Not Friday On My Mind 24: RIP Jack Bruce.

And today it was Jack Bruce. I heard him on the radio about six months ago promoting a new album and while he sounded a bit fragile he didn’t seem to be ill. Sad.

I remember Cream from the rather unCream-like Wrapping Paper on through I Feel Free to Badge which was no 15 in my “Friday on my Mind” category.

Bruce’s bass playing is more to the fore on this song.

Sunshine of Your Love

John Symon Asher (Jack) Bruce, 14/5/1943 – 25/10/2014. So it goes.

Art Deco in Groningen (i)

Groningen was a happy hunting ground for Art Deco. On the way in to the town centre past the Museum I saw the side of a building that looked a bit deco (vertical features) but made of what I thought was modern brick so passed on.

Just further along though I came on this very Egyptianate (and so true deco) shop. Le Souk:-

Not too far on was this:-

Just off the Vis Markt (fish market – absolutely heaving the day we were there) was Sumo:-

This was later, from across the market after we had circled round Groningen:-

Some time later we got back to the lane we had come up from the Museum and I realised that the earlier brick building I mentioned above was Deco. Might it be a cinema? Brilliant verticals and horizontals, flagpole, little square windows, detailing picked out in red and yellow. Delightful.

I had hoped the photo would show the vertical brickwork in the lane but sadly it hasn’t. What had alerted me to it was this stunning window on the main road:-

Reelin’ In the Years 96: RIP Alvin Stardust

A few days ago it was Raphael Ravenscroft, now Alvin Stardust. In the words of another 70s song, “They’re dropping down like flies, man.”

I don’t remember Alvin Stardust’s first pop incarnation. (Apparently on his comeback, Tony Blackburn – who has a running joke with Graham Norton that he still hasn’t been arrested – bumped into him backstage on Top of the Pops one week and said to him, “Didn’t you used to be Shane Fenton?) I’d heard the name but couldn’t put a tune or face to it.

I do, though, remember the 1970s records and leather clad appearances on TV – complete with outrageous size ring worn outside his glove – and thought he was rather sending up the rock hard man schtick.

I haven’t opted for either of his two big hits, Jealous Mind nor My Coo Ca Choo, though.

Alvin Stardust: Red Dress

Bernard William Jewry – aka Shane Fenton; aka Alvin Stardust. 27/9/1942 – 23/10/2014. So it goes.

Interzone 252, May-Jun 2014

Interzone 252 cover

The Posset Pot by Neil Williamson1
Possibly the unexpected results of a Large Hadron Collider type experiment, bubbles from elsewhere or elsewhen are intersecting the Earth, excising parts of it when they disappear. The narrator navigates the ruins of Glasgow, looking for provisions, hoping for the chance to be reunited with the lover he lost to one of the bubbles years before. An unusual apocalypse this, made more so by the familiarity (to me) of its setting.

The Mortuaries by Katharine E K Duckett2
Another apocalypse, this one based on global warming. The remaining human population lives on a gloopy foodstuff named noot. The titular mortuaries are more like mausolea. A man called Brixton invented a process which could embalm bodies and keep them fresh. Viewpoint character Tem grows up not fully understanding the world around him until he visits the “bad” mortuary. The pieces of the story didn’t quite cohere. In this world of shortage would there still be enough resources for the upkeep of the mortuaries – not to mention cars and motorbikes for people to flee the doomed last coastal city?

Diving into the Wreck by Val Nolan3
A story about the discovery of the lost Apollo 11 lunar ascent module, Eagle, crashed somewhere on the Moon, and of the necessity for mystery. I wasn’t quite convinced by the (unnamed) narrator’s final decision but this is a fine tale of what it – sometimes – means to be human.

Two Truths and a Lie by Oliver Buckram4
This describes a doomed love affair – one of whose participants may be an alien – couched as a series of short paragraphs each followed by three propositions of which the story’s title and preamble invite us to believe only two are true.

A Brief Light by Claire Humphrey5
Ghosts are appearing in everyone’s houses. Ghosts which sometimes have the attributes of birds. This causes complications in the marriage of Lauren who is contemplating a lesbian affair with Jo. The ghosts interfere in both their lives.

Sleepers by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam6
Strange white creatures with hooves have started to appear randomly. An insomniac woman whose father is in hospital seeks one out to see if it perhaps a version of him. While the present tense narration is perhaps justified by the ending it seemed to strike a false note in the second paragraph.

1 sheered for sheared and “cookie jar.” Cookie jar? Unlikely from a Glaswegian I’d have thought.
2 Written in USian
3 A wyne of hay may be a misprint for wayne. There was also the sentence, “Here so the long culmination of selenological time.” What????
4 I had to look up “s’mores.” It’s some sort of USian confection.
5 Ditto “toonie” – a Canadian two-dollar coin.
6 Written in USian

Reelin’ In the Years 95: RIP Raphael Ravenscroft – Baker Street

Sad to hear that the man who really played the signature saxophone solo of the 1970s, Raphael Ravenscroft, has died.

Apparently he wasn’t satisfied with his famous contribution to Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street. “I’m irritated because it’s out of tune,” he said. “Yeah, it’s flat. By enough of a degree that it irritates me at best.”

Judge for yourselves.

Gerry Rafferty: Baker Street

Raphael Ravenscroft, 4/6/1954 – 19/10/2014. So it goes.

Spot the Spelling Mistake

I took the photo below well before our trip to The Netherlands. It’s of a poster advertising a production of Sunset Song at the Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy.

Spot the spelling mistake.

I notice the “schools £9 age 12+” concession rate. I hope that in future exams none of the scholars attribute the book incorrectly.

Blood of the Martyrs by Naomi Mitchison

Constable & Co Ltd, 1939 500 p.

