Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Anita O'day

A clip from 'Jazz on a Summer's Day' of Anita O'day at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival singing Sweet Georgia Brown & Tea For Two.

Ulster Museum, Belfast

The Ulster Museum is located in Belfast's Botanic Gardens and has around 8,000 square metres of public display space, featuring material from the collections of Fine and Applied Art, Archaeology, Ethnography, Treasures from the Spanish Armada, Local History, Numismatics, Industrial Archaeology, Botany, Zoology and Geology (to name but a few). Wikipedia

The Museum was founded as the Belfast Natural History Society in 1821 and began exhibiting in 1833. It has included an art gallery since 1890. In 1929, the museum moved to its present location, the new building was designed by James Cumming Wynne. A major extension by Francis Pym was begun in 1962 and opened in 1964. It is in the Brutalist Style,praised by David Evans for the “almost barbaric power of its great cubic projections and cantilevers brooding over the conifers of the botanic gardens like a mastodon”. (and people like me think it looks like huge blocks of concrete)
... but I do like this window fashioned in the shape of a ship's prow.

Lore has it that a naked woman on board a ship would calm the seas. That's why many vessels have a bare breasted figurehead of a woman on the bow. Superstition amongst sailors said that the figurehead should have eyes to find a way through the seas when lost, while her bare breast would shame a stormy sea into calm.

Sesame Street's new NI residents

Two new Sesame Street characters are to be unveiled when a Northern Ireland version of the children's TV classic is broadcast next year.
Familiar favourites such as Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird and Elmo will feature alongside the new characters in 20 episodes being broadcast by the BBC from February.

Although the original series was set in New York, the Northern Ireland version of Sesame Street will contain things some adult Big Apple residents may need help understanding, such as turf-cutting.

In fact, much of the show will be set in a tree with one of its key aims being to teach town-dwelling tots in Northern Ireland about rural life.

... and just what the hell is turf cutting ???

Monday, 30 July 2007

The Belfast Weaver

The statue of Queen Victoria by Sir Thomas Brock in front of City Hall was unveiled by King Edward VII upon his first royal visit to Belfast on 27 July 1903, and according to a barely credible account in the Belfast News Letter, he looked back over his shoulder at his Mother as the carriage was receding after the ceremony, and exclaimed 'Couldn't be better!' The Victorian Web:

This bronze statue represents weaving, which was one of the chief industries in Belfast at the turn of the century. To see more click here: I would love to have met the woman who posed for this - she seems strong, self-assured and independent - a difficult thing for a woman to be in Victorian times (I believe).

The pediment in the background complements the Britannia commercial group of the earlier Customs House pediment, the subject of which is the patron goddess of Ireland, Hibernia, actively promoting the business and artistic activities of the City of Belfast; she is attended by theRoman goddess Minerva (suggestive of weaving specifically, but industry in general), and the symbolic figures of Labour, Industry, Liberty, and Commerce, who hold appropriate instruments: harps, torches, bolts of linen, spinning-wheels, etc. (see Brett, p. 55) Victorian Web

Fibber Magee, Belfast

You would be forgiven for thinking that this is a grocer/general merchant but in fact it is a public bar. One of Robinson's five bars, it is full of Irish artifacts and you can often find a traditional music session going on.

Army NI operation comes to an end

The British Army's emergency operation in Northern Ireland comes to an end at midnight after 38 years.
Operation Banner is the Army's longest continuous campaign in its history with more than 300,000 personnel serving and 763 directly killed by paramilitaries.

A garrison of 5,000 troops will remain but security will be entirely the responsibility of the police.

British troops were sent to Northern Ireland in 1969 after violent clashes between Catholics and Protestants.

Catholic civil rights marchers were met by counter-protests by Protestant loyalists and the Army initially arrived as peacekeepers.

But when the Provisional IRA began its bombing campaign the Army increasingly became the targets.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Not so busy

While blueboat of Belfast Daily Photo has been busy in her allotment I, on the other hand, have been taking a more relaxed view of the world. This is a scene that blue' is probably very familiar with - taken from the restaurant in Cutter's Wharf (apologies for the reflection from the glass). I am sure she has spent many a happy hour there. Next sunday (5th August) they are holding an Elvis event in aid of one of the Cancer charities - so if you feel like helping a worthy cause do venture along. There will be karaoke, barbecue and beer.

