Sunday 29 May 2022

The Sunday Ishmael 30/05/2022

“In the woods the bluebells seem
Like a blue and magic dream,
Blue water, light and air
Flow among them there.

But the eager girl who pulls
Bluebells up in basketfuls
When she gets them home will find
The magic left behind.”
 Eleanor Farjeon

I started hunting for an image of woods to illustrate the adage: Can't see the wood for the trees, but, as usual, was ambushed by bluebells. For our overseas and city readers, this is an English bluebell wood in early May, sunlight dappling through the new leaves, the warm air filled with the elusive bluebell fragrance. 
Oh to be in England, now that Spring is here....
Back to task.  Whilst standing in the midst of trees, appreciating the whole treeness of things, one cannot see the wood, its shape, size or whether it sits with integrity in the landscape.

Might this be true for Clive Myrie, who told his truth to Ambassador Andrei Kelin this morning? I've been to Ukraine lots of times, he said. How many times have you been? I've seen warcrimes in the street. It's a war, isn't it? Not a Special Military Operation? Tell us how much you despise Putin. Go on, I dare you. Look at these pictures on my i-Thing. Bodies on the streets. What do you mean, sir, don't worry about Mariupol? It's devastated. All these residential apartment buildings, you can see the sky through the holes in the walls.
At one point, Ambassador Kelin, 
who nature surely intended to be a lovable grandad with a teddy-bear face, tried to calm him down and keep him on track: Clive, Clive, are we having a discussion or are you having a conversation with Yourself?
Now, I'm sure that Clive did witness what he said he witnessed, and that his powerful indignation sprang from his belief that the Russian soldiery behaved as soldiers do behave - war is fucking horrible - but, being entirely immersed in the trees, he was unable to see the woodland that Ambassador Kelin was attempting - when he could get a word in edge-ways, to show Clive:
Mrs Belligerent Truss, whipping up the U.K.'s anti-Russian hyperbole, egging on the Ukies, extending the war and closing down peace negotiations by pouring in lethal aid. The refusal of the West to accept that the Azov battalion are particularly unpleasant, that the Western Ukrainians lethally discriminated against the ethnic Russians in the Donbas, that military installations by Ukraine in the east posed a threat to Russia and that the Azov soldiery did use civilian buildings for military purposes, including parking their tanks in the basement. The Ambassador neatly countered Clive's accusations that the Russian people are being fed propaganda and denied access to western reportage: so, can you get Russia Today or any Russian news coverage in the UK?
Bit of a relief to learn that Russia does not intend to turn Britain into a big smoking nuclear hole, lapped by the waters of the North Sea, despite all this goading, and that the Russian military strategy is not to deploy tactical battlefield nukes.
It was rather fun to see Clive teasing the solemn Conservative MP Brandon Lewis, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland - he's the one with the weird hair:  
Maybe try a fringe?
I'm not saying for a minute that you are anything like Ambassador Kelin, but, really, don't you feel like Andrei, having to go into public time and time again to defend the Big Dog?
The Conservatives are, by and large, still signed up to the Save Big Dog Operation, shake, shake, shaking the magic money tree to bribe the population - but wouldn't it be funny, if after all the various shenanigans, including, allegedly, intimidating Sue Gray into holding back in her report into Partygate (what, 4:00pm already? Wine-time!) Big Dog failed to get re-elected next time around?
 If he allows us to have another General Election, that is. After all, the Big Dog has already sorted out  the Ministerial Code by  removing concepts of honour, integrity and resignation:  in the breach lies the observance.
Old Transgender News: 

France declares war on Liverpool  
They are just so, so very Liverpudlian and we are so very chic

Whilst Liverpool fans are notorious for causing mayhem, walking into French shops and carrying out armloads of designer gear, blagging free travel across Europe, getting drunk and disgusting - for being, well, thugs, they are our thugs and they shouldn't be put in cages and sprayed with tear gas by France's finest. This is another provocation to war by the French, who have previous for sending tennis balls to the reigning monarch.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis (him again, still no fringe, or Bangs as the Americans call hair on your forehead)) this morning told Sky News that, while he didn’t want to involve himself in France’s domestic affairs, it is important “we learn the lessons and how all around the world we can police and keep people safe at big sporting events”
Would the French accept the diplomatic olive branch and just say sorry? Hell, no. Would they fuck. Amelie Oudea-Castera, France's Sport Minister, stated: “The attempts of intrusion and fraud by thousands of English fans have complicated the work of stewards and police forces ...Violence has no place in the stadiums." Gerald Darmanin, French Interior Minister stated: “Thousands of British 'supporters', without tickets or with counterfeit tickets, forced entry and sometimes assaulted the stewards. Thank you to the very many police forces mobilised this evening in this difficult context."
That's it then. Cry God for England, Harry and St. George! And they can keep their stinky cheeses. 

