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PERCY HILDER MILES

Posted on 4th June, 2022

There has been discussion recently about 1922 and the appearance of Ulysses and The Waste Land (although the cognescenti had been aware of them as they evolved). Rather less remarked is that it also saw the death of Percy Hilder Miles at forty-three. What's more, a century on, his work has been recorded for the first time. As with Ivor Gurney, he wrote a great deal not all of which has survived but there is enough to make one eager for a first CD made by the Ensemble Kopernikus on the MPR label.

 

This is for various combinations of piano, cello and violin. It makes for enthralling listening.I have done so three times, and shall keep returning to it. There is something distinctly English about these pieces, as befits somebody who studied at the Royal College of Music at that time and was an enthusiast for Elgar. In his few decades, Miles became widely praised (he had played from a very early age in Kent, son of a builder and baker, both of them music lovers).

 

Needs must, he travelled widely to teach and examine, even reaching Australia - and returning to teach in South Kensington. One of his pupils was Rebecca Clarke. As Philip Hall records in his very good liner notes, he proposed in 1905 - over rhubarb and custard in a Baker Street café - to a seventeen-year-old pupil, Rebecca Clarke. She was not averse to the idea; her father most certainly was.

 

Life went on, in the growing shadow of War, for which he enlisted, only to be turned down owing to poor eyes and lungs. With 1922, he went blind in one eye, and was felled by pneumonia. Why has it taken so long for him to reappear? After all, the invention of the CD put the disc into rediscovery. Be that as it may, he is back, in the footsteps of his lost love Rebecca Clarke whose work is again to the fore. Did she ever speak of him? He bequeathed a Stadivarius to her. This could be the stuff of a novel to rival Falkner's The Lost Stradivarius.

 

The MPR labels plans more discs, and its sleeve now bids me to listen to Leonard Salzedo.

DAME IVY AND LEO LERMAN

Posted on 2nd June, 2022

How well are the journals of Leo Lerman known over here? I commend them as a model of erudition and gossip. In 1984, he is reading the second volume of Hilary Spurling's biography of Ivy Compton-Burnett. This prompted him to recall that, three decades earlier, he had lunch at a restaurant in the Victoria and Albert Museum: "at a table two removed from us sat A Brooding Preesnce - dark, out of some turn-of-the-century print with touches of the Twenties. She should have sported amber beads, but she did not. A sort of modest chamber-pot hat fittled closely over her mousy fringe (or perhaps that was a hairnet?). She sat, permeating aloneness, intent.... In the unexpected quiet of the V & A commissary sat this seemingly malign presence, more alone than anyone I had ever seen, but inside concentrated on the dark side of the moon, on the black side of human nature, on the freakishness of people. And this Presence, Puss and I knew immediately, was Ivy Compton-Burnett"

REAMS LIKES CHINESE GIRLS

Posted on 25th May, 2022

Here in Hove, some seven years ago, I addressed my vertigo. That is to say, I climbed aboard one of those vehicles which, fixed upon a small truck, are winched up (and, thankfully, down) the side of a building. The secret is to look up. And it was sufficient to concentrate upon the task in hand, literally so: I had a brush with which to prepare a great expanse of brickwork on which some artists would then paint a montage to celebrate our town in this alleyway between George Street and Haddington Street which cllr Wealls and I had spent years in trying to rid of rubbish bins.

 

At the time, I asked whether the mural would be vandalised, and was assured that it would be "respected".

 

And now one of the few sections of the mural that the vandals have not daubed into oblivion is my suggestion of a quotation about the Hove seafront from Anthony Burgess's novel Inside Mr. Enderby which was inspired by his brief stay on Tisbury Road in 1961 (there is a long scene in the Neptune pub in it).

 

What's more, around the corner, on Haddington Street, the rear of those George Street shops are traversed by graffiti, above which looms in large letters REAMS LIKES CHINESE GIRLS.

 

Who is Reams and why do we need to be informed of his predeliction? There are more orthodox ways of informing the authorities (I have also seen the sentence on a wall when travelling by railway along this coast).

 

Why do these people trash the urban vista when they could study ways to earn a considerable income by the use of brush and canvas?

 

 

 

 

The Guitar Gently Cheers

Posted on 24th May, 2022

Such a time: a fifteen-minute bicycle ride from Hove to Brighton's Chapel Royal for a lunchtime concert of Latin-American guitar music played by Graham Anthony Devine. As the concert began, the rain fell - and stopped afterwards. His playing had worked a miracle. What's more, his aside makes me eager to find Barrios's own recordings - made upon metal parts with metal strings a century ago.

 

There is so much wonderful chamber music here in Hove and Brighton. An hour of it makes such a difference to one's day.