Naomi Mitchison has an extensive bibliography. Some of her output dealt with Scottish themes, others with sexuality. Blood of the Martyrs is a historical novel set in Imperial Rome during the reign of Nero.

Blood of the Martyrs cover

The first eight chapters relate the life histories of the members of the small Christian group whose story the book tells. Thereafter most of the novel takes place in the household of Senator Flavius Crispus, where Beric, a Briton, son of King Caradoc (Caratacus,) is treated as one of the family. He is not a Roman citizen, however, and is effectively being trained up for a return to Britain to help maintain Roman rule. His infatuation with Crispus’s daughter Flavia spitefully spurned by that spoilt young woman, he falls in with the Christians among the house’s slaves. As we are in the run-up to the Great Fire, things are obviously not going to turn out especially well. In passing we meet Paul of Tarsus, imprisoned in the Mamertine jail, and Luke, designated here a provincial doctor. We also matter-of-factly encounter the harshness of life in those days for all but the pampered rich – and even they were not secure from imperial displeasure.

The discussions among Crispus’s Senator friends – the Empire was built on money and the need to avoid Carthage making it, but that was also the Republic’s ruination – their political intrigue, the imperial dynamic which insists on enemies, the attraction of early Christianity for the downtrodden, are all well-handled. The book flows easily, the discussions of doctrine are not abstruse – a rich man couldn’t stay so as a Christian; if he lived like one as he wouldn’t want to keep his wealth – and at one point a character observes that Paul’s epistolic suggestions to a particular Church over a particular problem will one day be taken as a general rule. (each Church here is described as having its own autonomy and is run by a deacon, male or female according to who is most respected,) another fears that the rich and powerful might try to co-opt the Churches.

The novel is very easy to read and appears to be well researched. There are however several mentions of fireworks – generally considered to be a later Chinese invention. Others for pedant’s corner: there was an “Aren’t I?” – I doubt Romans spoke so ungrammatically – a “sunk,” “less” rights, by and bye (my dictionary has that without the e,) smoothe (ditto: says it’s rare) and “you’d have woke up that morning.” Interestingly, Mitchison deploys the word ruthful and the phrase “you usen’t to be interested in such things.”

Easter Road Stadium

Home of Hibernian FC.

I took these at the League Cup game in August, not the 0-0 last week.

From the access road:-

Main Stand Exterior:-

South Stand Exterior:-

East Stand:-

North Stand:-

Main Stand:-

The teams at kick off. You can just about see the hoops on the front of the Sons strip on a couple of our players. It’s a particularly horrible shade of green Hibs are wearing this season. And no white sleeves. Poor show.

Heart of Midlothian 5-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Tynecastle Stadium, 18/10/14

A curious one this. Hearts were clearly the better team – the best I’ve seen against us in years, just shading Aberdeen in the cup last season – but we didn’t deserve to lose five. On the other hand we did little in the way of attacking in the first half. Andy Graham made the Hearts keeper make a save but that was about it. We definitely miss the Chrisses, Turner and Kane.

We allowed too many crosses in and the first goal came from one of them. The penalty was a penalty. I thought Scott Linton would get to the ball but the attacker was quicker. Danny Rogers touched the ball but he was unlikely to save two inside a week. He had made a great save at 1-0 though.

Second half we came out more brightly and should have had a penalty ourselves when Mark Gilhaney was tripped in the box. For their third we back-pedalled instead of closing down and the guy tucked it away.

Garry Fleming’s goal came when Colin Rhyming Slang headered a corner back across goal from a corner and was finished very well.

Their fourth was from a corner and I was lamenting the fact that we had all eleven men within twenty five yards of our goal. Leave two up and they have to leave three back.

The last was another on the counter immediately after one of their defenders had made a block and dragged the ball with his hand; so we should have had a foul.

Still, I came away thinking we hadn’t played too badly, and not too down-hearted.

It’s a funny old game.

Rites of Passage by Eric Brown

Infinity Plus Books, 2014, 188 p.

Rites of Passage cover

This is a collection of four of Brown’s novella length works three of which have appeared previously.

Bartholomew Burns and the Brain Invaders is a steampunk story featuring Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, our eponymous hero Burns, mudlark Tommy Newton and a scene at the Great Exhibition. In it we have no less than three sets of aliens, one of which is about to invade Earth by taking over the brains of people in power. Put so baldly it seems daft, and in many ways it is, but it is effective as light entertainment. As Brown says in his introduction to the collection the background here is not as compelling as it might be but he has created scope for more adventures from Burns in the future where that deficiency, if it is one, can be remedied.

Guardians of the Phoenix was later expanded by Brown into a novel. This original version became roughly the third quarter of the novel and, to my mind, the story works better at this shorter length, being more tightly focused.

Sunworld is set on a constructed space habitat where the inhabitants have long forgotten their origin. Yarrek Merwell dreams of being an architect but his extremely religious parents force him into joining the Inquisition. His encounter with the Church’s head leads to revelations that overturn his ideas of himself and his place in the world. Yet again in a Brown story religion looms large.

The story original to this collection is Beneath the Ancient Sun but its setting – an Earth dried up, with little fresh water – could be that of Guardians of the Phoenix only many centuries further on. A handful of humans struggles to survive, eking out their meagre reserves of water and telling stories to inspire the youngsters. For his Initiation rite Par chooses to emulate the legendary journey of Old Old Old Marla to the high mountain peaks. His girlfriend Nohma and her former lover Kenda accompany him. This story and Guardians of the Phoenix are the most satisfactory of the four novellas here. The other two seem more sketchy, as if they required greater length to be fully effective. Brown has left plenty scope for that, though, if he decides to return to the scenarios.

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