Monday 30 April 2012

Auguste Herbin

A typical French street:

Auguste Herbin:

First came across this French  artist when I descended a set of stairs into the lower floor of  an art gallery in Paris - forget its name - turned a corner and stopped dead in my tracks as I saw before me three of the most brilliant, most vibrant little paintings in a row on the wall in front of me.

Have never been able to trace images of those particular paintings on the internet, but there are plenty of others there:

Sunday 29 April 2012

Larry Sanders

I don't see me ever being allowed to have a layout in the front room like this French chap.

Favourite Comedians:

1. Gary Shandling in his role as the spoof US chat show host, Larry Sanders.

2. Woody Allen

3. David Mitchell in Peep Show

Joint 3rd. "Alan Partridge"

4. Vic Reeves in his early days. We saw the Vic Reeves Show live at the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow. Excellent.

5. Peter Cook

6. Bob Newhart - in that strange sitcom he did set in a Vermont guest house.

7. Original Reggie Perrin

8. Everyone Loves Raymond - sounds awful but I think it's hilarious.

9. Tony Hancock - especially in "The Rebel".

10. Frazier

Saturday 28 April 2012

Rory Gallagher

Some examples of the French car: Panhard

HO scale Panhard


Favourite Guitarists:

Almost certainly not  technically the most brilliant, but ones I like listening to and indeed watching on video.

1. Rory Gallagher – creative and melodic like Johnny Marr but also had a fantastic voice too and a driving, exciting beat. Fantastic live performer.

2. Johnny Marr – see above.

3. T S McPhee – of the Groundhogs

4. Peter Green – divine

5. Eric Clapton in his John Mayall days

6. B B King – great live.

7. Garry Moore when with Skid Row.

8. Pete Townshend – probably the best visually and musically.

9. Wilko Johnson – the best strutter – see pictures.

10. Keith Richards

11. P J Harvey – seductive.

Friday 27 April 2012

Justine Henin

Here is a classic French electric locomotive which operated between 1926 and 1942.

In the Mulhouse Museum
And an HO scale model by an obscure firm called Trains France.

There is something beguilingly ugly about certain French locomotives and indeed cars.

A Panhard
Favourite Sportsmen.

I'm not claiming these folk are the best in their field - but simply that I love watching them perform.

1. Justine Henin

When she was forced into premature retirement (for the second time) a couple of years ago, I was genuinely saddened: the thought of not seeing this utterly wonderful tennis player ever again.

For me, head and shoulders above everyone else.

2. Tim Henman – an artist at the net.

3. Roger Federer – wonderful.

4. Lasse Viren – Finnish long distance runner who every Olympics came out of the tundra to torment his opponents.

5. Johan Cruyff – I prefer watching footage of him to either Pele, Messi or Maradonna

6. Sugar Ray Leonard  - artist.

7. Chic Charnley – utter eccentric and brilliant striker of a ball.

8.  Bobby Russell – a pleasure to watch – always made space for himself.

9. Fernando Torres – dynamic and lethal.

10. Stan Collymore – ditto

Thursday 26 April 2012

Earthly Powers

We're in Wales for the next few days, so I've drafted a few short blogs which can be posted automatically each day in my absence.

For a change, I thought each of these short postings could consist of a photograph of something French followed by a list of my favourite something or others.

Here is a very charming HO scale card model of a French metro carriage.


Favourite Novels:

For me this boils down to the most frequently re-read novels, since I read and re-read them in a 24-month cycle.

1. Earthly Powers, Anthony Burgess

2. Sword of Honour Trilogy, Evelyn Waugh

3. The First Circle, Alexander Solzhenitsyn

4. Cancer Ward, Alexander Solzhenitsyn

5. Decline and Fall, Evelyn Waugh

6. Seven Against Reeves, Richard Aldington.

7. Victory, Joseph Conrad.

8. The Age of Reason, vol 1 of Sartre’s trilogy, “Roads to Freedom”

9. Stamboul Train, Graham Greene

10. The Mandelbaum Gate, Muriel Spark

11. Le Grand Meaulnes, Alain-Fournier

12. Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler

13. The American, Henry James

14. The Swimming Pool Library, Alan Hollinghurst

15. The Feast of Lupercal, Brian Moore

16. The Statement, Brian Moore

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Ceramic Gare du Nord

The finished article:

Fluorescent tube lighting

Incandescant light bulb

Natural light

I'm very pleased with the result. Note the change in appearance under different lighting conditions.

Nic Jones

An English folksinger, born in 1947 whose career was cut short by a terrible car accident in 1982.

