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Monday, 03 April 2006
The Odyssey

The Odyssey

This is the set of The Odyssey which the three meanies saw at the Lyric theatre in Hammersmith on Saturday night.  It was the final performance.  The stage depicts a detention centre.  As David Farr, artistic director of the Lyric, says in his introduction to the programme

My adaptation of The Oddysey is about a General trying to get home. It is also about a group of people who have no home. Stu Barker and I wrote a song that acts as the main theme of the evening. The words go like this:
These eyes are not my eyes
This skin is not my skin
This pale breath is not my breath
Til I see my home again
Til I see my home again

In 750 BCE Homer put the touches to his epic poem called The Odysey, based upon an ancient story told by Greek bards before him. This play at the Lyric, set in the 21st Century, keeps the story fresh and vibrant.

Odysseus spends all the years of his wanderings entirely displaced, wracked with the anxiety that, like his unfortunate shipmates, he may never see his homeland again. Repeatedly he washes up on an alien shore, subject to the whims and protocols of strangers, to suffer humiliation or outright danger; repeatedly he has to think up a strategy for simple survival. He is the universal migrant, the refugee at every gate. Matters do not improve even when he arrives home; people who have been absent for long periods of time invariably discover on their return that their emotional and social place in the community has changed, or been appropriated by another. When Odysseus must assume the disguise of a vagrant beggar, he implicitly acknowledges the predicament of the outsider everywhere. It is not for nothing that the name that the ancients gave to the man they thought was the author of The Odyssey was ‘Homer’, Homeros - which means somebody displaced and vulnerable and not very different from a ‘refugee’ or ‘asylum-seeker’: an homeros in Greek is a ‘hostage’.

(from the programme notes, Who is Odysseus? by Edith Hall)

Posted by bigblue on 03/04/2006 at 10:36 PM
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Sunday, 02 April 2006
By design

Grace Barrand Design Centre

This is the By Design exhibition at the Grace Barrand Design Centre in Nutfield where the three meanies had lunch on Saturday before heading into London for an evening of theatre.

The design on the throw is of a Star Anise, which is the key ingredient of the bird flu vacine Tamiflu. The photo collage above it is of a series of photos taken at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, which reminded me of my own collage The Dance which depicts a series of shots of tourists wandering around the medieval hall in Prague Castle.

Posted by bigblue on 02/04/2006 at 07:49 PM
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Thursday, 30 March 2006
Lichen on wall

lichen

I came across this lichen the other day on a wall in Smisby (recently redesigned site).  I am interested in how dry it is, and that it is cracking up. It is hardly cause for concern as lichen is such a hardy plant, but the condition of this lichen is perhaps a symbol of the dry winter we have just come through. This summer we will aparently have less water than last year, which was the driest for 30 years.

Posted by bigblue on 30/03/2006 at 11:07 PM
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Wednesday, 29 March 2006
When the night closes in

daffodil

My apartment is about 15 kilometres (and 30 minutes drive) from East Midlands airport. This airport has special dispensation to allow freight planes to land at all hours of the day and night. Normally this doesn’t affect me, but ever so often night planes taking off in a Southerly direction fly at low altitude (below clouds) over my apartment.  In the wee hours of 7 March it was particularly bad and I phoned to complain.  The number to do so is 0871-919 9000.  There is the option of leaving a recorded message for them, as you will not get through to an operator.  If you do so you may wish to spell your surname, especially if you speak with a foreign accent. Two weeks and one day after my complaint I received a reply. It lists two planes which took off from the airport at about 12:30 am, both operated by the European Air Transport company.

Please be assured these aircraft were operating in accordance with all requirements.

At Nottingham East Midlands Airport the majority of aircraft flying at night operate in support of the express freight industry. These organisations operate a system of overnight delivery, typically for business customers and in order to fulfil the very exactign operational deadlines that are inherent with this type of operation, flying at night is essential. However we would wish to reassure you that in conjunction with our airline colleagues we will continue to bear down on all aspects of aircraft noise.

