Tuesday, April 29, 2008

BBC again:

Hitler - 'peace with honour' (and holocaust);
Cambodia - 'killing fields';

It's 'their' problem.

Trouble is, sanctions sounds too much like do nothing but appease our consciences - whatever sanctions are applied will have next to no effect in a country already bankrupt.

No man is an island - and no nation either.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Basic Instinct

An inevitable consequence of exile, self-imposed or otherwise, is the occasional twitch of what I think is best to describe as 'pro-patria-ism'.

In my case it manifests as, 'it's nice, but it's better in England.'

Which is odd - because there isn't an ounce of serious nationalism in my bones (maybe it's hidden in the blood?).

But then - musing further, I am aware of a distinction between patriotism and Nationalism ... but, until today, I wouldn't like to distinguish between the two - even though I knew the difference - one I had, one I didn't.

Today I have had a gleam.

I was sat by the Bega (doing a lot of that recently) sunning myself and listening to a string quartet - by Bliss. It was English. I could never in a month of Sundays tell you why - but that piece of music could not be anything other than the product of someone breed in England (birth is not a pre-requisite). Around the same time, a bird 'gave-it-gip' - and that was English too.

The doves on my window-sill billing and cooing in the morning are nice - but distinctly not (my) English - the bloody blackbird who dawn-choruses at some unearthly hour, is; the sparrows here are not quite urban enough to be English: The Scots pine in the park is - the oak, not quite - it's not English oak, its leaf is not quite right (it is actually a Turkish oak), its acorn perverse in shape.

Around this time it dawned - patriotism is about place - it is the place where you grew, the place which supported; the resources and riches; the shelters and the exposures: Patria is the environment your brain processes and patterns in the same way (and at the same time) as it processes and patterns your home language.

You have as much chance of escaping your patriotism as you have your mother tongue.

Shakespeare tapped in to this in Richard II - The John of Gaunt speech ... he lists the physical. Maybe my performance of this earlier this week at the British Library lay dormant 'til the combined forces of birdsong and music released it; maybe the poem itself has added the glue which cements the connections.

And it's to Shakespeare I first turn for the second half of the 'understanding': Henry V.

As it was St George's Day, and as I was in the mood for fireworks, I included both the 'patriotic' speeches Henry gives - but they are not, I now realise, patriotic - they are Nationalistic.

They are 'band of brother', all together now, we're a special 'breed' speeches - they appeal to the unity of men (and it is a masculine thing). It is an appeal to work together, to hunt, to co-operate; the team spirit. The nation as social unit.

As such, I suspect it has its roots far less deep in our psyche - maybe less deep, but still remarkably powerful.

There is a strong element of attack and challenge in it - of beat down the other. It is an instinct which you find both on the football pitch, and in the crowd watching the game - and in the pubs on the Costa del ... whatever.

It is a transferable instinct though - you can change allegiance: A necessary thing I suspect when groups of hunter-gatherers had to split and separate, to move for mating purposes, to join for the big hunt, but stick to a smaller family group in winter with resources scarce.

I can't avoid my patriotism - the sight of a cloud's shadow passing a patch of green is going to spark memories of the moors of the Peak District - and the chill that goes with it, or the sky lark high above; a sparkle on the Bega will re-awaken smells and sounds of a much dirtier, industrial Manchester ship canal; a glass of cold beer cannot but result in a dull ache - a longing for a firm hand around a cool glass of Boddington's.

I can transfer my football team allegiance - Poli-Timisoara's results are far more important to me than any English team (although 'the blues' do retain an allegiance - but that I suspect is linked to the Manchester-patriotic in me).

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Shakespeare's 444

And a photo I've posted before on Shakespeare Experience (another of my blogs). This is my first public performance in a Shakespeare role - and it's responsible for the infection I've never really recovered from.
Strange the consequence of exposure at just the right moment.
I remember this production so well - and the ease with which I approached Shakespeare's work after having this exposure is hard to explain - not ease in understanding - ease in expectation: Faith in myself and an ability to connect with great literature in a way which was personally significant, if not original or profound to a wider audience.
There are also a number of people in the photo i will never think of as anything other than good humans - no matter what time or necessity has forced them to do.
Shakespeare's birth/death day has nailed to it for me - and I suspect others who have encountered Shakespeare's works through a school performance - a little bit of magic.

A kiss

and a cuddle (for the secret Miss Terious in Moscow).
Green sprouting things, goose poo, burnt offerings and sweet red dictator's.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hi Ho; Hi hooo

(It's back to work we go).

