Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Much as I sort-of-enjoy watching a game of football, especially one as charged as the Barça/Milan confrontation - in which Barça have to score four (count ‘em) goals if they are to progress – I really don’t think that I can be expected to endure it without the comforter of a computer on my lap!

Even with my woefully unskilled eye I can tell that Barça has fielded a very strong squad and if any group of players can pull back the goal deficit this is it.  In fact, as I typed that Messi (who else) scored such a seemingly simple goal that you feel that anyone could have done it.  That is part of his genius, he really does make it seem easy: you just kick he ball into the net thing.  That’s all there is to it!

Barça had Milan rattled after that goal and there was a lot of wild kicking, but now the Italians are more settled – but there is plenty of time for them to crack up again.  Please.  And I still find it extraordinary that I care!

Although there is also Cardiff to worry about as well. 

They were, the last time I spoke to Paul 1, doing quite well and are setting themselves up nicely for another nail-bitingly tense end-of-season horror story as the bloody struggle for a place in the Premiership comes to a climax.  People from Cardiff are beginning to mutter a version of the devout Jewish prayer about the future, praying, “This year, without going to Wembley!”  We shall see – though I am not sure that Paul’s nerves will take another cliffhanger!

Today was an ultra-short day.  So short in fact that I actually stayed longer than I “should” have because I couldn’t believe that the glowing road to escape was stretched in front of me so invitingly!

The whole school is now in complete examination spasm: the kids are either cramming for an exam or sitting one, while the teachers are looking around wide-eyed as yet another set of exam papers thumps onto the table to be scrabbled up in their arthritic, pen-cramped fingers so that they can spread the red!

The wall-to-wall examinations have, however aided me as I was able to start marking my latest set in a “study” lesson (in which I demand silence and individual work) and get a fair way through because many of the questions have a single acceptable answer and can be marked by a reasonably educated marmoset.  With ADD.  Which is essential in a country in which silence is an almost physical impossibility and when a quietly refined individual such as myself is trying to get something which requires concentration done!

Lunch was in our normal restaurant in town and thoroughly pleasant.  It also gave me the opportunity to get more of my indispensible disposable Pilot fountain pens from a shop a few doors up from that much-patronized place. 

I have now taken to marking in blue. 

I could say that this is so that my corrections seem less intimidating and condemnatory to the pupils and encourage them to think that the corrections are done by someone on their side, a friend, and not an austere authority figure looking down at them in a callous sort of way.

But that would be a crappy lie of course. 

I just like writing with them.  Not the black or red versions you understand, just the blue.  There must be something in the composition of the ink that simply makes it flow more easily.  I recommend them without hesitation.  But only the blue ones, obviously.

I do, of course, get a pang of guilt every time I throw away what looks like a perfectly functional pen, but I have had counselling and consequently I don’t lose any sleep over what looks like gratuitous spitting on the whole ethos of conservation.

I went through my Essay today and I think it is a disjointed, unconvincing and generally irrelevant piece of work.  Which is depressing as I started off full of interesting “takes” on the academically mined-out seams of interpretation of a Classic Novel.  My perception is going to have to be more securely linked to the concerns of the essay title before it is submitted.  I have nine days to make a bird of paradise out of the cracked and addled egg that I have at the moment!

I have now listened to the turgid church music of disc number 50 (though the last track was exceptionally good) and disc 49 lasted just two tracks before it was consigned to oblivion, and I am now on disc 48 ‘Virtuoso Violin’ - then 47 and backwards is a more conventional journey down the musical centuries.  The CD case I have in the car goes back to disc 11 which I think is Papa Haydn – a composer with whom I have a love/hate relationship.

More by accident than anything else I have also ordered a further box set of discs from Sony.  The word “accident” is a sop to a non-existent sense of guilt because you are perfectly able to cancel an order after you have sent it to Amazon as long as you do it within a few minutes or possibly longer.  I did cancel a whole range of versions of Sibelius’s symphonies that I had put in my “basket” for information rather than purchase – but you know what a few frenzied clicks can do on Amazon, and how much it can cost!

What should happen as I have paid vast sums of money to become a “Premium” customer of amazon is that my purchase should arrive in a “couple” of days.  The only major drawback is that Amazon’s “partner” delivery service in this area is MRW the well-known non-delivery delivery service.  To be absolutely fair they have been a bit better of late, not much, but better.  Though the last time I went to their office at their stated time of opening in the afternoon it was of course closed.  It was only the fact that I saw a driver disappearing into the murk of the back room and rapped at the glass door and he knew that he had been seen that I managed to gain entrance.

The discs should be here by Friday at the latest.  If they are not then I will ask why I have paid the “Prime” rate in the first place.  This will be a real test of the system – and then I can take the weekend loading the discs onto the ever-
receptive hard drive of the iMac!

And Barça have just won 4-0 which means that they go forward on aggregate after the sort of game that could make one into a real fan.  Almost, but not quite!  I will stay with pictures, books and music!

I now have well over a solid fortnight of music and the iMac will take my entire collection and more before the disc becomes a little crowded!  By the time I have loaded up the computer the cost of the music will be many times the cost of the highly expensive machine itself and then I can repeat the quotation that used to be in the Everyman Library books to the effect that if all else was destroyed and only my iMac survived there would be a remarkable selection of the finest music that the West has produced since the time of Monteverdi and beyond.

And I suppose that the most damming aspect of my collection is the almost total emphasis on Europe.  Indeed, I wonder just how many discs would remain if you took out the German/Austrian, Italian and French music that I have!  I suppose I have a disproportionate holding of Scandinavian music with a ridiculous number of versions of the symphonies of Sibelius and Nielsen and a fair collection of Grieg as well.  I am slowly discovering some of the other composers in Scandinavia and thoroughly enjoying the experience.  But I tend to think, in my Europhile and culturally blinkered way, that life is too short to indulge in too much so-called world music.  I prefer it to be mediated through solidly Western composers like Britten, Messiaen and the like!
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