Friday on my Mind 129: For Your Love

The reference I was alluding to last week.

This seems to be a live version; possibly from an appearance on the US TV programme Shindig!.

The Yardbirds: For Your Love

Rushton War Memorial

Rushton is a small village in Northamptonshire.
The War Memorial stands by the road at a play/recreation area, a cross above a tapered pedestal on a plinth on which are incised the names of the World War 1 dead. Those of World War 2 dead are engraved on the wall behind.

Rushton War Memorial

Rushton War Memorial World War 2.

Ancient Light by John Banville

Viking, 2012, 253 p. Borrowed from a threatened library.

 Ancient Light cover

Ten years after the suicide of his daughter Cass, Alex Cleave is looking back over his life and especially at his first love – and first sexual partner – the twenty years senior to him mother of his childhood friend, Billy. Apart from one mention towards the book’s end the woman concerned, since Alex failed to discover (or else to remember) her name, is only ever described in the narrative as Mrs Gray. This tends to give the relationship, which is otherwise described in the most intimate terms, a certain distance, though it was intensively felt by the young Alex, and in the older’s remembrance. The worldliness of ageing, the weariness, is, however, reflected in the sentence, “what is a life but a gradual shipwreck?” but nevertheless, for Cleave, “Other people’s motives, their desiderata and anathemas, are a mystery to me. My own are too.”

As always Banville’s writing is exquisite and the unusual affair would certainly have been enough to sustain a novel on its own but things take an odd turn when Cleave, a retired stage actor, is offered the lead part in a film portraying the life of Axel Vander, whom readers of Banville’s earlier book Shroud will know was the man with whom Cass spent the last weeks before her suicide. This authorial knowingness is emphasised by the casual dropping of names of now all but forgotten writers or film stars – most of whom I had to look up (Walter Pater? Betty Hutton?) – in which context the thought, “If I were to believe that a certain confluence of events was a special and unique phenomenon outside the ordinary flow of happenstance I would have to accept – as I do not – that there is a transcendent process at work above, or behind, or within, commonplace reality,” a metafictional statement which lays bare the artificiality of what we are reading. Yet it all feels visceral, real. Banville’s interest in things scientific (early works of his focused on Copernicus, Kepler and Newton) is demonstrated by a chance encounter with a stranger in a hotel bar which leads to Cleave being told, “light…. takes time… to reach your eyes, and so it is that everywhere we look, everywhere, we are looking into the past,” an endeavour in which our narrator is all too involved.

Yet the past is not all it seems. Mrs Gray’s motives for the affair, Cleave’s recollections of it – memories are, after all, constructions as much as anything – are seen in a new light when towards the novel’s end Cleave once more meets her daughter.

A puff on the book’s front cover says, “Did it even need to be as tremendous as this?” Well, no. It didn’t need to be. But it is.

Pedant’s corner:- ‘at first I could not make head or tail of it’ (head nor tail,) wiling away the empty hours (whiling,) glary? “I had never been thus close up” (this,) “every aurate woman” (an aurate is a salt of auric acid!! I presume Banville meant golden or “having an aura”.) “Why does anyone do anything.” (is missing a “?” at the sentence end,) “Cass’s presence in Liguria [- paragraph break -] Cass’s presence in Liguria was the first link…” (I merely note this cæsura,) “had no hat, or umbrella” (nor umbrella,) “I had to leap up, like a leaping salmon” (do we need that “leaping”?)

The Ford at Geddington

We took a stroll around Geddington (see previous post) and found a lovely bridge. The bridge is only wide enough for one car/vehicle at a time. You can see here the ford beside it which allows simultaneous passage. (We did see a driver chicken out of tackling the ford though):-

Bridge + Ford

View of the ford and river from the bridge:-

The Ford at Geddington

Geddington War Memorial

The War Memorial of Geddington, Norhamptonshire, lies in the grounds of the Church of St Mary Magdalene which stands near to the Eleanor Cross.

Church in Geddington

The Memorial is a simple cross on a tapered stone pedestal standing on a plinth.

Geddington War Memorial

Unusually the names of the war dead are not engraved on the Memorial but rather are set into the wall of the church. 1914-1918 names in middle plaque, 1939-1945 on lower. The upper panel contains names for both wars of men from Newton Parish.

Geddington War Memorial Plaque

There are also two Commonwealth War Graves in the churchyard.

Driver Charles Townley, Royal Field Artillery, 9/11/1918. Aged 24.

First World War Grave, Geddington

Aircraftman J W Green, RAF, 15/9/1940. Age 32.

Second World War Grave, Geddington

Mockingbird by Walter Tevis

Gollancz SF Masterworks, 2007, 289 p. Originally published in 1980. Borrowed from a threatened library.

Mockingbird cover

Mockingbird is set in the 25th century in a dystopia wherein humans are kept docile by drugs, living with someone is a crime, Individuality and Privacy (definitely capitalised) valued above all else, no-one can read and no children are being born.