One more week than Easter (yep - Orthodox here).

Romanians, of course, are a penny short of a pound (slightly mad): They follow the Roman date for Christmas and the Greek date for Easter - meaning a really long gap between.

Which is why the thoughts of a needed holiday seep in.

Yesterday was the equivalent of 'Palm Sunday' - lots of people attacked the willows by the side of the Bega and carried them off to sell by the doors of the churches. Inside the broken fingers and limbs of the poor trees were blessed and then taken home: The cracked willow (?) duly shed tears in the form of fluffy snow seeds.

As the fluff accumulated it took on the look of powdered frog spawn - a central core with the surrounding jelly space - but totally without the heaviness.

The frogs'll be croaking soon.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Sunday, April 20, 2008

God hookers ...

and God's prostitutes.

It's the sort of thing you'd expect clean shaven, short haired, All-American youth to be doing.

As I innocently sat listening to my mp3 player, basking in the sun (no comparison to beached elephant walruses allowed) on one of the red park benches by the side of the Bega, two elderly gentlemen approached - I'd noticed them as I arrived and had them dismissed as innocents out for the air in their gentle decline to '... sans everything .'

Then I spotted the leaflets - secretly rolled, but ominously healthy apple green, curled, serpent-like, in a liver-spot-speckled hand. The owner of the claw looked to the other man who quickly started on the subject of the glorious sun ...

For those unused to being pounced on in this fashion, the sun is a sure give away - in whatever training camp for God-pushers these two had trained, they'd obviously taken the short course ... 'Start with the Sun - everyone likes the sun ...'.

But they'd misjudged their Eve!

"Sorry," - innocence itself said - "I don't speak Romanian ..."

Training camp came to the fore, ... he continued .. 'glorious day', 'wonderful sun' ...

I gave the puzzled look of the well practised foreigner, "?"

Mr Claw, cracked - "He's speaking foreign .."


They looked at each other, hesitated - training camp I am sure had said don't give in so easy, but nationalism and a deep ethnic insecurity bites deeper - they toddled off, side by side, upstream to search for a more reliable punter.

On a normal day, I'd have not smiled (almost chuckled) at the discomfort of the elderly - but it really was a glorious day . and the soundtrack to this 'God-experience' foreplay was Dunstable ... Quam Pulcara es.

I am, in case you haven't guessed, as deep-dyed-in-the-wool an atheist as it is possible to get: I have the 'spirituality' of a stone and the only sole I posses is under my feet. But if anything would hook me to the smallest smidgeon of belief in deity, it would be the music of the Mediaeval cathedrals and monasteries.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Friday, April 18, 2008

Truely awful customer service

When I think of bad customer service I usually think of Romania 10 year's ago - but it hasn't disappeared:


For those lucky people who don't know this bookshop - don't go there!
I've tried several times to get books from the place - and, despite the very nice people behind the counter (always polite) nothing gets done. I've wanted two books which I am assured are in Romania - and are being sent from the Cluj shop, via the Bucharest shop to the Timisoara shop.
Week after week - no sign.
I was in this week - talked to the nice man behind the counter - said I really need the books soon (I need them for work) and he said he'd told head office the books were important - but they "didn't care" - I could cancel the order and buy elsewhere.
Now, if there was anything hard about the task, or the books were difficult to get - or obscure I might understand - but they are the set texts for the CAE examination (The Pelican Brief and Lucky Jim) and, one would have thought, fairly standard - indeed, with half an ounce of intelligence, one would expect the bookshop to be ordering several copies in order to satisfy the heavy demand expected for the books before the December examination .... but no,

"they don't care!"

Remember folks:


The Bookshop that Doesn't Care:
About Profit, Customers or even it's Reputation!

Technorati Tags: , ,

They flee from me ...

who sometime did me seek.


Felt a bit like that this week:

Was at the tram stop and saw someone from the university who once was very friendly - she wanted something then - this time she saw me, turned and hid behind her umbrella (in such an obvious panic there was no discretion at all) - then, to cap it, she walked the friend she was with along to the far end of the stop.

Now, apart from the fact I had seen her already, and, at most, being English would have nodded hello,it was not the subtlest of actions and reflects badly on the earlier friendliness.
It also caused me to think of Wyatt's poem - for which I thank her.
It is a good poem.
The trouble is - the poem then made me think of all the other people in the town who seem to be avoiding me.
Or is it paranoia?

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Monday, April 14, 2008

One swallow ...

might not make a Spring - but TWO DO!

