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25 August 2016

HEAT WAVE

Clouds from my back window

Wiped out by this heatwave, maybe also the air pollution, intensified by the heat. My upstairs studio like a Turkish steambath and creative energy down to zero. However, it gets a little bit cooler in the evening and some kind of nourishment must be taken. Soup is the answer. A bunch of fresh watercress, some broccoli, a few new potatoes, a sauteed onion, a couple of chicken stock cubes. When cooked, liquidise. Voilà! Delicious either hot or cold, with croutons. Don't need anything else these hot days.

Watercress soup

Well, maybe a dessert.

Clafoutis

Long ago in a book (by Marguerite Duras I think) I read about clafoutis. Oddly enough I'd never eaten this cherry dish in France, never even seen it. I love the name, the je-m'en-fou implied, and kept a recipe from one of the Sunday supplements. So I thought I'd try it now and defeat the heat apathy. I have the cherries - last of the season - dark and luscious, plus eggs, flour, sugar, milk. The recipe is peculiar:

After stoning the cherries, it tells you to lay out the stones in a row on a tea towel, fold the towel over them, then smash them with a hammer. This is supposed to release the noyau, the kernel inside. Maybe I smashed too hard but there were only some miniscule whitish bits all tangled up in shell fragments. But I obeyed, gathered up the bits and sprinkled them over the stoned cherries, put the lot in a buttered dish. Then the whisking of flour, caster sugar, eggs and milk. The amounts of sugar and milk specified seemed far too much so I ignored the recipe and reduced them, poured the mix over the cherries, added some raisins (my idea) and baked the thing for about 50 minutes. Not bad, but not ecstatically good as I was led to believe. Rather bland and chewy, eggy, a sort of flan. I ate half of it with vanilla ice cream. The other half is for tomorrow.

18 August 2016

A PERFECT DAY

Beautiful summer day made entirely perfect by a visit to George Szirtes and Clarissa Upchurch in Wymondham (pronounced Windam) Norfolk.- I'm running out of superlatives, I can't keep saying beautiful etc. but it really was, start to finish. Here's George's Facebook post about it.

Norfolk landscape1

 First of all the view out of the train window from Cambridge onwards - the flawless geometry of the Norfolk Fens -  endless flat horizontals broken by shorter verticals and then suddenly these absolutely outlandishly perfect circles equally spaced over the ochre flatness. Rationally I knew they were hay bales, not made by human hands, but it was all really BauHaus. I haven't been to this part of the country before and I was mesmerised, amazed that the wooded clumps of trees here and there on the flat ochre or green carpet were all exactly the same height so that they looked like hedges, carefully trimmed by a hedge-barber. (instead of a hedge-funder, heh heh). And no human beings in that perfect geometrical landscape, no figurative olde worlde peasants tilling the soil. I thought it would be an idea to insert some life-size statues of said peasants in those fields, you know, just to surprise people looking out of train windows.

Norfolk landscape2

But never mind all that. The real point of the day was the connection with two exceptional individuals, Clarissa and George, and the inspiring environment in which they live. Unlike George, I'm not good at describing a day's progress with its many significant details so I'm not even going to try. Both of them are multi-talented, multi-faceted, impossible to summarise such richness, visual, verbal, personal. The time flew by, lunch and conversation were delicious, stunning artwork in portfolios and on the walls (the walls too, especially that silky aquamarine one!). Here are a few images. Others remain in my mind and heart. 

George and Clarissa

The Szirtes, August 2016

At Wymondham station

Wymondgam station 2

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8 August 2016

EXPERIMENTS TO TEST REALITY

Latest Pableau nearly finished. Hard to photograph because of the reflective surfaces but here are a couple of shots. The back of each flat piece is painted somewhat differently from the front and you can see this in the mirrored background, including the text bubble (written wrong way round on the back so it reads right way round in its reflection).

"Everything puzzled me. I resolved to devise experiments to test reality." The sentence comes from my unfinished-probably-never-to-be finished graphic gnovel. Am taking bits of it to make more Pableaux.

Everythi Puzzled Meng

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7 August 2016

Another birthday

It's my umpteenth birthday and thelit candle in the photo proves that I'm still here on the 7th of August 2016.

mybirthday 2016

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29 July 2016

NOW FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT

When things get too familiar, too routine, too repetitious, too obsessive, too frustrating, or too whatever, I like to try something that gives me a kick but doesn't necessarily lead anywhere or mean anything except a momentary YES!

