Because we've bought a Harley I'm listening to a lot of this.
Wednesday, 18 February 2015
Saturday, 14 February 2015
Thursday, 12 February 2015
To my mind, sitting in the Mad Bishop at the end of a couple of escalators in a shopping centre in Paddington Station last friday afternoon, the England rugby fans all looked alarmingly like Monty Don, and the Welsh like Dylan Thomas. With a name like Davies, I'm not too fond of stereotyping the Welsh (as in general the English do) but our differences certainly came to mind when we accidentally found ourselves amidst what is euphemistically called 'a carnival atmosphere' in Cardiff city centre a few hours later. They plonked the Millennium stadium right in the middle of it, symbolically I hope, and it was a good idea. The next day even the trebuchet at Cardiff Castle (above) reminded me of the rugby. Any head to head with the English seemed welcome.
But then, I'd defend Cardiff if I had to, since it is one of the more humane city centres Britain has to offer, mostly for it's network of arcades, as extensive as any I've come across, which, since they are effective and pleasant and well used, have prevented shitty streetscapes and too many dreary malls. There are malls, but you stroll through them without a nervous breakdown, and into the arcades, full of small enterprises selling odd and interesting things; like walking through eBay with character. So with regard to the post below, the utterly vernacular contemporary vulgarization of London, I'm glad somebody at some point managed to plan Cardiff in such a way, and make it a nice place to be.
Then it was away in to the air, to hills! Hills above towns! I'd forgotten how good that felt. And the houses all the same! And workshops with people actually making things, bashing metal. This was an ancient scene for sure.
Thursday, 5 February 2015
London's sprouting towers like San Gimignano; just not as good. Homes for the international filthy rich they say (Rapunzel! Rapunzel!) well vaults actually, a concrete consequence of international money laundering and fear. Juxtapose The Shard with Aleppo; in the modern world each crystalline vision demands an equal and opposite pile of rubble. London is now, apparently, a safe haven for the worlds worst wealth, and it shows.
It is astonishing just how quickly London's authorities, once sobbing their eyes out over each view of St Paul's, have grasped this rather tawdry opportunity, but it is even more astonishing that the populace at large has meekly accepted it. There's been hardly a murmur. There is something Victorian about it all, a bit high church and no knickers. We know our place.
So why? Like internees we have got used to looking after ourselves amidst the filth, we can't see the clearing in the forest or the barbed wire or the smoke for the trees; we accept this horrible existence as just the way of the world. 'Bunk up everybody! Squeeze in! There used to be a saying; a philestine is somebody who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
For thousands of years mankind has striven to create cities and now we couldn't care less. That is a travesty, and it's a dereliction of duty, at least as a European (free copies of Benevelo all round!) I can't blame the Americans; they understand their Moloch!
The moral compass of the sewer rat is highly contagious. There is no point in debating comparative merits; just dress 'em how you like. It's a fashion show; like speed hairdressing, with an all you can snort buffet.
Tuesday, 3 February 2015
From 'He was almost glad...' (2nd sentence) this is an extraordinary, to me at least, example of Norman Mailer's ability to be loquacious and succinct at the same time. It's like his stream of consciousness is bang on (for most of us it is far more unreliable) and for those of my students writing about the cultural significance of road trips (in this case a bus trip to jail) might take note.This is from 'Armies of the Night'(1968) an excellent book on the writers involvement in the demonstrations at the Pentagon during the Vietnam War. Given our present situation, I can't recommend it whole heartedly enough.