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I am deep in my annual accounts/tax crisis. Expect nowt from me until it is over, one way or another.

For those who were wondering about the question posed in my poll the other day, but not wondering enough to Run And Find Out, Meredith Hunter was the man killed by the Hell's Angels security while the Rolling Stones played* at the Altamont Free Concert, on 6th December 1969, sometimes seen as the Anti-Woodstock and the day the 60s died. Now you know. There was no real purpose to the poll, it was just a random thought.

*Not "Sympathy for the Devil", but "Under My Thumb", contrary to the myth. I've never really seen why they should be blamed to be honest: for one thing they probably couldn't see much of what was going on, for another, stopping playing would probably have caused a major riot.

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Random Snap Poll: without the aid of Google, Wikipedia, or similar, do you know who Meredith Hunter was?

[Poll #905652]
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Gone midnight and I'm watching This Life re-runs on BBC2. Ho hum. Deja vu all over again. My trial went off, so I faffed around for much of today, then spent an hour or two sitting in Court 56 listening to the Whiter Shade of Pale trial for want of anything better to do. Highly entertaining stuff. Blackburne J, who knows his music, evidently fascinated... They have a portable organ in court, apparently Blackburne has indicated he intends to play it himself in the course of the trial.

Ooh, it's the arrival of the appalling Rachel, boo hiss....

Miles: "No papers, solicitor I'd never heard of, not a clue what I was doing". Yep, sounds familiar.

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Not an entirely obvious combination but it pretty much sums up yesterday for me.

First came the Bombay Sapphire Glasshouse, which has been in Exchange Gardens behind Liverpool Street for the last few weeks - yesterday was the last day so I was keen to catch it. This is a travelling exhibition of (a) the things they put into Bombay Sapphire and (b) the results of their annual competition for glassworking artists to design a martini glass, with various other glass exhibits into the bargain. Fascinating half hour or so, wandering round and looking at the designs dotted around the greenhouse, with the help of one of the best Cosmoplitans I ever remember having (not that I'm in the habit of remembering Cosmopolitans, I should admit). Had the place pretty much to myself as well, in the mid-afternoon.

Despite having a tad more gin later on with people from a certain lawyers board (if I start on gin it is important I stay on gin, else everything goes Horribly Wrong) I managed to avoid both being seriously drunk and, more significantly, seriously depressed when I turned up at the Barbican in the evening for Natacha Atlas and Mercan Dede. I booked this as part of a fit of ordering Barbican tickets a while ago (a fit so great that my Barbican Membership more than paid for itself with the discounts it gave in that order alone): I've been trying to force myself back into the habit of going to random things. I live near enough the Barbican now that I can walk home if needs be and alongside the major concerts and plays there's always a load of reasonably priced obscure things.

This was one of them: the opening of the second year of the Barbican's Ramadan Nights festival (timed to coincide with Eid al-Fitr). I originally booked the cheapest seats in the balcony and assumed when they rang me up to say I'd been moved to the Circle for free that tickets weren't selling well. That may have been so at the time but in the event the night was sold out, balcony included. I call that a Result.

More to the point, I've seen loads of fabulous concerts at the Barbican over the years, across pretty much the whole range of music. I have never, ever, seen a packed out Barbican Hall on its feet (and on the chairs) dancing to, err, whatever you call a cross of traditional Sufi music -instantly recognisable to anyone who's watched the dervishes whirl in Istanbul, or wherever else they whirl (with two semazin - whirlers -, female ones somewhat surprisingly, who kept going for 20 minutes straight, and a muezzin flown in from Istanbul) and electronica. Utterly phenomenal. (Particularly when the lights were cut, and all you could see was the luminous strips round the foot of the semazin's skirts.) That was Mercan Dede, the second act, an Istanbulite who lives in Canada, basically a DJ backed by oud, kanun, clarinet and drums.

Before him we had the equally stunning Natacha Atlas (once of Transglobal Underground, some of whom still work with her) doing Arab-Western acoustic-fusion (she's half-Moroccan Sephardic Jewish (I hadn't realised the Jewish part until I looked her up right now, though I did notice a dash of klezmer in the mix: she made occasional political comments which made clear her sympathies lay with the Lebanese in the recent war), brought up in England) backed by a ten-piece band: those two together in the Hall went on until well past 11 and then there was DAM, Palestinian rappers, in the foyer for those who wanted. One of the best random 10 quids I ever spent: both acts very recommended to anyone who thinks they might like that kind of thing.

Odd mixture of an audience: lots of youngish people of middle-eastern extraction (not many of Bangladeshi/Pakistani origin so far as I could see), lots of beardie world music types and a fair sprinking of people who just go to things at the Barbican randomly. I leave it to others to decide which of the latter two fits me better...

All in all a better Friday than I'd have had doing dull old Werk.

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Working at home today for a variety of reasons: mainly because my back appears to be buggered again. Eleanor-the-bike* also seems slightly unhappy at the moment, so I've spent a fair amount of time already fiddling around with her. (Hmm.) I'm now faffing around tidying the flat and doing unimaginably tedious administrivia with occasional breaks to check K's PhD data (simply checking numbers add up properly, nothing more complex) and procrastinate about going to Georgia. Also faffing about on the Barbican website: I think I may go to this tomorrow, definitely this next month, and this looks vaguely intriguing...