The proof reading of the third anthology of mr ishmael's writing is approaching completion: I've done my bit and it is now out for beta testing.
 We debated long and hard about which essays should be included. Everything is so good, how do you choose? This is an essay that didn't make the cut - just shows to go you the standard of the included pieces:



She’s got everything she needs, she’s an artist, she don’t look back.

Bob Dylan (She Belongs To Me)

So much of the PBC’s arts programming has been hi-jacked
recently by posturing, bullying arseholes talking down to us, Alan Yentob, interviewing, like a slavering groupie, his teenage pop idols; one almost expected, in a recent outing, that he would ask Mark Knopfler for a plastercast of his dick, just for his personal collection, y’understand. Yentob is one of the more gross, nauseating, overpaid luvvies whom, via our taxes, we keep in indolent, self-fellating luxury, sharing with us, betimes, his journey into this or that aspect of pop trivia; they’re never just making a fucking programme, these Yentobs, they’re all on a fucking mission of discovery; good of them, really, to babble at us, shouting urgent cultural instructions, from their luxury liners.
Mark PotatoMan is another, nose-talking flat-out, racing against himself in the Most-Well-Researched-Interviewer-Ever Steeplechase; one would be surprised to learn that he ever paused for a split second to enjoy a work of art or entertainment, too busy deconstructing it, making notes, for a future telly-arts gabfest in which he sits, bloated, ashen, reeking of grease‘n’garlic, and oozing his superior knowledge of everything, ever: repulsive fucking mutant, he should go for a run, the fucking gabshite. And he should wear a tie or a tee-shirt, one or the other. He clearly knows nothing of the art of dishevelment.
I would love to hear, just once before I die, one of these fuckers saying, for instance, Dickens, nah, never read a word of it. Shakespeare? Nah, not for me; read Hamlet, that’s enough, innit? Japanese cinema? You must be outa your fucking mind. But no, the PBC is carpeted, wall-to-wall, with cultural polyglots, a Babel of effete narcissism, the sort of people we’d like to see charged double or treble for their arts degrees. I used to be among that arts degree crowd, myself, Gilgameshing, Chaucering and Joyceing my way to a wordy, arty future, so it hurts to find myself, courtesy of the PBC, coming over all Hermann Goering - ven I hear ze vord Kultur I reach fur mein pistol.

That the PBC is run for and by crooks, ponces, pimps, slags, degenerates and child molesters is now axiomatic; that we continue to shovel our money into the scabby, snarling mouths of the likes of Chris Patten - just because this failed Tory spiv says we should - is almost unbelievable. In a decent society Patten, Dyke, Thompson, the whole shameless, shabby crew would be breaking rocks on Dartmoor. For ever. If a foreign, national institution was proven to be a hotbed of larceny, degeneracy and decades-long, institutionalised noncing, the PBC would be wetting itself in indignation. Mrs woman on a raft describes herself as being moored just off the coast of reality. Until heads roll at the PBC, actually into the basket and not into wealthy retirement, we, the United Kingdom, will remain a sewer-island, off the coast of civilisation.

They’re not all as bad as that, though, the culture jocks, not as bad, as foul, as Yentob. Some of them have a sense of humour and Waldemar Jabberwocky always has interesting things to say about paintings, and he even manages to make some of it seem spontaneous, although spontaneity and the managerialised, child-abusing PBC are antipathetic. It really isn’t good enough that the public broadcaster’s coverage of arts generally is in the unlaboured hands of a bunch of cunts. I know critics, at least paid ones, are a considerably lesser form of life than the rest of us but even so, Kirsty Wark and her slew of screeching, parasitic, late-night cocksuckeurs culturelles - Paul Morley, Diane Wei Liang, Miranda Sawyer, Andrew Motion - I’d throw them all out of the lifeboat; in fact, I wouldn’t even let them in.
Yentob and PotatoHead, Andy Graham-Dixon, Mark Kermode, Sue Perkins, Clemency Burton-Hill, Jesus, I could go on for a month. And most of this lot, as usual, are public school; some of them, like the gorgeous, pouting Burton-Hill are both Oxbridge and the pampered spawn of some superannuated PBC grandee.