Walking home from work (a little bit of aggrandisement there) I sat by the river for a few minutes listening to some music and summoning the strength to walk .. when I saw the two swallows dog-fighting over the Bega.

Lifted the spirits no end.

Timisoara in a normal spring is a beautiful place - there are few cities to compare, and the sight of the swallows was all I needed to spot more and more of the emerging green power.

Well, not just green (although there are few greens like the green of willow weeping into the flowing river) - this year purple and its shades seem to batter the eye.

The Magnolia is generally over - but last year the authorities added a lot of new bushes to the riverside park and they are just emerging in wax-like flames. The flowering cherry too - bright purple pink.

Blood of the sacrificed Winter King.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Friday, April 11, 2008

Black Dog

Just watched an episode of 'A Picture of Britain' and came across something I didn't know - Churchill went through serious periods of depression - he called them, 'Black Dog'.

He used art and painting as a way out (not that the art was any good - although a certain patriotic rump will want to lynch me for that).

Interesting to think bad art from Churchill saved Britain from another artist!

Also interesting to think he was able to control his depression using his 'muse'.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Should the Saudi arms probe be reopened?

It should never have been closed.

As long as 'national interest' is used as an excuse for corruption there is no moral high ground on which to stand.

The racist "it's the way these people do business" is only slightly less offensive than a British Prime Minister objecting to corrupt practices outside the UK.

Hypocrisy smiling all the way to the Bank of England.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Another BBC reject ...

So, China wanted the Olympics purely for "sporting" reasons - nothing to do with self promotion and super-power status.
The torch relay was invented for the 'Nazi' 1936 Olympic Games - as a way of promoting German 'ideals'. And this time it tours the world for purely sporting reasons?
The Athletes (at least the western ones) are not going to make a fortune out of sponsorship when they get a Gold?
Get real please.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A little bird ...

told me!

The match between my local football team and another across the other side of the country had one of those Romanian Football ref.s - you know the sort - corrupt, deeply, deeply corrupt.
What is horrifying is everyone knows it - and no one does anything about it:
Count the yellow cards, count the distribution - look at the video: Clear as Day.
He'll be ref. for another match this weekend.

Romania has no chance until the people in power do something about this sort of behaviour.

Forget the politicians - we know they are corrupt - but if sport at this level is so overtly bad, what chance society?

Technorati Tags: , ,


Or just wanna-be RICH?

I suddenly remembered me of a fairly well known English athlete who I saw on the TV during the 'torch relay' through London saying - "Keep the politics out of the Olympics."
OK, I thought at the time - but you really are stupid ... then, yesterday, I overheard a discussion on CNN - about why China has a great many 'western' countries by the 'short and curlies' ... economically.
And almost side by side, in it popped - Money: Of course, all these 'doing it for the sport', 'for the honour', 'for the glory' athletes are really in it for the money (not so for many events in the Olympics - but they never get to speak on the TV).
So Paula - keep you hypocritical views to yourself.
When the Chinese government spokesman openly redeclares war on any protester in China - and basically threatens them with extinction, I loose all of the great sympathy I have for China and its people.
When a rich athlete tries to stick my head in the sand and pretend this relay and the holding of the games in China is not a political event, I say - I hope you sprain an ankle and loose lots, and lots, and lots of sponsorship.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Frisco Fiasco

Good to see the Mighty Olympic Cttee with knotted Knickers!

The torch relay was a propaganda tool of the Nazi government - they got it right: China has really messed up.

Who said history repeats itself?

Technorati Tags: , ,

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

BBC e-mails!

Cor bli'me!
Send off an email to the bbc radio 3 programme, Through the night (to the address on their website) and get a barrage of email back - all automatically generated.
The first was a piece of insurance saying the bbc didn't get the mail!
The rest were repeats saying they got sooooooo much mail they couldn't answer it all so don't be disappointed (especially when they didn't get it in the first place!).
And if you want to complain, this is the address you complain to .....
(I just bet they send a mail saying they didn't get that either.)

By their Library, you shall ...

..know them.

Thank you to Shakespeare Geek for the link.

How typical of the Telegraph and it's readership is this?
Very - bit of standard, bit of soppy romanticism and bit of nonsense.
Noticeable not a single Shakespeare play.
But I don't think there are any plays on the list.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Funny old day

Just back from the ballet - 'Stars of the Bolshoi' the advert said - and it was right (OK, maybe upcoming and fading in equal proportions - but stars who glittered none the less).
I haven't enjoyed a Swan Lake as much as tonight's since being in Moscow.
What exactly they were doing in Timisoara I won't even try to guess - and the stage only just contained them - but they danced well, there was a professionalism about them which should surprise the locals and they didn't insist on the curtain-calls.
Still, from London Street fighting, through a really good (sporting) football match to the ballet - all in one day: Am I having final flash before mortality?

