Friday 21 November 2014

Back again

I've become one of those occasional bloggers, sadly, for me at the moment.  A combination of being exceptionally busy and somewhat less organized than usual (and I set the bar pretty low here at the best of times) means that I haven't put anything down with the regularity I like...I think last year I was penning nothing in particular roughly every two it's once a week at best.  One of the biggest occupiers of my spare time has been this photocourse I mentioned a while back.  I've been ploughing through it at the rate of a module a week..which even if I say it myself is pretty impressive, when it should be more like a module a month.  I have to do an assignment at the end of each module...and get marked for it.  There was one set back when I'd misunderstood what I needed to do (oh sweet memories of 'O' levels, 'A' levels and degree exams) and had to re-do it, but apart from that I've been hitting 80 -90% each time.  Which is amazing as the last module was Photoshop which I'm convinced would baffle Einstein did baffle me, but evidently I pushed the right buttons, lightened her, darkened there, sharpened this, raised the temperature on that and generally fiddled until the course tutor was satisfied.  Could I do it again?  I give the same answer as I would give if you asked me to re-do one of the questions on comparative international politics that gave me top marks back at University.  No.

So what else?

I went to an exhibition by a photographer who essentially takes pictures of the sea at night with an exposure time of 3 - 4 hours.  They are very good indeed.  What does he do in the meantime?  Essentially he sits there contemplating life, the universe and 42.  He invited me to join him.  I've neither declined nor accepted.

Our annual Old Boys Dinner.  Oddly, I then bumped into one of my table companions two days later on the tube, having never met him outside the school environment in the last 36 years.  Even more odd, was then bumping into another table companion, having also never met him outside the school gates.  Interesting how these things work isn't it?

Bonfire night was very special for me.  For many years I've attended the crush of Lewes where the traditions of parades through the high street have not changed for the last several hundred's a dangerous experience indeed.  80, 000 people pack into the town, to be pushed and shoved inches from flaming torches, burning barrels and 20' effigies loaded with fireworks.  This year I managed to be part of the procession due to the participation of the Pandemonium Drummers...they're the folk who drummed at the Olympic Opening Ceremony, and invited me along.  I've never it a drum before in my life, and I had to do it for a five mile march, in costume trying to match everyone's rhythm.  For me, it was experience that will stay with me for many many years.

We saw a very, very funny Julian Clary at the Crazy Coqs - which is the most intimate venue imaginable, all art deco and reminiscent of something from the 1930's.  Think Berlin Burlesque cabaret and you're not far off.  He spoke his way through a number of songs in a Rex Harrison style, and we were captivated by his humour. I'd say more, but it's hard to describe.

On Halloween I was supposed to do one of my 100km night rides, but a bug has got me, and even now, a month later I can't shake it off.  I refuse to give in, but it's quite wearing really!  Instead we went with the Muffins of a Ghost Bus Tour's (say it our loud and you'll get it) trip round London town.  With a commentary from a haunted conductor and interrupted by a devilish inspector, this was a great way to see some of London's grisly sights and here about the gorier side of the city's history...even if it did reduce the smallest Muffin, who has a very vivid imagination, to a quivering tearful wreck...

A cultural evening to the Wannamaker Jacobean theatre to see 'Tis a pity she's a whore.  So lots of incest and anti-catholicism and it's good to be reminded that all the world's problems are the fault of women.  The Wannamaker is such a fabulous place it's hard to imagine that anything put on there could be bad...and the experience of seeing candle-lit performance is quite magical, and like nothing you have seen before.

We also went to the cinema to see a premiere...a film about the Hermitage.  It was fascinating...there are 2000 exhibit rooms, and when we visited I guess we didn't see more than 20.  An interesting experience getting a tour round like this, and the film makers did well to make it interesting.  We learnt that Sir Robert Walpole sold off many British pictures to the Russians...Catherine the Great really did have so much money she just didn't know what to do with it, but many then got sold to the Americans after WW2 when Russia was short of cash.  In the meantime, many additional pictures had been freed from the Germans at the end of the war as part of the Russian quest to give art the hme it deserved...and there's no chance of it ever going back.. 

Not quite up to date, but enough for now