But aside from daddies and dons, the main thing this gang has in common is that each really makes a dreadful, self-absorbed fist of what we pay them to do, what the nation needs them to do, now, more than ever. There is a better way and that is to take ordinary people and say, OK, whaddayamake of this, then? But that’s never going to happen. (I used to take groups of official criminals - as opposed to bankers and politicians - to see Shakespeare or to an art gallery or a music festival, alongside, I hasten to add, directing them towards work, training and common-or-garden Decency. Never knew that was for me, most’d say, and clutched in the sharp, grimy paws of Kirsty Wark and the rest, it never will be. X-Factor, that’s the thing for you, singing, ‘swhat you understand.)

In the grown-up world, writers review each other’s books (and how many fucking books can there be, there’s already millions upon millions of them; why don’t people learn a different language instead of reading the latest, indispensable, Sebastian Faulks tripe?) As bankers review each other’s bungs, PBC execs review each other’s larceny, cops review each other’s crimes and doctors review each other’s greedy malpractices, so the critics, acting as our own cultural coppers, review for us the evidence relating to their brighter, more successful chums’ efforts, and tell us what we think. But actually, if you look at Tracey Emin’s Great Bed of Shit, for instance, you will see that art is whatever you can get away with. Even so, wading about in shit, the role of ordinary people is to be told, by the charmed circle of clever people, what they think about art or music or politics. Or anything. You’ll like the things we tell you to, or you won’t like at all.
It was a rare pleasure, then, to see, last night, an arts show seemingly completely controlled by its subject and - barring an introductory simper from Clemency - completely devoid of the critical, faux-interrogative, flattering voice. (Although he will be best remembered for selling dodgy insurance to the elderly, the telly-monster, Parkinson, wrote the book on pandering to the scum of showbiz and the arts. And do tell us, Mr Niven, some of the many other ways in which you are wonderful.)

I don’t do dancing. Maybe it’s my early presbyterian up-bringing, I dunno, I just don’t and I rarely watch it - save for Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire and Michael Jackson, on a good day. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at dancing. There was a guy used to be on Sunday Night at the London Palladium, when I was a young child. Antonio, I think his name was, a Spanish flamenco dancer, hand-clapping, heel-stomping, shouting Olé every once in a while - he was mesmerising. But that’s about it with me and dancing so it was just a mild curiosity which drew me, last night, to PBC2’s Sylvie Guillem - Force of Nature.

Now a breathtakingly fit 48, Guillem trained initially as a gymnast and only a student exchange period with the Paris Opera Ballet saw her talent recognised by then Director, Rudolf Nureyev,

who, against all precedent, propelled her into the position of etoile, principal ballerina, whilst she was still virtually a child. Rudi's preferment cast the die for her future personal and artistic behaviour. She would only ever do what she wanted to do.
The film is short, about a half an hour and concentrates as much on Guillem's monologues on Life, Art and the Environment as it does on her dancing and although these are compelling, a longer show would have enabled us to be the more amazed, I suspect, by her dancing. There are short clips of her in classical roles and lengthier segments of her modern works; all of them, for me, at any rate, clarified the difference between sheer, ferociously uncompromising artistry and the countless little daily performances which we all give, over and over again for the benefit of family, friends, workmates and strangers alike; all the world is a stage, of course, Guillem's stage, though, occupies a different space, rarified, fantastically dramatic and, perhaps most significantly, utterly wordless.


I was left breathless, open mouthed by the sheer physicality of her performances, her partners all marvel at the things she can force her body to do, even now, approaching fifty.

She can stretch and bend and fold and, free from partner support, she can spin two or three times in mid-air.
As I said, I know nothing of balletstrokedance, leaves me cold as a rule but with some of Guillem's modern pieces my ignorance, my unfamiliarity didn't seem to matter. None of them were large, ensemble, company pieces, just two dancers or in the final piece just Guillem, herself, sketching the stages of woman's life, the movements in space of this one body matched to a few notes, expressing achey truths denied to words.

