Friday 31 May 2013

Contingency cf Necessity

The next step in finishing off my latest HO scale ceramic building is to cover the flat roof with a montage of French newspaper titles and to construct maybe a dozen chimney stacks similarly covered.

The roof to be covered

After much Googling and cutting and pasting I printed out several A4 sheets like this:

Currently listening to:

Virgil Enzinger

Last night's dinner:

Scallops, cous cous and mushrooms
Cost per head: £7.25

La Nausee:

All of this reading across several loosely related philosophical topics is becoming undisciplined and unstructured and I'm not really learning anything or refining my knowledge in any way.

It would be best if I concentrated for a while on one concept or issue.

Yesterday, I read this passage in La Nausee:

"The essential thing is contingency. I mean that one cannot define existence as necessity. To exist is simply to be there; those who exist let themselves be encountered, but you can never deduce anything from them. I believe that there are people who have understood this. Only they tried to overcome this contingency by inventing a necessary causal being. But no necessary being can explain existence: contingency is not a delusion, a probability which can be dissipated; it is the absolute, consequently, the perfect free gift. All is free, this park, this city and myself."

Over the next days, I'm going to read what folk have to say about this opposition between the contingent and the necessary; especially as it applies to the person.

Thursday 30 May 2013

La Nausee - alternative translation

Have fitted a flat roof to my latest HO scale ceramic building and it looks better already. I do have a really exciting idea for covering the roof with French newspaper cuttings and adding chimneys similarly decorated. Watch this space.

Obviously, not in its final location.

Currently listening to:

Haydn piano sonatas played by Alfred Brendel.

Several years ago I saw Brendel in London walking around an exhibition of paintings by the turn of the century German expressionist, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. I thought about asking him for his autograph but decided not to.

One of my favourite Kirchner paintings.
Last night's dinner:

Soup made from the leftover stock from the other night's poached chicken plus grated carrots, grated potato and basmati rice.

Cost per head: £1.00 - now that's more like it.

Currently reading:

Taking a rest from Iris Murdoch and her gallery of vile characters.

Instead, returned to Sartre's La Nausee. But this time in a rare translation by Lloyd Alexander. I was never comfortable with the translation by Robert Baldick.

However, this edition is on short-term loan from the library so I'll have to make inroads on it immediately. And, indeed did so this afternoon in the garden.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Iris Murdoch cf Evelyn Waugh

In preparation for putting some kind of roof in place, I installed some supporting wooden struts using a combination of superglue and, where the walls were uneven, Plastic Padding.

Currently listening to:

Composer of the Week on Radio 3 with host, Donald Macleod. This week's subject is the turn of the century Parisian, Gabriel Faure. Donald Macleod recorded much of the programme in Paris, visiting historic buildings wherein Faure performed and speaking to French experts on the music of Faure.

Actually, Faure looks a little bit like one of  our neighbours.

Last night's dinner:

Hake, artichokes and anchovies and black pudding.


Cost per head: £4.25

Lies, damned  lies and statistics:

The following graph shows the weekly average cost per head of my evening meals over the last 13 weeks ie since I started recording the figures.

The end date of 25/5/13 has been omitted from the x-axis for some reason. But the trend is clear: each week I am spending MORE, not LESS on food - a disgrace!

Iris Murdoch cf Evelyn Waugh

Still reading and being mesmerised by:

But, brilliant and thought-provoking and, I'm sure, accurate in its depictions of human beings and their behaviours and motives, that it is, I can't stand any of Murdoch's characters. She seems to take it for granted that within any cohort of people - families/friends/workplaces/clubs - everybody is basically mean-spirited.

Maybe she's right; perhaps, that's what people are like.

BUT, if I consider the collection of characters in a typical Evelyn Waugh novel, even his baddies seem attractive to me. One is still confronted in Waugh's books with a wide spectrum of people, from different backgrounds and with different interests, attitudes and motivations. His books are full of characters who fail in some way or who act questionably, yet I feel comfortable with them. I do not feel comfortable with Murdoch's characters: they're all horrible people.

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Tuesday 28 May 2013

Noch HO scale trees and foliage

An HO scale Ash tree and some skeins of ivy have arrived, both from the German manufacturer, Noch. Unlike my existing HO scale trees, the Noch tree has already lost some of its leaves - in transit, I think.

