Raith Rovers 3-2 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Stark’s Park, 24/9/16.

What an odd game. We started brightly enough then fell right out of it. They missed two great chances, one pulled wide when it looked easier to score then Alan Martin made a great save on a one-on-one after a short pass back.

But it was only delayed. We were opened up far too easily and the lad put it into the corner. We could have equalised when a throw-in got all the way through to Daniel Harvie but he could not control the bounce of his body and the ball looped over the bar.

Their second was again too easily created but the deflection was cruel to Alan Martin. We were so out of it I said, “We’re not coming back from this.” Their third was unsavable. The scorer was given too much space and simply belted it from a distance. It struck the post before nestling. “We’re definitely not coming back from this.”

Stevie Aitken made two subs at half time Josh Todd for Craig Pettigrew and Sam Stanton for Andy Stirling. Robert Thomson had a neat back-heek that was cleared off the line but it wasn’t till Ryan Stevenson came on for Garry Fleming that we got presence in midfield. Stevenson it was who reduced the deficit when finally he took the responsibility for a shot that everybody else in the move had shunned. Consolation only I thought but somehow we managed to score again, a bit of pinball in their box ended by Robert Thomson but don’t ask me how as we Sons fans were up in the gods in the angle of the main stand about as far away from the goal at the north end as it is possible to get. For a few seconds I wasn’t even sure the ref had given it.

So, a drubbing ended up adding only one to our minus goal difference. We need to start playing (for which read defending) before going three goals down.

We’re now second bottom – and we won’t get any points next week. League leaders Queen of the South are at the Rock and notwithstanding the result there last time our record at home against them is awful.

Helensburgh Architecture

I was over in the west in April (for the Queen of the South game I think) and took in Helensburgh again.

This shop (in Sinclair Street?) has very minor Art Deco touches:-

Decoish Shop Frontage Helensburgh

Detail of windows to right:-

Helensburgh, Decoish Frontage 2

This building (definitely in Sinclair Street) is impressive in its upper reaches:-

Helensburgh Shop Building

Roofline detail:-

Helensburgh Shop Close-up

This cartouche looks like it may be a representation of St Andrew:-

Helensburgh Shop Detail

Reelin’ In the Years 125: It Must Be Love

As well as songs written by Prince Buster, Madness also covered this one which was composed and first performed by Labi Siffre, becoming his first UK hit after his previous release Pretty Little Girl (Make My Day) failed to make the charts.

Labi Siffre: It Must Be Love

For comparison purposes here is Madness’s version.

Madness: It Must be Love

The Misunderstanding by Irène Némirovsky

Vintage, 2013, 162 p, plus iii p Translator’s Note and iv p Preface to the French Edition. Translated from the French Le Malentendu by Sandra Smith.

 The Misunderstanding cover

This short novel, originally published in 1924, when the author was 21, examines the love affair between Yves Harteloup and Denise Jessaint. Yves is a former soldier, a veteran of Verdun, but his family’s fortunes have been ruined by the war and he has been forced to work for a poor living. Denise is married (more out of a sense of duty than love) but she is still sexually ingenuous when they meet. Crucially though, her husband is well off. The mismatch in her circumstances and Yves’s is not so apparent at the holiday resort where in Denise’s husband’s absence on business they first spend time together but comes to dominate their relationship when they return to Paris. Denise is frustrated by Yves’s failure to say he loves her, Yves by her inability to act as submissively and devotedly as he would wish. Their mutual misunderstandings lead to a dissatisfaction on both their parts. A piece of advice from her mother precipitates their relationship’s crisis.

Even at this stage of her writing career Némirovsky had a firm grip on her subject matter. There are parallels with Madame Bovary here of which Némirovsky was undoubtedly conscious. Despite this being a first novel, her insights into character and attitudes are already well developed. Quite how much force there is in Denise’s cousin’s assertion that, “In the end, there’s no woman on Earth you can’t get over ….. We men know that from birth,” is debatable, though probably true in the vast majority of cases.

Once again (though see below) Sandra Smith’s translation flows smoothly but she is working with the best of materials. Any Némirovsky novel it would seem is well worth reading.

Pedant’s corner:- sprung up (sprang up,) “and white peacocks roamed the grounds were planted with” (seems to be missing a which.)

Edinburgh’s Art Deco Heritage 16: Dominion Cinema, Morningside

This is a stunner. A fantastic cinema in the Streamline Moderne Art Deco style. It really ought to have been much further up this list, possibly even at the top, but I had no photographs of it. I knew it existed but not exactly where it was in Edinburgh. I wasn’t very familiar with the geography of the city but my son moved there a couple of years ago and on a visit I was exploring the area he lives in.

Imagine my delight on coming across this by accident rather than design. It’s still a working independent cinema, run by a family. This is their website. They also have a facebook presence.

