Saturday, 8 October 2011

News from Nowhere... and the The Bell...

Just had one of those weeks that's dominated by work. I'd been hoping to intersperse my posts on the timeless verse of Margery Clute with a few other posts, but few opportunities have arisen.

It began with a busy weekend last weekend - the band did a gig at The Victoria Theatre, Halifax. Alan Burnett, of the News From Nowhere blog came along with his partner, which was great. He was kind enough to take a photo - and give us a plug on his blog.

Ever since then it's been work. And, personally, I find the best way to get through a heavy schedule is to relax in a positively cat-like way whenever the odd opportunity to do so arises. A spare couple of hours on Monday night was spent with half a bottle of wine, a few green olives and Dr Who. Other rare moments of peace have been spent reading Iris Murdoch's The Bell. This proved to be unputdownable. It's left me with the feeling Murdoch novels often leave me with: that I was about to be shown the meaning of life, the universe and everything, but never quite was - which, in a novel, is the way it should be (and, of course, has to be). This is accentuated in The Bell by the brooding presence of the Benedictine Abbey, the inner life of which is largely obscured from the other characters in the book and the reader. One is led to consider that perhaps, within the novel, meaning lies within it: since what happens there remains largely unsaid, it's impossible to rule this possibility out. And the nuns who live there are largely portrayed as people of wisdom and integrity - unlike the religious characters on the outside who rarely, in the book, attain these qualities and certainly not both at once!

I picked the book up in an Oxfam shop together with another Murdoch novel I haven't read, The Unicorn. That can serve as next week's dose of escapism.

Oh, and I've been listening to this. Treated myself to a CD of Messiaen's Catalogue d'Oiseaux. This is an excerpt from Le Merle  Bleu: The Rock Thrush. Messiaen's pieces set out to evoke the songs and habitats of French birds. I've discovered that it's fascinating to listen to the music in a place where you can watch birds in the wild. I came to the fanciful conclusion that if birds could play the piano (not that they need to), this is the sort of music they'd make:

12 comments:

The Solitary Walker said...

Give me the wine. Give me the olives. I'll even take the rock thrush. But spare me the Doctor Who. Please!

Back from France, Dominic, and will be in touch soon...!

Argent said...

There's nothing wrong with a bit of Dr Who - mind you, it's not as good as it used to be in my opinion, but it's good fun none the less.

I've not tried any Iris Murdoch, perhaps I should.

I'm in full agreement with the cat philosophy of relaxation though - take it when you can.

Argent said...

There's nothing wrong with a bit of Dr Who - mind you, it's not as good as it used to be in my opinion, but it's good fun none the less.

I've not tried any Iris Murdoch, perhaps I should.

I'm in full agreement with the cat philosophy of relaxation though - take it when you can.

patteran said...

I re-read 'The Bell' the other month for the first time in decades and loved it all over again.

The Messiaen's gorgeous.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I was led to believe that you had gone off Doctor Who! Mind you, I agree with Robert about the rest.

Rachel Fenton said...

Bird tunes' got my brain poyoinging ideas now....


I thought you'd blogged loads - or maybe just more than me...I do seem to be the tortoise of blogland....

tony said...

I Dont Understand Dr Who Anymore! Am I Getting Old?Would Olives Help?:)

Gerry Snape said...

Oh thankyou for the Messiaen....gorgeous...I still watch old "Whoey" but understand very little nowadays...is that normal?

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments, everyone!

SW: I'm afraid I'm a Who fan. From the moment the music starts I'm hooked. And it still has the power to terrify. And it makes a change from the endless TV diet of crime drama, hospital drama and realist soap.

Argent: I think it's better, to be honest. I think episodes like the Library ("Who turned out the lights?...") and the Weeping Angels are up there with the all-time best.

My favourite Murdoch was always The Sea, The Sea... But perhaps it's now The Bell.

patteran: It is, isn't it?

WG: Just lost touch with it when David Tennant left. Wish I hadn't, because I enjoyed it again when I caught up with it.

RF: The Tortoise of Blogland? The next graphic novel perhaps? :)

Argent said...

Re: Dr Who not being as good as it used to be. I was thinking in terms of the latest series rather than reboot vs classic. I LOVED the Library and weeping angels episodes. And I still watched it all anyway.

GOAT said...

Dominic, showing my age here but some of my oldest and happiest memories are of being terrified by the goings-on in the Dr Who universe back in the early 70s. The opening music - and especially the closing music when it coincided with some shocking development - used to scare me too, and I was utterly terrified of Cybermen coming into my room at night...

I do find the new series a bit too high-tech and flashy for my tastes, but I suppose the styrofoam monster era is sadly lost...

Dominic Rivron said...

Argent: Yes. I think I liked the previous series of the reboot more than this one - although I must say I missed a lot of it. I got back into it near the end and now wish I'd seen more of it. The astronaut coming out of the lake was a pretty stunning idea and I think the current Dr has turned out a lot, lot better than I though he was going to.

Goat: I must admit to the opposite experience: I like the rebooted Dr Who more than I liked the old 70s series. Until it came back I had complacently assumed I was immune to being scared by any fictional TV goings-on.