Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"I need to find a library - fast!"

That's an immortal line - possibly the only immortal line - from the Da Vinci code. A friend woke up from a profound sleep in the cinema, to hear Tom Hanks say it.

Wouldn't it be a great campaign for our public libraries, infusing them with glamour and excitement?

Hanks and his assistant leap on a double-decker bus and find their way to "Chelsea Library" - a name chosen for familiarity to US viewers (did they reject the Manchester United Library?).

I hope that Dav Vinci Code fans will be following them there. It looks a very nice place, in Chelsea Old Town Hall,

I don't know what happened at the point of the film - and may never find out - but in my mind, I expect they browsed the fiction shelves, joined a book group, looked at the historic costumes collection, did a Yoga class, and went on a local history walk.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Webcasting killed the video star

Yesterday, I presented a live webcast, for Techworld.

We really did broadcast from a studio opposite the Houses of Parliament. I'm told we ousted David Cameron from the studio - as we had the first appointment - but I'm sorry to say I walked past him without recognising him.

If you're interested in mobile email - and Nokia's views on the subject - you can watch it.

I promise to wear a suit for the next one, and not to look so squinty - I had to follow things on that laptop and the text was way small.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Rachel's going to China

Rachel got the news yesterday, that she's going to China with school, this time next year. We're all excited, and are getting stuff organised.

Like getting her a passport. Poor deprived child - this is the first time she's been abroad, apart from a day trip to France with school. I don't think the school expected anyone to not have a passport yet...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

London stopped by elephant

The last few days, a giant elephant has been wandering round London, courtesy of French theatre troupe, Royal De Luxe. We saw it on its last outing and it was absolutely marvellous.

If you missed it, search on YouTube. You'll probably find more clips like the one above (it's not mine - mine aren't worth putting up).

Thursday, May 04, 2006

We changed the weather! Now what about the politics?

So we danced on May Day, and again on my birthday. All these fertility rituals should be having some effect, yes?

And so they are. Thursday was bright and sunny all day. Kitty was home because her school was shut for the local election poll.

We sat in the garden with the animals - and here they are.

Lengthy aside:-
We were voting for local representatives, but it all seemed to be about "national" issues, meaning the political survival of the Prime Minister and three or four individual Cabinet members.

Surely political posts ought to have something to do with thow well people do their job?

Basically, Charles Clarke appears to be incompetent, and John Prescott seems to be a drivelling clown (or are these media creations?). But they've been told they can continue if the local election result isn't too disastrous.

Similarly, the Labour Party goes on tolerating Tony Blair, as long as the "public" likes him.

So yesterday, we are told that our vote is the only way to have any affect on a bunch of increasingly arrogant looking people. And in so doing, we also determine the political future of a whole generation of local politicians, many of whom may not be nearly so self-seeking.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Speaking of May Day...

I finally saw the Wicker Man last night. It's a tricky film to watch because you already know the end. Everyone does. It's the first thing anyone tells you about the film.

Given that, I actually enjoyed it.

It's obviously cult stuff, so there's plenty on it at Wikipedia, and useful pages explaining what scenes were lost. It also comes in for its share of post-modern analysis "The blank, unstaring face of the Wicker Man is a tabula rasa for anthropological projection, and represents not a particular anthropology (such as pagan or Christian) but anthropology itself, " says a philosopher called Robert Farrow.

I think it's interesting that a lot of people take the "ancientness"of the rituals for granted. In the film, it's very clear that the island's rituals are Victorian-era reconstructions which have themselves become traditions.

There's lots of lovely traditions in the film - an excellent hobby horse and Beltane fires - but it's all been reproduced and engineered the first Lord Summerisle - who obviously read Fraser's Golden Bough (and so can you) - to get the locals to work for him. The film does talk about it being a revival of the ancient religion of the place, but there's a big nod to Victorian revivals.

Which is just like all ritual now. Are these activities ancient, and "authentic"? Are they done out of a "tradition" which might be only a few years old? Or are they "reviving", "reproducing" or "reconstructing" activity recorded 100 years ago - which might in itself be just a reproduction?

There's lots of good academic work on all this of course (try Ronald Hutton) but I also enjoyed a personal acount of it all -- The Magic Spring by Richard Lewis. In the end, we do the rituals we want to, respecting traditions and making our own.

May Day in Deptford had all of this rolled into one of course.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Milkmaids on May Day in Deptford

We celebrated May Day in Deptford yesterday, with the Deptford Jack in the Green, and Fowlers Troop.

My phone got set on low-res for some reason, so we'll start with a video of some milkmaids, dancing with garlands of silver on their heads.

for more May Day morris action, check the London Pride Morris blog.