Robert Spofforth is an android of the highest specification; a Make Nine, powered by a controlled fusion battery, the only one of his kind to be created so as not to be able to kill itself as other Make Nines had done. And it (he?) wants to die. Its (his) viewpoint is rendered in the third person whereas those of Paul Bentley, a human who having taught himself how to read comes to Spofforth requesting a job as a reading tutor only to be refused, and Mary Lou Borne, whom Bentley has in turn taught to read, are in the form of first person journals. The ramifications of the interactions between these three are worked out over the course of the book as Spofforth sends Bentley to prison and takes Mary Lou to live with him (of necessity platonically.) Spofforth is, of course, almost more human than the humans in the book, certainly compared to the illiterate masses (who, though, appear only sketchily, apart from Bentley’s fellow prisoners and the religious sect he encounters after his escape.)

Mockingbird is part tragedy, part love story, part travelogue of this strange new world, a meditation on what it means to be human and how easily that could be thrown away, or drifted from. Its message of the importance to humanity of the capacity to read is perhaps even more timely now than when it was written.

Pedant’s corner:- The text was the USian one. Plus:- “oblivious of their presence” (oblivious to…) “standing there to the House of Reptiles” (in the House,) “pictures on one walk of the room (on one wall,) “felt of them with her fingers” (felt them.) “‘What become of her?’” (became, though it was in dialogue and could have been meant to be ungrammatical,) “but I do not think about the pain” (this was in a look back so “did not think”,) “except that It was wrapped” (it,) “‘I’d take ever damn one of them’” (every,) in Jesus’ name (Jesus’s,) “‘I had waked her’” (maybe not just an Alabama thing, then. But still; woken.)

Dundee or Falkirk

The fruit of our Cup win against Queen of the South is one of the two above, who have still to settle their tie.

On paper either of them should beat us. But it’s a home game which may count a bit in our favour.

To be played on the first weekend in February.

Bowie

The one name suffices. In modern times you could not be referring to anyone else.

There was (sadly that tense is now appropriate) only one Bowie: David.

For many the iconic moment of their lives was Bowie placing a carefree, languid, unthinking arm round Mick Ronson’s neck on that Top of the Pops appearance while promoting Starman and thereby validating sexualities beyond that of the straight and cis.

Bowie’s first brush with the charts came with Space Oddity in 1969, regarded at the time as a bit of a novelty record, though it wasn’t his last song to tangle with SF imagery.

He hit his stride with the Hunky Dory album in 1971 – on which nearly every track is a belter – though no hits were to come from that source till Life on Mars? was released as a single in 1973. This was of course after the breakthrough, the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in 1972 and that hit with Starman. I would argue that Hunky Dory is the greater achievement. From Ziggy onwards Bowie seemed to be commercialising his talent. The string of hits that followed on from the Ziggy album, through his Aladdin Sane persona, up to Diamond Dogs perhaps bore that out.

He lost me with Young Americans, though. I’ve never been into that sort of music. There were stonkers still to come of course, when he’d changed his style a few more times, Heroes, Ashes to Ashes, Let’s Dance, China Girl, but it is the early stuff I’ll remember him for.

This is The Bewlay Brothers, from Hunky Dory of course.

David Bowie: The Bewlay Brothers

“Man is an obstacle, sad as the clown. (Oh, by jingo.)
So hold on to nothing and he won’t let you down.”

David Bowie: After All (from The Man Who Sold the World)

“I borrowed your time and I’m sorry I called.”

David, we’re not sorry you called.

David Robert Jones (“David Bowie”) 8/1/1947 – 10/1/2016. So it goes.

Eleanor Cross, Geddington, Northamptonshire

The other Eleanor Cross we visited was at Geddington:-

Eleanor Cross

Eleanor Cross, Geddington

An information board here shows the route of Eleanor of Castile’s body from Lincoln to London, and the twelve stopping places:-

Information Board, Eleanor Cross, Geddington

Interzone 258 May-Jun 2015

Interzone 258 cover

a shout is a prayer / for the waiting centuries1 by T R Napper is a tale of a moneyed, privileged overclass and downtrodden servants with no choices, intermixed with memories of war.
The Re’em Song2 by Julie C Day. The bones or blood of dead Re’em – unicorn-like creatures long hunted from the Kerill valley – protect farmland and buildings. Orri and Sunifa nevertheless encounter one.
Doors3 by Bonni Jo Stufflebeam. Nikki, effectively orphaned, has the responsibility of looking after her Down’s Syndrome brother Zack. On a visit to a fairground she enters a ride which offers her a choice of universes to live in.
Angel Fire by Christien Gholson. An ex-stock trader and serial divorcé roams a US where desperate people light fires to entice angels to save them.
Her First Harvest4 by Malcolm Devlin. On a colony world where there is no soil people are “seeded” with fungi which grow on their backs. The crop is harvested during a grand Ball.

Pedant’s corner:-
1 a line of … were being created (a line was)
2 fetid (fœtid)
3 Written in USian. Where her brother could take of himself (could take care of himself.)
4 Fungi have spores; not seeds. “the orchestra were establishing themselves (the orchestra members were….; or, the orchestra was establishing itself.)

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