Saturday, January 29, 2011

lost in translation ...

In metropolitan London so many languages are being spoken that are unrecognizable for us country boys, but there is always fun to be had in the listening.  Occasionally a familiar word gives you a clue, and sometimes the way people dress helps a little, but sometimes not.

At four in the morning, at the opposite bus stop, four lovely girls are standing; long silken hair, picturesque limbs, very high heels on beautifully made shoes, and wonderfully well-tailored high-waisted overcoats.  Their musical voices, never stopping for breath in loud conversation, are unmistakeably Italian.

Then, two minutes into my bus-journey to work, two heavily built men come aboard, unshaven, wearing scruffy coats over scruffy jackets, misshapen woolly hats, badly worn boots.  Their loud gruff voices, never stopping for breath in loud conversation, are unmistakeably Italian.

Tired and losing concentration towards the end of a frantic day, I make a delivery to the wrong one of a pair of French restaurants about five miles apart in Sutton and Croydon.  The next day I return to what had been the wrong one and ask the chef ( old joke ) if the French have a word for “Deja-vu” ? 

“I wouldn’t fucking know”, growls the morose Danish all-in wrestler with a big Sabatier knife clenched in his massive fist, “I’m not fucking French !”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

i've been reading antonia fraser's testament of her life with harold pinter, which is full of laughter even if it ends in tears

the man himself was always worth listening to ...

take, for instance, his viscerally lucid nobel prize winner's speech about language and truth, entitled "art, truth & politics"

Thursday, January 20, 2011

housemaid's knee ... one of a series of occasional rants brought on by the compulsory hoovering

two things actually, now that the recession is getting deeper and the prospect of affording domestic servants moves up the agenda for so many of us ...

first ... i'm trying not to feel or sound paranoid, but the thought crossed my mind that the loved one might just have moved some of that fluff jungle that was underneath the bed and piled it up behind the sofa as some kind of test, but she won't catch me out that easily

second ... if i maxed my credit card on an expensive vacuum cleaner then we might save water during the summer months by just hoovering the sheets

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A book takes the chill out of winter.

I’ve been reading Giuseppi Tomasi di Lampedusa’s only published novel, The Leopard, written in Italian in the mid-1950s but only published in English in 1960, about three years after his death.  I’m enjoying it.  It isn’t difficult to read.  But I don’t really want to criticize it analytically, or discuss the text in more than a superficial way, because I’m only half-way through it, and because I’ve been overtaken and slightly surprised by another notion during my short time with this small book. 

I can remember that my mother read it as soon as it became available.  And she must have enjoyed it because it reappeared in the house once or twice.  The first time, she would have been anticipating its availability at the little public library in Malmesbury High Street after hearing it reviewed in the BBC Home Services programme, The Critics.  And I suppose she might have read about it in the Sunday Times as well.  Malmesbury’s tiny library was her lifeline and they supplied so many books that she couldn’t afford and which were her refuge; so many children and so little money having left her exhausted and uncertain about so much in life.  But she always seemed to have clear ideas about art and literature, and she accumulated a vast experience of reading.

As a child, I completely failed to understand or sympathize with her way of seeing and dealing with the world.  But whilst I’ve been reading this book, her dust has suddenly been re-assembled and her spirit re-kindled, before my very eyes so to speak.  Suddenly I discover the very sentences and images that must have amused and excited her and so, even whilst I am reading, sometimes it feels as if I were in the old living room where she rested between laundering marathons, and I can see her laughing from the corner of my mind’s eye.  What’s more, I can sometimes hear what might be her own “internal voice” reading the words to me whilst I stare at the pages, as if I were in her head and reading through her eyes.  This novelist’s powers of evocation are often startling and heart-warming, his dry wit creeps up on me.  But who might have guessed that fifty years later he would indirectly evoke her for me ?  Not I.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

i've read every one of lindsey davis' falco novels

do you remember that lurid fillum ? a genteel antipodean seaside romance ... "The Piano ?"

queueing at the V and A

wendy ramshaw

at the V and A, the excellence ...

... of every ...

... art ...

... must consist ...

... in the ...

... complete ...

... accomplishment ...

... of its ...

... purpose

... i've photographed them before but there was a fortuitous sunbeam this morning as we waited to cram in to the final weekend of the monumental diaghilev exhibition

Friday, January 7, 2011

how others see things ... easy when you know how

Sub-confluent, interphase Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells (HUVECs) transfected with GFP-WT-MCAK (Mitotic Centromere Associated Kinesin) and grown in culture for 8 hours. 

Cells were fixed in PHEM buffer containing 4% paraformaldehyde, 0.05% gluteraldehyde, and 0.2% Triton X-100. Cells were then labeled with mouse anti-tubulin detected by goat anti-mouse Alexa 568 antibody. 

Cells were imaged on a spinning disk confocal microscope using a 60x 1.4 NA oil immersion objective lens on a Nikon Eclipse Ti equipped with Perfect Focus System and a Yokogawa CSU-X spinning disk confocal scan head equipped with a multi-bandpass dichromatic mirror (Semrock; Rochester, NY) and bandpass filters (Chroma; Rockingham, VT) in an electronic filterwheel for selection of GFP or Texas red emission. 

Excitation light provided by a custom-built laser combiner module (modification of LMM-3, Spectral Applied Research; Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada) containing 500mW solid state lasers (488 nm: Coherent; 561 nm: MPB Communications; Montreal, Quebec) that were shuttered with electronic shutters and attenuated and/or directed to a fiber-coupled output port with an AOTF (Neos Technologies, Melbourne, FL) and directed to the confocal scan-head via a single-mode optical fiber (Oz Optics, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada). 

A Coolsnap HQ2 camera captured images with 200ms exposure @ 488nm and 400ms exposure @ 560nm.

designing her personalized karmic index

the news on radio and television, good or bad, is almost always followed with a brief summary of movements in the main financial markets around the world

perhaps those not even moderately wealthy in spiritual and intellectual capital needs must measure our human condition in similar ways

therefore, in an altruistic surge of activity destined to improve the happiness of the entire human race, i am prototyping and developing the loved one's karmic index

of course, in the life of an almost perfect woman, karmic index movements are generally upwards, but uncharacteristic glitches may occur

for instance, when i returned to the master bedroom after an unplanned visit to the loo before falling asleep last night, i was deeply disappointed to find that she had carried on reading her terry pratchett and had not even thought of plumping my pillows

i shall be posting frequent re-assessments using a simple logarithmic scale with the daily to-do lists that i like to leave around the flat for her

it is for her own good

shiny stuff in the back streets off wandsworth road

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

fluid mechanics ... the armitage shanks mystery

at the national gallery there's an astonishing exhibition of paintings by "canaletto and his rivals"

and there's a smaller exhibition of some paintings by bridget riley

each shows the power of the human imagination synergized by the precision of the artist's perceptions and dexterity

then some of us can go to the gents where precision and dexterity seem to be unimaginably difficult for the males of the species among the museum-going public and the floors are rarther slippery

i still haven't received a penny !