Friday, 27 July 2007

£2 fee to queue jump at airport

An airport has been condemned for making extra money from security checks by letting people jump the queues – for a fee.

Travellers flying from Liverpool John Lennon Airport can buy £2 vouchers to be put through a fast lane to the front of the security lines.
The £2 charge also applies to children and babies.

Managers at the airport, which is used by an estimated 4.96million people each year, had wanted to make all passengers pay the £2 surcharge when they introduced it earlier this month.
It was only after protests from airlines such as easyJet that they backed down and made it a voluntary scheme.
But the new measure should still be opposed 'both in principle and in practice', according to the Air Transport Users Council.
It is worried airports are now following airlines by adding extra fees for passengers.

'Passengers already pay for security as part of their ticket charges – now they're being asked to pay twice over.'

Somebody else trying to make money out of everbody else's misfortune.

Europe's highest toilet

Europe's highest toilet has been built on the snow capped peak of France's Mont Blanc.
More than 30,000 visitors make their way to the peak each year and local mayor Jean-Marc Peillex said: "This move was much needed. "Our beautiful mountain's white peak was full of yellow and brown spots in summer."

The two toilets were flown up Mont Blanc to a height of 4,260 metres.
A helicopter will also be used to empty the toilets on a daily basis at peak times for visitors.

That's a relief (c:=

Seven docs missed lollipop stick up boy's nose

Seven different doctors failed to find a six centimetre lollipop stick up a four-year-old boy's nose. Sweden's medical negligence board is to investigate whether they were dopey, sleepy or just bashful. READ »

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Rolling Thunder

The view from my bedroom window this evening.

Le ballon rouge

Here is a real treat ....

The Red Balloon (Fr. Le ballon rouge) is a short film directed by French film-maker Albert Lamorisse in 1956.
The thirty-four minute film (which has sound but virtually no dialogue) is set in Ménilmontant, Paris, and follows the adventures of a young boy, (played by Lamorisse's son, Pascal), who finds a large red balloon. The balloon has a mind and will of its own, following Pascal wherever he goes, floating outside his bedroom (as Pascal's mother won't allow it in the house). In their wanderings around Paris, Pascal and the balloon encounter a gang of bullies, but tragedy is replaced by a magically happy ending.

Le Ballon rouge est un court métrage réalisé par Albert Lamorisse, sorti en 1956.
Ce film de 36 minutes (qui est sans dialogue) se déroule dans le quartier de Ménilmontant à Paris, et suit les aventures d'un jeune garçon (joué par le fils de Albert Lamorisse, Pascal). Ce petit garçon trouve un gros ballon de rouge accroché à un révèrbère. Commence alors une histoire d'amitié avec ce ballon qui suit de lui même le petit garçon dans les rues de Paris. La jalousie d'une bande de garçons de son âge vont mener ce film vers une fin à la fois tragique et magique.

.... and have a look at this on Le piéton de Charonne

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

The Ballad of Lucy Jordan

Blonde idiote

I love Susan Vreeland ....

.... well to be precise, I love her books. A few years ago when everybody was raving about 'The Girl With the Pearl Earring' I came across 'The Girl in Hyacinth Blue' and, though they are not similar in content, they do have the common link of an artist and his art (i.e. Dutch painter Vermeer). I think Susan Vreeland's book is far superior to Tracy Chevalier's and is written with more understanding of not only the artist and his art but of the people touched and moved by it.

Other books I have since read are 'The Passion of Artemisia' (also a wonderful and powerful film) about Artemisia Gentileschi, the most famous female artist in the history of Italy, and 'Life Studies' a collection of short stories not primarily about the artists but the people on the periphery - their lovers, servants, children and neighbours.

I am currently reading 'The Forest Lover' about Canadian artist Emily Carr and again I am carried along by Susan Vreeland's narrative - I feel the characters come alive and I can share in Emily's passion for painting and her love of the primitive. Each chapter is like an adventure, a step into the unknown, and I relish each new experience. Susan Vreeland is playing with my emotions and I am loving every minute of it.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Mobile Web Site

The mobile version of Wind, Sand and Stars is now active. You can access it by typing http://winksite.com/doctoradder/WSS into your phone's browser. It uses a free service from Winksite that takes the RSS feed from the site and converts it into a Mobile XHTML version.

