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Wednesday, 30 May 2007

rainy writing

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I can understand why Daphne du Maurier and other famous authors have lived and written in Cornwall. The picture above is of Daphne's house in Fowey and I'm told that her son still lives there. It's also a celebration of Daphne du Maurier in Fowey this year, which marks 100 years since her birth.

Like the above setting, there’s a peace and tranquility that can help get into the zone for writing. I decided, this week, to spend a rainy day finishing my edit of the ‘triangle’, which was the novel I started back in Nanowrimo in 2005.

Having written the novel in 30 days, the editing has hung around somewhat longer. To be honest, the edit has mainly comprised cleaning up typos, sorting out some logic errors and tightening a few plot points. I’ve realised that the edit is a much longer part than crashing out the original story.

Also, that the only time I’ve really had to do this are odd single days (usually wet days) when I’m officially vacationing and somehow cut off from everything else. So today, slightly rainy, in Cornwall, in the Mission Hall in Kingsand, has worked perfectly. I’ve managed to get through to the very last page and am now at the stage where I’ll be looking for a way to get published! And of course, I’ve still got last year’s NaNoWriMo in a rough and ready state as well. But on this occasion, one thing at a time!

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Eden

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I was in Eden today. That’s a fabulous garden in deepest Cornwall, featuring local flora as well as a mediterranean climate area and a tropical rain forest.

The Eden Project started in 1999 and used the site of a old worn-out clay pit as its base. Prior to its physical start, the founder of the project and numerous others had been planning for around three preceding years, not least how to get the funding for this imaginative plan.
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This whole project is an example of ‘can-do’ attitude, with the future minded project team taking a 60m deep area the size of 35 soccer pitches and persuading all manner of folk to give time and money to the work. The ‘I’m glad I did’ rather than ‘I wish I had’ form of persuasion worked well. Whatever the weather, Eden is a place to visit.
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Two of the most spectacular parts of the site are the huge biomes (huge geodesic dome structures), one for the mediterranean zone and another for the tropical rain forest. There’s a third biome for the natural climate of the area, which doesn’t need a dome, of course.

An enjoyable day can be spent browsing the terrain and the various plants. There’s tea being grown in the open climate of Cornwall; in the mediterranean section (which also features the corresponding latitudes of California) there are the fruits and leaves of fine perfumes and in the rain forest there are the huge plants that grow in secluded tropical islands as well as coffee plants, bananas and mangoes.
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Mainly the plants are not rare varieties, but many are completed with stories and points to think. The mango as an exotic to the UK but a famine relief fruit in its native land. The coffee only retrieving 7% of its value in its native habitat.

So enjoy the experience but also think about our fragile earth.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Rame

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Today we visited Rame, which contains a small church and much larger churchyard.

Rame means ‘rams head’ and there is also the tiny St Micheal’s chapel at the summit of Rame Head, a further 800 metres along the promontory. Rame Head’s chapel was first licenced for mass in 1397 although the original hermit site is much older. Looking at the area above, it is also has amazingly good natural fortifications and there are signs of an ancient village on the furthest outcrop - perhaps a place for retreat in times of trouble?
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The lookout at Rame was maintained from around 1486 and a watchman would help ships find their way into Plymouth. The nearby villages of Cawsand and Kingsand were also known as smuggling villages however, so maybe the lookout was sometimes missing the full view. Nowadays there is also a coastguard station set further back in the area, with high powered radar, telescopes and a suitably enquiring mind about any vessels pulling alongside one another.
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Our visit to the churchyard was somewhat personal although to what must be one of the most spectacularly sited churches in England. Originally from 1259, the church was originally built in a cross shape, but later extended in the fifteenth century. Some of the 16th century pews still survive to this day. Like several of the churches in this area, there is no electricity and the church is lit by candles. We spent a happy hour or so wandering about before moving on in our relaxed viewing of this unspoilt part of Cornwall.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Cornwall

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A few days away from the smoke, staying in Kingsand, Cornwall. Its a tiny village with a harbour and linked to the adjacent Cawsand. Until 1844, the two villages were in adjacent counties of Devon and Cornwall, but then the boundaries moved them both into Cornwall.
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This is an unspoilt and picturesque part of Cornwall, away from many holiday maker routes by nature of the location, and therefore less commercialised. The local shop is across from the Mission Hall, where we are staying, and our location is next door to the Rising Sun pub, which was frequented by Prince Charles and Camilla a couple of weeks ago on a visit to the twin villages.
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The area nestles into the twin bays of Cawsand and Kingsand and each day during this bank holiday weekend there have been many small sailing boats visiting, on trips from plymouth and further afield. For us, its great to have a few carefree days walking barefoot in an almost car free zone. Yes, you can drive a car in, but don’t expect to be able to get it out of the narrow winding streets again.

