December 2017

Bit of a strange month, as I was away for much of it ‘on the road’ in South America – Chile, Brazil, Argentina: basically, a mixture of some business – lectures, meetings with students/ publishers – and pleasure (more later).


But, first, I was down in Cornwall, and still pursuing the antics of surrealist, occult painter Ithell Colquhoun. Like, this rather lovely painting of the ‘Goddess of the Moon’:






Somewhat different was the extraordinary modernist icons of Jasper Johns in London: most famous being his various US flags and targets. Good stuff, but like so many abstract painters, he seems to have had a purple patch and then lost his way somewhat.





At last, a sympathetic and appreciative review of my biography of Ralph McTell – by Peter Landon.




When I set out to do this book, it was clear that I had to find a different sort of coverage since Ralph had written so much about his early life, and also another have covered the same from the standard journalistic approach. I also have to admit, that I was interested in bringing a range of my own interests and explorations to the topic, all whilst having at the core a straight, and affectionate, consideration of Ralph’s life and times. The approach to offer various layers was meant to create a ‘discursive montage’. As a result, linearity is avoided in certain sections. The reviewer says that because he cannot understand some of the language – and calls it ‘academic’ – this could put people off.. I suppose I would ask what might be an alternative response?: for example, like digging deeper into some of that language in these sections and finding out what is there. In other words, why blame the author for something the reader is not prepared to do? Especially, as one and all admits, these bits can be skipped and the main conventional parts focused on.

If this disturbs the normal expectation that the author tells the reader what they should think and offers a way of appreciating the nature of one’s appreciation of Ralph’s work, well, that was intention.  Putting it together, does the reader better understand the life and work in an integrated fashion’? As Peter Landon writes, ‘You may not have been through the exact same experiences, but you could well recall the same historical events. You may well end up, as I did, with an even greater appreciation of Ralph’s work and a better understanding of your own position and how you got to be where you are today’. Exactly!! Thank you Peter.


Sorry if what follows has the air of ‘holiday snaps’, but better have a visual round up than me waxing endlessly. So, I shall keep comments to a minimum.


First I am in Brazil – and a first Brazilian ‘tasting menu’ thanks to my contact there Fabio. Do not ask me what they all were, but they sure tasted good: various combinations of spice, fruit and other exotic ingredients.








I get interviewed by both the TV AND Radio.




I also get to choose one King Crimson track for the rock show. I choose Frame by Frame:





Then, a chance to explore a Brazilian book shop and purchase some CDs of Brazilian music.






Airports are the same the world over:





In Argentina, and a visit to the 7th highest mountain in the world: Anconcagua. I arrived in 37degrees of heat, but it snowed this day!! Luckily, someone was able to lend me a coat.





A trip to Santiago, Chile, the university and a chance to see the remarkable Icelandic band: Sigur Ros:








Well received.



Lots of fun with pals Lucho and Lili:




Mike gets into the Matte:








Some fairly spectacular scenery; including where valleys have been flooded for the generation of electricity.







Still hot, and I take a solitary meal; but soon acquire a companion:






Speaking of food, there was Lucho’s magnificent Paella – cooked over hot coals in the garden:





And, more scenery:








In between, visiting the local wine vineyards: apparently, there are some 2000+ in the Mendoza area.





This lady was so enthusiastic about here wine: she said it contained the whole of life – in fact the different blends were named after her husband, father, children, etc.



We end up with a fine guitar course in a lovely setting..







On my final day, there is a magnificent sunset.




Walking up the road, and we are ambushed by ‘the kids’ yelling, and they gather for a farewell photo.




Like Trauffaut’s ‘les Mistons’, they could not understand the adult world, especially when I just sat and read a book when there was swimming, bike riding, football, TV, shouting, trampolining, etc.


Oh, yes, and taking great relish in disturbing my reading!!




A lot of fun, though.