August 2016

I was waiting for Winter to end, and I then I noticed it was already Midsummer! Crikes! And weather still indifferent. Then the 1st of August slipped in and, with it, the Pagan festival of Lughnasadh, which is the first of the Wiccan harvest festivals.

Traditionally, it is a time of ‘high harvest’ of the summer crop – and indeed, at last, there are some local fruit/vegetables in the shops around here. Pagan wise, an excuse to go sky clad somewhere high and feast. The weather has improved and it is indeed summer’. That being said, aforementioned festival also represents the ‘first stirrings’ of the darkness: and, duly, some days have had that bleary summer feel, and the mornings come with a freshness and indeed heavy dew. Actually saw my first Christmas things in a shop. An inauspicious sign of things to come – cannot believe the speed that the weeks and months whizz by.

Still, for the moment, lots of cultural consumption…..

It was the beginning of the Proms season, and I duly attended a few concerts of this magnificent summer musical festival, including one of Mahler’s 3rd symphony in all majesty.


Went to another late night Gospel Prom. And, in the spirit of love for Global music, attended WOMAD (World of Music Arts and Dance) – I did not attend the first festival in 1981, but just about every year since then. I counted that I have seen WOMADs at 9 different places – including the ICA in London, and a free festival in Ashton Court in Bristol. A big fan! This year, the musical highlights were headliners George Clinton and Baaba Maal, but lots a great stuff on other stages as well – Sidestepper, Vietnamese traditional music, and the Bowers and Wilkins sound tent with state-of-the-art high fidelity sound.


Prompted by my Vicar friend Steve, I have been re-reading the poems of Vernon Watkins. He was a friend of Dylan Thomas. Thomas tells the tale that he was walking along the street with Watkins one day when he tripped over and fell. When they looked down, there was a feather on the pavement. Such was his sensibility!!


Lots of art as well….

And exhibition of the remarkable Georgiana Houghton, a ‘spirit artist’, who claimed her paintings were dictated by angels. She was a theosophist from the mid-19th century who was an early exponent of the tradition that was a kind of mixture of health, social living, spiritualism and art. Remarkable paintings..


On a different note, an exhibition of Georgia O’Keefe – her of the big flower paintings. I must say, I have never been taken that much by her work, but the show did a good job of setting it in context. It is especially impressive for when it was done – really what she was doing from 1919! The big flowers make a lot of sense in this context and are marvelous. Later work a bit mixed and, as if often the case, really her best work is the style she is best known for.


Meanwhile at the Newport Gallery – Damian Hirst’s rather fine gallery – was an exhibition of Jeff Koons’ work – really, from Hirst’s own collection. All the iconic pieces here: the vacuum cleaners, the chrome toys, lobsters, play-doh, and erotica. I always like his work. Also, nice to have tea in Hirst’s Pharmacy.




I was also invited to go to Glyndebourne – a remarkable experience itself; both for the quality of the opera (The Barber of Seville), and the spectacle that is Glyndebourne. In deference to the musicians and singers, you are expected to wear ‘black tie’ evening dress – an excuse to get dressed up and pick-nick on the lawns with champagne, salads and chocolates. Which we did…


Some more work on the Web site: I added some links and also published my translation of Bourdieu talking about art. 50 copies of the Ralph McTell book now sold.