1st september 2006

less may be more

Extraordinary rumours are coming from our Department of Natural Philosophy, where it is said that Herr Doktor Professor Freidegg is revealing some startling findings. It seems that he has discovered a new use for the late works of Samuel Beckett - as literary sensory deprivation tanks, no less. When one is deprived of stimuli in a physical flotation tank, he says, hallucinations are generated; similarly when reading such works as Rockaby or Worstward Ho, if the reader attains the correct state of mind, the result can be the impression of a fast-moving and densely-plotted novel in the most floridly written style. Thus far he has not attempted to transcribe any of these works, but assures his colleagues that an 'airport blockbuster' is not far off.
The Professor seems to be investigating other similar areas with no little success: a workmate came across him wearing the headphones in the music room recently, marching up and down exuberantly and apparently playing the 'air trombone'. The disc in the machine was later found to be of chamber works by Anton Webern.
Furthermore, a reproduction of Malevich's White on White and several cans of spraypaint have been noted on the Professor's desk; the building's cleaning staff have been informed and forewarned.

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3rd september 2006

yet more saloop

Saloop - the precocious herb-woman's darling - the delight of the early gardener, who transports his smoking cabbages by break of day from Hammersmith to Covent Garden's famed piazzas - the delight, and, oh I fear, too often the envy, of the unpennied sweep. Him shouldest thou haply encounter, with his dim visage pendent over the grateful steam, regale him with a sumptuous basin (it will cost thee but three halfpennies) and a slice of delicate bread and butter (an added halfpenny) - so may thy culinary fires, eased of the o'er-charged secretions from thy worse-placed hospitalities, curl up a lighter volume to the welkin - so may the descending soot never taint thy costly well-ingredienced soups - nor the odious cry, quick-reaching from street to street, of the fired chimney, invite the rattling engines from ten adjacent parishes, to disturb for a casual scintillation thy peace and pocket!

- Charles Lamb, The Praise of Chimney Sweepers

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5th september 2006

the same, a little later

After about two hours of reading or discussion, we would go for a walk and then have tea at Lyons, or in the restaurant above the Regal cinema. Sometimes he came to my house in Searle Street for supper. Once after supper, Wittgenstein, my wife and I went for a walk on Midsummer Common. We talked about the movements of the bodies of the solar system. It occured to Wittgenstein that the three of us should represent the movements of the sun, earth, and moon, relative to one another. My wife was the sun and maintained a steady pace across the meadow; I was the earth and circled her at a trot. Wittgenstein took the most strenuous part of all, the moon, and ran around me while I circled my wife. Wittgenstein entered into this game with great enthusiasm and seriousness, shouting instructions at us as he ran. He became quite breathless and dizzy with exhaustion.

– Norman Malcolm, Ludwig Wittgenstein: a Memoir (via atem/metameat, via Eudaemonist)

I seem to have inhabited an identical landscape at a different time: Searle Street was where we went on Fridays to play with Jill and Jenny. Crackerjack was on television, and we always ate some impossibly glamorous English cakeshop bastardization of the millefeuille: it was life lived at the very extremes of pleasure.
Midsummer Common was a more sombre proposition; it often seemed to be raining, especially during cross-country running and football. I did however have some kind of orbital moment when I joined in a chase for a runaway dog on the day I got extra-strong new glasses: the lenses made me spiral inwards like a moth into a flame and any attempt to run ended in falling over, sucked into the black hole of my own feet. I became quite breathless and exhausted with dizziness.

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6th september 2006

I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.

I believe in my own obsessions, in the beauty of the car crash, in the peace of the submerged forest, in the excitements of the deserted holiday beach, in the elegance of automobile graveyards, in the mystery of multi-storey car parks, in the poetry of abandoned hotels.

- J.G. Ballard
, What I Believe

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11th september 2006

Michael Frayn on dreams:

I dreamt that a producer told me he had persuaded Roger Moore to play a part in one of my plays. I told the producer that I didn't know what Roger Moore had been in before - that I had never even heard of him. And I was speaking the truth; in the dream I didn't and hadn't. The producer expressed amazement and amusement that I could be so out of touch. And then he told me that Roger Moore had played James Bond in some of the Bond films. The producer whom I was dreaming - whom I had made up, and educated, and taught all he knew - was aware of this; but until he told me, I, in my own dream, was not.

