Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Opening of the Atlantic Ocean

Image by Antonio Snider-Pellegrini, 1858. His researches led him to some great conclusions: the image to the left shows the continental landmass as it was created; the image to the right shows the continents after they were separated by a volcanic explosion on the sixth day of creation. One consequence of the separation of the continents was that the flood did not reach America: therefore (the logic is impeccable), the indigenous Americans are direct descendants of Adam and Eve, while all other humans are descendants of Noah.


We went to Segovia. Segovia has: our old friend Ana María Matute

(she's in focus this time, but a little more deaf: she asked my name and signed the book unerringly:
a series of wildly hubristic posters displayed all round the city (if you click on the lower image, you'll see just how ridiculous the thing is);

a ruined house;

a concert by Russian Red, who sounds as good close up

as far away;

the house of Maurice Fromkes,

who painted pictures like this;

a dream;

hanging gardens;

chatty nuns;

a mighty cathedral;

a mighty alcázar;

a mighty aqueduct;

tourists brought to the mighty monuments like ants to cake;

suckling pig which, once roasted, you can cut with a spoon;

shiny armrests on the seats at the railway station,

and the station itself, our last view before heading for home.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


My mother's anti-crisis, grow-your-own approach is paying off, abundantly. We had a salad made with the last of the lettuce, as well.


Circumstances called me to Moncloa metro station, up by the Universidad Complutense. The trees had been hacked about by courting students,

which was a nice change from the grand Fascist arches on all the boulevards.

(Yes, alright, the tree in the middle says 'gilipollas', or 'dickhead', but the general air of romance remains unsullied.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Irving Kristol (1920-2009)

I wrote about Malcolm de Chazal here. When W.H. Auden tried to sell some translations of Chazal to Encounter, Irving Kristol wrote, privately, that 'Wystan, of course, can get blood from a stone. I find this gibberish, of a peculiarly French kind. I remember Chazal now; I once bought several of his books, which the reviews made sound interesting. They, too, I found gibberish. This kind of mystagogy just can’t live in an English climate.' No sense of fun, some people.

Current Favourite Sentences

After the lengthy course of our days the sight of weakened eyes grows dull. The faded sense no longer presents what nature and art show in all their intricacy. To be deprived of the reading of books is a deep sorrow to the heart, more tedious than eternal darkness, weightier than chains! Then day is hostile, annoyance pleasure! Glass alone is a consolation to us in this misfortune. By the skill of trained hands it can restore our sight with spectacles! Do we not have a divine gift in Glass that we are slow to give deserving praise unto it?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sergei Mikhalkov (1913-2009)

Author of the words to both the Russian and the Soviet national anthems (twice: once with Stalin in 1944, once without in 1977).

And, fairly evidently, the father of Oscar-winning (but obsessively self-aggrandising) film director Nikita Mikhalkov and rather bad film director Alexander Konchalovsky (seen here with Shirley MacLaine; was this before or after his terrible movie Runaway Train?).

Sergei Mikhalkov's Wikipedia entry is here. It's in Russian, but worth at least scrolling down until you see all his medals.

World's Oldest Mushroom

They've found, pickled in Burmese amber, the world's oldest mushroom. This site will tell you some lies about it.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Mary Elizabeth Hodges (1916-2009)

My grandmother died this morning. She had been ill for a while. I was in England over the weekend for the first time since March, and saw her yesterday before catching my flight. I'll miss her a lot.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Miyuki Hatoyama (1943- )

I think I'm in love.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Being in Dutch adds a great deal, I think. And the translations are great.