Live It Up 59: Drive

I saw from The Guardian that Ric Ocasek, song-writer for the US band The Cars, has died.

The group’s highest UK chart placing was at no. 3 with My Best Friend’s Girl in 1978, a song which was of a piece with those punkish times.

The much less abrasive Drive reached no. 5 in 1984 but its use the next year in the Live Aid concert of 1985 to background scenes of the famine the concert was designed to help alleviate led to a reissue where it climbed to no. 4. Since then it’s been almost impossible to hear the song without those images coming to mind.

This, though, is the official video from the original release.

The Cars: Drive

Richard Theodore Otcasek (Ric Ocasek): 23/3/1944 – 15/9/2019. So it goes.

Dalbeattie War Memorial

This lovely example of a War Memorial is in Colliston Park, Dalbeattie. A column with lion finial surmounting a hexagonal base, made out of local granite.

Dalbeattie War Memorial

The bench in front is inscribed, “We will remember them 1914-1918.”

War Memorial Bench, Dalbeattie

Inscription, “In Memoriam, our glorious dead, 1914-1918,” and “1939-1945, their names liveth forever.”

Inscription, Dalbeattie War Memorial

Names. Great War above, WW2 below.

Names, Dalbeattie War Memorial

Great War Names:-

Dalbeattie War Memorial, Great War Names

More Great War Names, Dalbeattie War Memorial

More Great War Names. Note St. Nurse Jessie J Paterson TFNS:-

War Memorial, Dalbeattie, More Great War Names

Names for both wars:-

Nmaes for Both Wars, Dalbeattie War Memorial 7

Interzone 283 Has Arrived

Interzone 283 cover

Interzone 283 has landed on my doormat.

The issue contains, among the usual fare, two reviews of mine:-

The novel This is How You Lose the Time War, a collaboration written by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone.

Palestine +100 edited by Basma Ghalayini, the first ever collection of SF from Palestine.

Time flies….

I’ll need to be getting on with reading the books for review in issue 284.

Islecroft Stadium, Dalbeattie

Home of Dalbeattie Star F C, who currently ply their trade in the Scottish Lowland League.

The stadium lies to the side of Colliston Park, Dalbeattie.

Exit gates:-

Entrance/Exit Gates, Islecroft Stadium, Dalbeattie

Turnstiles:-

Islecroft Stadium

Stand:-

Stand, Islecroft Stadium, Dalbeattie

The stadium was closed when I visited Dalbeattie so these views of the pitch are somewhat restricted being taken through or over the fence:-

View of Pitch, Islecroft Stadium, Dalbeattie

Pitch and Dugouts, Islecroft Stadium, Dalbeattie

Part of Pitch, Islecroft Stadium, Dalbeattie

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Everyman’s Library, 1991, 606 p, plus xxiii p Introduction by Lucy Hughes-Hallett, ii p Select Bibliography, iv p Chronology and iii p Prefaces to the Second and Third Editions (as by Currer Bell.) First published in 1847.

Jane Eyre cover

I suppose this book hardly needs an introduction what with it being an acknowledged classic of nineteenth century literature. It could be described as Gothic – there is a madwoman in an attic, but it is also an instance of the ‘gaining of wisdom’ narrative, plus a case of virtue fulfilled, and there is even a dollop of Cinderella in its protagonist’s childhood. The later appearance of long-lost cousins, not to mention a handy inheritance, though, lend an air of authorial contrivance to the proceedings. And it has that besetting characteristic of the Victorian novel, an unrelenting wordiness. It’s easy to carp of course (and it should not be forgotten stepmothers were a prominent feature of life in the days the novel describes) but Lucy Hughes-Hallett’s Introduction reminds us Jane Eyre was innovatory, Brontë’s voice something new. The book certainly has had an enduring influence, with a wide afterlife, inspiring other hands to write prequels (Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea) and homages (Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.)

Jane Eyre is an orphan, entrusted to the care of her uncle, Mr Reed, who has unfortunately also deceased. Mrs Reed takes the wicked stepmother role, preferring her own children and treating Jane with lack of kindness and understanding, not seeing the calumnies with which her son John in particular attributes to Jane. Being packed off to boarding school (Lowood,) would have been a relief were that institution not (at least initially) so spartan. Here Jane meets the almost too saintly Helen Burns whose fate it is to die of consumption but not before Jane can reveal her philosophy to her. “‘If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all their own way.’”

Feminism avant la lettre reveals itself in the passage, “Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do.” This of course shows that women have been telling men things for donkey’s ages without the message ever managing to get through.

With her schooling finished Jane spends a few years teaching at Lowood herself before the departure of her mentor Miss Temple – to get married – prompts her to advertise for a position as governess. Thus finally, after over one hundred pages of preamble, we get to the main seat of the story, Thornfield Hall, and the brooding presence of its lord and master, Edward Fairfax Rochester.

