the less I am certain of.
  • The older I get, the less young people think I know about their world.
  • The older they get, the less young people think I know the world.

Experience seperates us because we never have the same experiences as others. I just taught a lesson on snow - the substance is always the same - the experiences make our thoughts and feeling different.

There is a difference between identity and individuality. I look to connect with others as well as differentiate. What stories do I tell about myself? Which do I listen to?

Shakespeare, of course. Does he provide some form of collective story we all find meaning in - and so give some deep sense of our own identity (in common with all others) or does the way I listen change the story to make it my own?

I also tell the 'Stricly Come Dancing' story -what on earth is that all about?

I is singular - suggests solid, uniform, whole

But I am "... a part of the maine" - the social whole, so I am only a fragment.

These are not philosphical, pointless ramblings, my brain has evolved the capacity to ask the questions, why can it/does it do that? It must fulfil some basic existential need - or maybe some strategy to promote the selfish me.

Scientists now examine complexity - networks as a way to understanding as opposed to liniar progressions.

Does my brain operate as a network (yes) and is conciousness, and storytelling one mechanism arrising out of this netwrok which allows us to operate in the linear timeframe? Conciousness will consequently always fail to reflect the reality? ermmm.

Just a basic preamble around the space. Some order shall be imposed soon - I think I'll start withthe eye witness.


The first snow of the winter fell over night.
Why do I feel so uplifted - even for such a small fall?
Everything is great looking - the mutted colours and the noise reduction welcome.
Of course, all lessons change and Snow becomes theme of the day.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Oh Brave New World . . .

I just happened to be listening to the BBC World Service - a report on a Blogger reviewing the Media and China.
My Goodness, what a great use of the internet!
Searched, using google, found a site with info on Blogging (I had used information from a blog site before - though never realised what it was all about) found this site from it .... and away we go.

I am pretty warey of all this internet stuff, but now feel there really is a chance for democratic expression in the world politic!

Warning to all - spelling ain't my strongest point.

Subjects likely to come up - education, Green Issues, 4th Generation warfare, Shakespeare, the Media. Oh, and a current bugbear of mine at the moment - language, language use and language learning.

Lived in a number of places (Russia, Romania, North Cyprus, Hungary) and likely to blast forth on issues concerning them - especially Romania.

You don't have to agree with me - although do read whatever Í write for a certain degree of tongue in cheek.