Ignore the 'Click Here' instruction at item 1. that's just the link back to my blog by clicking on the Wind, Sand and Stars logo.

(Thanks to A Welsh View)

A real Belfast gargoyle

This gargoyle overlooks Howard Street from the roof of Fisherwick Presbyterian Church. The former administrative headquarters of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has been carefully restored and the ground floor is now "The Spires" shopping arcade.

The building was opened in 1905 by the Duke of Argyll and its tower, which houses Belfast's only peal of 12 bells, is modelled on that of St. Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh. The turret clock by Sherman O'Neil was the first in the British Isles to employ electricity to drive the clock and the chiming and carilon parts. (Thanks to Victorian Web and also for the following information)

In 1900, Sir Thomas Drew was appointed Assessor in the competition
for the design of a new Church House and Assembly Hall to be erected for the
Presbyterian Church in Ireland on the site of the old Fisherwick Church, that
congregation having built itself a Church on Malone Road [south of the City
Centre] to designs by S. P. Close. There followed one of the most resounding
rows in architectural history. Various thunderous leaders appeared in the Irish
Builder, and in the British Architect; and several acid letters. The original
conditions, it appears, had been drawn up by Robert Young as architect to the
Presbyterian Church. It was laid down that the buildings, which were to contain
specified accommodation, should cost no more than £30,000. A number of entries
were received; but Sir Thomas Drew concluded that compliance with this condition
was impracticable, and the competition was abortive, though a young architect
named Savage obtained first place. Indeed, Drew described the conditions as
being 'in terms of unusual stringency, a distasteful and impossible task'.
Instead of revising the terms of the competition, the Church authorities,
astoundingly, appointed Robert Young and his partner Mackenzie to erect the
buildings as specified which they did, 'at a cost of about £70,000'!

The Presbyterians, in an unparalleled stroke of ecclesiastical one-upmanship, sought to redress the adverse balance of publicity by letting it be known that the angel's faces on the building were being 'specially copied from life.'

These are some of the fantastical creatures to be found on the facade. And these must be the aforementioned angels.

Austria to end valley's isolation

One of the last inhabited valleys in the Austrian Alps to lack a road link to the outside world is emerging from isolation.

An 800-metre (2,640ft) tunnel is being built through a mountain to make the Kaisertal in Tyrol more accessible. At the moment, getting there can be difficult. Twice a week, a rickety cable car gets loaded with crates of beer and sausages, destined for Kaisertal.
The ropeway, which transports supplies up the mountain, is a lifeline for the valley's 30-odd inhabitants but it is strictly for goods only. For generations, practically the only way of getting to Kaisertal has been on foot. The trek can be tough if you are old, sick or out of shape.

A few cars have already made it to Kaisertal - winched uphill by rope. Construction of the tunnel was held up for years because of environmentalist fears that the valley would be overrun by tourist traffic.
The provincial authorities have at present agreed to restrict the tunnel to the locals.

My Belfast Slide Show

Gargoyle over Belfast

This heraldic beast overlooks Castle Place on,what is now, the Mothercare shop.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Forest of Belfast #2

These oak figures (by Owen Crawford) are to be found on the Malone Road Roundabout and entrance to Barnett Demesne and relate to mature beech and oak trees in this area, echoing their static shapes. The sculptures form a family, relating to each other and in contact with each other.

Pic of the day

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Jazz in the gardens

Castle Ward is an interesting 18th-century mansion, famed for its mixture of architectural styles, with one Classical and one Gothic façade and is located in a dramatic setting overlooking Strangford Lough.

During the summer months they hold a jazz event in the grounds every sunday - if the weather is wet then it is held in a marquee. Today the weather was more than kind, with the sun splitting the trees picnics on the lawn were a very enjoyable experience relaxing to the sounds of the Martello Jazz band. These are 2 short videos I took, so sit back and relax for a minute.

Suzie the city cat

If you live in Belfast you may have noticed various sculptures which have been installed around the city recently. These have probably been installed by The Forest of Belfast. Now I didn't know we had a forest of Belfast but apparently we do and it was launched in 1992 as an urban forestry initiative to encourage greater awareness of the importance of the city environment. It includes community tree planting, promoting tree care and developing management plans for woodlands. They say that public art has a vital role in increasing public appreciation and enjoyment of landscapes and sites such as parks, woodlands, city streets and gardens.

