Unreliable and possibly off-topic


Monday, August 31, 2009

Back from the dead

I've been silent through much busyness. New jobbie occupies an average 55 hrs per week in its first four, some of it travelling between home and the Darklands in southern England, but hoping to reduce this with practice. And outside of the jobbie, I'm steaming ahead with home-improvements. I should think I'm just getting better and better.

I can't remember anything longer than 2 weeks ago, so shall write about my Edinburgh festivals experiences, limited as they are.

R. and I attended the Book Festival talk by Colin Thubron and Susan Richards (an Anna Politkovskaya event). I'd signed up because I much enjoyed Thubron's travelogue of a post-Soviet Siberian journey. However, for R. and I and the unsuspecting lady sitting in front of us, the event was an unmitigated disaster. I got hot under the collar at early signs that this talk would be an unreconstructed paean to the new Russian 'democracy', as did R. In fact, the authors softened this line over the talk, but by then R. had spoiled all enjoyment for the lady sitting in front through fidgetting, voluble sighs and tutting, as the lady later remonstrated. Both authors later pulled away from an initial bourgeois, British anthropocentric and toff take on Russia, but by that time we were poisoned, hearing an unqualified welcome for the new Russia, without criticism of the fall of the scientific intellentsia or the rise of the Mafia and plutocrats.

Tonight I saw Michael Clark's dance medley. It started with a trancey dance I loved, but the main course of junkie-era Bowie, Iggy and Velvet Underground left me cold. Music was great, but I felt no crescendo/ decrescendo from the choreography as I wished. However, I may be a philistine.

I attended on sufferance Ivo Pogorelich's piano performance at the Usher Hall, starting with Chopin, moving to Liszt and Sibelius and finishing with Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit. This was retrospectively my Festival performance highlight, with Ivo using finger pyrotechnics, rubato and piano-forte to wring unexpected emotion. The closing Ravel was incredible: written in 1907, but with chord modulations in the middle Le Gibet movement anticipating Miles Davis decades later, and acrobatic fingering and thematic codas in the final Scarbo movement. And I didn't think I enjoyed 'classical' music till now.

But maybe the best Festival event was last Saturday, when the wee wan and I daundered up the High St and Princes St, pausing to see street performers. My dear wee wan turns 13 next month, but transmogrified into a teenager quite suddenly about 6 weeks ago. Overnight, she started with giving attitude, monosyllabic responses and applying make-up with a trowel. But this weekend we walked arm in arm uptown while she educated me in her considerable esoteric knowledge of colloquial Japanese, 'kawai' and the current sub-genres of British and Japanese youth subcultures. I live and learn, and love acting dumb so she can educate me. So endeth the lesson.