Raith Rovers 2-1 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 2, Stark’s Park, 17/1/15

If you had told me at half-time that we would come near to taking a point out of this game I would have laughed. We were woeful. No oranisation, no bite, no shape, no nothing. All we had to show for it was a couple of long-range efforts from Garry Fleming. We badly missed Chris Kane up front. There wasn’t even Colin Rhyming Slang – on the bench throughout – to contest (contest?) for the ball. Though new loanee Stuart Findlay looked good, reasonably quick and comfortable on the ball. I think we were supposed to be playing 3-5-2 but it was all over the place really and they were able to get in behind us too easily.

Chris Turner had probably his worst game for us that I have seen. He’s not the player he was last season. It was his clumsy challenge that gave away the penalty and he simply wasn’t up to speed all game. There doesn’t seem to be anybody in the squad to allow him a rest what with the injuries to Jordan Kirkatrick and Mark Gilhaney.

Having said all that, Raith ought to have put us away. They didn’t and instead of going for the jugular second half opted for containment and hitting on the break. As a result we came into it. We actually looked like a team and had several Scott Agnew efforts for encouragement. One of those was parried by the keeper and Mitch Megginson pounced to score the rebound. A few minutes later the keeper spilled a cross under pressure from Garry Fleming and Mitch had a gaping goal, easier than the one he scored. He hit it too hard and it went over, off the bar. In stoppage time their keeper made a great save and in the subsequent passage of play a defender headed it off the line. On another day…..

Then again, Raith had missed a golden opportunity earlier in the half on one of their breaks upfield and also hit the post but a symptom of Raith’s second half approach was that even at 2-0 they had started time wasting.

Archie Campbell, despite his pace, doesn’t look the answer to our striking deficiencies.

Improvement next week is vital. Or at least to play for the whole game the way we played in the last twenty minutes yesterday.

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa

faber and faber, 2000, 384 p. Translated from the Spanish La tia Julia y el escribidor by Helen R Lane

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter cover

Eighteen year old Mario is studying law at San Marcos University but wants to be a writer. To hone his skills he has a job preparing news bulletins for Radio Panamericana in Lima. The events of the novel kick-off when his uncle’s wife’s recently divorced Bolivian sister, the Aunt Julia of the title, comes to Lima to seek a new husband. At the same time another Bolivian, Pedro Camacho (the scriptwriter,) is taken on by Panamericana’s sister radio station, Central, to write soap operas – which are soon highly successful.

Up till chapter 20 the novel consists of alternate chapters; odd numbered ones relating Mario’s dealings with both Aunt Julia and Camacho and even ones the contents of the soap operas. These latter tend to be told to us rather than shown, end with a succession of questions as to what may happen next (think Soap without the “Confused?” after the questions,) become increasingly bizarre and represent a neat way of smuggling a series of more or less unconnected (but see below) short stories into the overall compass of a novel. Chapter 20 is from a time many years later. The contents of the soap operas tend to poke fun at Argentine nationals and their customs. Mario is amazed by Camacho’s devotion to his craft leading him to wonder who is the more worthy of being called a writer, one who thinks deeply about it yet produces only a few works, or one who churns them out but whose whole life is dedicated to nothing else.

Since the family will disapprove, Mario’s relationship with the fourteen years older Julia has to be clandestine. As the complications increase so do those of the soap operas, where characters’ names alter and events from one leech into others. As the crux of Mario’s romance approaches this is mirrored in the even-numbered chapters, prefiguring the mental breakdown of Camacho, There are two ways of looking at this. Either Llosa has admirably illustrated mental breakdown in literary form or he has avoided the need for consistency in his own novel. The latter could be seen as cheating. On the other hand it could be genius at work.

Camacho gives a caution to the young Mario, “Women and art are mutually exclusive,” and in a later writerly interposition Mario realises that everyone, without exception, could be turned into a subject of a short story.

The novel seems to be closely based on Llosa’s own young life. He did marry Julia Urquidi, his maternal uncle’s sister-in-law. Personally I think writers ought to avoid any hint of biography in their fiction – unless it is so disguised as to be all but impenetrable – as it leads some to believe that no fiction is made up. How much of Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter is actual autobiography I have no idea. Not that it really matters I suppose. The novel can be enjoyed without any knowledge of the author’s life.

The literary canon is full of works which feature doomed, thwarted or inappropriate love affairs. Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter aspires towards that condition. Chapter 20 may not be the best resolution though. Better maybe to have left the love story at the traditional ending point. I will read more Llosa, though.

The translation is of course into USian and so we have “jumped rope” for skipping, flutist (flautist is more common in the UK but apparently it derives from a derogatory term) and a series of awkward phrases to do with what the text calls soccer; players “butting” the ball with their heads instead of merely heading it, making goals (or points) rather than scoring them, goalkeepers blocking penalties in place of saving them, referees “call fouls or impose penalties” instead of giving fouls and handing out bookings (or sending players off.) Strangely there was also an instance of the Scottish formulation “a wee bit.” In dialogue Camacho implies a tortoise is a marine animal and in one of the serials that a dolphin is a fish but he is supposed not to be well educated. A phrase new to me but whose meaning was immediately obvious was “do things up brown.”