In her to-camera pieces she was equally compelling.

It's odd, isn't it, how, maybe because we listen a wee bit harder, the words of those to whom English is not native, seem so much more, well, so much more right, unhabituated, more seeking and feeling and testing than declamatory. She spoke of how, early on, she had realised that she had but one life and to allow others - seniors - to dictate it was the same as giving it to them freely, for their own use. And when she transferred from Paris to London's Royal Ballet she quickly became known as Mademoiselle Non for her frequent flat refusals to play suggested roles. London - and global - directors and audiences feel that her ungovernability is a price well worth paying for seeing her on their stages.

Contemplating the end of her career, Guillem laughs that the inevitable decline in her powers will only propel her upwards, slingshotting her into something else, something which is manifesting itself in her antsy support for SeaShepherds,

a radical environmentalist group which sidesteps the customary Bono-bleatings of showbiz in favour of direct action, ramming illegal whaling ships, for instance.

I am sure she will be a loss to dance lovers but most of her stuff will be digitised for posterity and there may well be another Sylvie along in a minute or two, there usually is.
But if you get a chance to see her, in this film, dancing and talking - both of them forms of thinking out loud - then, as we usually say, it is well worth the time spent.

She's got everything she needs,
she's an artist, she don't look back.

(*…my faint delight in them is that they are a ragbag and that they don’t give a fuck because - and you don’t need me to tell you this - GlobaCorp doesn’t give a flying fuck about anybody, any creature, any resource on land, sea, or in the air; these people commit EarthCrime every second of the day, they will kill us all, we should kill them first and anyone even taking a step in that direction, standing up to them, is good news to me. Fuck Interpol, when are they going to arrest a banker or two?)


Mike said...

I'm a rough bugger from urchin upbringings in Manchester (what was Salford to be precise). Not blaming my parents at all, they were from even poorer origins, but in the 1950's when I was born it was a hard time and they gave me and my sister a good upbringing.

For some reason, when my life moved on in a different (academic) trajectory, I discovered an interest in ballet - OK don't laugh. When I worked in the City I used to go to the ballet at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden (bloody expensive even in those days). It used to be a grand place to be, probably still is, although the seats were uncomfortable, from memory. The highlights were when the Russian companies visited. The Bolshoi of course. The females were just beautiful, as well as very skillful. But the one that sticks in my memory the most is the Bolshoi performing Spartacus. The athleticism and shear magnetism of the male dancers was something I had never seen before. Don't suppose they will be appearing anytime soon?

mrs ishmael said...

And that will be a huge shame, mr mike. I'm not much of a ballet buff myself, but I suspect that is because I've mainly seen it screened or filmed. The one time I saw live ballet, in Stratford, I had a front row seat and was astonished by the sheer physicality of it. What seems ethereal, dainty defiance of gravity on screen is an illusion. The squeak of the point shoes on the stage, shuddering beneath the impact of a male dancer landing from leaps and pirouettes, the heaving of bony chests struggling for air and hearts pumping blood to massive muscles, all the while faces maintaining big smiles - eyes and teeth, girls, eyes and teeth! Well, dance is hard work.
However, I may have mentioned in these pages before my first experience of the Red Army dancers and singers - which struck me as the Bolshoi struck you, with awe and respect and an abiding sense of shared humanity, struggle and determination. And, yes, of Art.
It was at the height of the Cold War, so I had a sense of transgression when my dear Dad took me to Bradford's magnificent Alhambra Theatre. I was young, emotional and vulnerable and can only describe my experience as numinous - and me a Catholic convent school girl and the Red Army all irreligious godless communist bastards.

mongoose said...

On a more prosaic note, we finally stumped up the cash to the tree surgeon bastards to cut down the evil eucalyptus tree that some ignoramus planted here in the time of the old king. (Taller than the house and then some and sucked every drop of water from the entire lane.) And lo, as the shepherds say, the last couple of years have seen bluebells, and spreading. I have planted some fruit trees too and maybe before I am dust we'll have a proper show one spring.

mrs ishmael said...

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

Good news about your bluebells, mr mongoose. Underplant your fruit trees with snowdrops and snakes' head fritillaries and it will be just perfect. Bet your Evil Eucalyptus is plotting beneath the earth, though, and will creep out when you are not looking.