I'm feeling slightly unsettled and angsty at the moment, nothing special, simply a vague level of discontent, probably largely down to post-holiday tristesse, but there are some other bits and pieces playing on my mind. Trying to finish something I was writing back in the spring, but it simply isn't happening. As a result of this I don't feel I have anything remotely interesting to say about Interesting Stuff at the moment, so I'm not.

*After Eleanor of Aquitaine. This is a private joke that would be unintelligible to all but a few even after explanation and unfunny even to them.

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I shall shortly begin my usual headless chicken packing as I am off to the Aegean in quest of the end of the summer at an ungodly hour on Monday morning, via party chez Steph and Rob's tomorrow and then, once again, dozing in Gatwick until the flight is called. In about 40 hours I hope to be here. Expect me when you see me. It's a hard and bitter quest I embark upon but I had a vision you see.

Hmm, 20 to midnight and nothing whatsoever is packed. Maybe not such a bright idea to go to the proms tonight, but I hadn't been all week, not since Gergeyev and the LSO's stunning Tchaikovsky 6 etc - a friend claimed that was possibly the best concert he had ever heard, since he has been spending a significant proportion of his disposable income on concerts and recordings since 1971 and is not particularly given to hyperbole this was significant praise. Tonight sadly a long way from that, though passable.

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Decided to skip last night's prom, despite Tasmin Little doing the Glazunov violin concerto alongside Shostakovich 8, from a mixture of feeling tired, having urgent drafting work to do (shows how much the end of Law Term means these days), and wanting to catch HBird (aka Kasia, HospitalSoup, and Augstone) at the Spread Eagle. And fab they were too: I strongly recommend catching their next gig. Managed to lose a small, yet as it turns out vital, bolt from my bike on the way home, hopefully the one I picked up from the ironmongers at lunchtime will fit...

Handel (arr. Mozart) Alexander's Feast tonight for the early prom, but I don't think I can face 90 minutes of Hans Werner Henze without an interval for the late one. And I'm generally enthusiastic about contemporary compositions.

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Feeling unwell (permanent mild hangover without the drinking, prob dehydration) and tired: going to the Proms every night and cycling all the way home after a quick drink in ICU takes it out of you, and watching an episode of Buffy every night when I finally reach home probably isn't that bright. Tuesday was a godawful load of old rubbish with the BBC Pops (aka the BBC Concert Orchestra) which I should have given a miss. Evening not improved by a very near-miss on the bike. I use the road inside Hyde Park (which includes a cycle lane) to go home from the Albert Hall to Hyde Park Corner (then Constitution Hill, the Mall and on through central London) as it's less busy than the parallel road outside the park. It's unlit of course, and for some reason cars -I suspect chauffeurs- occasionally park along it, in the cycle lane of course. Those cars that do use it at that time, mainly taxis, tend to race along it as they do with Constitution Hill and the Mall, so you still want to keep in as much as possible of course. Cycling along, lights on et al, move out to go past one of these... and at the last minute he cheerfully swung his door wiiiide open....

I didn't actually know I had good enough reactions and instinct to do that kind of emergency stop. Only real damage was caused by my fairly sturdy bike to his nice shiny Mercedes, as the taxi behind me just missed me and the bike. Lost yet another pair of sunglasses though, the case must have fallen out of my pocket.

Still, last night we had a pretty good Shostakovich Violin Concerto and Brahms 4 (Leila Josefowicz and the CBSO), and then a gorgeous late night Monteverdi & c. affair with John Eliot Gardener, Monteverdi Choir, and co. Not sure about Sir John's black silk shirt with lime green cuffs though.

Could do with a night off to be honest... but it's Mahler 4...

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Syd Barrett has died after 30 years of living as a recluse post becoming an acid casualty.

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Thanks to a free ticket courtesy of the lovely Nic I'm skiving off to Hyde Park for this lot. Self-employment has its perks.

Mood Music

Feb. 24th, 2006 11:28 am
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When I was back in London last weekend I managed, in between the hangovers and the sleep deprivation, to find time to change my OS (for those who care, from Mandriva 2006, which isn't as good as its predecessors, at least so far as my needs are concerned, to Ubuntu, which seems fine). Rather than try and be clever I decided to do a complete wipe and clean install, backing up everything of course.

And so I did, and everything went perfectly fine. And then my colleague looked in and said "drink", and off we trotted to the Seven Stars for a while. Until I realised I was cutting it fine for Victoria-Gatwick Ex-checkin an hour before, you know the drill, so off I rushed, grabbed my bags from my office and off I went.

Without the pile of CD backups.

So far as work is concerned, that's fine, if necessary I have access to copies of that stuff by another route. What is missing is all the music I ripped to the computer when I came out here.

And so, for the present, I'm stuck with two CDs: a decentish recording of Mahlers 1&2, which at least has some mileage. And, err.. um. Culturniks of a certain vintage may be able to guess what the other one is. An album of seminal importance...

