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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Friends

Friday June 29 2018

Yes. Last night I went to the RFH, to see and hear Esa-Pekka Salonen conduct Schoenberg’s mighty Gurrelieder, something Salonen has done at the RFH, with the same orchestra, before.  GodDaughter 2 was somewhere off in the distance, singing in the chorus, and had got me a seat near the front.  So although I still heard lots of seats creaking and programmes flapping and coughers coughing, I also heard Schoenberg.  And only Schoenberg, when Gurrelieder got loud, as it often does.

What a piece!  If all you know about Schoenberg is twelve tone discordancy, all passion spent, but on the other hand if you like how the likes of Wagner and Mahler and Debussy sound when they get really worked up, then if you’ve not done so already, you really should check out Gurrelieder.  Likewise Verklarte Nacht, if you like Brahms chamber music.  Schoenberg greatly admired Brahms, I believe.  When GD2 told me about this Gurrelieder concert, I mentioned Verklarte Nacht to her and she tried it, and loved it.

So, what does Gurrelieder sound like?  Try: Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde meets Zombie Warrior Apocalypse meets Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream turned nightmare, meets some mad Russian novel with mad drunkard clowns and with Ring Cycle theology inserted, meets (and ends with) Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony.  Hence GD2 and her friends, singing in the chorus at the end.

I don’t go to many live concerts, but I am extremely glad that I went to this one, long and interval-less though it was.  And there is now something particularly odd about my concert-going history.  The dullest performance of a great piece of music I have ever witnessed (Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at a Prom) and the most exciting performance of a great piece (this), were both of them conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen.

I think this says something both about Beethoven and about Gurrelieder.  If you just play the notes, exactly right, when playing a Beethoven symphony, but are not excited by the idea of playing this piece yet again and wanting people to like it yet again, the result is totally boring.  Playing the notes exactly right (which in my opinion is a much under-rated musical virtue) is Esa-Pekka Salonen’s particular speciality, so his Beethoven 9, a piece the performance of which, yet again, seemed not to interest him, was the definition of tedium.  But if you play the notes, exactly right, of Gurrelieder, and if you are interested in performing it, once again, and want everyone present to be astounded, then it is astounding.  It has a lot of notes, and they are really difficult to master and play, all exactly right, all together, all as loud or as quiet as they should be.  Salonen made all this happen, or so it sounded to me, and was also very excited about performing this amazing piece, once again.  Accordingly, the result was amazing.  As I thought it probably would be, because the less well known piece that Salonen also conducted at that Prom was almost as exciting as the Beethoven 9 that followed was crushingly dull.  And you are not going to supervise a performance of Gurrelieder unless you totally believe, as Esa-Pekka Salonen clearly did, that this is a piece that should be performed, once again.  Too much bother.  Far too much bother.

A great concert and a great occasion.  I was lucky to be there.  GD2 was even luckier to be actually performing in it.  I trust she realises this. Early emails following the concert suggest that she does.

Monday June 25 2018

No posting here yesterday, because from mid afternoon onwards this site could not be reached, either by readers or by the writer, i.e. me.  Sorry about that, but all seems to be sorted now, as it had to be for me to be able to post this.

I also had email problems, and just when I really did not need them. The Sunday evening before the last Friday of the month is when I do a mass(-ish) email about my forthcoming Last Friday of the Month meeting.  (This time: Prof Tim Evans on Corbyn.) But, it would seem that the emails all got through, even if replies to them were only getting back to me at around midday today.

When you have problems like this, then as soon as they’re sorted the worrisomeness graph nosedives from VERY BAD!!!! to profound happiness:

imageimageimage

Which is always a better feeling than, logically, it deserves to be, considering that all that happened was that something bad happened and then stopped.  But when badness stops, that feels very good, even if, logically, it is only things getting back to normal.

Tuesday June 19 2018

On Saturday June 9th, I journeyed to Blackheath’s All Saints’ Church to hear GodDaughter 2 and three of her Royal College of Music comrades in song take it in turns each to sing a few of the songs they had already done or were about to do in their graduation recitals.  It was a fine event for all present, but for me it was particularly special, because, simply, I thought that GD2 sang so very well.  There was a security, strength and beauty to her voice that I’d never heard before, and she sold her songs, every nuance of which she clearly understood perfectly, with just the right amount of facial and bodily gesture, enough to really help, but never to distract from her now amazing voice.