Singing is like that for me - not serious singing, not proper singing, just fun. Songs I love, done my way. Best fun of all is concocting a different musical background for a well-known song (I use Garage Band) and singing over it. I recorded a few of these 'covers' and probably uploaded some in past blog posts but I don't remember when or where.

I must thank Roderick whose recent attempts to post a sound recording of his own voice into a blog post led to my proposing variously convoluted techy options but the problem was finally solved by commenter MikeM who suggested a very straightforward solution. I've now used picosound myself to post two recordings:

1.  Nat's No Regrets  (Je Ne Regrette Rien)

2.  Nat's Cucuru  (Cucurucucu Paloma)

25 July 2016

TURNING STRANGERS INTO FRIENDS

Late last night, on my way home from a marvellous musical soirée at friends' house, I'm waiting at a bus stop. Two African women next to me are talking with great animation, their voices bubbling, swirling like amplified, orchestrated bird song. I want to speak this language! I turn to the larger, more voluble of the two:

me: where are you from?
she (smiles, gives me a hug, kisses my cheek): Nigeria.
me: which part?
she: Lagos.
me: my friend Teju Cole is from there.
she: Ibo?
me: yes, Ibo. You?
she: Yoruba.
me: oh, I think he's Yoruba too.  

(Truth is, I can't remember which of the two Teju is).
The bus arrives. The three of us get on and the large woman sits behind me.
she: how old are you?
me: I'm not going to tell you. Guess.
she: sixty-two.
me: thank you, I'm flattered (actually I'm ecstatic) but you're wrong.
she: seventy-one?
me: (smiling enigmatically) Wrong. How old are you?
she: guess.
me: thirty-five?
Her round face, firm and polished as a nectarine, breaks into a gleaming smile.
she: I'm fifty-one.


It goes on like this and by the time I get off at my stop, we have been friends forever. We hug, we wave. I love these women. I love London.

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20 July 2016

WINNER

Uplifting news:

I'm one of the 15 winners of a film poster competition to be displayed on the hoardings of a cinema opening at the beginning of September in the old Pizza Express building in Kentish Town. I've just heard from the organisers that I'm on the winners list.

The brief was to design a poster for one's favourite film of all time. So I chose Bicycle Thieves because its brilliance is timeless and because my dear departed brother-in-law Gerardo Guerrieri worked on the memorable script. Below is my poster design and yes, I did borrow from that famous photo. Will post more when all the posters are up on the hoardings.

NdA-bicyclethieves-poster

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18 July 2016

PABLEAU NO.1

Done it. Registered to vote in the Labour leadership election. Paid the outrageous £25 fee.

And in other news:

I've just finished the first in my new series of Pableaux (poem-tableaux) - not exactly a poem but kind of poetic?

Title: How could she know. Dimensions: W 31.5 cms X H 31 cms X D 4.5 cms. Media: wood, balsa, canvas, acrylic. It's a box inside which the cut-out shapes are arranged on different levels.

I couldn't get the photo to show its 3-dimensionality or the thin gold edges around the frame.

Pableau No.1: Hoe Could She Know.

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8 July 2016

A WORM'S EYEVIEW

This just popped into my head and onto paper without premeditation.

A  Worm's Eyeview 1

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6 July 2016

CHILCOT REPORT: NOT CHILLING ENOUGH

Yes it's good that it's down on paper now,  2.6 million words of it, costing ten million pounds. Ten. Million. Pounds. And seven years. All neat and official now: the Iraq war should not have happened.

Millions of us told you so. We marched all over the planet to tell you so but that didn't count because they knew best, George and Tony and their mates knew best. They said it was The Right Thing To Do and that God was on their side.

Now 2.6 million words confirm that, actually, we knew best and they, Tony and George & Co. were wrong. It was a mistake. But that's okay because Tony has apologised. He said:  " I express more sorrow regret and apology than you can ever believe."  That's life. Stuff happens. We should lighten up, eh?

No.

Around two million Iraqui civilians lost their lives, limbs, country and futures.Thousands of American and hundreds of British army personnel died and were maimed or permanently traumatised for nothing,  for a 'mistake'. Saddam was toppled but there are now 100 Saddams, if not more. The rise and rise of Isis and terrorism can, without exaggeration, be traced back to that mistaken war.

But hey, the Chilcot report is out and it explains everything and it says Tony and Co. were naughty, and lessons must be learned for the future - what more do you want?