"I'm a Barbie Girl...."

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They're going to make students at Oxford not only sign contracts, but contracts which require them to go to lectures? Tutes I can see, but I do wonder if this indicates a rise in the significance attached to lectures (for those who don't know the place, this traditionally ranges from minimal to minor so far as arts and humanities are concerned, it isn't key to the way Oxford undergraduate teaching works). (And see also the proposal to take control of admissions to the university level, which I suspect is going to go down like a lead balloon.)

Belloff-drafted contracts at that... Not sure how I feel about the contract idea itself in principle.

Apropos of something slightly different, the comments thread on this linkpost of mine about feminism and related matters is still vaguely alive and lots of people have said interesting things. People always seem to comment more on my throwaway rubbish and linkposts than the proper ones.

I spent lunch being suckered by the HMV Sale. In theory one of the real financial benefits of being on the island is the lack of VAT: usually the benefit somehow vanishes amid mutterings of transport costs (coincidentally always precisely the same as UK VAT would be, how strange), but CDs are an exception. (Hence a certain major online seller of such things being based here, and, indeed a client of ours). Completed Belle & Sebastian and Garbage back catalogues, plus Isobel Campbell and Wossname from QotSA's new album, plus Jeff Buckley's Grace and DVD's of Amelie, 12 Monkeys, and Casablanca. All ridiculously cheap, to be fair.

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The First Night of the Proms I mean. Yes, I believe some book or other was launched last night. No, I haven't bought a copy, and probably won't for a week or two. In any case I won't be reading anything else until I've finished Carlos Ruiz Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind, lent to me by the inimitable Eurotrash*. Like her I'd had a certain amount of scepticism, but so far it's brilliant.

Yes, I have deliberately read properly spoiler-warned posts. Heigh ho.

But I digress. Gorgeous evening at the Albert Hall but sadly not a staggeringly good concert, either in programme or performance terms. I probably wouldn't have gone had it not been the First Night. BBC SO under Sir Roger "at least I'm not Slatkin" Norrington: Berlioz overture The Corsair: yeah, whatever; Mendelssohn Violin Concerto (Janice Jansen): started off ok, went via "quite good" and "mediocre" to "actually quite bad" -not entirely her fault, the balance was badly off for one thing; rambling sentimental speech by Norrington about last Thursday -speeches, other than on the Last Night, are very rare at the Proms; Elgar overture Cockaigne ("about London and Londonders of course", says Norrington, "no, that's Cockaigne with a 'g' ha ha"): a solid performance; Tippett, A Child of Our Time (BBC Symphony Chorus, Indra Thomas, Christine Rice, Ian Bostridge, Sir Willard White): mixed, this one. I love the piece and haven't heard it performed often: thought the chorus did their usual sterling work, and Sir Willard on top form as ever, but the female soloists were a bit dodgy and Bostridge was, for reasons I can't quite put my finger on, "not quite right", and also has silly hair. And all in all it seemed an odd programme to put together, particularly for the First Night, which ought to be an Event.

Still, early days yet, so far as the season is concerned. Failed to crash the BBC party this year though, which was the main disappointment.

*who's a brilliant cook and can still drink me under the table, incidentally.

Wake Up

Jul. 2nd, 2005 07:20 pm
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I'm not sure if it's because I'm feeling pretty shite, or a technical thing, or my television, or something else, but musically speaking all the Live8 performances I've caught in between flipping back and forth from Wimbledon coverage seem to me to be... lacking something. And Madonna's hit two vilely bum notes in the time I've been sitting here typing this, which isn't like her. Odd.

ETA: and Peaches Geldof is such a sloane. Unless she's taking the piss, which is possible: I did think her assertion that the most thrilling person she'd bumped into back stage was her sister Pixie betrayed a possible sense of humour. Oooh, Will Smith in Philadelphia is looking like a reasonably decent performance.

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.. err... that I should get to go to Cuba.

(per Lindsay J. in the ongoing Buena Vista Social Club litigation.)

OK, I'm being terribly unfair. It probably is entirely sensible. And I think Megarry took the entire court off to the Pacific in the course of Tito v. Waddell (no 2). Even so, I find it funny.

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You what?

I mean, I actually quite like Robbie. He makes oi laugh. But best British song of the last 25 years? My arse.

In other news, life is rubbish so I'm not going to write about it.

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The man who directed the video for November Rain sounds refreshingly like Bill Bailey. But if I have to listen to bloody Sinead banging on about Nothing Compares 2 U once more in my entire life I shan't be answerable for the consequences.

That is all.

Dalziel and Pascoe seems oddly inspired by the Lucan affair. Though it was Freddie Aspinall who had the private zoo (he being one of the people, along with Goldsmith, Rowland, et al, not to mention Marcia Falkender and Harold Wilson, that Richard Ingrams and the Private Eye team thought knew a great deal more about it than they were saying).

Yes, I am sitting around being bored and full of flu, why do you ask?

Hmmm

Feb. 5th, 2005 01:21 am
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I am, actually, far too old for this.

10 years since the last time I was in the Camden Palace. Ooops.

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