November 2018

Into autumn proper and a busy time with one thing and another. I go down to Cornwall to do a Dowsing course and am greeted with a range of weather. Rough seas at Mousehole thanks to the tail end of an American hurricane. Things settle down then, though, for some nice skies and sunsets:







Whilst down there, I walk a bit and take in some of the ancient sites. Some of these are 3000+ years old and include stone circles with all sorts of astro-alignments:



Also, some rather lovely Holy Wells – each of these come with their own reputation for healing specific ailments. As again their tradition goes back hundreds of years, there must be something in this – people would not have time to mess around. Here, we have the lovely Madron Well and the well at Sancreed, where, literally, you have to go into the ground to reach it:





People now think it was the mineral content, or indeed the high levels of uranium, that gave/ give a boost to the immune system in  helping with illnesses.


Sancreed is also home to a branch of the Grenfells and has a lovely church.




Very old wayside stone crosses everywhere down there as well:





Later I visit the splendid Cataluyan city of Girona for interviewing – rather lovely it is too:





Trips to London – especially for the Anti-Brexit march. I am an anti-brexiter with a passion and see leaving the European Union as a catastrophe.




Quite a lot of art happening this month. In Cornwall, I visit the Borlase Smart exhibition at the Penlee Gallery. This turns out to be a real pleasure and eye-opener. I always saw him as a bit of a ‘rear-grade’ to modernist generation I am interested in: Nicholson, Hepworth, Heron, etc. But, it turns out he did sea scapes of almost Monet like devotion:




Then, on to contemporary art at the Newlyn Gallery. A good idea – art expressing the exuberance of youth, but almost nothing there!! Really, this gallery becomes more and more of a disappointment. I have to again remind readers that people like me – cultural critics – have as much fun criticizing art as they do enjoying it.



A quirky exhibition on Michael Jackson at the National Portrait Gallery in London as well. Rather confused, and does not seem to know if it wants to celebrate him or deconstruct him!



A brilliant exhibition on Anni Albers at the Tate Modern:



She was part of the Bauhaus in Germany in the 1920s and 30s and then moved to the US to escape Nazi persecution. This exhibition offers a marvellous range of her work in weaving, tapestry and sketching/ drawing. It is a rare example of a craftsperson who extends their work to the fine arts.


In London, I also see the latest David Hare play. It is based around the story of a NHS doctor who becomes a politician. Therefore, a familiar tract for Hare to examine aspects of contemporary Britain. It is good but, in present times, I really wonder if we are not beyond such liberal anguish exhibited at the National Theatre. Something altogether more visceral and corrosive might more hit the spot – something along the lines of the Théâtre de la Craulté :



Uncertain Times indeed, which happens to be the title of the latest tour by King Crimson. I catch up with them in Bournemouth:






For my CD of the month, I am selecting The Giant who Ate Himselfby Glenn Jones:




Glenn Jones played in the ‘American Primitive’ style of guitar, really founded by John Fahey. Indeed, Glenn even did a CD recording with Fahey called: The Epiphany of Glenn Jones  – which says a lot, in its music and disk notes, around what Fahey was about, especially in those later years.


‘American Primitive’ guitar is renowned for it emotional focus and tonal clarity – this is NOT the dreaminess of Windham Hill (George Winston, etc.).


When John Fahey died, I could swear I heard his characteristic gaffaw laughter in my house, such was my relationship with him and his music. So, perhaps, unsurprising that I could swear I heard the same gaffaw in the distant background to some of these tracks. Glenn Jones comes close to honouring this style and writing – a nice recording.


Incidentally, my own interview and recordings with Fahey are available here:



My book of the month is Ghost Wallby Sarah Moss.



Really, it is a novella more than  a novel of just 149 pages. It tells the story of a group of archeologists getting back to an ancient way of life by camping out rough in the moors – eating and sleeping in nature. However, this quickly becomes a story of the power of pagan forces, their expression, and how easy it is to slip back into the brutality of the past. It is a kind of mix of the last part of Lord of the Flies, Afore Night Come, and 5 Go on Holiday!! However, it is also an allegory of our contemporary times and a warning to those who would sacrifice future generations on behalf of the past.