GD2’s graduation recital was still to come, and in the next few days I asked myself if she really had been as good as I thought she had, and whether, if she had been, she’d reproduce this recently achieved level of excellence when there was so much more at stake.

It was this graduation recital that got me, last Thursday afternoon, photoing the statue of Prince Albert outside the Albert Hall (sadly it is easier to scroll down than follow that link).  In that posting, I mentioned, in passing, that I thought GD2’s recital had been very good.  Perhaps you thought that this was mere routine politeness on my part.  No.  It really was very good, indeed.

The recital happened in a rather large hall, way too large for the number of friends and family present.  In the middle, at the back, right in GD2’s eyeline, four RCM judges sat at desks in a silent row, giving her marks out of a hundred and writing comments that would decide her future.  At first, GD2 seemed understandably rather nervous.  But once she got into it, it was like Blackheath all over again, and if anything even better.  This was a far bigger venue to fill than that church, but she did this in a way that suggested she’d do the same in a place three or four times bigger.

Most of GD2’s recent performances that I’ve seen and heard have been in opera scenes, where she was mostly just singing along with others.  Which was fine, but it was hard to judge what personal progress she had been making.

It’s no good asking any of GD2’s fellow students what they think of her singing.  They’re great kids, but all part of what is so great about them is that they never share any doubts they may have about each other’s performing progress or prowess with a mere civilian such as I.  Which means that if they now think that GD2 is as good as I do, they have no way of telling me so that is fully convincing.  My only way of knowing if GD2 is as good as she has suddenly started sounding and looking to me is simply to listen very carefully, e.g. while shutting my eyes, and then to go with what I think I heard.  And what I think I heard, and saw, especially last Thursday, was the sort of singing that would have sounded absolutely fine if I and a five hundred and fifty others had paid to listen to it in a packed Wigmore Hall.

I have always liked and admired GD2.  And ever since she got into the RCM I have admired her even more.  Clearly there were classical singing experts who thought highly of her prospects, and that was hugely impressive.  But it was only at that Blackheath church, and then again last Thursday, that I was able to hear it and see it, fully, for myself.

Here are a couple of photos I took of GD2 last Thursday, in the RCM foyer, after her recital:

imageimageimage

As you can see, I wasn’t the only one photoing her.

There’s still a long way to go before GD2’s name is in lights and on the covers of CDs, and any number of knowns or unknowns could still stop all that.  What she is doing is like running in a marathon.  It’s still quite early in the race and the leading bunch in this marathon is still pretty big.  But, the point is: GD2 is still in that leading bunch.  She’s still a contender.

It helps that her voice, mezzo-soprano, is quite rare.  Regular sopranos, along with bass-baritones, are fairly common.  Mezzos and tenors, not so much, not good ones.

Thursday June 14 2018

Yes, here is the Royal Albert Hall, photoed by me this afternoon:

image

That photo was taken early this afternoon.  I was there to hear GodDaughter2’s graduation recital in the Royal College of Music, which is just down the steps and across Prince Consort Road, south of the Albert Hall.  After I had heard GD2 do her singing, superbly, and after I and all her many other friends and family present had celebrated afterwards with her, I started to make my way home. 

Before leaving the vicinity of the College and the Albert Hall, I took more photos of the statue of Prince Albert that stands at the top of the steps, the other side of the Hall from the Albert Memorial.  In the photo above, you can hardly see the Prince Albert statue.  But later in the afternoon, the direction of the sunlight having altered, Albert was looking a lot better:

imageimageimage
imageimageimage

The Royal Albert Hall is looking particular fine just now, because scaffolding.

Wednesday May 30 2018

Says my friend (also my Facebook “friend") Antoine Clarke:

“Elites" in the USA, the UK and the EU claim that the masses who favour President Trump, Brexit, or oppose EU control of Italy’s government are “illiterates” , “uneducated” etc. So who’s been in charge of education?

Good point.

But, it’s on Facebook, and I don’t understand Facebook.  I don’t believe I am betraying anything especially private here, but maybe I am.  I am taking that chance.

