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:
5 months ago