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18th september 2006

found in a drawer

My old interrail journal from 1983. It was the first time I'd left the country, barring a school trip to Italy when I was 14. After our first year at college, three of us took trains across Europe to Istanbul. I wrote stuff in a notebook in the style of the chapter headings of an eighteenth-century novel, sort of. Half the stuff I can remember little about, a lot of it sounds foolish; I was only 20. Bear with me: over the next few days I'll put up the whole thing.

Saturday 3rd September

The Early Rain - A Little Lift - The Wind on the M11 - A Big Lift - Highbury Corner - Ports Closed, Ports Open - The French, the Queues - On the Boat - Lindsay & Zen - On the Paris Train - A 10% Tariff - Gare du Nord - A Wait in the Corridor - A Gas Leak - A Difficult Night - "Ou Sommes Nous?" - An African and His Tricycle.

Sunday 4th September

Sunday Morning Mountains - Milan - A Happy Wash - Italy's Landscape - An Italian City - Stranger in the Doorway - A Slow Conversation - La Serenissima - A Watermelon - A Sunbathe with a Drunk - By Boat to the Station - By the Canal - A Walk in Gangland - A Farewell - Bedtime with the Sloanes.

Monday 5th September

Wakened by the Polis - A Wash in the Sun - Cappucino & Licorice Cake - Empty Piazza - A Walk to Arsenale - A Piano Aubade - The Bell - The Bells - San Marco - University Lunch - In the Market - Help with a Melon - A Trip in a Gondola - Trieste - The Coffee Smugglers - A Happy Bedtime - 'Better than Christmas' - A Rude Awakening - A Blow to the Skull - A Change of Atmosphere - A Bad Night - West-Enslaved Slavs.

Tuesday 6th September

The Flat Fen Fields - Belgrade - A Cheese Pie - French Canadians - A Silent Finn - Cakes & Ale - Peppers & Gourds - A Green Valley - A Breakdown - Blackberries - Rumours of a Corpse - A Corncob - Idomeni - Disembarcation Disallowed - 'Mister Food' - Bed in the Corridor - Thessaloniki - A Taxi Driver - In the Schoolyard - Noises of the Night.

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19th september 2006

Wednesday 7th September

The Caretaker - Dreamland Revisited - The Headmaster - A Slow Reveille - In the Bank - Tres Cafedes - Sandals in Summer? - In the Market - Retsina Speziale - In the Park - Figs & Feta - A Banana Sorbet - Lemonade and a Candy Store - The Train Through the Mountains - Hanging Out the Washing - A French Youth - The Tiny Tunnels
- Lianokladion - A Station Café - Three Ouzos & a Cricket - The Ravioli & the Stolen Beans - The Goods Wagon - A Piquant Night.

Thursday 8th September

The Spots, the Bites - Coffee Under the Trees - Ballet Postures on the Platform - A Long Wash on the Train - The Greek with the Scooter - Athenian Suburbs - An Elusive Acropolis - A Hot Arrival - A Long Walk - At the Garage Door - The Expansive Mechanic - The Station Revisited - The 20 Drachma Trolley - Finally, Acropolis -

Caryatids Behind Bars - Cicadas & Antlions - The Agora - The Portico - The Ant & the Philosopher - A Veal Meal - Good for Greeks, for Tourists - A Real Irish Pub (Unvisited) - A Narrow-Gauge Train - Xylokastron - The Scented Night - Along the Beach - A Light & a Scream - A Night on the Rocks.

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20th september 2006

Friday 9th September

Sunrise - A Warm Bed - The Swim - In the Pharmacy - Gnupi-No - Baklava - Lunch in the Pines - The Beach, a Snorkelling Interlude - The Frappés - An Encounter with a Squirting Cucumber - The Ratatouille - The Fire - M. Exposes Himself - Expostulations & an Extinguishing - The Stars & the Satellites - Meteors & the Milky Way.

Saturday 10th September

The Boat, the Dive - The Express to Diakofton - The Rack and Pinion to Kalavrita - Kateifi - Mountain Stations - Eno Meso Kilo ke Feta - The Girl at the Fountain - In the Hills - The Gun - The Silence - Grasshoppers & Goats - The Fountain with the Fish - A Broken Contact Lens - Mega Speleion - A Roof for the Night - Up to the Monastery - The Spring - Brother Nikos - Baggy Trousers -

Mount Speleion - The Birds - Moon and Cypress - A Lost Dog - Omelettes & Greek Salad - Gilbert O'Sullivan - Much Politics - The Scorpion - An Intensive Search - A Good Night.