How anyone could be attracted to Mr Rochester is a mystery to me. Jane knows almost from the outset of her dealings with him that he has a past. He himself tells her of a dalliance with the French actress Céline Varens, through whose machinations he has the charge of a ward in the shape of Adéle, for whose benefit Jane has been engaged as governess. He plays games with Jane – and, to be fair, with his aristocratic confrères – dressing up as a gypsy fortune teller to beguile them all and further his own designs, but also verbally. Moreover, he crucially conspires to keep the identity of the secret occupant of the attic unknown to Jane, allowing her to believe it is an attendant, Grace Poole. And is it a form of cruelty that sees Jane lodged in a room directly below that occupant? OK, he’s been dealt a stacked hand and trying to make the best of it but he is still trying to take advantage of a relative innocent. Even when his perfidy is revealed to her at the altar just before he’s about to contract a bigamous marriage with her she continues to think well of him. It is a fact of history, though, that such men are usually able to get away with it.

Still, Jane’s virtue will not see her become Rochester’s mistress. She flees Thornfield, and, penniless, stumbles into a village where no-one extends a helping hand. She is about to expire on his doorstep when St John Rivers hears her invoking God and brings her indoors to be looked after by his sisters and maidservant. Rivers is a strict religious man intent on becoming a missionary and creates a teaching post for her in the village. Religion may have been prominent in Victorian life but even so its presence here is an indicator that Brontë was brought up in a parsonage. Despite protestations on its first publication of its lack of piety, even of anti-religious content, religious discourse and allusion perfuse the novel, its resolution depends on Rivers’s vocation, and Jane’s different understanding of it.

It is in these closing stages of the book, though, that events begin to stretch credulity – even beyond a bigamous marriage being thwarted at the altar by the revelation of a previous wife who is still alive. Not many of us in extremis would expect to end up by chance in the household of a long-lost set of cousins nor to be the beneficiary of a bountiful bequest. Then off-stage events at Thornfield Hall enable what we are presumably to infer is a happy ending, though that Jane now has the advantage of Rochester does not speak entirely well of her. And it wasn’t at all happy for the incarcerated wife that had to die to allow it.

There are, too, other irritating aspects of the writing. Brontë has that unfortunate habit of designating places and periodicals with part names, _______shire, The ________ Herald. Why this coyness? Either spell them out properly or invent fictitious names for them. It’s a novelist’s job to make things up.

Love and death are perennial in the novel (any sex here, however, is strictly not to be mentioned.) However, time, and changing habits, have partially obscured the merits of a book like Jane Eyre. Novels nowadays tend to be less discursive. To modern eyes Jane Eyre is overwritten, even at places overwrought. It will always have an audience though.

Pedant’s corner:- In the Introduction; Helen Burns’ (Burns’s,) Dickens’ (Dickens’s,) Jean Rhys’ (Rhys’s.) Otherwise; there are various Victorian spellings – pannels (but, later, panels,) doat, blent, canvass, trode (trod,) secresy, dulness, etc, the correct ‘by-the-by’ swaps with ‘by-the bye’ at times. Then we have, “the Miss Reeds” (the Misses Reed,) also Miss Wilsons (Misses Wilson; I note that later on we have the two Misses Eshton,) Madame Jouberts (Mesdames Joubert,) bounp (bound, the p is actually an upside-down d so definitely a typesetting error.) “‘His elaer brother?’” (elder A transcription error in the typesetting?) “TheApollo Belvidree” (The Apollo Belvedere,) inammorata (inamorata,) stupefied (stupefied,) “the rest of the party were occupied” (the rest of the party was occupied,) “for the company were gathered” (the company was gathered,) “his gripe was painful” (his grip,) “had belonged to the Rivers’” (to the Riverses,) “Mr Rivers’ pointer” (Rivers’s.)

Dumbarton 0-1 Airdrieonians

SPFL Tier 3, The Rock, 14/9/19.

I wasn’t at this game – I was away in fact, on a trip down south, but it sounds like we ought to have scored at least once and many folks were convinced we had the ball over the line just before half-time.

From the SonsTV footage it looks as if the ball might have crossed the line but from the angle it’s impossible to tell for sure. The still photo on the club’s match report makes it look not in but the keeper had possibly clawed it back by the time the shutter released.

Otherwise the game looked pretty even. At their goal Conor Brennan again seemed to flap at the ball from a corner kick and got nowhere near it. Such is life.

Colliston Park, Dalbeattie

Before passing through the rest of the town the Barr Burn runs down the side of Colliston Park, Dalbeattie.

Barr Burn in Colliston Park, Dalbeattie

Reverse view:-

Colliston Park, Dalbeattie, Barr Burn

The previous two photos were taken form this bridge over the Barr Burn.