And now, will it be the Rising Sun, the Halfway House, the Cross Keys or the Devonshire Arms?

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

what dark is this?

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A visit to Shaftsbury Avenue this evening, to see Peter Shaffer's Equus, where the seventeen year old boy being diagnosed by a psychologist is played by Daniel (Harry Potter) Radcliffe. The co-star protagonist is Richard Griffiths and the girl with whom Daniel has a fling is played by Joanna Christie. Interestingly, her part was played many years ago by Jenny Agutter, in the film version and Jenny Agutter appears in this version as the magistrate responsible for rescuing the seventeen year old from a prison stretch.

The well-known plot is about the young man Alan Strang, who has blinded six horses with a spike, and Martin Dysart, the middle-aged psychiatrist who agrees to treat him and along the way to discover the reason for the act.

From the beginning, the dialogue is quick and clever and its apparent that another story is unfolding about the paradoxes seen by Dysart whilst he tries to search for meaning in Alan's act and starts to question his own position in life.

Consider Equus as a horse-god and the stables as the temple invented by Alan Strang who experiences a primeval relationship to life, whilst psychiatrist Dysart has an altogether more distant and dysfunctional relationship, muted and unexciting.

There's also a good range of trails to the reason for the situation. Was it brought about by Alan's upbringing? Was he in mental pain? Was there a godly explanation? Was the behaviour simply an intrinsic part of Alan's being?

And Dysart himself isn't without his moments of strangeness. His dreams of pagan and bloody ritual to some extent synthesize the type of behavour seen in his young patient.

The denoument centres around the introduction of a fake truth drug, causing Alan to re-enact the scene at the stables. Its linked with stable girl Jill, who seduces him back to the stables where they get naked in the presence of the horses. To Alan this is like a kind of sacriledge and creates the jagged and callous reaction as he takes out his mixed emotions on the horses.

So we have a kind of explanation for the act, but some dilemmas as Dysart decides he can cure Alan by muting his passion and senses, but in a way that means he will become as insulated from 'living' as Dysart feels himself to be, metaphorically bridled.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

big ben bus blur

that big ben bus shot done handheld whilst walkingBack in London, as can be seen from the shot here.

This is a well known picture angle that a lot of tourists miss, but can look quite fun. I took this whilst a group of us were walking over Westminster Bridge looking for a taxi. I'll fill in a few gaps when I get a moment.

Lets say for the moment that the last week and this weekend have been fairly hectic. And now I'm preparing for next week's work!

Saturday, 19 May 2007

oxo

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Saturday included a surprise party, which was at the Oxo Tower. I'd been arranging this and we arrived ahead of a fairly large group, so that there was a continuous supply of greetings and hugs.

The trouble with surprise parties is remembering to think like a secret agent and to not accidentally give anything away. In the event, this worked perfectly and even the timing of arrivals (slightly staggered) was absolutely ideal.

So then the large group of us sat chatting, eating and drinking noisily, with a splendid view out across London, from the top floor of the Oxo Tower.
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Friday, 18 May 2007

wicked evening

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Off to the Apollo this evening to see WIcked, the story of what happened before Dorothy went to visit the Wizard. The story shows how the witches knew one another before Dorothy's house crash landed and there's a reasonable explanation of how the Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow first came into being.

Its a well staged, fast paced musical with very strong production qualities. I like that it s a 'new' musical rather than a re-hash or thin assembly of previous pop songs, too. The theatre was full and the show seems to have acquired something of a cult status.

Wicked.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

the mansion

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I spent an evening this week in The Mansion, which is on O Street in Washington. The idea of The Mansion is to provide an escape into the world as it should be, not as it sometimes is. It is an astonishing amalgam of styles in five interconnected town houses with over one hundered rooms and including a grand ballroom.

The upper floors have been safe houses in the past as well as rooming for J. Edgar Hoover's G-men (real need to know basis stuff) and nowadays the venue hosts various people and events in a rather private way.

Simply put, no one can reach you when you are in the Mansion, unless they have a password. If anyone comes to the door or calls for a guest/member/employee, and they do not have the password, they will be told “There is no one here by that name” or “There is no group here by that name.” No exceptions. What happens at The Mansions stays at The Mansion.

H.H. Leonards-Spero (known simply as 'H') purchased The Mansion February 14, 1980, with the intent to restore its original character by reconnecting the row houses. The result is more than a labour of love and today's effec
t on entering is a magical experience.

The Mansion's rooms comprise varying architectural, artistic and design periods, from the Victorian Age to the Art Deco/Avant Garde. Highlights include a two-story Log Cabin and the secluded Art Deco penthouse with private elevator.

The whole building is filled with amazing artifacts with chandaliers a-plenty, lithographs, fine art, signed guitars, and a miscellany of magical, intriguing and unique items throughout the extensive property.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

round table in Georgetown

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After a few more of us had met together, we decided to head out to a nearby restaurant for an early evening supper.