From Morningside Road end of Newbattle Terrace. Great curved column:-

Dominion Cinema, Edinburgh

Closer view:-

Dominion Cinema 2

From Newbattle Terrace, opposite aspect:-

Dominion Cinema 3

Upper detailing and roofline:-

Dominion Cinema 4

Stained glass window by entrance doorway. This is mirrored on the other side:-

Dominion Cinema 5

Column detailing and surround:-

Dominion Cinema 6

Canopy, clock and lettering:-

Dominion Cinema 7

Stitch from across Newbattle Terrace:-

Dominion Cinema 8

Falkland Then and Now

Falkland is a village a few miles away from where we now live. (Its name is connected in a roundabout way to a certain set of islands in the South Atlantic but it’s more famous for its Palace, the country residence of the Stuart monarchs.)

We go there quite often – usually to visit the Library but also to have a stroll as there’s an estate and burn you can walk beside. The Palace gardens are wortha look as well, especially if you area National trust for Scotland member.

In February we found its main street festooned with no parking cones and notices of restriction for four days.

Falkland  in Fife

Falkland in Fife

It turned out they were going to be filming scenes for the new series of Outlander and they’d mocked it up supposedly as if it were the 1950s.

The Community Hall had been daubed with a “Free Scotland” grafitti and a saltire which strikes me as being unlikely for the 50s but there you go:-

Falkland  in Fife

This is how it looks restored to more normal circumstances, in April this year:-

Community Hall, Falkland, Fife

This shop was made to look like a furniture and hardware store:-

Falkland  in Fife

And its “real” incarnation is a gift shop/café, Fayre Earth:-

Fayre Earth

This “fruit shop” took me back:-

Falkland  in Fife

In the 2010s it’s another eatery, Campbell’s:-

Café/Eatery Falkland, Fife

I’m not quite sure what this was supposed to be. A B&B I think. Unfortunately people were hanging around:-

Falkland in Fife

It’s actually The Covenanter’s Hotel:-

Covenanter's Hotel, Falkland

Asimov’s Jul 2016

Dell Magazines

Asimov's Jul 2016 cover

Sheila Williams’s editorial1 discusses past and present winners of the Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing. Robert Silverberg’s Reflections2 muses on Persons from Porlock and how he always took great care to allow no distractions when he was working but that Coleridge’s experience did provide him with the inspiration for his first ever sale (for $5) at the age of fifteen. Paul di Filippo’s “On Books” reviews retrospective collections from Nancy Kress and Gregory Benford, a contemporary one from Finnish writer Leena Krohn and novels by Christopher Fowler and Gene Wolfe.
In the fiction we have Suzanne Palmer’s Ten Poems for the Mossums, One for the Man3 which is narrated by a poet set down alone on an alien planet where he discovers the nature of some of its alien life.
Both Filtered4 by Leah Cypess andMasked5 by Rich Larson are typical ‘push current trends to their logical conclusion’ SF stories. In the former a journalist tries to get his story about the manipulation of everyone’s communication feeds by filter programmes through the filters. The latter has teenagers constantly surrounded by a cloud of appearance created to enhance their real selves. One of them, Vera, has been affected by a virus which turned the “cover” off.
Project Entropy5, the latest of the series of stories in Asimov’s by Dominica Phetteplace, explores the ramifications of Angelina having had her Watcher chip removed and the implications of such AIs. Curiously flat in execution.
In Jack Skillingstead’s The Savior Virus6 a biologist who lost his legs in a terrorist bombing engineers a virus to remove the notion of God from people’s minds.
In Nobody Like Josh7 by Robert Thurston Josh is a town’s secret alien whose spaceship crashed before the narrator was born. This story is curiously similar in premise to I married a Monster from Outer Space which appeared in Asimov’s March 2016 issue, but isn’t anything like as affective or effective.
Webs by Mary Anne Mohanraj is set around the prejudice of ordinary humans on a colony world towards those with adaptations.
In Lost: Mind by Will McIntosh a man has to search for the missing parts of his wife’s downloaded mind after they are stolen. The story is marred by a continuity error in the last quarter page which totally undermines verisimilitude.

1 graduating with a duel major (dual,) Joan Sloncewski (the correct spelling, Slonczewski, is used later in the piece.) 2 Samuel Purchas’ (Purchas’s,) 3 beside (besides,) to not spend (not to spend,) “how good he has always been about putting off things” (about putting things off.) 4matrixes (matrices.) 5Lawless’ (Lawless’s.) 5 canvasses (canvases.) 6 symptoms would manifest in mild cold-like symptoms. 7 crashed-landed (crash-landed.)

Roslin War Memorial

The War Memorial in Roslin, Midlothian is situated in a green area by the side of the main road through the town. A restrained Celtic Cross with a wreath on the pedestal.

Roslin War Memorial

It’s dedicated to “Those from Roslin and District.”
1914-1919 names are on the main cross, 1939-1945 names on the projecting slab below.

Roslin War Memorial Close

A Borrowed Man by Gene Wolfe

Tor, 2015, 300 p. Reviewed for Interzone 260, Sep-Oct 2015.

