Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Never interrupt me when I’m eating a banana…

Due to unforeseen (aren’t they always?) medical circumstances, I will be ‘out of action’ for quite some time. What this means for this blog is an even greater paucity of posts… – sorry… – although there are still many things I wish to write about (just very, very slowly) in my (undesired but necessary) dotage(?!) – including some thrilling new ballet music (Hi, Thomas!); some incredibly skilful and moving cello playing (Hi, Matthew!); why Mole has been so mute; and what it means to suddenly discover that, instead of a physical heart (my emotional one remains perfectly intact, thank you very much!), I have been carrying around one of those ticking time‑bombs that James Bond always manages to defuse with just one second to go. Fortunately – aided and abetted by The Great (née Good) Lady Bard… – some of the most outstanding (expert, friendly, deeply caring and knowledgeable) medics I have ever encountered beat 007 to the chase, this time: and I am therefore a tiny bit bloody, but otherwise unbowed (as the incomparable William Ernest Henley so memorably wrote):
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
    Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.

Feel free, firstly, of course, to email me, should the spirit (preferably a wee dram or two of Laphroaig) move you… – although please excuse, in advance, my undoubtedly exceptionally tardy response times… – and please feel free, secondly, of course (should this (less-than-subliminal) suggestion move you to such generosity!), to buy me the occasional (online) coffee (especially as, for me, the Laphroaig is now heartbreakingly (oops) out-of-bounds)!

Finally… thank you for your ongoing support; and in advance for your patience and understanding.
Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic brainiac. The Bard of Tysoe will be that clever-clogs. Better than he was before. Better… stronger… but – unfortunately – no more fathomable.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Let it die as it was born…

I didn’t even have time to focus my binoculars. The shock slammed them hard against my surprised spectacles: anomalous barriers carving the amazement unhesitatingly into my face. The squabbling, squeaking sparrows didn’t even have time to hide: lined up ‒ as they were – regularly, innocently, spaced along the fence-top as fairground targets are… (although these ragged rascals were – it turned out – surprisingly safe: protected by perspective and pathological fledgling hunger; paradoxically, those wiser, those hidden, those mute, were not). The air didn’t even have time to part – literally playing its supporting role to perfection: greasing the event, the skimming of its constituent atoms, of the life it fires. Of one life concluded.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

The loss of distant horizons – almost, but not quite, a literature review…

On my way to school pickup one smoggy, sweltering summer afternoon, I heard an older woman just ahead of me telling two small boys they’d have to go straight home that day. “It’s good to be outside,” she said, “but sometimes the air is not good air.”
– Beth Gardiner: Choked

As soon as I had gotten out of the heavy air of Rome and from the stink of the smoky chimneys thereof, which being stirred, poured forth whatever pestilential vapours and soot they had enclosed in them, I felt an alteration of my disposition.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger

Some describe sixteenth-century Bolivia, where the Potosí silver mine was the largest in the world at the time, as the start of the Anthropocene – the geological era in which human activity began to have a significant impact on the natural world. The air would never be the same.
– Tim Smedley: Clearing the Air

The last act when life comes to a close is the letting out of the breath. And hence, its admission must have been the beginning.
– Aristotle: On Youth and Old Age, On Life and Death, On Breathing

Introduction
When I originally started researching the subject of air pollution, at the beginning of March 2019 – driven by personal health issues to produce something in-depth for my blog that would, hopefully, also heighten awareness of this worrying subject (especially in this rural Elysium that is Warwickshire’s Feldon: where defilement of any kind probably seems at its most improbable), I had aimed to put the resultant article to bed in time for World Environment Day on 5 June 2019 (whose theme, this year, was, fittingly, #BeatAirPollution).

Thursday, 27 June 2019

My answers to the Neighbourhood Development Plan questionnaire (with a handful of minor edits…)

Q9
Lower and Middle Tysoe have already met their targets under Stratford District Council’s Local Plan; and yet the village is blanketed with active house building: none of which is affordable to our (meaning the majority of residents’) children: who have therefore to move out of the village (a heartbreaking process that I have sadly witnessed several times).

What I would really like to know is why the Neighbourhood Plan that was proposed (and seen as a good idea by most inhabitants) has transmogrified into a Neighbourhood Development Plan. Is it because those involved are keen on increasing the prices of the houses in Lower Tysoe; or simply wish to fill the pockets of our local property dealers (i.e. estate agents)?

Also: it is claimed that the NDP involved a great deal of public/inhabitant consultation: it “reflects the views and aspirations of Tysoe Residents” you stat(ed). But, as most of this involved writing “disagreed” against the majority of responses (which obviously made the NDP committee, and especially its chair, uneasy), surely the opposite is the case? Why?

[As my comments above are mostly questions, it seems to me that writing “disagreed” against them provides no sort of answer – in which case you have not only not ‘listened’ to me (as in all previous drafts); but have provided the politician’s usual defective reply: which is obviously a case of failed linguistic logic. I would like real answers, please.]

Q11
There seems to be an absence of sustainability: a property which I would have hoped ran through the document like a glistening thread of gold.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

I find myself again with my dear old friend, William Shakespeare…

I never thought to hear you speak again.
Shakespeare: Henry IV, part II (IV.v.90)

I was walking back into the arms of a lifelong friend – sadly, one not seen for quite some time. Hence the ferocity, sincerity, and length of the resulting hug. I wasn’t quite sure why I was there, though, to be honest. Although I had enjoyed the plays I had (relatively) recently seen him perform in – Henry IV, part I, Henry IV, part II, and Death of a Salesman – I was not a major fan of Antony Sher; and his presence on stage is therefore usually not enough to pull me in.

This is not why I had avoided his King Lear, though: that was because Michael Pennington’s incredible inhabitation of the role had ‘spoiled’ the play for me: in much the same way as Pippa Nixon’s perfection (in 2013, goodness me!) had ‘ruined’ the RSC’s current production of As You Like It. Which is one reason why a short run of a new two-hander was the occasion for my re-entry into the RSC’s hallowed headquarters – particularly to be enfolded in the arms of my favourite theatre, the Swan – rather than one of Will’s very, very best, in the main auditorium.

With being away from the place for so long, physically and mentally – I had bought too many tickets in the interim, only to cancel them again and again at the last moment because of my health… – I wasn’t aware that Kunene and the King (directed by Janice Honeyman) even existed. However, Michael Billington’s perspicacious review lit a spark deep inside me. Although it would take a while for the kindling to fully ignite.