Noch Ash tree

Currently listening to:

On last Sunday's Desert Island Discs (BBC, Radio 4), the former ballerina, Deborah Bull, chose an Orbital track as one of her 8 choices to take away to a desert island.

Deborah Bull
I was listening to the track "Acid Pants" on the above pictured Orbital album and thought that the guest vocals were very familiar - but who was singing. A quick search on the internet revealed that the quirky voices belonged to those geniuses of pop music, Sparks.

Last night's dinner:

Poached (ie boiled) chicken with whole cabbage, carrots, leak and onions. Served with a cold French sauce called Gribiche.

Sauce, Gribiche

Note the addition of a second chicken leg.
 Cost per head: £4.00

And the average cost per head since 24th Feb is now £5.81

On reflection, I could have used a boiling chicken, but you don't see those so much these days.

Used some leftover Gribiche for lunch with a roll mop herring and some tomatoes.

Still reading:

It is utterly compelling and horrifying.

Monday 27 May 2013

Self adhesive cable clips + Superglue = Success

A reminder of the problem: self-adhesive cable clips would not stick to the under-surface of the plywood baseboard.
Dangling cable clips

I tried to augment the sticky properties through the addition of a special soft plastics glue, but it was too difficult to apply underneath a baseboard: a) it was very runny and dripped all over the place; and, b) both surfaces had to have glue applied and it was difficult applying glue above one's head to the plywood surface.

And, instead, resorted to supplementing the self-adhesive pads with superglue.

And, that seems to have worked - no dangling cable clips anymore.
Currently listening to:
Last night's dinner:
A tomato sandwich
Cost per head: £0.45
New feature: a graph showing the day by day rises and falls of how much I'm spending on my evening meal - which is my main meal of the day - from 24th February 2013 until yesterday's tomato sandwich.
I'll try and refine this over the next few days - but it's cost in £s up the y - axis.

Sunday 26 May 2013

SNCF Society Magazine

After the sad death of its Editor/Secretary, Andy Hart, publication of the SNCF Society magazine has resumed with the March 2013 issue.

2 things immediately caught my eye:

1) The front cover story.

This refers to the final withdrawal from service of the Petits Gris (see cover above) after 47 years of service running from Gare du Nord to the northern suburbs of Paris. These trains were  built under licence from the American Budd company. Like their American counterparts we tourists and visitors to France got used to seeing them being covered from head to foot with graffiti.

They came into service in the mid-60s which is a few years later than the era my layout purports to depict. But, I am tempted to stretch the definition and acquire a model.

Interestingly, it is not the end of the road for these metallic workhorses. A couple have been restored for posterity, but the rest, unbelievably, are on their way to Romania to begin a new working life there!

2) Last year I sought to acquire an HO scale model of the French steam locomotive 232 R - but failed to find one. In this months edition of the SNCF Society magazine there is an article about the train artist, Chis Ludlow. One of his paintings forms the centre spread and is of the 232R leaving the Gare du Nord.

This has rekindled my determination to get such a model - perhaps a 3D printer could make one!

Currently listening to:

Radio 3 Breakfast with Clemency Burton-Hill on iPlayer. I like this compere.

Last night's dinner:

Once again, I forgot to take a photograph of the meal itself, but it was a chicken curry at this Byres Road restaurant - which is extremely tiny inside.

Cost per head: approx. £15.00.

This past week's daily cost per head stats are as follows:

Sunday:  £6.25
Monday:  £7.00
Tuesday: £1.50
Wednesday:  £5.25
Thursday:  £6.50
Friday:  £5.50
Saturday:  £15.00

This week's average cost per meal per head: £6.71

Averages for previous two weeks: £9.86 and £5.71

Average cost for first 10 weeks of this analysis: £5.30

I've definitely let things slip on the "shoestring" front.

Continuing to read:

This book has now elevated itself above a mere brilliant portrayal of manners to a real challenge to my own approach to life - very thought provoking.

I can compare it with "Seize the Day" by Saul Bellow which I recently read and found brilliant in a different way:  mesmerising and very painful.

