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Category archive: Radio

Thursday November 27 2014

Do you remember The Navy Lark?  Used to be on the radio.  In it, I seem to recall Leslie Phillips, playing a young (that already dates it) sub-lieutenant, who used, from time to time, following a marine mishap, to say:

Oh clang.

But, I can find no mention of this particular catchphrase in all the various Navy Lark sites, so maybe I invented it, and am remembering only how Leslie Phillips would have said this, had he ever done so.

Anway: Oh clang.  Someone just dropped a bear bottle on that glass floor they installed only a fortnight ago at the top of Tower Bridge, and shattered the glass.

I did not see that coming.  I thought glass for that type of thing was now strong enough to resist a falling small car totally unscathed, let alone a mere beer bottle.  I thought that expensive glass like this only now shatters in movies.  In real life, I reckoned until I read this, you now bounce off it, unless it is extremely ancient, as does a beer bottle.  Apparently not.  (Did the bottle break, I wonder?)

It appears that this breakage was, as it were, deliberate, in the sense that the beer bottle broke only the top ("sacrificial") layer of five different layers of glass:

The stunning attraction, which offers visitors a unique, if slightly terrifying view of the road-bridge and River Thames, 138 feet below, was shattered when a member of the catering staff working at the venue dropped an empty bottle while carrying a tray.

The glass floor, which was only unveiled on Nov 10, cracked and then shattered, leaving Tower Bridge bosses with no choice but to cover and close the section of the walkway affected.

Fortunately the design of the walkway, which is made up of five layers of glass in each pane, meant engineers could repair the glass by simply replacing the top layer, rather than the entire thing.

This news first broke, ho ho, on Twitter.

Reminder to self: Must visit this visitor attraction, just to find out what my very zoomy camera makes of it, from below.

Saturday November 01 2014

During a discussion on Radio 3’s Music Matters at lunchtime today, about whether knowledge of classical music is necessary for the enjoyment of classical music, noted baritone singer Sir Thomas Allen mentioned that Luciano Pavarotti could not read music.  During recordings, said Allen, someone used to stand behind Pavarotti and quietly hum his notes for him, to make sure he got them right.

However, when Pavarotti himself was challenged about this, he denied it:

In an interview in 2005 with Jeremy Paxman on the BBC, Pavarotti rejected the allegation that he could not read music, although acknowledging he sometimes had difficulty following orchestral parts.

I’m guessing that what is at stake here is the difference between being able to read music after a fashion, and being able to read it fluently and with utter confidence that one is getting it absolutely right every time.  Sort of like the difference between having to spell out lots of the rather harder words, and just reading.

When I played the flute at school (until I gave it up and just became a classical fan) I had, by the sound of it, even greater difficulty reading music than Pavarotti did.  But even so, this makes me feel much better.

Allen also said that Mirella Freni (a soprano about as noted as Allen himself) was the same.

Monday August 18 2014

Richard Morrison’s article about the impact of WW1 on music, for the Times, is very interesting, but it suffers from an outbreak of PID (Permanent Italics Disease).  This is when you switch on the italics, but then forget or fail to switch them off again.  Here is a screen capture of the offending moment and its surroundings:

image

This was posted on August 16th, in connection with a Prom that happened last night, but it has yet to be corrected, as I write this.

PID is particularly pernicious when it afflicts not only the rest of the text of the piece itself, but then continues throughout the entire page as you see it, as it does here.  That is a site software blunder, as well as a posting blunder.

I got to this piece via Arts and Letters Daily, which perhaps explains how I got to it at all, what with the Times paywall and all.  Does anyone know how that system is working out for the Times?

It seems a bit shoddy that you have to pay for such typographical ineptitude.  It’s not so much the original error that I am unimpressed by.  It’s the fact that nobody quickly corrected it.  And the fact that the site software doesn’t confine the problem to the one posting.

To be a bit more serious, about the content of the article, I have long regretted Schoenberg’s depressing impact upon music, but I had no idea that the man himself was such a German chauvinist.  “Now we will throw these mediocre kitschmongers into slavery, and teach them to venerate the German spirit and to worship the German God …” Good grief.

Wednesday July 30 2014

Nothing from me here today, but something at Samizdata (which makes a change), in the form of a remarkable song lyric from the 1920s by Cole Porter.  Pure libertarianism.  They maybe did not have the word back then (I don’t know), but they certainly had the thing itself:

Live and let live, and remember this line:
Your business is your business,
And my business is mine.

Indeed.

Thursday July 17 2014

The are two photos which I took last Monday.  The one with the bright blue sky, me looking up, was taken in Wigmore Street.  The one looking down, was taken from the ME Hotel Radio Rooftop Bar.

