Sunday, 20 November 2016

John Roberts, Telynor Cymru: parti pen blywydd 200 oed

John Roberts, Telynor Cymru was born 200 years ago and there was a celebration at Gregynog.

The fun kicked off in St David's (now de-consecrated) cemetery where he is buried. Robin Huw Bowen and Meinir Olwen (who came especially from France) appeared with two triple harps: affairs were supervised by an agreeable Rector

and there were many of Roberts' descendants in attendance, of whom Peter Ingram gave an address. The Rector spoke mostly in Welsh, and Ingram mostly in Romany, so I nodded knowledgeably throughout and felt very cosmopolitan.

There were umpteen events at Gregynog: I went to Ingram's hour of stand-up gypsy comedy that was very jolly, culminating in a performance by a real Patagonian guitarist/singer, who looked Spanish and sang in Welsh. Or it might have been Spalsh. Or Wanish.

Highlight was the evening concert with five [count them] triple harps, abetted by flute, fiddle and double bass. Bowen told us lots about the instrument (Telyn deires yn cymreig), its history and Roberts' connections and importance. He noted its beautiful curves and observed that the pedal ["English"] harp looked like a broken down old nag in comparison. They also fetched out Roberts' own harp from Llandrindod museum, which I have now heard played!

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Next day the rain abated and I walked down to Caersws for the train: en route, this rather forgotten memorial to dead young men appeared:

Further photos exist.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Anna Meredith (Get It Loud In Libraries), via Bevington Street

To Liverpool, to see Anna Meredith, with Spike. I struggle and fail to think of a weirder gig I have been to.

Ms Meredith appeared punctually with her band. These were Man 1 (tuba and classroom glockenspiel), Man 2 [hatted] (percussion), Man 3 (guitar, wow!) and Lady 2 (cello, wow! bis). Ms Meredith played keyboard [sic], clarinet, classroom glockenspiel and snare drums. There were also 2 Apple computers that seemed to be important to the overall effect. Ms Meredith often played her snares very loudly, often choosing moments when the Hatted Man was also choosing to play loud - we liked this. There is a poorly captured video of one of these instants. Passim there was animated back projection illustrating the themes of Varmints. My photographic record of this failed utterly, so just take my word that it was marvellous.

The attendance was about 45, including guest list, which either tells you that they're a bunch of philistines on Merseyside, or that I am, for once, well ahead of the curve. Being shy, retiring types we hugged the back wall until, having played Nautilus, Ms Meredith instructed us all to come to the stage. We obeyed (but most of us were less responsive to her instructions to dance). Ergo, Spike and I stood about 1m from her, and had we blown kisses at either the drummer or cellist, they would have noticed immediately (we didn't). I took lots of photos; mercifully, most of them were crap but here is a not unflattering one of Ms Meredith:

When the tuba player came onstage, he was carrying what looked like a binbag which he proceed to put on - it then turned out to be a very hip garment. During the cellist's solo he sat upstage right and I captured this picture which makes that clear (I think).
This picture also illustrates the shadow effects at stage back, exploited fully by the happy fat dancer we met, and by me rather less successfully in another short video (best seen sans audio).

These people were consummate musicians who played with a production quality very rarely heard live (although KC manage it). Both guitarist and cellist had at least 13 fingers (each) since there is no other way they could play with that complexity that fast. The drummer's skill with very quiet bits matched his skills with loud bits, the use of a tuba instead of a bass was inspired, and Ms Meredith's compositional skills with those complex interlocking rhythms leaves me unable meaningfully to compare her to anyone else.

The gig was part of Get It Loud In Libraries which is an absolutely inspired concept. So if the gig wasn't striking enough already, we were in a library.

I'd travel a long way on Trennau Arriva Cymru to see her again

Earlier, we had travelled to view the near derelict Bevington Street council housing, of which more anon.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Bengal, Burtons, Lizards and Heroes: another King Crimson review

Kevin was very disparaging about Hemel Hempstead, but he had overlooked two things:
  • It is en route from Aylesbury (see below) to Luton Airport. Aylesbury comes from the Old English Æglesburgh, while Domesday has Luton as Loitone, although the name is Saxon, sure as Eier are oeufs.
  • It sports a very little-known Burton with beautiful window lights.
    The building is seriously negelected, but the side door and entrance tiling are wholly original!
Hemel [sic] as a name is probably Anglo-Saxon in origin, but Domesday has it as Hemel-Amstede.