Technorati Tags: , ,

Proud to be English!

I can't often admit that - but today, as I watch the Olympic torch fight its way through the streets of London, I shout it from the Roof-tops!

It's a beautiful example of the British being 'Mad as March Hares' - Snow this morning, so the weather didn't help - and protesters 'alla the suffragettes' throwing themselves in front of the horses running the flame.

A few idiots went too far - fire-extinguishers could have been dangerous - but the photo-opportunities, the world-wide TV coverage, the chattering commentators swarming around the event can do nothing but highlight the human-rights issues China refuses to budge on.

Interesting no one is mentioning the first time the flame was carried - For the Nazi Games of 1936.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Admirable Roddick!

I cannot but be pleased - my smile is almost as broad - if not as deserved or deeply felt. Whenever Mr Roddick wins I feel a victory for sportsmanship and effort, for hard-work and journeymanship has been achieved.
He is the schoolboy hero lost to modern schoolboys (through their own fault I must admit).
Someone should deify him before the shine tarnishes.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Spring Cleaning

Been fiddling with my other blogs.

Bit like Spring cleaning I think - a good scub over and sort out the look. Nice and fresh for a new year.

One I am pleased with is my Book Review blog: Books Reflected.

I soon realised I actually ended up using one of the templates I had been using on one of these other blogs - and had brushed away in a previous cleaning session.

Strange how things go around isn't it?

Also managed to add to it a new bit of "interconnectivity" (a word the dictionary just does not like). There is now a very attractive 'From my Library' box for people to click away at.

All Jolly good fun.

Spring is in full flow outside too - there is a big difference this year from last.

Despite the colder winter (or maybe because of it) a lot more of the trees have flowered - and the smells are distinctly primeval!

I especially like the blast of yellow we are being hit with at the moment - daff.s amongst the lower growing things, forsythia higher up and a wonderful firework of a bush with pom-poms of yellow about the size of an old half-crown.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Friday, April 04, 2008


Bit of a windy day.

Been shopping.

Strange how one sorts one's thoughts as one walks - and I was thinking, amongst other things, of the way the internet is being used to communicate; Far from isolating people, as had been suggested in some places, connections are being forged all the time.

Take the Shakespeare community - we've started responding and 'thinking' together in a way that is rapid and enhancing.

The shortness of the blogs is good too - a quick thought to stimulate - a bit like the way I do a Sudoku in the morning to get the intellectual juices flowing.

Not that things are necessarily instant - ideas pop up several weeks latter sometimes.

And now there is the blog to ling blogs and 'Carnival' - thanks to the Shakespeareans for this one!

Technorati Tags: , , ,


I have a habit of starting the day with music.

Next to the pillow, apart from the book I'll have been reading before going to sleep, and the glasses I no longer can see close distances with, is a portable disc player (and nowadays, an mp3 player too).

This morning I put the earplugs in of the portable - and pressed the 'go' button.

I'd forgotten what was in the machine - I've been using the mp3 exclusively recently.

It turned out to be Charpentier's 'Te Deum': Good loud and distinctly irreligious.

Being half asleep, a strange thing happened - i had visions of the screen of an old Black-and-White TV screen with the Eurovision logo.

The 'Prelude' from the piece was the music used to introduce all Eurovision broadcasts (still is I think).

And there was a distinct feel a pyjamas and warmth and sitting on the settee.

It was a fleeting feeling - the screen being predominant.

That space - when the mind is totally free to wander - between waking and sleeping, had thrown up something from deep in my past - the feeling as much as anything else.

Now, I wonder why I like that tune so much?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Blogger is easier

to use than the other free Blogs.

I've been experimenting with this 'add-on' and it is difficult to set up connections with some of the other blogs - and I have several scattered around hyper-space.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment is Micro-soft: Nothing new there. No way the thing seems to want to let me connect.

I like the way i can add tags and things without too much trouble.

Technorati Tags: ,

Oh Brave New World (2)

What I don't believe is that I am blogging away here on a new download which enables me to drop a comment any time I want - just with a click on the bottom of the page.

Scribefire! - a Firefox add-on.

Something I wanted to mention but hadn't got around to doing so was my finally getting to transfer the images from my mobile phone to the computer.

Seems the system can't handle the photo though!

Added it after -

a lovely picture of my hand just after the operation.