They are photos not so much of roof clutter, as of roofs, roof in all their elaborately designed glory.  But, you can spot the late twentieth century incursions:

image image

The aesthetic impact of radio and television aerials does not seem to be much discussed in the architectural world.  It could be that it has, and I merely haven’t noticed, but I don’t think that’s it.

Here is what I think is going on inside the heads of architectural aestheticians, on this subject.  The deal we will make with you mindless philistines is: you can have your damn aerials, because we know that if you are not allowed, by us, to have your damn aerials, you will hunt us down and burn us at the stake.  But, we refuse to talk about them.  We will not incorporate them into our aesthetic theories of how things look, and should look.  We will not see them.

Which is how we got from the above scenario, where everything on the roof is elaborately designed, but the first few aerials have crept into the pictures, but have not been seen by the architects and their aesethetic guides, to this:

image

Yet still, they don’t see it and they don’t talk about it.

Really, really weird.

I’ve been pondering roof clutter for a while now, but the more I ponder it, the more weird the phenomenon is.

What this reminds me of is a distinction that my sociology teachers at Essex University all those years ago made much of, that between the sacred and the profane.  The sacred stuff here is the regular “architecture”, the walls, the windows, the roofs, the interiors, and so on.  All of that is sacred, and is accordingly obsessed over, every tiny square inch of it, every subtle colour change, just as priests obsess about every word in a prayer.

But those aerials are profane.  They don’t register.  They aren’t architecture, any more than a tracksuit worn by a impoverished member of the congregation in a church is a sacred vestment, the details of which must be argued about by bishops and theologians, or the sales pitch being done over the phone on Monday morning (by someone who had been devoutly praying on Sunday) is itself a prayer.  That sales pitch is profane.  Forget about it.  Don’t even think about it.

Those aerials, in among the sacredness of all those designed chimneys and roofs and little towers, are profane.  And hence invisible.  Aerials are designed, by aerial designers, to make sense of radio waves.  But they are not designed to be looked at.  They are a pure case of form following function.  Architects ought to love them, if they believed their prayers.  But they don’t because what is there for architects to add?  Nothing.  The job has all been done, by profane aerial designers.

Well, I don’t know.  I’m thinking as I go along here, but writing it anyway.  Which is all part of why I have this blog.  At this blog, I am allowed to be wrong.  This is a thinking allowed zone, you might say, a place where the thinking does not have to be done before the blogging begins.  This is, you might say, a profane blog.

Wednesday March 26 2014

On Monday last I attended a BBC Radio 4 event, at which Evan Davis interviewed Deirdre McCloskey:

image image

Yes that is the same screen, and it remained the same colour throughout.  In “reality” I mean.  If you were there, which I was.

But digital cameras, when set on “automatic” as mine always is, have minds of their own when it comes to colour.  One picture happens to have a lot of a certain colour in it, and it changes the overall colour of everything to compensate.  For instance, when you take indoor pictures but there is outdoor sky to be seen, then even if in reality the sky is deepest grey, the camera turns the sky deepest blue, and the indoor bits orange.  Likewise, when the sky is blue, but if you are outdoors, the camera, for no reason, is liable to fill a clear blue sky with pollution and turn it a sort of slate colour.  What was happening here is that these two pictures are both cropped.  But the left one was only cropped a bit, while the left one was cropped a lot.  And the stuff that got cropped out of the left one meant that the screen was no longer green.  It was blue.

As to what Deidre McCloskey actually said, well the thing I was most intrigued by was that she was entirely cool about being asked about how she used to be Donald McCloskey.  In which connection, don’t you just love how that circumstance is alluded to in this:

image

That’s an article reproduced at her website.  So, is that her handwriting?  Could well be.

I doubt the medical side of the switch was as easy to do as that.

The libertarian propaganda side of this is that McCloskey is a character, rather than just a boring bod in a suit.  The usual evasive sneers against pro-capitalists just won’t work on her.  And I even think it helps that (maybe because of those medical dramas - don’t know) her voice is a strange hybrid of male and female, often sounding a bit like electrical feedback.  She also has a slight but definite stutter.

The reason I feel entitled to mention all this is that it clearly does not bother her, or if it does she has learned very well to stop it bothering her, and indeed to make a communicational virtue of it all.  I guess she figures if you are saying interesting stuff, it really doesn’t matter if your voice sounds a bit funny and if people sometimes have to wait a second or two before hearing the next bit of it.  In fact it probably even helps, because it gets everyone listening, proactively as it were, guessing what is coming instead of just hearing it.

See also: Hawking.

Tuesday November 26 2013

Referred to by a Radio 3 announcer, this afternoon:

If Music is a Place - then Jazz is the City, Folk is the Wilderness, Rock is the Road, Classical is a Temple.

I heard it, googled it, and was able to copy-and-paste it from here.