This is one of their commissioned sculptures by Deborah Brown (who also created the 'Sheep on the road' at the front of the Waterfront Hall) and is located on the Donegall Road at the entrance to an alley opposite Pandora Street. I must say that I really like her sculptures and I just love this one situated in the middle of a busy city street to be admired by (and admire) everybody passing by.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

'La Môme'

Tonight I went to see 'La Môme' which I thought was a very powerful film and the performance by Marion Cotillard was incredibly moving. I know there are parts that were made cinematically pretty but as a whole I don't think it painted a rosy picture of Piaf or her life. In fact I think it was unkind to her for the main part and I am afraid that I have to disagree with my fellow blogger (see comments to Paris,je t'aime) who felt that the film was a mess - it worked for me, I know some people have criticised how it jumped backward and forward in time but it didn't leave me confused. When the credits rolled at the end like everybody else I was left feeling stunned - I can't remember hearing a cinema so quiet.

Edith Piaf and Jean Cocteau died on the same day. Cocteau, chivalrous at
the last, obeyed the rule of ladies first. "Ah, la Piaf est morte," he said on
the morning of October 11 1963. "Je peux mourir aussi." [Ah, Piaf's dead. I can
die too."] And then he promptly died of a heart attack. Or so legend has it.

But in these matters, legend is all-important, while what actually happened
concerns only those with no imagination or soul. No doubt this is what was going
through the mind of Piaf's second husband and final lover, the actor Théo
Sarapo, when he put her corpse in his car and headed for Paris shortly after she
died of cancer. He had to race against time to make it look as if the great
French singer had died in her Paris apartment, because that is what her fans
would have expected of her - faithful to no man, but ever faithful to Paris.

It was Piaf's funeral not Cocteau's that brought Paris to gridlock. One of
her lovers, the singer and actor Charles Aznavour (whom Piaf helped to launch in
showbusiness), said that her funeral procession marked the first time since the
end of the second world war that Paris traffic had come to a complete stop.
Because of Piaf's louche life - the lovers, the booze, the drugs - the
archbishop of Paris forbade her a mass; none the less, her funeral at Père
Lachaise was mobbed by 40,000 fans.

Saturday November 8, 2003The Guardian

Magical Mystery Tour

Abbey Road

Photo link:

Yellow Submarine

For those of you who have never seen the animated film 'Yellow Submarine' here's a little treat for you:-

Thursday, 19 July 2007

'Paris, je t'aime'

Has anybody else been to see 'Paris, je t'aime' yet? I went to see it last night (though to call it a film isn't strictly correct - it's a series of short vignettes set in different arrondissements of Paris) about different aspects of love. Some are funny, some are sad and some are decidedly strange. But I came away from the cinema thinking - 'I really enjoyed that'. I would watch it again and again and probably find something different each time. My favourite was the Nick Nolte piece followed closely by Fanny Ardant's and the mime artists are hilarious.

Is it art?

Years ago I saw a piece of sculpture in the Ulster Museum, Belfast that looked just like this. I think that it was a fibre glass cast that was then painted to resemble the original road and markings, even down to the cigarette butts. I always thought if you stood back and just saw the pattern, rather than the detail, that it looked like a modern art painting. So what are your opinions art or not?

The Black Man

For years I have been under the impression that this statue of Henry Cooke outside Belfast Royal Academical Institution was called the 'Black Man'. Well, actually I think almost everybody refers to it as the Black Man but apparently this statue replaced the original Black Man (the Marquis of Donegall 1855) which is now in Belfast's City Hall - if you click on the link you will see why his statue is known as the Black Man. .... and all these years I thought it was because Henry Cooke, like Johnny Cash, always dressed in black. You see, blogging is educational (c:= I don't recall ever seeing the statue, which is now in the City Hall, in position in front of R.B.A.I.

According to Wikipedia : Maghera was the birth place of the noted theologian Dr Henry Cooke. A statue of Cooke called the "Black Man" stands outside Royal Belfast Academical Institution in Belfast.

.... and from Belfast City Council website: His statue, known to locals as the Black Man, was erected in College Square East in the city centre in 1876

Which explains why I never saw the Marquis of Donegall's statue there.

