Towards the end of our holiday in England, I proposed that my only siblings, my two brothers and I, go off on a day trip together and do something we had never done before, so that we would remember it for a long time. I remembered a time about thirty years ago when we found ourselves skiing together, just the three of us, and my younger brother had remarked how rarely we do things just in each other's company. First we set out for Kipling's house on the edge of The Weald. There were wonderful gardens and plenty of reminders of the stories that were read to us when we were children.
Then we drove on to Herstmonceau, which was purchased by a Canadian millionaire and donated to Queen's University. Those lucky students.
From there it was fairly obvious to drop down to the seven sisters. My young brother was driving and my older brother brilliantly navigated us to this quiet country lane which led right down to the beach.
Finally, as the sun was setting, we went up to the highest point on The Downs, Ditchling Beacon. Would a fire have been lit here if Napoleon had invaded England? We could imagine it would be so.
Brothers three the
Back in Toronto.
TEACH BOYS TO WHISTLE
This came to me at 3.33 AM, but I was too sleepy to get up and post it.
I have my proposal for NEW IDEAS all packaged and waiting for postage.
David yet again took my laptop off this solid table and I found it on the tiny table with rickety legs. I am trying to leave him the desktop we have been sharing and set up my own. Starting over is hard.
I passed by here as a young man when I was hitch hiking to Spain. I've seen the most wonderful castle, I told my mother. Oh that was made on steel girders in the nineteenth century, she told me. But, since it looks wonderful, isn't it? Since then I've come to admire nineteenth century buildings probably more than the medieval ones they were so successfully imitating. The Victorians were brilliant engineers with exciting new materials and the wealth to create extraordinary lay structures. Apparently it was the conical roofs on the turrets, so beloved by later Disneylands, which offended the purists.
"I hate my verses, every line, every word. Oh pale and brittle pencils ever to try One grass-blade's curve, or the throat of one bird That clings to twig, ruffled against white sky. Oh cracked and twilight mirrors ever to catch One color, one glintingflash, of the splendor of things. Unlucky hunter, Oh bullets of wax, The lion beauty, the wild-swan wings, the storm of the wings." --This wild swan of a world is no hunter's game. Better bullets than yours would miss the white breast Better mirrors than yours would crack in the flame. Does it matter whether you hate your . . . self? At least Love your eyes that can see, your mind that can Hear the music, the thunder of the wings. Love the wild swan.
Well, we had a lovely party, much improved at the last moment, by learning that, in all probability,my mother would become a great grandmother within her life time and that my dear older brother would be a grand papa. I haven't seen him crying since he was a teenager. So here is wikipedia's picture of the day. It rather reminds me of us all eating beef fillet in a tent in the garden. Someone was letting off fireworks within earshot, but out of sight. The night was so clear that, for the second time this year, I could see the milky way. Twice my meagre presents for Kim produced, not in themselves, but in the resulting conversations, big laughs. Gina and Mike and their lovely four year old were there. Several times Gina made slightlyacerbic and very funny comments. I sat at the end of the table and chatted quietly with Carol beside me and Cathy across a quite narrow table. My mother sat at the head of the other end surrounded by my nephew and his generation. She seemed fairly oblivious, but not unhappy. She had eaten corn on the cob, one of her favourites, and spent the rest of the meal trying to dislodge the strings from between her teeth with table knives and various dental pieces of equipment. Nice Steve tried to discourage her from putting quite a sharp knife to her teeth, but I said, "No, just let her get on with it". Perhaps I shocked him. A lot of the time she reminds me of Woody Allen in Sleeper when he is in a wheel chair and comatose for some reason I forget.
I've been reading about these men, but, in any case I really like this period of portraiture as it is quite close to photography. We were in Parham recently and I saw a portrait that was evidently painted so that someone could visualise a future bride. The person I was with said, "But then other people got powerful and, or famous, and that was the reason they were painted". I mumbled something about fashionable portrait painters and we sauntered on. I have been there several times. If you find yourself in Sussex, I urge you to go. A family bought it in the twenties and were rich enough for a while to restore it very well. The descendants of thosebuyers still live there. In the East I would recommend Leeds and here, Parham.
Inspired by this, here is a piece I often used for an audition, confident that my audience had not heard it before.
An Eskimo lady, who could not speak or understand a word of English, was offered a free trip to the United States, plus five hundred dollars, providing she accompany a corpse for burial. After burying the coffin, she arrived in the city and went to the railway station. She lined up at the ticket window and listened very carefully to what the person in front of her was saying, she repeated what they had said and in this way travelled around the country from place to place. After a while, her money was running out and she decided to stay in the next place she came to. However she found herself in a small town, from which no one that day was travelling. By this time, she had picked up a little English. So she went to the ticket window and said to the man there, "Where would you go, if you were going". He named a small town in Ohio, where she lives to this day.
I had a recording of John Cage reciting this quite slowly, with many pauses, which were filled in by his partner, David Tudor on, or often inside, a piano. Sometimes they would both make sounds at the same time. I loved that recording; a reel to reel I still have, but have not spooled up for twenty years or more. If my audience did not seem bored, I would segway into a piece from "The Idiot", and maybe from there to a piece by Alan Bennett. When we see actors, we usually see the parts they are playing, and judge them for how well they performed. What usually remains hidden, is that many actors are preachers, trying to impart what they have learned in the only way they know how.