Monday August 12 2013

I’m watching and listening to the England v Australia test match at Chester-le-Street, and the first hour of the fourth day has been a cracker.  Stumps flying, a bouncer fended into the gully, and a flurry of boundaries from England as they try to set Australia a decent target.  As of now, England are 277 ahead.

There has been much discussion from the TMS commentators about how lots of wickets have fallen in the morning, this morning being no exception.  But, that being the case, tomorrow morning could be very important, which they have not been discussing.  If England can just stick around for another few overs, Australia won’t be able to chase down all these runs today, and will have to bat tomorrow morning.  That could be decisive.  The prospect of them having to bat tomorrow morning may cause them to hurry today, or at least be in two minds about whether they should hurry.

All that said, this series has an air of insignificance about it.  This is because there is an imbalance built into these two series, in England and then this winter in Australia.  Whoever wins in England has to do it again in Australia to keep the bragging rights for a decent length of time.  Whoever wins in Australia gets those bragging rights.  If England win in England but Australia then win in Australia, Australia end up the winners.

The only big deal about this series, following that Lord’s slaughter, was: could England make it 5-0 and avenge that earlier 5-0 thrashing that Flintoff’s team got handed in Australia a few years back?  Bragging rights from a 5-0 thrashing last for ever.  That’s the rule.  But England couldn’t win at Old Trafford, in fact only the weather stopped England losing.  So, no permanent bragging rights.

Bresnan out for a crucial 45, England 285 ahead with just one wicket left.  But hello.  A dropped catch in the deep.  Steve Smith.  He doesn’t usually drop anything.

Anderson now prodding away defensively.  It’s like England have worked out what I said about tomorrow morning even if the commentators haven’t twigged that.  That flurry of fours was great.  But dot balls are now very good too.  But, another four from Swann!  He now has 22.  And another!  A real one day four, where he stepped back to square leg and bashed it through the covers.  It’s the kind of game where every ball feels like a tiny change of balance in the match.  “That dropped chance has already cost nine runs.” Make that thirteen because there goes another four.  England 298 ahead.  Anderson caught behind!  Spin!  Good for Swann!  Australia need 299.  “A morning of fluctuating fortunes.” I’ll say.

Finally, they’re talking about the tomorrow morning effect, and the fact that Australia will be pushed to get all these runs without England having a second new ball.  Mornings have brought wickets in this game.  So have new balls.  What we need now is a couple of Aussie wickets in the twenty minutes between now and lunch.  There’s every chance of that.

No.  Australia 11-0 at lunch.

LATER: According to Simon Hughes, Keith Miller slept with Princess Margaret.

Quite a morning
Doing libertarian business at the Libertarian Home social
A (slightly delayed) Happy New Year
England squeak through against Scotland
Davies and de Bruyn get promotion for Surrey
On the rise of Bishop Hill
Thoughts on England not just keeping the Ashes but winning the series 3-1 (with asterisks)
Australia so nearly 55-0 (plus thoughts on the impact of Twenty20 cricket)
Mozart might have become a criminal
Boxing Day morning at the MCG
And it resumes …
First blood to Australia
English will not last for ever shock
The long and short of conversation - Hitchens on YouTube
Which just goes to show that stuff gets around
Lucky we didn’t go to Lords
Why David Hepworth is wrong about podcasting
Those angry Americans
Cricket talk tonight
Scrounging Englishmen and stories too good to check
When Cricinfo doesn’t supply the info
Llyr Williams and Llyr Williams play Bach
More recorded cricket chat and some further Oval hindsights
How the BBC ignored the problem of how to pick two from three equal-ish teams
England and me both upset
Ingrid Fliter has a problem with the piano
Handel in London – and an angelic tenor aria
On not seeing Schoenberg’s Variations for Orchestra
Cricket chat
“Who are you going to sell it to if we don’t buy it?”
The Rite of Spring sounds to me like technology rather than nature
Me talking about the great twentieth century musical divide
Rain stops Murali
Taking the recording studio into the concert hall
The UK is not crowded
Humphrey Searle’s Hamlet is the worst Shakespeare opera ever
Ramprakash at his level of competence
When inimitable means very imitable
Test match special
Depressed about the Windies
Classical under-15s
Surrey crash to earth
“A fitting end to a very badly organised tournament …”
A double cricket surprise
A John Lewis cat and a John Lewis DAB radio
Dutilleux piano music on Naxos
Frederick May
You can have everything
Alex and Brian’s latest classical music mp3 – Saint-Saëns etc.
Patrick and Brian talk about the War on Terror - thoughts about podcasting
Armando Iannucci on going to classical concerts - and me on not bothering
Listening to Peter Briffa’s first podcast
Antoine Clarke
iBrian may be coming but I promise nothing
Still ill
Shakespeare Sunday
Why I liked John Peel