We are concious of the impact that aircraft noise can have and we have a very substantial programme of work in this area. Our amelioration measures in this area include:

  • The installation of a computerised system of noise and track monitoring
  • The introduction of substantially revised noise abatement procedures
  • The introduction of a night levy for ‘noisy’ aircraft
  • Discounts for day time cargo operations by large aircraft
  • The development and introduction of a noise penalty scheme for operations during the night time period

We believe that, in combination, these measures represent a substantial programme of work and reflect the very high priority that the Airport places on the control of aircraft noise. Having said this we do still need to hear your concerns if aircraft cause disturbance in the future.

Please accept the Airport’s apologies for the disturbance you have suffered.

Yours sincerely
Neil Robinson
Divisional Manager (Environment)

Last night I phoned to complain four or five times between the hours of 12:15 and 12:50 am.  I counted six planes at regular intervals and they all flew at low altitude over my apartment.  I will expect a reply again in about two weeks, but in any case I will probably respond to Mr Robinson’s letter and point out how vacuous it is.  It is the perfect model of a letter which wants to appear concerned but which does not commit to anything, and which does not advise me of my rights to pursue my complaint via escalation procedures. I was slightly suprised to read that the airport won recognition for its environmental measures, but then I noticed that there was no press release after the annual audit in October/November last year.  Why the silence I wonder.

Posted by bigblue on 29/03/2006 at 09:57 PM
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Tuesday, 28 March 2006
Night train

railway

This is the late train to Tunbridge Wells.

Yesterday The Times published a dubious article suggesting that Germans are smarter than Brits. Maybe the average German is smarter than the average Briton, but the research mentioned in the article was conducted by Professor Richard Lynn. Given last year’s controversy there must be some doubts about his latest argument. 

There is a new blog devoted to covering the Unrest in France (providing continual English-language coverage of the young workers’ revolt in France).  I was intrigued to see that the blog is organised by the libertarian community in Britain, and wondered what a libertarian is in this country.  It seems that they are anarchists.

Posted by bigblue on 28/03/2006 at 09:18 PM
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Billie the cat

billy the cat

This is another photo of my sister’s cat Billie.

I was somewhat surprised to see that a programme on BBC2 tonight, Gypsy Wars features someone that I met just over two years ago

Irish gypsies have descended on the picture postcard village of Cottenham. They’ve settled on the orchard owned by conservationist Joanna Gordon-Clark. Now she’s determined to get it back - in the face of threats of violence and intimidation.

In Cottenham, Middle England has begun the fight back against the traveller invasions. Some strong language.

Joanna claims that the gypsys have deserted their nomadic conservationist tradition. I remember Joanna as a softie with a hard outer shell.  I hope that she (and all the other subjects) survive this fly in the wall reality TV documentary with their dignity intact.

Posted by bigblue on 28/03/2006 at 12:09 AM
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Friday, 24 March 2006
Engrish

engrish

Spotted on the door going out of the Montien Thai restaurant in Westerham, Kent.  There are photos of many such signs, menus, etc. in Flickr. I assumed that this could be a sign that the restaurant is run by genuine Thai people, but I noticed the ingredients in this place are typically English: tomatoes, mange tout, and my pet hate of English restaurant food, the baby sweetcorn.

I see from the website that there is a sister restaurant in Sevenoaks.  I don’t think I’ll try it in a hurry. My experience of the Thai Rainbow Restaurant in Ashby-de-la-Zouch was far more favourable.

Posted by bigblue on 24/03/2006 at 10:03 PM
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Wednesday, 22 March 2006
Spring is now probably imminent

daffodils

For oft, when on my couch I lie
  In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
  Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

(Wordsworth)

After my last unfortunate prediction we have had a spell of cold weather and even some snow. Finally however the daffodils are making a late appearance, even if these ones do so with their chins on their chests.

Posted by bigblue on 22/03/2006 at 10:40 PM
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