With blogging, it’s very simple.  What you see is public.  You can copy anything on a blog, and paste it into your blog, for all the world to read in the unlikely event that it wants to.  All that etiquette demands is that you mention the source of what you copied.  But when I read something on Facebook, what can I use?  I don’t know.

A friend (also FB “friend") of mine is just now at the cinema, with his wife, according to a posting by him on Facebook.  There was a picture of the two of them, with a movie star in another poster behind them.  And there, you see, I may already be spilling beans.  What if they told their last-minute – please please can you help us out, this once?!?! - babysitter that they had an “urgent appointment”, medical or some such thing?  But really, they were just going to the cinema?  If the babysitter also reads this blog, and reads this, it could take them weeks to unscramble the mess.  That’s all pretty unlikely, of course.  But something like that could happen, or so I fear.

Twitter, like blogging, is fairly straightforward.  Anybody can read someone Twittering away, on Twitter, and everything there is accordingly public.  If I can see it on Twitter, I can quote it here.  Right?  I could be wrong, but that’s what I now assume.  But with Facebook, I don’t know where I am.

I have a friend (also FB “friend") who sometimes tells me things in the strictest confidence, in a way which suggests to me that, really, what he wants is for me to say this to everyone I subsequently meet, but keeping his name out of it.  Or something.  I never really know.

I will be a blogger until I die, because with blogging, all this is straightforward and out in the open.  Which means I have to get myself a new blog which goes at a proper speed, unlike this one.  People do still read this blog.  But the time it takes to load up introduces another version of not-very-publicness.  That needs to be done away with, asap.  Another friend (also “friend") is, or so I hope, helping out with that.

Friday May 25 2018

Those photos of Oscar would appear to have made quite a difference to Oscar’s life, because he went missing last Monday, and three of these photos helped to find him and get him home again:

image

GodDaughter2 will be telling me more about all this soon.  Like: Were there any other recent photos of Oscar that would have worked the same trick?  I don’t want to jump to conclusions, as people say when they do want to jump to conclusions, but maybe without my photos, Oscar would have ended up having a totally different life.

The heart of the operation was the much grumbled-about social media.  The above poster was concocted in London by a friend of GD2’s, and then socially media-ed all over the local area in France.  Facebook, take a bow.  In addition to being an actual friend of mine, GD2 is a Facebook “friend”, but I hadn’t been paying attention to her Oscar postings, until she phoned and then emailed me about all this excitement:

About 300 people shared various posts I posted on Facebook to find Oscar. He left Monday, I started looking for him last night and we got him today!

GD2 made all this happen while in London, that email having arrived was yesterday, last night being Wednesday evening.  It seems that Oscar, having got lost, was then cared for by another family.  But when, thanks to the above social media activity, they got in touch and Oscar got back to his original carers, GD2’s family, he apparently spent many hours sleeping, which is not the routine I recall when I was there.  This tells to me that he was very stressed while away, and was relieved to be home.  With home needing no sneer quotes, the way it might with some cats.

6k has also been impressed by these Oscar photos, this one in particular …:

image

…, and he has been making that the basis of various would-be internet memes, of which this one is the latest:

image

Reuniting lost loved-ones is a classic excuse for the Total Surveillance World we now live in.

And actually (see above (sometimes)) quite a good excuse.  If I, or someone, had not been surveilling Oscar, he might still be lost.

I also remember how, in the past, GD2’s parents would grumble about how much time she would spend social-media-ing, instead of doing “real” things, like sleep or homework.  But finding Oscar was very real.

Thursday May 24 2018

In Quimper, the city in Brittany which I recently visited on account of having friends who live there, I photoed this:

image

My camera’s ability to notice details that I didn’t notice at the time …

image

… immediately enabled me to learn who did it, and what else he has done.

I love the internet.

Sunday May 20 2018

Next Friday, my good friend Adriana Lukas will be giving a talk at my home entitled Personal Recollections of Life Under Communism.  While concocting some biographical information for my email list members, I took a closer look than I have before at her Twitter feed.

Way back in 2015, Adriana retweeted this remarkable image:

image

It looks like some ancient oil painting, rather than the latest-thing highest-of-high-tech imagery, which of course is what it is.