A NEW (OLD) CURSE

Posted on 23rd May, 2022

I have been looking again at Robert Graves's 1926 essay Lars Porsena (later revised) about the history of swearing (something with which he was familiar from trenchant voices in the Great War). He cites Middleton and Rowley's play A Fair Quarrel, written a year after Shalespeare's death.

 

We could revive this great dismissal of those out of our favour: "you rusty piece of Martlemas bacon, away!"

 

It is followed by the innuendo of "may thy roll rot, and thy pudding drop in pieces, being sophisticated with filthy urine".

 

Matter for another day, the etymology of "sophisticated".

STREAMING

Posted on 23rd May, 2022

Signs are that audiences for this are waning. How often is there something to which one wants to devote the time - many seasons, each of a dozen episodes ot more? I prefer to rent films on disc through the post from Cinema Paradiso. It has a huge catalogue - all manner of films.

A NEW THEATRE IN HOVE

Posted on 22nd May, 2022

"Maybe you're no longer a human." So an Alexa-like voice informs the hapless man who finds himself in a future where we are ruled by robots. Such is the premise of a new play called, awkwardly, 0.0031% 9Plastic and Chicken Bones). Produced by Give or Take Theatre, the author and actor go unnamed as, during this hour, the question is ventilated "can humans govern themselves?" The stage is littered with plastic bottles and a discarded cellphone, an office chair. This interrupted monologue is rich, a feat of memory, so much so that one might not be able to take it all in at a sitting.

 

That said, it is a pleasing place to sit. Hove has lacked theatrical spaces, and this is the welcome arrive of plays in the room above the Poets' Corner pub on Montgomery Street (among the beers are three types of Harveys). It has always been difficult to discover what is on at the Brighton Fringe - and this year is no different: the truncated booklet is as difficult to navigate as the website.  One hopes, though, that this venue continues beyond the Fringe, The neighbourhood is full of people who would relish a stroll to it. The coming week sees the arrival of Bleep, about a junior doctir who joins an into-the-wild trail - one infers that it is one of those "bonding exercises" which prove to be anything but.

An Intrepid Cat

Posted on 12th May, 2022

A cat is in the habit of visiting me. Say so myself, he enjoys the talk and music. I do not feed him as he has a home for that. He seems to enjoy it here.

 

The other day a neighbour told me that he ran some dozen feet up one of the elm trees on the sidewalk after some pigeons returned to it. She stood by it, and wondered if she would have to summon the Fire Brigade. As it was, the cat realised that the pigeons were out of reach, and he slithered back down the bark as though nothing had happened.

 

Cate are sanguine.

New Directions in Tailoring

Posted on 13th August, 2020

 

 

I am busy at work upon scaffolding to paint the front of my house.

 

So why did I resemble the other day a Michelin Man who has a copy of Vogue and a glass of beer aloft?

 

It is me there, if not sporting my usual stylish attire. To paint a house - in elegant shorts - is akin to surgery. Preparatory work takes time, increasingly so; each advance requires a step back (not literally, vertigo is bad enough), and contending with a revealed problem that, if unrectifed, would spoilt the eventual effect.

 

All of this brings into play - continual stretching and crouching - parts of the body that had not previously made themselves felt. The sweat even seems to creep into the brain as one juggles with these myriad matters while the scraper comes to resemble a scalpel. “Nurse, more primer!”

 

A friend was well aware of this, and suggested I experiment with a self-massage device to ease current aches, and be ready for the work ahead.

 

These have been around a number of years, and were bought mainly to ease medical conditions, in particular to push lymph lumps around the body to quell their lingering in one spot and causing such places as the ankles to swell painfully. That condition cannot be cured but this device eases it.

 

Meanwhile, the device has become a part of beauty salons for general purposes (and one imagines that it will be all the more so in these mask-wearing corvid times).

 

And so it was that I wriggled horizontally into the ribbed outfit - a high-tech wetsuit, perhaps - which, when zipped up, reached my chest. This is linked by a tube to a bedside pump which - variously programmable by time, condition and pressure - pushes air into the suit. Somehow or other, it begin at one's ankles and works northwards without fear or favour - medical neutrality - of what it finds along the way.

 

Chest reached, it deflates; and the process begins again. To reach out and increase the pressure means that the device duly presses one's body from beneath as well. All the while, there is a gurgle redolent of an iron-lung machine, and yet - unlike those attached for years to such a thing - one finds a measure of peace descend.

 

Thoughts of scaffolding and sandpaper evaporated, Sleep even beckoned - and then I jolted forwards to pick up a notebook and write “murder scenario”.

 

 

 

In The Summer Swelter

Posted on 25th June, 2020

Another hot day in Hove. I stay inside during the day, and venture seawards later. Some of the time I have added to this site, which evolves; and will gain more naviagation methods. As you can perhaps see, I have added a section about Words, and one of stories inspired by this town. You can also find my on-the-hoof thoughts @chrishawtree on Twitter.