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So, Vera Lynn has died.

I suppose it’s too much to hope that that will mean the Second World War is finally over and will no longer be invoked by those trying to make some spurious point about contempoorary life. It was 75 years ago after all.

Oh, well.

A flavour of this sentiment colours this Pink Floyd Track from The Final Cut.

Pink Floyd: Vera

Perhaps not, then.

Lynn is repeatedly referred to as the Forces’ Sweetheart but I have it on good authority that isn’t quite true – at least for the rank and file. When she was on tour giving concerts she spent most of her time with officers. As a result, more popular among the ordinary soldier was the much lesser heralded Anne Shelton.

Still, print the legend, eh?

But at least Lynn didn’t forget the Fourteenth Army and actually visited Burma.

Most people – not least the BBC – no doubt opted for We’ll Meet Again to mark her passing. This one’s slightly less sentimental.

Vera Lynn: A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square

Vera Margaret Lynch (Vera Lynn;) 20/3/1917 – 18/6/2020. So it goes.

Oh, Maggie, What Did We Do?

Anyone looking for a metaphor for the parlous state of the UK today doesn’t need to go very far. They only have to look at Theresa May’s speech at the Tory Party Conference yesterday. Just about everything that could go wrong did. The prankster illustrating the lack of authority the office of Prime Minister now holds. That letter falling off the slogan in the background which says it all about how austerity has hollowed away national cohesion and expertise. The slogan itself – a blatant example of truth reversal (they’re not building the country; they’re tearing it apart; they never do anything for everyone, they act for themselves, those who fund them and the extremely well-off.) A leader struggling to overcome the problems (albeit not entirely of her own making – though she didn’t do much to prevent their coming to pass and arguably contributed to their increase) in front of her.

And what on Earth was that about the British Dream?

There isn’t a British Dream*. We don’t do that sort of thing. We’re not USian.

But the phrase reminded me irresistibly of this song written by Roger Waters and taken from Pink Floyd’s album The Final Cut, from which I filched this post’s title. And the question it poses is a good one. I can trace all the ills that befall life in the UK today to that government from the 1980s. Kow-towing to the power of money, rampant exploitation of workers, poorly paid jobs, lack of social housing, high private rents – all have their roots in those times.

There are two unfortunate references in the song’s lyric, though. “Nips” (but that of course enables the rhyme) and “England”. She did damage to a hell of a lot more than England, Roger.

Pink Floyd: The Postwar Dream

*If there is it consists of getting the better of Johnny Foreigner and despising its own working class.

Reelin’ In the Years 101: Brain Damage and Eclipse

Not a single; and two tracks which run together on the LP but the second one seemed appropriate for today.

Pink Floyd: Brain Damage and Eclipse

Birthday Present

My birthday is the day before Christmas.

I don’t usually get one big present but rather small ones two days in a row.

Here’s a photo of what my eldest son gave me for my birthday this year.

An old Quality Street tin.

You’d be excused for thinking I’d be miffed but I was actually delighted. In addition to the nostalgia trip the tin provided it added to my collection of old tins, which I mentioned a few years ago.

And he did fill it:-

He also gave me the latest Pink Floyd CD. (I’m not into downloads.)

Not The Old Vicarage, Grantchester.

After Newmarket we headed just south-east of Cambridge to the not very well sign-posted village of Grantchester.

“Stands the church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?”

As you can see from the church clock in the photo below we arrived an hour too early.

Grantchester Church Clock At Ten To Two.

I looked for the Old Vicarage but even though there was a Vicarage Lane the houses’ identities were being closely guarded. Jeffrey Archer (yes, Jeffrey Archer) bought the Old Vicarage in the 1980s. If he still lives there perhaps it’s a blessing I didn’t find it.

I did find a new(er) vicarage right beside the church. Hardly iconic.

New? Vicarage.

I was, however, delighted to see the War Memorial in the churchyard of St Andrew and St Mary.

War Memorial, Grantchester.

I was even more delighted to see Rupert Brooke’s name there.

War Memorial, Grantchester, Close up.