GE Healthcare’s 3D-printing software works seamlessly with GE Advantage Workstation systems already working inside hospitals around the world. After a scan, the anatomy is rendered as a 3D image using GE’s Volume Viewer software, a 3D-imaging platform that combines data from sources like CT but also MRI and X-ray. The software then converts the image file generated by the Volume Viewer and within seconds translates it into a file format that can be interpreted by a 3D printer.

“In the past, it would take several days to get the images back” from an outside 3D software processor, Cury says. “The advantage of the new software is it’s in the same workstation where the technologists already do work on 3D images. The steps are a lot quicker and easier.”

More than 100 hospitals around the world have already ordered GE’s 3D organ printing software, which can be used for any type of organ as well as models of bones and muscles. GE says that as more hospitals use the software, it will be easier and quicker for doctors like Cury to share files with each other and have 3D models to use for planning and education prior to procedures.

The most impressive 3D printing stories often feature hopelessly old-school businesses, like GE.  This is because 3D printing is the ultimate non-disruptive technology.  It attaches itself to existing businesses and makes them better.  If you know only about 3D printing, and are not willing to cooperate with a regular business, forget about it.

All those stupid 3D printers that they tried to sell in Currys PC World a few years back were just ridiculous junk for making further even more ridiculous junk.

The ultimate non-disruptive technology
Photos of Oscar
Angel Bear outside the Gare du Nord
I came for bridges but mostly what I got was leaves
Lunch in Paris
Talking with - and without - a microphone
Me and Me talk on the phone
Robot dog apocalypse
Hippo with lid
A temporary RCM corridor – the inside and the outside
A talk by me to Libertarian Home
Elina Cerla
A face and some windows
Michael Fabiano does a Master Class at the Royal College
Happy New Year (at last)
Southwark Cathedral from the train
Granny Weatherwax does not allow inequality
Another quote and two more photos
Deidre McCloskey praises the Bourgeois Deal
The Gayer-Anderson Cat
Photoing versus communicating
Me and Patrick talk television
Two phone photos
Vinyl Empire
Adriana Lucas tells Libertarian Home about the experience of communism
Naughty old adverts in The Star
The RSC’s Antony and Cleopatra at the Barbican
A clean dirty joke
The title and the blurb for a talk I’m doing in January
An imperfect posting (with a photo)
Quota hippo
Hippos
How robots will augment human performance
Rodelinda at the ENO tomorrow evening
Self storage is a strange expression
Photos from friends
Watching the Surrey v Yorkshire feed
Photoer photos at the top of the Walkie Talkie
Me and Patrick Crozier talking about WW1: If only?
Two Union Jacks
Bad journey - good party
Tom Burroughes
While England were winning the World Cup I was photoing adolescent swans
A gadget that worked really well
My next five last-Friday-of-the-month speakers (and another one)
Quota photo of GD2’s Dad photoing The Laughing Halibut
Heat
Food photoing
A recital by GodDaughter 2 at the Royal College of Music
Photos of Jamie Bartlett speaking to Libertarian Home last night
Beautiful sea
New Zealand at the ASI
Burlington Arcade (with roof clutter)
Helen Szamuely’s funeral was today
Gloucester Road with evening sun
Anti-BREXIT demo signs
“Robot” suggests the possibility of fraternization
Indian sign cautions against selfie sticks
Objectivity is indistinguishable from hate
Photoing last Friday’s Last Friday meeting
Marc Sidwell on experts
Cruelty to a fake animal – kindness to a fake animal
Some temporariness being immortalised
Punched in the face by comedy
YPTD
On the value of speaker meetings - to the speaker
A useful little party
An entertaining New Year’s Eve
Home alone
3D printed jewellery by Lynne Maclachlan
Arthur Seldon Centenary photos
Bonfire
Citroen correction
The Wembley Arch and The Wheel
A very good meeting - and a quota horse with quota cart
An allotment and two cats
Another fine day at the Oval (1): Vans
