'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Wind & Light

To Dunmail Park Workington to see Brian de Palma's Black Dahlia, which I'll be discussing on Radio Cumbria at 11.30 on Wednesday morning. The drive along the coast between my home town & Siddick is one shot through with powerful childhood memories: both my parents' families were from Grasslot, my grandparents ran The Station Inn there; the road takes you past the remains of the Miners' Arms at Flimby where my aunt was working behind the bar on the afternoon in 1966 when the last-ever shift came out of Risehow Pit and poured across the road for the wake; the Dunmail cinema sits opposite the landscaped relics of Siddick Pit where my uncle was shaftman for fifteen years. In my childhood the pit slagheap caught fire and the drive to Workington seemed guided by a column of smoke by day, by night an incandescent scar hovering in the middle air. Heaven knows to what promised land Cumbrians thought this planned economy was leading them, but yesterday evening the sky above Flimby was ablaze with sunlight on the undersides of the clouds and the great turbines of the Siddick windfarm were lined up and turning in stately cartwheels across the sky. The sheer aesthetic brilliance of this alignment, in distinction to the bright lights and belching chimneys of the Iggesund plant across the road, struck me as being by no means the least argument in favour of Cumbrian wind power.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

It's Not Enough

I was driving home from Cockermouth ten minutes ago when the radio announced they were about to preview the first new material in 24 years by The Who. Throughout the early and mid 70s - in fact till the advent of punk - these guys were my rock & roll heroes. The idea of their ever again producing anything new has been unthinkable for so long that to find myself listening to such material was a strangely uncomfortable experience. The song in question It's Not Enough was, well, very Who. Crashing guitars, yelled vocals, more or less what you would expect. Not their greatest work, but not at all bad either. Though somehow, after waiting a quarter of a century, you'd really expect a bit more . . . .

Monday, September 18, 2006

Les Delices De Cumbria - Part XIV

A visit to Kendal, that eventide home for bewildered hillwalkers, earlier today. I stumbled upon this ingredients-led restaurant. No, I can't work out what that means either.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sainsbury's & The Co-op - Spawn of Satan

Shopping for groceries in your caring sharing Co-op yesterday, I noticed my bill came to precisely £6.66. Laying in provisions this morning from the appalling Sainsbury's in Cockermouth, I spent £13.34 - and was presented with £6.66 in change. Clearly there's something sinister going on here - I'm now confidently expecting the nice old lady behind the post office counter in Spyatri to reveal herself as a giant pan-dimensional extra-terrestrial lizard & grand-master of the Priory of Syon . . .

Monday, September 11, 2006

Cumbria Is Kazakhstan!

Nobody who has spent time trying to extract money & support - be it never so modest - from one of the quangos charged with overseeing our county's development will be at all surprised by this story. Regional development bureaucracy is a nightmare from which Cumbrians are trying to wake up.
On a more positive note, a local entrepreneur has offered his unfeasibly water-logged iron ore mine as a suitable home for our county's splendid collection of high-level radioactive waste.
Correct your maps!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Literary Detection

One of the pleasures of reading widely is that now & then you stumble upon the scene of a crime: you find yourself reading a particularly felicitous paragraph & realise that someone has been here before - and has found the goodies on display just too enticing to be able to resist a quick smash & grab raid. Sometimes this has been executed with the grace, subtlety and sophistication of the experienced cat-burglar. On other occasions the villains have ram-raided the text with an SUV up on the pavement & just helped themselves to whatever they could reach. An example: the Voice Of Saruman passage in Tolkien's The Two Towers has been lifted, lock stock & two smoking paragraphs, from the sequence in Hugh Walpole's Rogue Herries where Herries listens, transfixed, to a celebrity Methodist preacher in Keswick market square. The other night I found myself at the scene of another act of grand larceny while reading The Mayor Of Casterbridge. In chapter 20, Elizabeth-Jane Henchard abandons her habitual use of Wessex dialect, terrified that she will be thought common and uneducated. In short order she considers the dialect words for bumblebee ('Dumbledore') and for an obscurely sleepless night ('Hag-rid').
Well Sarge, we've no motive as yet, but this job's got Jo Rowling's fingerprints all over it . . .
Hogwart's must be located in the west country.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Iraimbilanja Bingo Wings Weblog

I was pleasantly surprised to read this story on my return from Torridon - tangentially arising from my hours of harmless drudgery on behalf of Chambers Dictionary last winter.