According to Victorian Web:

Where Fisherwick Place intersects with Wellington Place stands the dark-green, weathered bronze statue that locals persist in referring to as "The Black Man," even though the real "Black Man" statue that once occupied the 1855 plinth — Patrick McDowell bronze of the young Earl of Donnegal — now stands overlooking the ground floor of the rotunda in the City Hall. Removed from its original site in 1868, that life-size statue had been painted black to preserve it from the elements. It stood for some years in the Public Library before being transferred to the new City Hall in 1906. The man depicted by the present "Black Man" statue, its back turned to the Academical Institution, is the noted Evangelical Presbyterian minister Dr. Henry Cooke (1788-1868). So opposed was he to the religious tolerance advocated by the Unitarian-leaning Academical Institution that his many followers saw additional significance in that fact that S. F. Lynn's 1875 statue has been positioned so that it looks down Wellington Place, scorning (as it were) the institution with whose principles of tolerance Cooke so rabidly disagreed.

Boy gets £44,000 on eBay

Police are trying to trace the owner of 65,400 euros (£44,000) mistakenly sent to a 16-year-old boy who bought a Playstation Two for £95 on eBay. The cash arrived in a box at the house in Aylsham, Norfolk, with the games console, but minus two games. IT'S MINE!!!

Police are holding the money under the Proceeds of Crime Act while the matter is investigated.
An eBay spokesman said the parcel's contents were "somewhat unusual" and it would help police with their inquiries. The boy's parents, who are not commenting, alerted police when the parcel arrived on 20 March.

Some people just can't keep their mouths shut!! The parents are not commenting (yet) but they will probably start moaning about the missing 2 games (c:

New York steam blast

These pictures are not of a terrorist attack but those of a steam pipe that exploded underneath a street in central New York - One person was killed and at least 20 others injured.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Goliath of Gath

When I was at school our vice principal, who played rugby for Ulster, used to entertain us at Christmas concerts (much to the head master's chagrin) by singing the following totally irreverent song: ... and the best bit was that he also gave an extremely good imitation of being drunk!

Goliath of Gath, with hith helmet of brath,
Wath theated one day, upon the gween gwath,
When up jumped young David, a thervant of Thaul,
And thaid 'I will thmite thee, although I'm tho thmall.'

Young David then took thmooth thtoneth from the bwook
And fathioned a thing with pietheth of thtring.
He thkilfully thlung one and let the thtone fly
And caught old Goliath a thmack in the eye.

Goliath then thwore with might and with main,
'Blank blank blank blank blank' and 'blank blank' again.
He thwore till awound him the thky wath quite blue.
He thwore all the old oneth and made up thome new.

Then David thtepped up and dwew out hith thord
As Goiliath gathped upon the gween thward.
He thtood on hith thoracth and cut off hith head,
And all Ithrael thouted 'Goliath ith dead.'

Sung to the tune of 'O worship the King' (Hanover).

Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan !!

This is a clip from the new Bob Dylan movie. It stars Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan and David Cross as Allen Ginsberg.

Cate Blanchett raised eyebrows when she first announced - at Cannes last year - that she was to play Bob Dylan in a new movie. Especially when it turned out the film was by the experimental director Todd Haynes, best known for using Barbie dolls to tell the life story of Karen Carpenter - much to the fury of the dead singer's brother Richard.

Now an advance clip of Haynes's Dylan film shows that with a curly wig and a pair of RayBans, Blanchett makes a pretty good if oddly smooth-cheeked Dylan. Other actors depicting various Dylan 'personas' in the film, due out in the US in September, include Christian Bale, Richard Gere and Heath Ledger.
The First Post:

Lambeg drum (take 2)

Found a good post on Slugger O'Toole's blog re Lambeg drum (just love the step dancer - what sort of mick take is that) with a link to a YouTube video

.. actually it's best experienced in real life, when you stand beside a Lambeg you really know it, you really FEEL it - something that can't be re-produced on a video.

A little known fact is that Ringo Starr became interested in playing the drums after watching the Lambeg drummers at various Orange parades in Liverpool during his childhood. Who says loyalist bands have a negative cultural influence!? A Tangled Web:

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Belfast Chuggers

Here, on Belfast's Royal Avenue, we have two 'Chuggers' (charity muggers) - so called because they accost you on the street and try to persuade you to part with your hard earned dosh, all in aid of charity. You can probably find them in most cities, so are not really unique to Belfast. I think this week's charity is 'War on Want'.