Here's what I want:

I want Tony Blair to get down on his knees.
I want him to beg...BEG...forgiveness from the families he has bereaved (all of them, including Iraquis).
I want Blair to donate all the money he's been paid for his speaking tours after the Iraq war to all the broken lives, the refugees, the devastated homes which he and Bush are directly responsible for.
I don't want him to be sent to prison for war crimes:
I want him to be sent to Iraq, to live there for at least seven years. in the same conditions as the ordinary people now struggle to live.
I want the ten million pounds which was paid to the Chilcot report to be refunded and then donated to the care of the injured soldiers who returned from that war.

I'm being emotional, naive, unrealistic. Emotion shouldn't affect one's judgement, right?

Well, unless compassion and empathy enter politics and into decisons which will affect millions of people for generations to come, there's no hope for us humans.

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30 June 2016

BETRAYALS

This is not a political blog but current events make it impossible not to express feelings and thoughts about what is going on right outside the door of one's little ivory (imitation ivory) tower. I'm outraged, appalled, gobsmacked.

There is not only the toxic aftermath of Brexit but now the Labour party politicians' cowardly coup against Jeremy Corbyn, turning their backs on him en masse when in this crisis they should be united in support of him and listening to the thousands of people out there who voted him in and who want him to stay in as leader of the Labour party to regenerate it and give it back its soul.

Those betrayers are behaving like stereotype politicians who want a stereotypical politician to lead them, a clone, perhaps even a Boris Johnson-type but with New Labourite credentials, someone with floppy-haired charisma...ah, charisma! That magical quality which makes people want to eat out of your hand even if your hand is filled with hot air or poison. They can't cope with an honest, principled man who doesn't talk the talk but tells it like it is, doesn't make grandiose promises, refuses to betray what he believes in and has been clearly saying and practicing what he believes in every since he entered politics. Shame shame shame on those politicians, they have lost their raison d'être.

In reality Corbyn is standing up to his attackers but in his heart, maybe this is how he feels.(With thanks to Vincent Van Gogh).

Van Gogh-Corbyn

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29 June 2016

HUGE BREXIT PROTEST OUTSIDE PARLIAMENT

Anti-Brexit demo 28 June

26 June 2016

CAT-OLOGUE

Pushkin-26 June 2016

I asked Pushkin the Cat what he thought of Brexit.

Frankly my dear I don't give a damn, he said.
You're quoting Gone with the Wind, you never saw the film, I said.
Allright, take out frankly my dear, he said.
I like your saying my dear, I said.
It's only a quote, he said.
You have no feelings for me, I said.
I'm a cat, he said.
My beloved cat, I said.
I'm not your cat and my name isn't Pushkin, he said.
And cats don't talk to people, I said.
So what about Brexit? he said

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26 June 2016

CURIOUSLY IGNORED INCIDENT

This is not for those who prefer the news in fast-food bites but for anyone interested in full facts in all their boring and vitally important detail, read this
and also this.

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25 June 2016

LISTEN TO THE YOUNG

Watch this video on the link below:

The voice of the young on Brexit

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24 June 2016

THE HORROR

It feels like a bereavement. It feels like the Donald Trumps, the Nigel Farages, the Boris Johnsons, the Michael Goves now rule the world. I stayed up until 5 am watching the blue clouds gradually creeping over the map, hiding the light, and I went to bed thinking that maybe I was asleep, having a nightmare.

Just turned on the news. It's real.

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23 June 2016

REMAIN ON THIS PLANET

united

Am voting Remain today. Anything that unites us on this planet has to be a good thing, even if it involves difficulties to sort out. One thing we must all agree on is that we are, above all, citizens of the earth, this earth which covers this one planet. Imagine if everyone felt as patriotic about the whole planet as they do about their country: wouldn't that be a good thing?

Perhaps because ever since childhood I've lived in and been 'at home' in quite a few countries I've never really understood flag-waving. Cheering for your sports team, your school, your friends - yes, of course. But the geographical location of that bit of the planet where you happen to be born, or where some of your ancestors were born, why is that such a big deal? Sometimes you want another country's team to win the football - why not? Does that make you a traitor?

The fear of immigration is the fear that we'll all get mixed together and the lines of demarcation will gradually become fainter and fainter. Would that be such a bad thing? Eventually the mix would produce new ideas, new people, new solutions. New problems too, of course, but that's life innit?

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