Sunday, 27 June 2010

Hey man*, that's beautiful

I've gone on about this track before but I only found this version quite recently. A good one for Sunday morning.

Spacemen 3: Transparent Radiation (violin mix)

*For the record, I never say man like this in real life.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Grimly fiendish

I mentioned in a comment a while back what a fan I am of Ronald Searle. Today, after having been told about it a couple of months ago by my dad, I got my act together and trotted down to the Cartoon Museum's exhibition of his work. I urge anybody who's interested to get their skates on as it closes on 4 July. Having said that the Toy Tales exhibition starting up straight afterwards looks good as well.

Anyway, Ronald Searle, how great is my admiration for his work? I've picked up nearly thirty of his books over the years. I think I prefer his pictures from the fifties and sixties and the exhibition features a fair number of these, though his style hasn't really changed and the pictures here from the nineties are just as good in a way.

Searle's pictures for me will always evoke the 1950s - the gloomy, gothic aftermath of the Victorian empire, ladies in rooms stuffed with knick-knacks, colonial club bores (see below), even the most minor of officials wearing uniform (the zoo keepers above). A certain type of birdcage always puts me in mind of his work. He shares the same sort of space as Ealing comedies (though possibly this is down to the presence of Alastair Sim in the St Trinian films).

While it was great to see some familiar pictures in the flesh - the straight reportage from Looking at London, the brilliant seven phases of Molesworth's Batmanship (uncannily similar to my own experiences at the crease), it was the stuff that I hadn't seen before that exerted the greater hold over me. Some of these labelled from the collection of Ronald and Monica Searle I'm not sure will have been on display before.

The portrait of a Moroccan entitled just Fez, March 1951 for instance. This was sketched while Searle was convalescing there for a bout of bronchitis - again, another world, people just don't do that anymore. Anyway, it was a small but perfect piece of art that was worth the price of the ticket (£5.50) alone.

Another that I don't think I've seen before was Kaiserlauten US Army Base (1964). This again was reportage but of a more satirical nature than either his drawings of London or Paris. Germany seems to bring out more of the savagery (especially a few years later in his Secret Sketchbook, from which no pictures are on display).

She wasn't in the exhibition this time but I saw the unmistakeable Fenella Fielding again on the tube on my way home.

Friday, 25 June 2010

One, two, three. Two, two, three.

God, it's been a long week. It's not been cheering me up that I've been unable to post any music either. But tonight, I find all my little widgets have reactivated. So, here we are. Something I found the other day. Has fiercer, more exuberant whistling ever been committed to tape?

Roger Whittaker: Mexican Whistler

No need for all this new fangled nonsense, all you need is an acoustic guitar, a tambourine and a lot of puff.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

A man that you meet every day

After a lot of lunchtime wandering I realised that I really liked this building. It doesn't come through so clearly on the photograph but it's constructed from highly polished browny-purple granite. That and the geometry of it make it look like some kind of immaculate volcanic remnant.

I tried looking it up on the internet but floundered a bit using searches like Transport for London and Victoria Street and a few others. Anyway, on closer inspection I discovered the architect's inscription: Seifert. Using this as a search term the veil lifted from my eyes and I suddenly saw how many fantastic buildings were his. Of the ones I was already aware of the most gratifying was the International Press Centre on Shoe Lane.

When I worked over in Holborn I walked past this every day and always admired it (for a period weaving my way through a crowd of animal rights protesters, who were very angry at one of the companies housed within). When I was younger I think I probably hated all modern office buildings as featureless monoliths, but now I can't get over the modular honeycomb character of this one, Centre Point, Space House and no doubt dozens if not hundreds of others. Perhaps comparable buildings in my native Sheffield just weren't as good, I don't know. I'm wondering if my hatred for the Eggbox might have been, with hindsight, a little callow.

As the most interesting of his buildings that I'd never heard of and which wasn't too far off the beaten track I went for a good look at Space House (now, I think, far more boringly referred to as 1 Kemble Street). It's plan is a bit like a squashed up Starship Enterprise the flat back end of which lies on Kingsway and which I must have walked past so many times but never once cut through to Covent Garden and chanced upon the amazing rotunda. Snapping away a women exiting the building was bemused at my admiration for it, she worked there and its form had somehow failed to lift her spirits.

The lists I've seen so far consist of about fifty buildings which, from what I've read, sounds like about a tenth of the number he actually produced. I was surprised to see that he doesn't seem to be the subject of any large coffee table type book, or any book at all.

The best thing about this is the prospect of going out to see a lot of these buildings that previously I'd never even heard of, though a pleasingly weird aspect of it was the ones that I've been faced with nearly all my life. Going to visit my grandma in Manchester and walking along Gateway House every time I came out of Piccadilly. And King's Reach Tower - for so many years just the location of Tharg's Command Module.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Hurry slowly

I found this the other day. I was unexpectedly watching (and quite enjoying) It's All Gone Pete Tong and it popped up in the background. Due to prolonged musical widget failure I thought I'd check youtube. And this is now my favourite video ever.

I'm kicking myself because I saw the relevant album in a charity shop not so long ago. But I can't remember where exactly.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Twelfth incarnation

Browsing idly this afternoon I read Stephen Fry lambasting the state of telly. He’s right I suppose. I’ve got satellite, if I had the energy I could scour the schedules and line up almost constant interesting and/or edifying programming.

Anyway, this is the picture they used to illustrate article – he’s an absolute natural for Dr Who isn’t he?