Busy days
Illness and coolness
A Docklands footbridge about to be put in its place
The view from Docklands ten years ago
New York construction cranes in action
Incoming imagery from Antoine
Benevolent Laissez-Faire photos
Wonderful
Mozart’s Requiem in Narbonne
My latest meeting went fine
My next last Friday meeting: Patrick Crozier on the political consequences of WW1
Happy couples
My next five last Friday of the month speakers
Taking photo-notes and an app for improving photo-notes
The Waterloo Eurostar terminal is being revived
Regent’s Canal creatures (and a photographer)
Me and GD2 photoed in a mirror above us
A still life and a cat cushion in Kentish Town
Another way to photo my meetings
The first Brian’s Friday of the year tomorrow evening
The Beckton Sewage Works
Dialogue
With GD2 in Richmond Park (2): Deer
Out and about with GD1 (7): Instead of using her Real Camera GD1 mostly iPhotoed
Nearly invisible Walkie Talkie
Confirming an offer I made last night to Rob Fisher
Food memories from the outer suburbs
Out and about with GD1 (6): The journey gets properly started
Antoine Clarke on herding drunk cats
Calories defined
If you take a walk naked you need to know your way back
Alcoholic Architecture sign
The light outside the Proud Archivist on the evening of July 22nd
Sorry!  No Photo’s!
Digital photography ballet
Golden Cheesegrater with cranes
With GD2 in Richmond Park (1): Views of London
Tomorrow I will get out less
Out and about with GD1 (4): On the survival of professional photography
A man taking a Selfie before it was A Thing (and me taking a picture of him)
Moving speaker – unmoving listeners, video holder and books
Out and about with GD1 (3): Baritone borrows my charger
Out and about with GD1 (2): How mobile phones both cause and solve meeting up problems
Knackered
Heaven aka the Barley Mow
A very distant and yet very good view of the Big Things of London
Church not dwarfed by anything
Ruddigore in Blackfriars
Customer service
White Van Brians
Bad taste
From a cat cushion to Bill Murray and a nude to a demon horse sculpture that killed its creator
The Leaning Stonehenge Tour Bus of Salisbury
Exit Caesar
It feels like Sunday already
Talk went well - two (not really) quota photos
Incidental Last Friday details
Old Quimper Cathedral
Christmas Day photos
My digital photos on his TV
ASI Christmas Party photos
Photoing at the ASI party
At the ASI Christmas Party
In the City with Gus
Michael Jennings at the Rose and Crown
Triple selfie
A birthday party with difficult lighting
Happy Friday (eventually)
ASI Boat Trip 5: Individuals
ASI Boat Trip 4: Groups of posing people
Big Things from high up at the Oval
Last night at my place
Lilburne on a T-shirt and Lilburne on a mug
Two bits of hospitality trivia
Sam Bowman on Bleeding Heart Libertarianism
Remembering another Christian name (and flagging up another talk)
3D printed baby in the womb
Church really dwarfed by modernity
Eiffel Tower with chimney pots – La Défense ditto
Digital photography as telepathy
Happy Old Year
Mercedes-Benz W123
Friend on telly
Fat bastard!
Alex on Quentin
The Heron Tower restaurant
The next four Brian’s Last Fridays (including December 27)
Photoing each other - and photoing stuff in the canal
The Alex Singleton blog
The Johnathan Pearce Samizdata gap
Wedding photography (7): Evening
Steve Davies talk last night
the Norlonto Review is back!
Wedding photography (6): The Wedding and the Reception
A Fleet Street lunch
Wedding weather looking good
Alastair James on Blythe Hill Fields and smartphones
Doing libertarian business at the Libertarian Home social
Talking architecture at the Libertarian Home social
Brian’s Fridays will resume on the 25th of this month
A (slightly delayed) Happy New Year
Christmas Eve feast
Nice blog you have here … shame if something happens to it
“I just came across this fascinating photo …”
Usain Bolt takes photos of photographers!
The view from the train
Happy New Year
Occupy St Paul’s pictures
Les Rillettes Henaff
Alex Singleton has a new blog
No fruit juice
Five pictures of me
Sexy beasts
Out to lunch with Alex Singleton
David Botsford a decade ago
Marmite spoons!
Merry Christmas
And here’s the proof!!!  Sixteen little square pictures!!!