But brilliant as "Seize the Day" was in portraying the plight of a man with whom I could entirely empathise, it didn't make me think. It was just that, a portrait; admittedly, a white-hot portrait, and one that I was torn between, on the one hand, not wanting to put down and never wanting to finish and, on the other hand, finding unbearably painful as I watched the hero wriggling and self-abasing himself.

Saturday 25 May 2013

ROCO Trans Europe Express HO wagons - For Sale!

Way, way, way back I purchased 3 ROCO Trans Europe Express waggons to join on to my existing TEE train. Unfortunately, they were the wrong era. It's taken me until now to put them up for sale on eBay.

Here's the link:

Currently listening to:

Tadd Mullinix who records and performs under the name, Dabrye.

Two/Three is the name of the album.

He's quite a normal looking bloke, actually.

Last night's dinner:

Fish and chips, washed down with Tizer, in the car, whilst looking out onto the Clyde Estuary

Cost per head: £5.50 (excluding Tizer)

Continuing to Read:

It's packed full of brilliantly written descriptions of the psychological knots that British middle class people tie themselves up in. But the novel lacks forward momentum: I find it repetitive.

Friday 24 May 2013

Self-adhesive cable clips as a symbol for Christian living.

In earlier blogs I mentioned my high hopes for self-adhesive cable clips as a method for tidying up wires and cables underneath the railway baseboard.

And, initially, everything seemed to go well: they were easy to install and tidied up the wires.

But after a few days, some of the clips began to come loose from the board.

And some two weeks later, the view under the board yesterday was this:

So, after a couple of weeks (max) hardly one cable clip has held its position.

This kind of happening totally depresses me. A possible solution is to put a dab of glue onto the (so called) self-adhesive pad of each clip.

Perhaps this glue will do the job.
But the thought of climbing back under the table and carrying out these remedial works, again, just depresses me. There are so many little (and some not so little) tasks to do of this infra-structural nature that I'm overwhelmed and end up doing nothing.
Evolution or a List:

After some wonderful and inspiring dreams last night, I woke this morning with a new attitude. I'll make a list of all the tasks that I'm aware need doing and work through them one by one - perhaps one a day!

The List:

1. Apply extra glue to all the loosened self-adhesive cable clips.

2. Tidy up the remaining cables and wires with these clips but this time apply supplementary glue from the start.

3. Install under the baseboard the cable and wires for the platform lighting - but do not yet connect to the lights themselves.

4. Determine where the street lighting is to go for the rest of the diorama and drill holes through baseboard to accommodate their feeder wires. This will be quite a cognitive task rather than a DIY task.

5. Design, manufacture and install roofs and chimneys for two of the ceramic buildings. Clearly this task can be broken down into sub-tasks.

6. Loads of other tasks ............................................................................

BUT, there is an alternative approach to "the list". A friend of mine espouses an alternative approach to getting through life - or, as I prefer to call it, an alternative approach to 'killing time.'

He lets each day evolve. There may be a few pre-planned events eg a doctor's appointment, a concert, a game of squash, but the rest of the day is allowed to evolve.

There is something about that approach which frightens me: the fear of accomplishing nothing; the fear of frittering away time on activities that don't lead anywhere;

But, to get back to the matter of the loosened cable clips, why, in order to rectify that situation, do I need to devise a list, which after all is no more than writing down in words: "1. Add glue to cable clips."

Why didn't I simply wake up this morning and let the day evolve; and if  the day's evolution found me crouched under the baseboard applying glue to cable clips then so be it!

More importantly, if the day's evolution DID NOT find me crouched under the baseboard applying glue to cable clips then, ALSO, so be it!

Actually, on reflection, I think I'm going to abandon the list before it starts. The true meaning of  needing a list is this,"Tony, you don't really want to glue these clips!"

Over the last 6 months or so I've been moving towards a philosophy of only doing what I want to do. Not in a nasty selfish way but so as to be in tune with the Christian dictum that "God loves a cheerful giver."

I'm afraid those clips will have to dangle until I feel like fixing them!

Currently listening to:

I enjoy this song cycle more each time I listen to it. I can report that today I've  reached new heights of listening pleasure.

Last night's dinner:

A jar of pre-cooked Cassoulet with kale.

Washed down with Corbieres
Cost per head excluding wine: £6.50

Cassoulet is very similar to: