1 December 2022

Christine

Christine Perfect became Christine McVie and she penned many of Fleetwood Mac's best songs. She died in hospital yesterday at the age of seventy nine. Before Fleetwood Mac there was Chicken Shack who I was lucky enough to see in concert three times in the late sixties and the following single from 1969 was their most famous number with Christine's soulful voice and keyboards prominent:-


On Twitter, ex-President Bill Clinton said, "I’m saddened by the passing of Christine McVie. “Don’t Stop” was my ’92 campaign theme song - it perfectly captured the mood of a nation eager for better days. I’m grateful to Christine & Fleetwood Mac for entrusting us with such a meaningful song. I will miss her."

Christine Perfect was born in 1943 in a small village in England's  Lake District called Bouth. Her father, Cyril Perfect, was  a concert violinist and music teacher.  She had music in her blood. R.I.P..

30 November 2022

BOSH!

Before the doors opened

It has been a while since I mentioned my son Ian. As a number of visitors to this blog will remember, he is one half of the successful BOSH! duo who, in the last six years, have helped massively  to put vegan cuisine and vegan cooking into mainstream consciousness. 

Vegans are no longer tree-hugging pasty-faced hippies who dine on lentils and carrot soup. Besides, Ian and Henry have no big issue with the suggestion that it's okay  to be a part-time vegan because veganism isn't a religion. If you can't go the whole way, maybe you can just go part of the way.

Personally, I am an omnivore but on days that happen to be meatless without dairy products or eggs, I am being vegan. Perhaps I used to but nowadays I never bristle about the term.

Today and tomorrow, BOSH! have a swanky trade stall in the Olympia exhibition hall in Kensington, London. It is hosting the Plant Based World Expo Europe! Ian sent us the photos that illustrate this blogpost.

By all accounts, everything at BOSH! continues to tick over nicely. This year's book was titled "BOSH! On A Budget" and next year yet another recipe book will be published but I am currently sworn to secrecy about its title and contents. It may cause some ripples in plant-based circles.

Meantime, I thought I would have another look at the BOSH! Wikipedia page. It is now much more informative than it was two or three years ago and if out of curiosity you would like to know more please go there

To access BOSH! channels go here. For BOSH! TikTok go here.

Exhibition in full swing earlier today - Ian on the left, Henry on the right

29 November 2022

Victory

Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford in Qatar tonight

Well - that was a nice way to spend two hours. England deservedly beat Wales by three goals to nil at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.in Qatar. It was our last game in the group stage  of The World Cup and now we have qualified for the second stage along with fifteen other teams. One of them will be The USA who beat Iran by one goal to nil at the very same time that we were beating Wales.

Our lads looked really good tonight. After a patient first half, there was some zippy, creative football in the second half with two goals from Marcus Rashford and one from Phil Foden. They are both Manchester lads but there were also four Yorkshire-born players in the team - Walker, Stones, Maguire and Phillips.

Compared with England, Wales is a small country with a population of only 3.1 million whereas England has a population of 56 million if you don't count the boat loads of asylum seekers and economic migrants who have come to join us this year. In Wales, rugby is a very popular sport and in some schools it still takes precedence over football.

I feel no animosity whatsoever towards the Welsh. They have a proud history, an ancient language, great singers and writers and when it comes to sport they are very passionate about their nation. It is also a land of hard work and natural beauty - the homeland of three of my personal heroes - the poet  Dylan Thomas and Aneurin Bevan - the architect of The National Health Service - plus the famous blogger and hospice nurse John Gray. 

Trouble was that though Wales players may have the hearts of dragons, their skills generally fall far short of the talents that England's manager can call upon. Wales now bow out of the tournament but not in disgrace. They did their best and you cannot ask for more than that. Meanwhile, England go on to play Senegal in the Round of 16.

Finally, you may be wondering who the hell Ahmad bin Ali was. He was the fifth ruler of Qatar - between 1960 and 1972. "He was noted for his solemnity, wisdom and careful discretion in tackling issues". Oh yeah? That's him below:-

28 November 2022

Clip

Milton Jones is a well-known comedian here in England. His style is rather different from the rest. He specialises in silly one-liners that often  include witty word play. Here's just a sample of his "work". By the way,  a P.E. teacher teaches Physical Education - sports and suchlike. The job may have different labels in other countries. Loughborough is a town in Leicestershire, England - often associated with sports education.

27 November 2022

Oratory

 

In the summer of 1974, I made a grand tour of Ireland. It took me six weeks. Mostly I slept in the tent that I carried upon my back but sometimes I shelled out for youth hostels and three or four times I paid for B&B accommodation. I got around by simply walking or hitch-hiking. I didn't have much money.

I remember reaching The Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry and though I don't recall my exact route, I left  the town of Dingle, heading north for two or three miles. That's when, purely by chance, I came across the structure shown above - Gallarus Oratory.

This enigmatic building was more or less overlooked by scholars until the mid-eighteenth century. It is likely that it was once  a simple church - exquisitely built perhaps as early as the tenth century. It may have been part of a monastic settlement.

I was alone but then I saw another figure tramping along the lane. He was a Canadian visitor - also a university student of a similar age to me. I don't recall his name but we shared our reactions to the oratory and I remember he became my intermittent travelling companion until we reached Cork City in the next county.

It was a balmy summer. I hardly felt any of the rain that gives The Emerald Isle its name. This was the first time I had ever visited Ireland and I loved it. Though it was just next door to the island of Britain, it seemed so different. 

The people spoke English but they were different from the English. They appeared to have more time for strangers and were arguably more attuned to ancient notions. At least it seemed that way. One-upmanship was pointless and they enjoyed the "craic" - people getting on happily with each other.

I still have many memories of that tour. They endure after almost fifty years and one of them is of my unplanned visit to  Gallarus Oratory - so perfectly constructed, like an overturned boat made with carefully placed  stones - like a 3D jigsaw puzzle.

26 November 2022

Venus

Something beautiful today. It's "The Birth of Venus" by Sandro Botticelli. He painted it in Florence, Italy when he was around forty years old. That would have been in the mid-1480's. The exact year is unknown.

The painting is on canvas which probably indicates that it was not intended for public display. Almost certainly it was commissioned by a member of the powerful and wealthy Medici family. They were great patrons of the arts.

Botticelli did not pluck his plans for this painting from thin air. It reflects many things about art in the Early Renaissance period and harks back to classical mythology from both the Greek and Roman eras. Botticelli was well-informed.

Venus is the Roman equivalent of Ancient Greece's Aphrodite. She was born out of the sea fully formed and appears upon the shore on a gilded clam shell where three figures await her. To the right there's one of the goddesses of the seasons or "horae". This goddess is clearly connected with springtime and she is holding out a cloak with which Venus may hide her modesty. To the left there's the Greek god Zephyr who has blown Venus to the shore. He is possibly accompanied by Aura - a goddess associated with breezes.

Venus's body is somehow elongated and she stands unnaturally in a pose we might associate with classical representations of the female form in Greek sculpture.

The left of the painting is lighter than the right and the sea stretches out far behind Venus giving the composition a strange depth.

Much has been written about "The Birth of Venus" and what I have said here is but the tip of an iceberg of investigation, speculation and appreciation. This priceless work of art is housed in The Uffizi Gallery in Florence where I  stood before it in slack-jawed awe in February 2007. 

Closer detail

25 November 2022

Artemis

©Reuters 2022
TV News keeps reporting a significant new space project devised by NASA and funded by American taxpayers to the tune of $93 billion by today's estimates. No doubt as years pass by that figure will increase exponentially. Vaguely interested in what this project is all about I read up about it on Wikipedia and also read an opinion piece from "The Observer" newspaper. It was headed thus:-

The Observer view on the Artemis deep space project: $93bn? Worth every cent


...and this was the concluding paragraph:-

Anders, Armstrong and the other Apollo astronauts had a profound impact in changing our perspectives of our world. Their observations and experiences underlined the fragility of the Earth and played a key role in the birth of the environment movement in the late 1960s. From that perspective, lunar travel can be seen to have provided value for money and suggests there is still something to be gained from continuing to put men and women into space. Working out the exact price tag is more problematic but the placing of human beings on the surface of another world should be looked at as an act that is generally beneficial to our species.

Most happily, I question several of these remarks - clearly made by a space enthusiast. For example, I am flabbergasted by the suggestion that the Apollo astronauts played a key role in the birth of the environment movement! The so-called environment movement goes back much further in time than the 1960's and also there are many who would argue that space missions have generally been very unfriendly to the environment. They burn up precious fuel and leave masses of debris floating around in space. And why should we accept the assumption that space missions such as Artemis are "generally beneficial to our species"?

Perhaps they are the opposite, taking focus away from the many issues that beset us here on Earth. We could do so much direct good here in our troubled world with $93 billion.

Anyway, when they build the moon station with its little rough terrain buggies, spacemen and spacewomen will be able to collect plenty more lifeless grey dust. Furthermore, when they make a similar community on Mars, they'll be able to collect lots of lifeless red dust.

And I'm sorry but those buckets of dust and all those scientific observations will not put food in children's bellies nor tackle climate change nor find a cure for malaria. To me it all seems like a massive distraction but no doubt NASA, space enthusiasts and countless scientists in an array of universities around the world will continue to promote the notion that it is all for the good of mankind and only ignorant fools like yours truly would dare to question their holy mantra.

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