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21st september 2006

Sunday 11th September

The 10.30 to Patras - Egrets - The Tourist Police - A Can of Olives - In the Park - The Marble-Players - A Closed Museum - Pyrgos - Hitchhiking - An Unstopped Bus - M. departs alone - The Bus - An Animated Reunion - The 'Beach' - A Good Meal - Cygnus and some Satellites.

Monday 12th September

In a Café - Marmellado, Postcards & Tea - The Morning Train to Olympia - Grape Pips - Trees, Columns & Whistles - In the Stadium - A Lap of Honour - A Cup of Sprite - Beer Through a Straw - Another Bus - Pyrgos Revisited - Fruitless Search for Retsina - The Late Train South - Yaourt - A Pierhead Jump at Kalafas - A Bad Meal - A Naked Swim - A Very Sandy Night.

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22nd september 2006

Tuesday 13th September

In the General Store - Tricky Customers - The Dropped Grapes - Along the Beach - Javelin Practice - An Insect Hunt - The Wasp's Nest - The Enormous Creature - An Ant Lion - A Nudist Beach - The Dropped Trunks - Spaghetti Carbonara - The Beautiful People - Kyparissia - Trace & Ange - Ouzos with Delicacies - The Beanbag Beach - Subsidence in the Night.

Wednesday 14th September

Dirty Already - No Showers - The Hats - A Needle & Thread - In an Olive Grove - The Fish Paste - A Man & his Donkey - The Mantis - The Train & the Merchant - Kalamata Station - A Bad Fall - A Shave Suggested - The Stolen Crisps - A Walk to the Front - The Elusive Raki - Two Meals for Three - A Small Bill - Six Baklava - A Near Miss - The Night Train to Mycenae.

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23rd september 2006

Thursday 15th September

A Stay in Bed - In the Café - The Big Apathy - Bus-stop Zombies - A Beer - Hitching - A Great Little Lift - The Swiss - The Clashing Rocks - An Olive Grove - A Myriad of Scorpions - In the Citadel - Into the Cistern - The Thorn Tree - Beehive Tombs - A Student Discount on Sprite - A Failed Hitch - The Limes - A Camping Cookup - Tabla, Tea & Postcards - Under the Bench.

Friday 16th September

The Train to Argos - The Bus to Nauplia - Doughnuts - An Octopus - The Sea Urchins - A Holothurian - In the Supermarket - Phix - Up the Palatine - A Nap - High on Water - Lemonade - The Organized Beach - The Train North - Dinner at Corinth - The Sherry - The Usual to Xylokastron - A Good Night.

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24th september 2006

Saturday 17th September

An Early Swim - And a Shower - Money Panic - A Missed Train - A Close Shave at Last - Sunburnt Feet - The Athens Express - The Merchant Finished - The Tourist Police - Choco Gala - In the Park - This Way the Museyrooms - The Gold - The Lute Player - Frescoes - The Cup with the Bulls - No Cigales Today - To Levadia - Ratatouille - Last of the Olives - The English - A Kip by the Tracks - The Spider.

Sunday 18th September

Tea & a Cricket - The Bus to Delphi - The English & a Pint - How to Save the World - A Gritty Lunch - The Site - The Ticket - Nuthatches - A Sleep Among the Ruins - In the Stadium - The English & a Mantis - In the Museum - The Charioteer - The Boy at the Fountain - The Books a Washout - A Walk Around the Tholos - A Hail of Stones - Hitching Observed - The Bus - A Girl & Her Poodle - The Stationmaster - A Good Meal - The English & an Archaeologist - A Crowded Carriage - Palopharsala - Tost Speciale - In the Waiting Room - A Late Night.

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25th september 2006

Monday 19th September

An Early Morning - The Local to Volos - The Hawks - In the Shipping Office - Everyone is Beautiful - Nathalie Baye - A Butterfly Net - On the Boat - The Crossword - Lulu - A Gathering Storm - Drunk with a Bouzouki - Glossa - A Liverpudlian - Up the Hill - A Jolly Farmer & his Wife - The Unfinished Villa - Kathiste - Crio / Zesto - Down the Hill, at Length - A Ristorante & its Dog - Our Dog - The Taberna of My Brother - The Mikri - Deep in Thought - 'Light!' - A Large Bill - M.'s Consternation - The Storm Breaks - A Windy Night.

