Thursday, 27 November 2008
Photo from BBC News
It's only too easy to imagine the dreadful situation in the Taj and the Oberoi today, as terrorists take hostages and kill indiscriminately at these two hotels, Victoria train station, Leopold's Cafe on Colaba Causeway and a Jewish Centre. The hotels and Leopold's are places I have visited for the last 40 years and I was there again six weeks ago. Fortunately my friends and business colleagues who visit and work in the area are all safe, despite one of them having been invited to have dinner in the Taj last night.
The southern tip of Bombay is a virtual island and simple to approach by boat. Both the Taj and the Oberoi have waterside frontages. There are many tens of pleasure boats sailing out to the Elephanta Caves and on tours of the harbour from the Gateway of India, 100 metres from the Taj. Although the Taj has had special security for the past few years, the Oberoi has not. In any event, neither was safe.
A couple of years ago I wrote about the Taj - my favourite hotel - for Lloyd's List, the shipping newspaper, here.
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
A fine exhibition of prints by Emily Patrick at Chris Dyson's gallery in Spitalfields.
Click for a larger view and the heading to see more of her work
Sept 2010: A new exhibition of her work at the Air Gallery
Monday, 10 November 2008
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them
Traditionally, the hymn 'I Vow To Thee My Country' is sung at Rembrance Day services
A link here to some moving lines on war
"And it was at that age...
Poetry arrived in search of me.
I don't know. I don't know where it came from,
from winter or a river.
I don't known how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.
I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
nonsense, pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw the heavens
unfastened and open,
planets, palpitating plantations,
riddled with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.
And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry void,
likeness, image of mystery,
felt myself a pure part of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars, my heart broke loose on the wind.
Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)
Kind visitors have directed me to this site on Neruda
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
The City is an amazing place. I went to an annual law lecture given an old friend and sponsored by my university in a livery company hall in Threadneedle St and was astonished as always at the number of eminent people who came, and of course the quality of the talk. But on the way there, I walked the familar streets in the early evening and felt the energy of the people flocking to the trains and tubes, and marvelled at the beauty of the buildings and the fresh vistas constantly opening up in the renewal of place and purpose in that small patch of London.
Click the heading for more photos of the City at night
"I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today."
Martin Luther King
Monday, 3 November 2008
The River Cafe never fails. Superb atmosphere - the 'mise en scene' is perfect - wonderful lighting - making women look more beautiful, the freshest of fresh ingredients used in deceptively simple dishes, charming and attractive staff and - until recent illness - the constant presence of one of the founders to ensure its standards never drop. The tables are bit close together and the hubub almost engulfs the room in the late evening (it's never less than totally full), and if you are seated too close to the open fire it can be a bit warm....but these are quibbles. Take your fullest wallet, your prettiest friends and a taxi (because you won't find it if you try and drive there and you want more of that delicious Pinot Bianco and a grappa to finish off with).
Saturday, 1 November 2008
Land of Hope and Glory, sung by my mother's favourite singer, Kathleen Ferrier
This was the note posted on YouTube with this recording (which has the characteristic scratching sound made by slightly damaged records)
"In 1951 KF was diagnosed with the illness which in October 1953 caused her early death. In November 1951 the Free Trade Hall in Manchester was packed for a Gala Reopening Concert (in the presence of the Queen - later the Queen Mother) following bomb damage in World War II. KF was recovering from her surgery, and subsequent treatments. Sir John Barbirolli asked if she was strong enough to sing the Final Piece. It had never been in her repertoire as she associated it with big contraltos with very big voices from earlier in the century. She readily agreed to Sir John's request and what we hear is her only rendition of Land of Hope and Glory by Elgar. She sings it in the unmistakeable Ferrier tradition, permitting the choir and audience to sing the patriotic overtones.
The music critic of the Manchester Guardian ended his critique thus "It was fine and it was right, but lovers of the tune will fear that never again can they hope to hear it in such glory".