Brooke greeted the Great War with some enthusiasm, in sonnets such as Now, God Be Thanked Who Has Matched Us With His Hour and The Soldier.

Brooke didn’t die in battle. He developed sepsis from a mosquito bite on his way to Gallipoli and was buried on the island of Skyros in Greece. So some corner of a foreign field is forever, if not England, then at least Grantchester.

He was a casualty of the war, though, as he would not have been in the Aegean but for that.

Passing the Green Man pub I saw a sign saying “Grantchester Meadows.” I followed the path down and took this photo.

Grantchester Meadows

This was because Grantchester has another famous son, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. The song Grantchester Meadows from the 1969 album Ummagumma, though written and performed by Roger Waters rather than Gilmour, was, I presume, inspired by this.

Pink Floyd: Grantchester Meadows

J G Ballard

I discovered this morning that the sometime Science Fiction writer and chronicler of the late twentieth century, J G Ballard, whose semi-autobiographical novel The Kindness Of Women I wrote about a few weeks ago, has died. Eulogies are apparently all over the blogosphere.
His early experiences as a prisoner of the Japanese in wartime Shanghai flooded indelibly through his work; images of wrecks, ruin and abandonment abound. An air of the inevitability of decay hangs over nearly everything he wrote. (The word”already” is a Ballardian trademark.) Here it should be noted that as a road map of where as a civilisation we may be headed this aspect of his work may be all too predictive.

Yet to me his writing always seemed to be quintessentially English; it represented a kind of über Englishness in the way that possibly only an expatriate could express. His stories somehow embodied the stiff upper lip and also the “hanging-on in quiet desperation” that Roger Waters of Pink Floyd described as the English way. Yet they dissected alienation and elevated its description to an art from.

Having said all that it nevertheless remains true that pretty much all of his works plough a similar furrow. I know this will be sacrilege to his admirers but to read one Ballard novel is more or less to read them all. The crucial affect is of detachment, events are described matter-of-factly, as if they do not really impact on the character whose point of view we inhabit at the time.

His obsessions, Marilyn Monroe, the Kennedy assassination, car crashes, the nuclear bomb, urban blight, were those of an Englishman of a certain age. In that respect he was more a man of his time than he was one ahead of it.

He is undoubtedly, however, one of the major writers in English, and of world literature as a whole, of the second half of the twentieth century.

And the novels of his that were published as Science Fiction are indissolubly part of his canon, covering the same concerns, and equally as worthy, as those that were not.

J G Ballard 15/11/1930-19/04/2009.

So it goes.

Scotland’s Art Deco Heritage 8. Tarlair Swimming Pool Near Macduff

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while as I was waiting till I got over to Glasgow to take a few photos, but I was browsing the old internet and came across this.

Tarlair Swimming Pool 1

Click on the photo for the Flickr page information.

Apparently it’s just been listed by Historic Scotland. Good on them.

Tarlair Swimming Pool 2

I remember there was a tidal swimming pool by the Clyde at Levengrove Park in Dumbarton. There’s another at St Andrew’s. Both are silted up/worn away now and neither were anything more than a stone wall in a rectangular shape. No Art Deco building.

This is almost like a lido but the location is surely all wrong. You’d have to be hardy soul to brave the Moray Firth, even with this as a backdrop.

See also this picture and this at Flickr. The second of these reminds me of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here album cover.

The colour photos below show the degree of dilapidation. (But the tide is out.)

Tarlair Swimming Pool

Tarlair Swimming Pool

Tarlair Swimming Pool

Richard Wright

I was sorry to hear about the death of Richard Wright of Pink Floyd through cancer.

He was one of the lesser sung of Pink Floyd’s members but integral to their development.
He’s probably most famous for writing the tune to The Great Gig In The Sky from The Dark Side Of The Moon but I suspect everybody’s going to put that up. (Johnny Walker played it as a tribute on Radio 2 this morning.)

Instead here, from Atom Heart Mother, is Summer of ’68 – which he wrote and which has a great bit of “rock”y piano from the man himself.

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