I can just imagine the dialogue here:-
BOY: 'I've got one in my sights - he's got a digital camera, so he's not short of a bob or two'
GIRL: 'There goes a bus, if we hurry to the next stop we can probably get a few to sign up in return for being allowed off the bus!'

Lambeg drum

Some of you have probably been wondering what blueboat (Belfast Daily Photo) and I have been discussing recently so I present for you here the Lambeg drum.

More pictures of 'The Twelfth' can be seen here Belfast Telegraph and a piece of video here:

... and as you can see - it takes two people to carry it.

I have just had a look at the video and I must say that I am surprised how relatively few spectators there are. When I was a lad people turned out by the hundreds if not thousands and the crowds lining the streets were six deep. As for the marching bands - you can hardly call that marching, they're a disgrace to their uniforms and that's another thing most of those uniforms could have done with a good pressing. It looks like they slept in them!

Bands? stick a drum or a flute in your hand and you're a band - pathetic. Where are the pipe bands, the silver bands and the brass bands that used to appear at the Twelfth? And don't you think it would be nice if they didn't all play the same tune?

Monday, 16 July 2007

alphabet of brooke shields

He flies through the air ....

I took a walk round past the Waterfront Hall, to photograph one of the buildings nearby, and spotting a group of skateboarders I decided to try for an action pic - most of which are fairly poor but I do like these two.

Sadly it's not the greatest camera in the world, which explains the lack of sharpness but I think you can get an idea of the action.

For a really cool skater action shot have a look here:

Belfast Tourist Information Boards

These information signs have been a recent innovation in Belfast and are popping up all over the place. On one side you can see a map of the city centre with places of interest marked and even a walk plotted out for your convenience.

These information signs have been erected across the city to help visitors find their way around – and residents find out more about their own locale.

Four different types of sign have been installed, at main entry points into the city, at three of the city`s most distinctive buildings – the City Hall, St. Anne’s Cathedral and Queen`s University - at key junctions and outside more than 30 sites of historical and architectural interest. More Here:

Sunday, 15 July 2007

le 14 juillet

I know I am a bit late since Bastille Day was yesterday but I thought I would take the opportunity to combine a piece of cinematic history with that of France. Vive la France!

Saturday, 14 July 2007

How I spent my holidays ...

Went to visit family in Swansea over 'the Twelfth' and we took a walk out to the Pier at Mumbles, which opened in 1898 and was a popular destination for holidaymakers. They arrived by train from Swansea in their thousands, band and choral concerts were provided for entertainment. The Pier was used regulary by paddle steamers and later screw driven vessels; there were sailings to Ilfracombe, Lundy Island and Gower coast cruises.

MUMBLES, a rather nice village, despite its name, right on the edge of the sea’ said Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas. Apparently, the name 'Mumbles' comes from the French word for 'Breasts'!! - I'm not sure which word that is because the only one I know is seins.

The name Mumbles is probably derived from the French word mamelles, meaning "breasts", which the two islets at the end of the Mumbles headland resemble. Strictly speaking mamelles means nipples or teats, which aren't quite the same as breasts.

The Mumbles Lifeboat House (seen in the background) was built in 1922 and still houses the present Tyne class boat - today the Lifeboat is launched from a Slipway built alongside the pier in 1916.

These are not the Mumbles' breasts mentioned above but belong to a mermaid supporting the balcony of a local hostellery known as 'The Mermaid' which was a former pub and haunt of Dylan Thomas. It was until recently a fired-out shell but has now re-opened as a restaurant.

Sadly we did not experience the same weather as blueboat of Belfast Daily Photo

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

A Visit to Musée d'Orsay

Cool Slideshows!


We're all doomed !!!

Forget carbon offset – Live Earth’s artists were thinking only of guilt offset,
JOHNNY DEE: First Post

Al Gore talked about Saturday's TV coverage of the Live Earth concerts being a tipping point, the moment when two billion viewers around the world woke up to climate change being a reality. I wonder how many of those two billion tipped the other way and began burning tyres and deliberately putting newspapers in with their normal rubbish?
My personal tipping point arrived during Jonathan Ross's interview with the Pussycat Dolls. They discussed "giving back" and explained that if one person uses Philips light bulbs they can change the world - "it's really amazing". Yes it is.