Georgetown is only a few blocks from the hotel and has plenty of small cafes, restaurants and bars. I'd already been for a look earlier and had also been down to the waterfront at Washington harbour and along to the Watergate buildings.

In the event, we found what looked to be a small cafe and actually turned out to be much larger inside. We had a table for eight of us and then later a ninth person joined us. Thats the benefits of a round table, the restaurant had originally set it for six.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

taxation without representation

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Luckily I had spare time in Washington on a beautiful sunny day. An ideal excuse to walk around and take in the sights.

The central area is very walkable and there is a famous sight every few metres. I was based in the Fairmont and decided to start from the eastern side of the town and work my way West; so an early morning taxi to Union Station, a quick coffee and then a short walk to the Capitol to start the day.

Orientation in DC is pretty easy, with the numbering and lettering of streets in a grid (the hotel was on 24th and M, for example), and then diagonal avenues named after the states (eg Pennsylvania). Most of the buildings are low rise maybe ten stories at maximum and since the Brits burned the city in around 1814, everything now needs to be stone outside (no timber).

I checked off a few ideas on a map and just started my quest to see as many of the popular sights as possible, deciding to stay outdoors as the weather was fine. Atop the Capitol, you can just make out the statue of Freedom, complete with an eagle's feathers as a head-dress. The statue of freedom looks away from the city.

I noticed also that the registration plates (tags) on cars bear the slogan 'taxation without representation' - Washington doesn't get its own political representatives, despite all of the Senators and Congressmen in this place!
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Thursday, 10 May 2007

blaired vision

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Blair's going back to Sedgewick. Ten years of significant change. Reinvention of new driven orthodoxy.

Now time for party polemics. Across the assessments of decisions and change will be the shadow of Iraq, the five times to war, the Campbell spin, the decaying echoes of recent allegations. Blair's interventionist internationalism is a tough call. A socialist friendly with a right wing republican in a frequently mad world.

Interesting to be in the middle of a massively wired and communication rich world but not able to really sift to a kernal of accuracy. Time will write a version for the children.

And now its about the populist middle, whatever badge it has on it. Brown for a while and then new games as the pieces get reset again.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

lipgloss arsonist

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My temporary music system setup using an iPod connected to some tiny speakers has allowed me to riffle through some unexpected tracks generated on random play, whilst also watching television.

Pleasingly, a television advertisment for Graham Norton featuring Tori Amos tomorrow, Thursday, just co-incided with the playing of Liiee from Tori's Choirgirl Hotel on the ipod.

So in the interests of completism, here's the lipgloss arsonist remix, which takes Tori whimsically into a more dance direction and to complete a set, here's the old dance re-re-re-mix that Christina and I did of Tori singing smells like teen spirit. Ok and the piano version.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

heartless creatures

screenshot_01.jpgStrange to see three ants crawl out of my Powerbook and walk along the power lead. Its early for ants but I have noticed a few wandering aimlessly around over the last few days. Usually I only notice ants when they decide to do something dramatic, like create a miniature interpretation of the M25 Motorway in an inprobable place. But I'm still suspicious why they are walking around in the new space in the lounge.

Monday, 7 May 2007

richard of york gave battle in vain

Paint.jpg A traditional thing to do on a Spring Bank Holiday is to hit the DIY stores. And yes, I was that shopper. Parting with the princely sum of 98 pence per colour to obtain some match pots in preparation for the repainting of the lounge.

Of course, the paint from most of the pots only gets spread over about half the area of a postcard along with various head shaking and gasps of astonishment at the way the paint chart looks little like the colour on the wall.

So I can now admire a selection of shades with expressive names which give not the slightest hint of the actual colour.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

news splash

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My recent activities have not left much blogging time. Although much of my travel has been local (eg around London) it has strayed late into the evening. It sometimes seems late to write an entry for one day, when it is already the next day.

The yellow sofa continues to add extra megawatts of vibrant colour to the living room, but I have been progressively removing other items, which has strangely reduced the feeling of a paint explosion as one walks through the door to the room.

As part of the same project I am removing the current hi-fi and a few other layers of wires and so forth, with a view to generally simplifying the room. As of today, the only music system in the room is a temporary iPod connected to a tiny speaker set which will be my survival system until after my trip to Washington, which is the next practical time I can re-organise anything.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

vote

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Today I was Number One Voter!

I had an early start today to get to a meeting by eight o' clock. That meant I was leaving before seven and just remembered it was election day. So I diverted my route via the Polling Station and walked in through the front doors. There was a scurry of activity and the person in charge called out, "are we ready?"

They were and so I became the first person in my area to cast a vote!

And irrationally, when I realised I could be first, I then hurried to ensure I was first!