Bridge Over Barr Burn, Colliston Park, Dalbeattie

The Park contains Dalbettie’s War Memorial (photos to come) and this memorial, “Commemorating the men and women who worked at the Edingham Munitions Factory, Dalbeattie, 1939-1945.”

Munitions Factory Memorial, Colliston Park, Dalbeattie

Live It Up 58: Twist in my Sobriety

The second single – and second hit – from the laconic Tanita Tikaram.

It’s unusual to hear an oboe so prominently in a pop song.

Tanita Tikaram – Twist in my Sobriety

More Dalbeattie

The Barr Burn flows through the town:-

Barr Burn, Dalbeattie

Dalbeattie, Barr Burn

This blue plaque commemorates….

Blue Plaque, Dalbeattie

Great War Memorial Plaque from Dalbeattie Higher Grade Public School.
“To the memory of former pupils who gave their lives for their country in the Great War.” This was in the window of Dalbeattie Museum when we saw it but it was evening and the museum was closed:-

Great War Memorial Plaque

The Barr Burn flows into the Urr Water. This is near the B&B looking south:-

Urr Water near Dalbeattie

Reverse view, looking north:-

Reverse View, Urr Water, nr Dalbeattie

Reality, Reality by Jackie Kay

Picador, 2012, 248 p.

 Reality, Reality cover

The title of this second collection of Jackie Kay’s short stories reflects the contents. Most of the stories have shifting perspectives or protagonists who are unsure of their surroundings. All are very well written.

Reality, Reality is a stream of consciousness narration by a woman who is attempting to reach the final of a TV cookery competition, or thinks she is.
Another stream of consciousness, These are not my Clothes is told from the point of view of an inmate in a care home – who is not receiving very good care. The title is a phrase she keeps repeating to the nurses who dress her. Her only confidante is the part-time cleaner Vadnie.
From its first sentence I could sense from the way it is written that The First Lady of Song is a piece of Science Fiction; which is what, indeed, it is. It is narrated by a female singer, who centuries ago, was drugged by her father with a potion that meant she would not die. Her performing names always start with the letter ‘E’ – Elina, Eugenia, Ekateriana, Elisabeth, Ella, Emilia. The only change over time is that her skin darkens. Kay doesn’t bring much that is conceptually new to the old SF chestnut of the life eternal but she does write it well.
In The Pink House a heavily pregnant woman – also heavily debt-ridden – finds refuge in the house that Elisabeth Gaskell once lived in.
Grace and Rose is the story of the first lesbian wedding in Shetland, told by both its principals. A joyous tale of love and fulfilment.
In Bread Bin the narrator’s grandmother tells her she has never had an orgasm – but always had a clean bread bin. The narrator is similarly starved of sexual ecstasy; till the age of forty-nine.
Doorstep sees Cheryl decide to spend Christmas on her own; to the displeasure of her latest girl-friend Sharon.
Hadassah is a retelling of the Moses story, updated to feature a young refugee, Hadassah, who becomes the King’s eyes and ears. The King is running a people-trafficking and prostitution operation.
Inspired by Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, The White Cot features two women in a holiday let picking at the cracks in their relationship. One had wanted a child, the other hadn’t. The white cot in their room becomes the material focus for the first’s longings.
In Mind Away the narrator’s mother is gradually losing her memories and thoughts. Together they seek out the doctor into whose head the thoughts have gone.
Two girls who were on holiday together aged ten and nine the year their parents swapped partners, forever after call themselves Barn and Tawny due to witnessing the activities of an Owl.
In The Last of the Smokers two life-long friends contemplate giving up by comparing smoking to ex-lovers.
A woman seeks to find the Mini Me inside her by dint of dieting. Repeatedly.
Mrs Vadnie Marleen Sevlon (the same Vadnie as in These are not my Clothes) took the title Mrs as she thought I it would engender respect. She also invents a husband and children for herself reflecting that, ‘Only people with money have choice.’
The Winter Visitor appears to our narrator every so often without fanfare, taking over her life, until vanishing again as mysteriously.

Pedant’s corner:- “like she is tossing a ball” (as if she is tossing a ball,) “the river Mersey” (river here is a proper noun, so River Mersey,) “and, and” (only one ‘and’ needed, no comma required.) “None of them have” (strictly ‘none of them has’ but it was in the narrator’s voice so perhaps true to that,) “coming forth to carry me home” (I had always thought the words from Swing Low, Sweet Chariot were ‘coming for to carry me home’ and it seems that is indeed the case (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swing_Low,_Sweet_Chariot#Traditional_lyrics)) homeopaths (homoeopaths, please; or even homœopaths,) “I clamour through” (it was through a window, so ‘clamber’,) sprung (sprang,) edidn’t (didn’t,) “as if it was the scene a crime I had committed” (scene of a crime I had committed,) doubt (a cigarette end is spelled dout,) lasagne (lasagne. Narrator’s spelling? Or author’s?) “‘could of’” (could have; but this was in dialogue.)

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