For Pedant’s Corner we had “the hoi polloi,” (hoi already means the,) dumfounded and motived. I was amused by a glossary of “unusual” words in the novel (linked to from its Wiki page.) Fair enough proparoxytones, mimeticosemantic, cyclothymia, oligophrenic, acromegalic, chrematistic, paropsis, apocopes and pignoration; but lugubrious, punctilious, phlegmatic, captious, greenhorn, forensic et al? And huachafo is explained in the text.

Reelin’ In the Years 98: Mr President. RIP Dozy

Another member of the most idiosyncratically named band of the 60s, Dozy, bassist of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich fame, has died.

This isn’t one of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich’s big hits. It doesn’t feature Dave Dee at all and was recorded and released in 1970 after he left the group when the band had shortened its name to the remaining members initials. This track apparently has the first use of a Moog Modular Synthesiser.

D B M & T: Mr President

Trevor Leonard Ward-Davies (Dozy): 27/11/1944 – 13/1/2015. So it goes.

Glasgow’s Art Deco Heritage 6: Lewis’s, Argyle Street

Sadly what was Glasgow’s largest department store is Lewis’s no more. The good lady remembers it always had a great Christmas window. The ground floor is now taken up with shops of various kinds and the upper levels are occupied by Debenham’s.

East end, from Argyle Street. I couldn’t get back far enough to get it all in so this is a stitch:-

Argyle Street elevation:-

The windows have fine detail:-

West end from Argyle Street:-

Glasgow’s Art Deco Heritage 5: Sauchiehall Street

Apart from the Beresford Hotel, Sauchiehall Street had a couple of other Art Deco buildings. This is a stitch of Marks and Spencer’s:-

And here is a close-up showing some detail:-

Dunnes Stores is on the corner of Sauchiehall and Cambridge Streets:-

Roof-line and window detail:-

There is a lovely finish to the highest part:-

The ABC cinema predates deco – originally built in 1877 before conversion to a cinema in 1929 – but is still a fine building. (Two photos stitched to get it all in):-

The Scottish cinemas website says it is closed. It seems to house a music venue now.

Glasgow’s Art Deco Heritage 4: Odeon Cinema, Renfield Street

Once the Paramount, before it became an Odeon, this is a building which is not as glorious as it used to be.

Full view from Upper Renfield Street:-

Corner element from Renfield Street:-

Renfiled Street aspect. Note the two men abseiling down the frontage, perhaps cleaning it:-

Detail of corner frontage:-

This is still a stunning looking building even if it needs a lot of tlc. I believe, however, only the facade remains as the Scottish cinemas website records. Compare this with this.

Scotland’s Art Deco Heritage 4: The Beresford Hotel; Addendum.

In early December we were in Glasgow for two days.

I took the opportunity to photograph the Beresford Hotel in Sauchiehall Street for myself.

This is the front view, from Elmbank Street:-

And a close up on the entrance, showing some of the building’s detail:-

There is lovely glazing above the doorway and fine ribbing on the pillars and the red-painted walls.

This is a side view from Sauchiehall Street:-

For Interzone 257

 Beta Life cover
 Irregularity cover

My latest review book for Interzone is Beta Life: stories from an A-life future, an anthology dealing with the impact on society of new technologies in computing, which plopped onto my doormat on Hogmanay. My allotted word count this time is 1100, up from 800.

Interzone 256, with my review of Irregularity, another anthology (inspired by the history of Science,) ought to be out soon.

The Extraordinary Voyage of Jules Verne by Eric Brown

PS Publishing, 2005, 137 p, plus iv p of introduction by Ian Watson.

The Extraordinary Voyage of Jules Verne cover

This handsomely produced novella was published to coincide with the centenary of Verne’s death in 2005. In that sense I’ve come to it about ten years too late. Part pastiche of Verne, part typical Eric Brown fare, this is an entertaining diversion, in which Verne is wheeched by means of a time-portal off to the Upper Cretaceous and the far future in a time machine which has the unfortunate drawback of leeching power from the sun and so causing Earth to freeze. Here too are a megalomaniac dictator, along with his nubile antagonist, not to mention ant-like interstellar aliens and strange gadgets. These adventures spark in Verne ideas he will later incorporate into fiction. What’s not to like? While there may be no profound points here – but neither were there in Verne’s fictions – what there is is an engaging adventure story with nods to the work of one of SF’s founding fathers.

Pedant’s corner:- gasses (gases,) panatela (panatella,) “hoves” as a present tense (heaves,) had take its toll on his reason (taken.)

Friday on my Mind 113: Painter Man

A small hit in the UK (no 36) but a no 8 in Germany. The track has echoes of The Troggs and The Who of I’m a Boy and prefigures the Roy Wood era Electric Light Orchestra. The video features “guitarist” Eddie Phillips playing his instrument with a violin bow – reputedly the first to do so – a major contributor to the record’s sound. Another antecedent of Prog Rock?

Phillips had also used this technique on their previous single, Making Time.

The Creation: Painter Man

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