Johnny said...

One of Housman's loveliest poems...

Can't say that I attended any ballet but went to Glasgow for the City of Culture celebrations and saw the Bolshoi Opera in Rimsky Korsakov's "Sadko". Wonderful.

Saw all the Mackintosh goodies, the Burrell & Kelvingrove collections. What a trip!

mrs ishmael said...

When I was looking for the poem on-line to do some cut and pasteing, I had to shoulder my way through some inane comments on whether snow could stay on the bough of a cherry tree as it has thin branches. For heaven's sake - can no-one recognise a metaphor these days? Blossom=snow. I got quite cross.
Yes, mr johnny (that sounds very South Pacific, I fear) a sweet little poem and one of mr ishmael's favourites.
Isn't Glasgow an amazing city of contrasts? Those stunning Victorian buildings housing such stuff. I don't know how much of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh survived the fires in the School of Art, though.
Bradford has got the gig, now, much to my pride and delight. Bradford, City of Culture, said my friend, with a certain intonation. And? I said, bristling. Your point is?
I've never seen the Bolshoi Opera. Don't suppose I will, now.
Scotland's got a bit of a problem today - a dilemma. Scotland is playing a football match against Ukraine. Now, usually the Tartan Army would be making up vile, disgusting and funny songs directed at the opposing team. Well, they just can't, now, can they, as the Tartan Army has to support Plucky Little Ukraine. No cheery stadium chants about matters insalubrious below the waist. And some opinion formers are encouraging Scotland to throw the game so that Ukraine can win the World Cup. That'll show that Putin, huh?

Bungalow Bill said...

Lovely stuff all round thanks, Mrs I. Anything happening in the garden worth the seeing? Or somewhere else as you may wish. Not that I want to put you to any trouble. It’s tough here in the city. When/ if you’re ready, of course.

mrs ishmael said...

Hi, mr bb, so much happening - the urgent scramble of life renewing itself: everything so lush and green and floriferous. The wild garlic has finally gone over and the bluebells are beginning to fade, but the fields and verges are a riot of buttercups, daisies and primroses, whilst the trees have almost their full canopies. I'm on my Jubilee hols now, so I'll post some Orkney pictures. And - big day tomorrow - mr mongoose has provided a Platinum Crossword to keep ishmaelites busy over the double Bank Holiday.

Mike said...

I read it is the Platinum Jubilee. Not really something for celebration. The girl was put in a position and role she was too young and unsuited for. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The Commonwealth has all but disintegrated or become a joke. The place of Britain in the world is also a joke. Its not her fault, but the reality is she has done nothing and could do nothing. Then we move on to her family - arguably the most important task of a hereditary monarch. What can one say. Dysfunctional it putting politely. Here in Australia (probably the most loyal colony) a republican movement is ascendant. It will succeed. I don't wish here any ill, but judging by outcomes, she has been useless. Its not completely her fault, because there have been so many bastard politicians, but a stronger monarch would have have done better. She has failed.

inmate said...

True Mr Mike, true. It is now common knowledge that Brenda never swore the oath, or signed the oath at her coronation. The same as her father; he refused to swear or put his name to to the sham. The politicians of the day had removed the Royal prerogative from his father, creating a figurehead as apposed to a constitutional Monarch with all the authority and power the Monarch wielded.
The final check on an abusive government was, once and for all, removed.
Of course since then all checks have gone. The great Terror of blair and bruin removed the Law Lords, the death penalty for treason and created the Supreme Court abomination. We’re fucked, there is no better word for it.

mongoose said...

The surgeon bastards declined to attempt to draw the stump sa it was too close to the house! It's about 4 metres, I reckon. So I have this 3' by 2' six inch high stump. Fortunately a botnially scienced friend of mine recommended, ahem, a way of causing it to eventually disappear of its own volition, and even provided the necessary. It is slowly rotting away and disappearing into nothingness even under the ground.

4 fruit trees planted and a mad yew sapling that I found behind the shed has been transplanted into the far corner. In a five year or so it has grown maybe a foot or maybe two. In 200 years, it will have been a hoot worth hooting. But it's in line with the churchyard yews and if I keep it sculpted for height, I'll have given it a start.