Talk at Christian Michel’s
Thirteen swans
Only up to some random linkage and a little felinity
Transport Blog restarts
Beyond the Dome with Goddaughter One
10/10/10 launch for Norlonto Review
Cathedral photo
Ums and ahs
iScream from Artisan du Chocolat
Peaceful time in war zone
Tim Evans looking happy
Sneezing chat
Making the effort
Alex Singleton on Photoshop CS5
Steve Davies lecture - photoing and videoing the lecture - post-lecture chat
Goddaughter One is now a photoblogger
We’ll always have Chelsea
Why do pregnant women now do quite a lot of driving of their husbands?
Two real cats sighted in Spain!
Two red cats
Possible holiday interruption
Saying it with lights in the Victoria Station shopping centre that were still switched on!
Free Skullcandy on a bus in snowy Edinburgh
Samizdata and Zimbabwe both on the up and up?
Antoine Clarke talks about Facebook and Twitter – Guido and … Ian Geldard?
Paul Marks on the financial crisis and on the badness of Obama
I’ve just sold Jesus!!!
Decorated hippo
A little archaeology
Me and Michael Jennings talk tech trends
Tienanmen + Twitter = Teheran
London Bites @ Sway
Summer break
Green eyed monster devouring cat food
Vince Miller with cat
Friend anonymous
Busy day and busy night
Cat blogging and Gormley blogging
The Vita-Mix 5000 at the Veggie Show
Google and dongle
Another Samizdata piece
Happy Christmas to all my readers
Happy Christmas
Waiting for shooting to start
Inamo
To Guy’s with Gerald
At Liberty 2008 all day
On top of Tower 42
Antoine and Michael on what to do now
Tom Burroughes on the banking crisis
When three’s company but four’s a crowd
Busy at my other personal blog
“Japan is fantastic …”
Why I prefer to live in a failing neighbourhood
Resizing Slim with Expression Engine
Twenty20 cricket on Sky TV
Posting at Michael’s
Party pieces
The new Lowe look
Tea with CDs
A new British citizen
Computer blues
Billion Monkey Alan Little?
Tajo
Billion Monkeys say Happy New Year!
Here it is Merry Christmas
Billion Monkeys and a Real Photographer at the Golden Umbrellas
She’s alive I tell you! Alive!
Socialising with the Social Media
Talking with Antoine Clarke about Sean Gabb
Renaissance Man
Ideas and opportunities
A talk and a photo
On the appeal or lack of it to Young Europeans of “capitalism”
Publogging
Facebook
Douglas
Friends of Slava
Billion Monkeys at the wedding!
Charm defensive
The visitor
Camera chat
The Mainstream Media finally get around to noticing Andy and his sand sculptures
Evite makes sure I remember it
Me on a bridge by Goddaughter One
When “it’s” becomes “it is” – plus a picture of some Mac users
That Rooney goal
World War One talk at Christian Michel’s
Back to the future with the virtuoso violinists
Superb Simon Hewitt Jones gig – and a couple of blogger gripes
Christmas and New Year’s Eve
Haircuts before and after
By the rivers and canals of East London with Goddaughter One
Hellcab at the Old Red Lion
Alice in Texas on form - England in Australia not
Why photographing Big Ben can resemble being photographed with a sandwich
Sometimes things just work out
Adriana Media Influencer: What do you do? (the mp3s of the book)
Screen back
“Publish it in your Blog!”
Search
Everyone likes Magic Andy
Antoine Clarke and I don’t talk about elections
BrianMicklethwait.com quote of the day
Should blogs - this one in particular - specialise?
[new addition to my blogroll]
Remembering the Alternative Bookshop experience
A talking blog welcomes me back
I’m back
Patrick and Brian talk about the War on Terror - thoughts about podcasting
Adriana tours her own back yard
Not much here today
Kristine writes down some of what Adriana said
Adriana’s Thing mp3
Podcasting with Adriana tomorrow
Unpaid happiness is not misery but it is a step in that direction
Billion Monkey Lady photos me!
Something to bore everyone
One click
Roll playing
Billion Monkey flash!
Bashing on for Samizdata
Billion Monkey at Tom and Noreen’s wedding!
A handwritten letter from Alex Singleton
On style and politics
Pie error
Nosh
Another phone glitch
Chris Tame’s funeral will be this coming Saturday
Grief
On the spread of voluntariness
Quoted but not linked to
Not well
It went fine
Comedy on Thursday and rehearsing for it
Perry and Adriana in the Guardian
Klara