Tuesday 20th September

A Dusty Morning - Down to the Road - Fruitless Hitching - The Café - The Downpour - More Squirting Cucumbers - The Chickens - A Good Little Lift - The Bees - A Bus-Stop Argument - The Contest - A Sleep on the Bus - Skopelos - A Nasty Front - The Villa with the Bamboos - The Enormous Bland Ratatouille - Tickets Purchased - Another Café, More Rain - Jimmy Connors and his HiFi - Some Cocoa - No Jazz - A Ginger Cake - Early Bed - Varied Dreams.

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26th september 2006

Wednesday 21st September

Waking in the Dark - Panic, the Boat Missed? - The Ship Sails On - The Germans & Their Dogs - In the Shower - On Deck - Volos Revisited - In a Bank - Larisa & Thess - The Weather Clears - Some Gherkins in a Café - A Walk to the Fair - Teddy Hall! - Space Invaders - The Skaters - Peaches & Ouzo - Jurgen - The Jolly Young Greeks - Pistachios & Ouzo - Brubeck - Ouzo - A Crash in the Corridor.

Thursday 22nd September

Coffee with Jurgen - In the Police Station - No Turkish Lira - At the Station - Partial Laundry - In a Record Shop - The Flies, the Americans - The Bus to Kipi - At the Border - Figs & a Good Lunch - The Lifts - A. Overtaken - The Turkish Mikris - Stamboul - A Bad Moment in the Suburbs - Sultanahmet - A Scottish Taxi Driver - Sirkeci Station - A. is absent - Two Want a Room for Three - A Noisy Reunion - The Cold Table - Everything is Delicious - A Night in a Real Bed.

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27th september 2006

Friday 23rd September

Waking in Istanbul - A Very Loud Muezzin - A Very Late Start - A Pile of Bread - In the Park - Conkers - Topkapi Palace - Mahomet's Footprint - In a Harem - The Diamond as Big as the Ritz - The Blue Mosque - A House of Allah - The Carpets - Strines in the Tourist Office - In a Café - A Sunset Boat - Çay - Marooned in Asia - A Bus through the Continent - Return to Galata - Dinner Upstairs - Boiled Cockroaches.

Saturday 24th September

Early to Rise - Çay, çay - In the Grand Bazaar - Leder Goods - The Student of Mathematics - Back to the Bank - Down to the Quays - A Boat Along the Bosphorus - The Minarets - Houses in Asia - The Sun, the Trees - A Sight of the Euxine - The Landing-Stage - Cinnamon Mussels - The Cat Jumps - Figs - A Dull conversation - Sultanahmet Mosque - Another Meal Upstairs - Raki - To Bed.

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28th september 2006

Sunday 25th September

Hagia Sofia - Several Buses to the Bus Station - A Floor Market - The Bus to Ippsala - A Fast Car to the Border - Greece Encore - Changing the Clocks - The Bus to Alex - Some Ouzo - Souvlaki & Retsina - The Station a Yawn - A Room on the Train.

Monday 26th September

Thess - A Boring Day, No Figs - The Great Depression - The Afternoon Train to Belgrade - A Night Under the Seats - Havoc Unnoticed.

Tuesday 27th September

The Simplon Express - Zagreb - The Paté - Games at the Border - Unconscious at Santa Lucia - Padova - An Eat Out - Crashing at the Station.

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29th september 2006

Wednesday 28th September

San Marco - The Bells Once More - At the University - Bread & Wine - A Vaporetto to the Lido - The Dirty Beach - On the Pier - Gelato Limone - Evening Boat to the Station - A Good Meal - The Usual Bed.

Thursday 29th September

Lemon Buns - Morning in the Ghetto - Vap to Murano - The Glass Menagerie - Lunchtime - At Peggy's - The Salute - 'Supper' in San Marco - The Palm Court Orchestra, Heavily Subsidised - The Square Where It's At - Home to Santa Lucia.

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30th september 2006

Friday 30th September

Ciao Venezia - A Forward Dog - The Train to Verona - Interesting Cheese - A Hail of Conkers - A Rat Vanishes - Expensive Gelati - Round the Shops - No Dalla - A Sleep in the Park - Dull Facades Revisited - A Glass of Grappa - The Paris Express - In the Corridor - At Milan - In the Corridor - The Drunk - A Bad Wait - The Beer Vendor's Bell - The Corridor.

Saturday 1st October

Les Brûmes de Paris - Eurocheques Refused - Boulevard de Brouillard - The Metro Black Market - Train to the Coast - In the Purser's Office - A Quick Crossing - Farewells at Victoria - The Bus to Redbridge - Through the Rain - No Wait at All - The Engineer - Dropped at the Door.

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