February, 2024



My return from South America was a shock to the system: like a 30 degrees drop in temperature for a start!!



Winter scenes everywhere:









Even the Dowsing Group have retreated to online Zoom meetings – weather too bad to follow Leylines:




Culture nights especially good:



A highly interpreted account of Shakespeare Othello, which stressed the racist aspect of the way our protagonist is set up.





Then, Top Hat – a film from all the way back to 1935: almost 90 years. Featuring the exquisite Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, legendary dance sequences/ costumes, and the marvelous music of Irving Berlin – someone who incidentally could neither read nor write music!!



January is a funny month. Days of darkness when one’s morale is low; other days where the light breaks through.


Even my mentor William Blake once wrote in his notebook: ‘1807, 20 January, between two and seven in the evening – Despair!’ One of the few personal comments made by Blake.





25th January was also Burns night after the famous Scottish writer. The traditional fare is Haggis, Neaps  and Tatties – basically, Haggis with mashed swede and potato – and lots of gravy! And a whiskey of course:




Exhibition in London of the art of Dan Van Vliet – better known as the rock legend Captain Beefheart – one of the true originals and author of the extraordinary Trout Mask Replica record!! Amongst others….



Here’s a glimpse – thank you Steve Lofkin for the photos.









Meanwhile – Storms – Icha and Jocelyn. Rain is never far away these days – a bit like in the Blade Runner films = highly recommended.


31st January and the eve of Imbolc, St Brigid’s Day, Candlemass. Time to take down the last of the Christmas decorations. The first stirrings of the light, and a few flowers peek through the winter beds:





I make for the sea:





Beach art:





Seaside art:




The tourists have departed. This café is normally full!





Lots of music this month. Firstly digesting Peter Gabriel’s new collection the first for 20 years or so  –  i/o  !!. Actually, this was not totally new as he has been releasing tracks one by one over the course of last year – one per month. But, now is the time to digest them in their entirety; individually, set next to each other and as a group.



One has to say, he has honored himself in terms of creating music of a man in his 70s, expressing concerns that are pressing now.

Each piece by him is always worth careful attention to detail. He has moved away from lots of Global inlays in his music (although still present) and accented orchestra and choir. I found myself fixated on various pieces across the month. The upbeat Panopticom:





And, the terribly introspective So much: a song about mortality – ‘only so much  to be done’. Always interesting to listen to his take on the songs. Here is So Much and his account of its creation:






Also, great to get the latest from Madness – C’est la vie : an essentially Pop/ Ska band that have evolved into creating urban folk operas!!




The introspective mood was also enhanced by my reading Ian McEwan’s Lessons. A strange, elegiac book: the story of one boy’s/ man’s life. It contains a series of tableau – for example, his childhood, school, parents, work, etc.. But the background to all this are events we who lived through the second half of the 20th Century would recognize: Suez, Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy assassination, Chernobyl, Iraq wars, Thatcher, Miners strike, Berlin Wall, Brexit, etc., etc. Against this there is aspiration, fear, abuse, misunderstanding, love – just a child’s perplexity of the adult world.



McEwan is always an enigmatic write and, sometimes, it is not sure if the main character is telling the truth or fantasizing. But, again, as with Gabriel, there is something of the mood of loss of innocence of a post-second world war generation – and with it modernist itself. So, a reflective, thought-provoking book.