Spike and I attended Aylesbury as Mr Fripp had chosen to repeat last year's success with two more gigs - the only ones in the UK for 2016. For a review of the gig, you can usefully just read last year's, but of special note this year:

  1. As part of my ongoing peace-keeping mission, we visited the Golden Bengal Indian Restaurant, which is the most sexist food outlet in Aylesbury, and probably the world. The first floor topography is a dream.
  2. The outstanding Waterside Theatre had put tickets on sale to locals 4 hours before Internet availability: thus Lorna (reportedly the only woman in the queue) got us tickets one row from the stage. Yes, he still uses the same 3 drummers, positioned stage-front.
  3. The set-list had evolved, and we got many acres of Lizard: I never expected to hear Night: her sable dome scattered with diamonds, ... sung live again.
  4. I should have seen this coming, but Mr Jacszyk sang Heroes as part of the encore, a tune which Mr Fripp of course knows quite well. I believe I saw his somewhat wizened face crack into a small smile during this, but I could be wrong. The reworked C21 S.M. concluded an exciting evening.
Still no Cat Food or Ladies of the Road (maybe next year?), but I did find a surprise Burton!

From Luton to Duibhlind, Ériu, to conduct one of my periodic labours for the Irish Research Council. There are several Burton buildings in Dublin, and known examples in Waterford and Cork. Dublin also has an interesting factory built for Burton but never used, now sporting the Mercedes Benz crest. It's right next to the tramway!

Further pictorial evidence is available.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Conveyancing in the UK

I'm gonna buy a field and erect a wire fence and public seating around it.

I'm gonna buy some lions.

When the lions are really really hungry, I'm gonna feed them solicitors and estate agents.

Book early to avoid disappointment.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Coal holes, KX, Kent, Brexit and Welsh deprivation

As you will know, Aberystwyth is surprisingly well provided in unusual and interesting architecture and street furniture. Notably, the number of surviving coal-hole lids is high: as soon as I am released from the wage-labour that is the National Plant Phenomics Centre I shall be conducting a survey of them.

A recent reunion trip with Patrick and John took me to Llundain, a rather run-down capital city of one of Europe's [slowly] developing nations, and it was a surprise to discover that there too, there were street views of interest. A number of coal lids can be found between Tavistock Square and Kings Cross:


Kings Cross was interesting - just imagine something with the functionality of Aberystwyth railway station, but without any of the creature comforts or facilities that the Welsh terminus has to offer. We were amused to note that the resited Platform 9.75 was so popular that it had an official queue and was staffed by a specially trained human being.

Yn ddiweddarach, ymwelais i รข'r wyrion, who were in fine fettle. Visiting the site of the 2017 nuptials, we saw LBSG 1016815 (a lovely 2087/2), and a very fine wartime relic (arguably more attractive than the chosen tithe barn, but perhaps not everyone would agree on this).

In other news, more than half of those who could be arsed to vote turned out to be dumbfoundingly stupid; unbelievably this was also true in yr hen wlad fy nhadau. (Roedd Ceredigion gan amlaf yn synhwyrol). Merthyr and other Valley areas were already adrift of most deprivation leagues, but you ain't seen nothing yet!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Tempers snap in Ceredigion

Never known for their peace-making tendencies, Euro-friendly inhabitants of Ceredigion snapped into vigilante action yesterday.

Outraged beyond measure by a morning wireless interview with Trevor Kavanagh, Editor [sic] of the Sun newspaper [sic] on the topic of the upcoming under-publicised Euro-referendum, they took the only action open to them to redress the balance of political debate by defacing the Aberystwyth flagpoles - a brave move given the well known attitude of British justice to defacing of public materials.

Large numbers of outraged residents, masked and disguised, braved the June weather, flanked by protective troupes of Russian football hooligans on bicycles. Armed with labels and sellotape, they made a clean sweep of the poles, interfering with English labels to align them with the Sun's view of future political geography. Politically moderate dog-walkers attempting to reason with them were mercilessly beaten by the Russians; their broken bodies were thrown onto the beach to be pecked to death by seagulls awaiting the morning opening of Y Blwch Sglodion.

As the sun rose [sic] over the turbulent town, the evidence of night-time criminality was all too evident. Morning bar-kickers clustered around the poles aghast at the lengths the activists had gone to. At Coffee #1 on Portland Street, HQ of the Ceredigion Brexit [sic] campaign, the endless queue patiently waiting for insipid scalding coffee was alive with debate on the best mode of retaliation. Oliver Cromwell's well known slighting of Aberystwyth castle will seem as nothing compared to the ruins Aberystwyth will become as a result of these daring acts as tempers rise.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Camulodunum: land of Burton, Butterfly and Schrödinger's dog

Camulodunum, or "Colchester" as it is known to the Anglo-Saxons, offers much in its vicinity. For example:
  1. A little-known Burton.
  2. A visit to Boyle Père.
  3. Notification of a new publication.
  4. A visit to Leisureworld. I thought they were a lazy lot in Camulodunum while I was holding my own in the pool fast lane, until a 10yo Knell ringer appeared and left me for standing at all strokes. Then her slightly older brother appeared and started butterfly training. I went to the pub.
  5. Clacton Pier which is longer than Aberystwyth Pier, but naffer (no, really).
  6. Colchester Arts Centre, whereat you sometimes see Andy Zaltzman the interactive stand-up comedian with hair like this. He coined a nice joke about Schrödinger's dog in response to my question.