Monday, July 30, 2007

Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007)

Things had been going so well. After the cornucopia of caricatured copulation in the last entry, I thought maybe there might be a run of cheerful stories and images, puppies and kittens and suchlike. But then the Master of Gloom ups and dies on us. Well, at least this is a still from one of his more cheerful movies. Although if you follow the link, you'll notice that the plot keywords are: Young Wife; Sweden; Maid; Suicide Attempt; Adultery; Country House; Farce; Nobleman; Societal Hypocrisy; Moral Hypocrisy; Russian Roulette; Aristocracy; Costume Drama; Housemaid; Law; Mistress; Officer. Which doesn't promise to be a bundle of laughs.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

All the News that's Fit to Print

A bit of backstory. el jueves (or to give it its full title, el jueves: La revista que sale los miércoles [Thursday, the magazine published on Wednesdays]), is the Spanish equivalent of Private Eye. The big story last week was that Presidente Zapatero has decided to give €2,500 to each family per child born after July 3rd. This explains the front cover of el jueves 1,573.

The headline says, '€2,500 for a kid'
The subheading says, 'We see there are elections coming up, Zappy!'
The two figures are recognisably Prince Felipe of the Asturias, the next in line to the throne, and his wife Letizia.
Cheery Felipe is saying, 'Just fancy! If you get knocked up, it'll be the closest thing to work I've done all my life!'
Naturally, the royal family were displeased. Also, and more importantly, the judiciary. The magazine was ruled offensive and withdrawn from circulation. el jueves was also asked to print a retraction. Which it did: this is the cover of No: 1,574, with new pictures of Felipe and Letizia.

The headline says, 'A correction!'
The subheading says, 'This is the cover we wanted to print!'
I think that what I'm feeling is admiration.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Dmitri Prigov (1940-2007)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Current Favourite Sentences

'Pray to Saint Jerome?' a young girl said to me the other day. 'Who would ever dare? It's the same with Saint Augustine: they are both so learned!'

Thursday, July 19, 2007

V.V. Mayakovsky (1893-1930)

Today is the 114th birthday of Vladimir Mayakovsky. Joseph Stalin noted that Маяковский был и остается лучшим, талантливейшим поэтом нашей советской эпохи. Безразличие к его памяти и его произведениям - преступление. In other words, Mayakovsky was, and remains, the best, most talented poet of our Soviet epoch. Indifference towards his memory and his works is a crime.


For allowing your dog to foul the barrio, you can be fined up to a maximum of €901.52. This probably sounded less pernickety before 2002, when the fine was in pesetas - a nice round 150,000. Actually, the currency conversion site I used gives it as ₧150,000.31, but what price six duros and a céntimo between friends?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Wealth Gap

Here's something to look at as you tuck into your nitro-scrambled egg and bacon icecream (or Spam and chips, as may be).

And then, in the Evening, Fireworks

'All that brightness falling, the sad, smoke smell, the finale that is never quite as magnificent as it should be.'

Monday, July 16, 2007


It's Marian's birthday, and all the boats in town went out to sea in her honour.

Of course, these demonstrations had little to do with the feast of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, also being celebrated today.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Willie Rushton, Cartoonist

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Time Well Spent

You could do worse than visit this site, or this one, or this one (click on the error messages until they go away), or else this one. My friend Jon pointed me towards the maps.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


This is the only known photograph of Frédéric Chopin.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Pavel Hrádok

Pavel Hrádok is a fake Czech poet, made up by the real Spanish poet Juan Manuel Bonet, who published a collection, Praga, of his 'translations' of Hrádok's verse in 1994. It is an exercise rather like Christopher Reid's fake 'Eastern European' poet Katerina Brac, who appeared in Katerina Brac (1985), except Reid concentrates on the process of translation - you read Katerina Brac constantly making allowances for the poems' clumsiness, because we trust that there are good foreign poems behind them. Bonet is much more about imaginative identification. Anyhow, Brac first, then Hrádok. The lineation in 'Tin Lily' may be a bit out of whack, because I remember it as being in three-line stanzas and the online version I found was printed as prose.

Tin Lily

A salvo of blurred words
from the oracular tin lily
on top of the olive-green van.

Just one of those anomalous things
that city-dwellers are no longer surprised by
at certain seasons of the year.

I mean - not the seasons
of nature, but those speedier
human phases that run athwart them.

It was often tricky to separate the words
from the razzmatazz,
and the sentiments could be difficult.

But the way the driver kept his van moving
at a regular walking pace -
anyone could admire that.

Only in eyes here and there
I might see something like resentment,
or terror, or disdain.

Picture an olive-green van
and its four-ways-facing lily
strafing the boulevards.

This is no surrealism,
but an image of the new reality,
a counterblast to Copernicus.


Tener otra vez veinte años, no pensar
sino en cómo pasan las barcas sobre el río,
en cómo verdean las jardines,
en cómo se agitan faldas blancas
a la hora en que cae la tarde.
Tener, sí, otra vez veinte años, incluso
en esta Praga del 53.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Salvador Viniegra y Lasso de la Vega

The famous gaditano artist.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Following recent accusations that this blog is only used as a displacement activity to get me away from my real work, here is a counterexample: a palindrome composed by W.H Auden about T.S. Eliot.

'T. Eliot, top bard, notes putrid tang emanating, is sad. I'd assign it a name: gnat dirt upset on drab pot toilet.'

However, looking for this on the internet was in itself displacement activity, especially as it led me to the great work by Francis Heaney, Holy Tango of Literature, a collection of poems which wonders why poets never wrote works whose titles were anagrams of their own names. The following is an extract, and perhaps a partial answer.

'I Will Alarm Islamic Owls' by William Carlos Williams

I will be alarming
the Islamic owls
that are in
the barn

and which
you warned me
are very jittery
and susceptible to loud noises

Forgive me
they see so well in the dark
so feathery
and so dedicated to Allah