He has a very English vocal style. I'm half-English and he stirs a primeval sense of Englishness within me.

Inspiringly, in recent years, his son has persuaded him to perform again and the two of them have appeared at some folk festivals. It really is amazing how the love of one person can push a person into returning to something like a normal life after years of withdrawal.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Tonight really is the night.

Will find out tonight whether my Gare du Nord facade has survived the firing of the glazes.

Will it have cracked?

Or, perhaps worse, what colour will it have ended up?

Too light - not a problem.

Too dark - a very real problem.

I'm hoping to take it home tonight so have prepared a large artist's case filled with bubble wrap.

A reminder of how it was when last I saw it:

2 hours to go and everything will be revealed.

I like books about musicians: their lives and times.

Here are two I've enjoyed recently:

Stuart Murdoch's "Celestial Cafe" really brings Glasgow to life.

Louise Wener paints a vivid picture of an ordinary British teenager ending up in a successful rock band and touring the world.

Monday 23 April 2012

The Grateful Dead

The cork underlay is now in place and the track placed loosely upon it.

Those platforms were cut to size for me by a multi-talented chap that I work alongside. He's even grooved the edges so that there is an over-hang. Thanks, Frank.

The Grateful Dead:

Surely one of the great names for a rock band.

And, surely one of the great covers for a double album was this one for their 1969 live album "Live Dead".



Was never a fanatical fan of the Grateful Dead, but this is a fine album and definitely captures the atmosphere of a live performance.

Standout track for me: "Death Don't Have No Mercy" which is not some ghastly heavy metal anthem but, rather, a rendition of a traditional blues song - possibly even older than the blues. Not sure of its exact origins.

Can't play vinyl any more (at least not in a trouble-free fashion) so downloaded the album from iTunes for a very reasonable £4.99.

Sunday 22 April 2012

Cork track underlay

First laid some cork track underlay a few months ago - but ran out of the stuff.

So filled in the gaps today.

The gaps

Sizing up the situation

Cutting to shape


Weighing it down with anything that comes to hand
Alex Smoke:

Today's listening: everything I possess by the Glaswegian electronic artist, Alex Smoke.

Apparently, he provided the soundtrack for a re-released silent film, Faust, which was shown last year at the Glasgow Film Theatre. Needless to say, I missed it. Here are some words from list magazine.

"At 85 years old, director FW Murnau’s Faust remains one of the most visually arresting films in the history of world cinema. Murnau’s last German production divided contemporary audiences and lost a lot of studio money with its retelling of the 400-year-old fable when it was released in 1926. However, Faust’s stunning imagery and groundbreaking special effects have ensured the silent film has only gained in potency. Its lack of a soundtrack provided Glasgow’s Alex Smoke the perfect opportunity to ‘bring the film into the light of a new century’.

"Smoke’s new score meshes classical orchestration – performed by the Scottish Ensemble – with sound design that subtly underscores the story’s modern relevance. The results are refreshingly apposite; the portentous, droning strings and electronic beats perfectly complementing the jittery, chiaroscuro images."

Saturday 21 April 2012

Soldering iron - that's better

Acquired a different soldering iron with a flat tip.

And with it soldered the wire which connects the Vee-shaped "frog" on the set of points to the polarity switch of the points motor. Did three of them in double quick time.

Will solder more connecting wires tomorrow.

Schubert's Piano Sonata No 19 in C minor, D 958.

Yesterday listened to Alfred Brendel playing this piece and he said that C Minor is a key associated with Beethoven and yes, even I thought it had a Beethoven-ish feel.

For comparison purposes, I then played Radu Lupu's rendition. Equally good.

But I have one more version, by Mitsuko Uchida and so played it as well. I honestly thought her version was the best of the lot but I'm afraid that I can't say why.



The Dream and the Grace:

This collection of sermons gets off to a good start in that James Whyte quotes extensively from that great American stylist, John Updike.

He then goes on to deal with Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians in which Paul extols the virtue of personal weakness.

Does anybody actually know anyone who thinks they are wonderful? I know that I have a very low opinion of myself. But I find from speaking to people of approximately my own age that most of them feel the same ie they have a very low opinion of me. But it's true, most people do feel dogged by failure and unrealised aspirations.

In this sermon Paul says that indeed we are weak - each and everyone of us - but we can achieve success if we turn to God for direction and strength. Our only strength is that which we get from God.

By acknowledging our personal weakness we are making a step towards God.

Question: does anybody know anyone who a) actually thinks they are wonderful; and, b) actually is wonderful?