The Borrowed Man cover

The author carved out a well-regarded space for himself in the 1980s and 90s as a purveyor of quality high fantasy as in the various books of the New, the Long and the Short Suns, essayed a novel take on the unreliable narrator in his Latro in the Mist novels, made the occasional foray into detective/murder stories such as Pandora by Holly Hollander, and has also published various stand-alone books each with his own distinctive stamp, but in his previous output hasn’t produced all that much in the way of straightforward SF. A Borrowed Man goes some way to altering that – but only some way – in that it has an impeccable Science Fictional premise in the shape of its narrator.

That narrator is Ern A Smithe, who is a reclone, having the consciousness of a long dead author housed in a new version of his body, as a resource on a shelf in a library. Not legally human, fixed so as not to sire children, he can be consulted or even borrowed, but if he is not, then he will eventually be discarded and burned. He thinks real humanity has retired. For this is a world much diminished in population, with inhabitants who advocate further reductions; and reclones stand out. In this future society people with disabilities are kept out of sight to avoid troubling the rest and what was the US is (to us) an unrecognisable set of fragment states. However, as well as the reclones, there is advanced tech aplenty, voice controlled cars and aircraft, robots of varying degrees of intelligence, but despite the ubiquity of screens, books still exist – and inter-library loans, for clones as well as books.

Smithe is checked out of Spice Grove Public Library by Colette Coldbrook, whose father and brother are dead and who is the heiress to the estate. Smithe’s original was the author of Murder on Mars, a book which formed the only contents of Conrad Coldbrook Snr’s safe and which holds a secret. Both the Coldbrook men have been murdered and Colette thinks Smithe might know what that secret is. He doesn’t, but he sets about finding out.

In what follows there is a degree of toing and froing across the country which, however, does not display many differences from at present; there are still for example bus stations and cross-country buses, on one of which Smithe takes up with a pair of misfits, Georges and Mahala, whose talents he makes use of.

The action keeps returning, though, to the Coldbrook house, where the murders took place. It is run by robots and has a mini nuclear reactor on one of the locked upper floors. There is also a door one step through which takes Smithe to an alien world, light years away, peopled by strange, stick-like creatures and with menacing things coming out of the sea. This shimmer of SF gloss, while it does contribute to the plot, seems at odds with the rest of the story which has much more in common with the hard-boiled thriller. For, if the streets Smithe walks down are not exactly mean, Wolfe has certainly not forgotten Chandler’s Law; the one about having a man come through the door with a gun, even if this gun does have a strange trumpet shape. Encounters with the police, and a confrontation with a man who is on his tail only heighten the film noir impression.

Frequently nowadays it can almost seem obligatory, but time was the SF detective story was a stunted beast; neither of the strands marrying well. In those terms A Borrowed Man just about falls on the right side of the line.

For an opening line, “Murder is not always such a terrible thing,” is quite arresting. It is a true enough indicator of what follows, especially in signposting the thriller nature of the book as a whole, but doesn’t quite deliver what it seems to promise, while still presaging Smithe’s sympathy for one of the murderers.

Notwithstanding the above, which can all be looked at as a species of excessive nit-picking, Wolfe writes like a dream. Smithe is an engaging and resourceful character and on the whole A Borrowed Man is immensely readable. It is all very cleverly done, and the plot is tied up without loose ends. As a detective story it works well and the SF elements are intriguing but while the “borrowed human” concept is an ingenious one it is not really fully developed, despite Smithe meeting, in various libraries, different copies of his one-time wife, poet Arabella Lee. There is, though, apparently a sequel in the works.

These comments did not appear in the published review:-
I’m not sure what to make of Smithe’s thought that, “Someone ought to do a study on how long a man can talk to a woman without having to lie.” And what strange mind set comes up with the thought, “We had no more business shooting them than a burglar has shooting the owner of the house that he is robbing”? How about no-one has any business shooting anyone? (Or burgling come to that.)

Pedant’s corner:- The USianism “throve”, hangar is quite often written as hanger, “none of the rest were” (none of the rest was,) no “open quote” mark when a chapter starts with a piece of dialogue, “I dropped it to floor” (to the floor,) boney for bony, “I’ll look for work when get there,” (when I get there,) were for where, “You known, I feel lighter here,” (You know,) “That the cleaning service,” (That’s the cleaning service.)

Friday on my Mind 137: Al Capone; Madness; One Step Beyond

Prince Buster, who has died recently, was one of the instigators of ska and rock-steady and hence of course influential on the eventual development of reggae.

He only had the one hit in the UK in the 1960s though.

Prince Buster: Al Capone

His music was of course an inspiration for the group Madness who not only took their name from one of Buster’s songs (which they performed as the B-side to their first hit) –

Prince Buster: Madness

– but also covered his One Step Beyond for their second UK chart entry.

Prince Buster: One Step Beyond

Cecil Bustamente Campbell (Prince Buster): 24/5/1938-8/9/2016. So it goes.

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