Sunday, April 30, 2006

allow me to elucidate...

ou may have spotted a recent trend in this blog, of posting photographs without description or comment. I'll tell you about these images soon, perhaps tomorrow even, but first a few words of explanation for those of you who missed the explanation I wrote before the start of the hiatus. (It could also be for anyone who's forgotten the explanation I wrote. I fully accept that remembering my previous posts probably isn't high on your list of things to remember.)

I resorted to the approach of posting images while I've been working in Liverpool. I haven't felt it appropriate to write about my work placement (but I will, as promised, point you in the direction of the website to which I contributed, once it's up and running), and there's been little time for anything else, either doing or writing about it. Still, I didn't abandon all thoughts of you completely, as I put some effort into the choice of images, as I shall explain next time, after I've finished today's explanation. (Perhaps I should also explain that I've succumbed to the cold being shared around the studio in Liverpool, and I may well be feverish. Or if not, at least a bit sniffly. And that may be why I'm rambling slightly.)

My days of commuting are now over, however. I certaainly won't miss the early starts, but the train journeys were more enjoyable than I expected - reading the newspaper on the way there and working on my laptop on the way home, either college assignments or freelance design work.

But now I can return to this business of blogging. I've misssed it, you know. Can you tell?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Buddy Holly and the Rabbits

e all know that spring has been late this year, but on Thursday, it felt like the first day of summer. Young rabbits hopped nervously in the grass verges, people wore sleeveless tops and, as the train trundled between Alsager and Kidsgrove, I saw a man sitting on a canal lock gate in the sunshine, feet dangling over the water, and playing a guitar. (No, his feet weren't playing the guitar. Don't be so pedantic.)

I don't think he was singing, but he may just have been playing the opening section of a song. There was no-one around him, just fields. Perhaps he was trying to calm the rabbits down.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

living on the ceiling

Friday, April 21, 2006


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

the opposite of a dark corner

77 million paintings can't be wrong

rian Eno, long-time hero of mine, has now done for painting what he did for music - established parameters then ceded control over the end result to software. Koan generative music software from Sseyo has been available, in various forms, for quite a few years; now the visual equivalent is an exhibition of slowly changing paintings.

It was on show in Japan earlier this month, and Eno was interviewed (badly) about it on The Culture Show on BBC2 on 6th April. Tom Robinson, however, has recorded a two-hour interview with him, for broadcast in two parts on 26th April and 3rd May on BBC6. The programmes are likely to be available on the web for a week afterwards.

The DVD bringing the software to your home goes on sale in June.

(Brian will also be collaborating with others for two performances of a different work at the Bath International Music Festival, both on 24th May. Radio 3 will be recording it for future broadcast.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

ages of man

had a great time on Saturday night, meeting up with some friends who I haven't seen for a couple of years. It turns out we've all independently reached the fourth age of man: a combination of grumpiness and gardening. Buying garden furniture seems to be an intrinsic part of this, something akin to the irresistible urge of salmon to return to their spawning grounds.

Monday, April 17, 2006

"feed me, seymour"

spent a couple of glorious days this holiday weekend in the garden and the allotment, planting, hoeing, digging and planning. I'm still new to this growing lark, and some aspects of it seem odd (washing flower pots, for one), but knowing that sun, soil, seed and rain are combining to do all the hard work makes the weeding seem less of an effort, especially when using crops and mulch to suppress a large part of the unwanted species.

My limited experience is revealed by my determination in an impossible task: eradicate dandelions. There's something about the way those developing flower heads hide in full view (as well as deep down), so that you can remove every single one, turn away and back again to find there are plenty more in plain sight that I take as a personal affront. Also, the buds look like a bit like the shoots on Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors.

(I hadn't realised, until looking round the web, unsuccessfully, for images of Audrey II's buds, that the 1986 film originally had a completely different, and much darker, ending that was closer to the original stage play but removed after audiences at test screenings reacted badly. You can read all about the big budget out-take on wikipedia.)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

green man

Sunday, April 09, 2006

This Way

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Don't Look Now

You can see more of my photographs from Barcelona at my Flickr pages.

This one was taken in the Sagrada Familia. The shot looking downwards in the sprial staircase is a common one on postcards, so I tried it myself. Leaning out over the long drop felt precarious, so I took the shot as quickly as possible. I didn't even notice the arm in the red sleeve at the time, but it's what saves the shot from being nothing more than a grainy mess.

If the shot was taken in Venice, I'd be worried it was the mysterious woman in Don't Look Now with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie...

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Vis unitas fortior: Strength in unity

nity House is no more. For most of you, that will mean nothing at all, and those who live in the area will already be aware of that fact, for it was infamous. It was built with dark brown bricks and was extremely ugly. It cost a lot of money to repair and maintain, then it lay empty for years after a new civic centre was built during the early 1990s. Its demolition has been widely desired, demanded, heralded, postponed and re-scheduled for many years.

It used to house most of the office workers of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, and for several years I was one of them. It was the tallest building for miles around, so it seemed that, wherever you went in North Staffordshire at weekends, even into south Cheshire, it was prominent on the skyline, an inescapable reminder of the Monday to Friday routine.

My desk was on the top floor, the 18th. That's not high by many standards, but it was enough to make you dizzy when going down stairs in fire drills, and it was enough of a climb whenever the lifts ceased to function which they seemed to do regularly. But on the whole, the benefits of such a location outweighed the disadvantages.

As an energy-saving exercise, all of the ceiling lights in the building were fitted with timers and individual string-pull switches so that you could turn them back on when they automatically switched off. The building was designed to sway gently and imperceptibly in strong winds, but you were made aware of the motion by the oscillation of the string-pulls building up in a natural harmony, so that many people added sea-sickness to the claims of Sick Building Syndrome.

One morning I went to work in thick mist, only to discover from the top floor that I was above the cloud, and I could see the hills also breaking through in the distance, all the more beautiful for the surprise.

Unity House was too close to other buildings to be demolished by controlled explosion, so it was dismantled brick by brick. Some of these bricks remain in a large pile, but most have been taken away, and the site, on the edge of the city centre, will eventually be developed. Current plans are for offices.

It somehow seems fitting to end with the old joke: how many people work in the City Council? Answer: about half of them.