It was at this moment that it became all too apparent that these mega 'issue' concerts have absolutely no point to them whatsoever any more.
Live Aid had an urgent purpose (to raise money for people who were dying). Live Earth's purpose was to tell us something we already knew. Worse, it failed as both an entertainment spectacle and a political statement - it was boring, disorganised and flat.

If we need the Pussycat Dolls to alert us to the benefits of long-life light bulbs, then frankly we're doomed already.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Le mur des je t'aime

Pierrette d'Orient strolls along.

..... As you may be starting to realise, I am a big fan of the art of Robert Doisneau and this is one of my favourite photographs. I was going to describe the scene but I will quote from Doisneau's notebooks instead because he describes it much better than I could.

One peaceful Sunday morning there appeared two women and an accordion. 'How 'bout a song?' The stocky one, Madame Lulu, was not unlike '30s crooner Berthe Sylva. She had a serviceable voice. The other one, the accordionist, was a pretty little lady indeed. She delivered her song-always the same slow lament, Tu ne peux pas t'figurer comme je t'aime (you can't imagine how much I love you)-with complete detachment, with a little contempt even. Her magnetism worked so well we followed the pair around Paris for days on end, from Les Halles to the Chalon quarter via Canal Saint-Martin and La Villette. I never undestood why they continued to gather pennies in a world where change no longer makes your pockets bulge.

From rue Mouffetard to rue de Flandre, from the wholesale butchers at La Villette to the lads on rue de Lyon, with zigzags along canal Saint-Martin via the cheap eateries on rue Tiquetonne, I couldn't say how many days the aimless stroll lasted, nor in how many bistros we drank.
Me and my buddy Giraud both fell under the accordion's spell. That really can happen sometimes. How else can you explain the patience of all those customers, for people normally hate to have their picture taken when they're eating (unlike drinkers, who pose willingly, often with a touch of bravado). It was the melody that supplied the anesthesia that made the photographer bearable.

Both musicians had their own style. Madame Lulu was robust, belting out her stuff in the purest street tradition. With the accordionist, the tone was different. Standing before folks molded by hard labour, who held their fingers clenched even when at rest, she luxuriated in a sense of idleness. Her cat-like nonchalance carried the slightest hint of cruelty. Back in the Middle Ages, the spell that woman cast would have sparked a bonfire.

From Robert DOISNEAU PARIS published by Flammarion.

Le Baiser du Pont des Arts

Well, I did it, I took a digital photo of the image on my Robert Doisneau calendar - unfortunately it is not very sharp but I think you can still feel the passion. Paris is a very romantic city.

I am beginning to wonder if these photos were as spontaneous as they are meant to appear. Doisneau has taken a number of these and there is a slight possibility some of them might have been posed. On the other hand it could be a mark of his genius that they appear that way. Whatever, I still think they are great photos.

Stone heads of Belfast

Like most cities Belfast has its fair share of ornamental heads gracing the older buildings. They are meant to represent rivers, arts, commerce or probably whatever took the artist's fancy.

This sandstone head can be found in Ormeau Avenue (close to Katy Daly's bar), looking a bit worse for wear - not just because of the bird droppings but because the sandstone is being eaten away by the elements.

This head resides over The Black Box (an arts and entertainment venue) in Hill Street and may also be made of sandstone but has been better preserved by the coat of paint.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

The bus ride home ...

The bus ride home from Belfast was actually quite peaceful. The sky was really spectacular after the rain. This photo of Cavehill shows why it is also known locally as Napoleon's nose.

Tried to take a photo over Belfast Lough but because the bus was moving so fast I ended up with this fellow passenger reflected in the glass, quite arty I think.

....... and finally as we arrive in Glengormley we have another spectacular sky silhouetting the 'Orange Arch'. These are symbolic arches erected all over Belfast and Northern Ireland during the marching season of July to commemorate 'the Twelfth' and are decorated with various symbols of Orangeism and Freemasonary.

Orange Arches do not originate in Ireland. In fact it was the Romans who built the first Arch in the town of Orange in Southern France between 10 & 25 A.D. The Arch was built to commemorate a victory over Roman foes, the Gauls.

Now that is surprising that the 'Orangemen' have adopted a Romanist symbol.

More here: (The Orange Arch: Creating Tradition in Ulster ) about the arches.

.... and here LOL means something totally different.

A quiet night in the Cloth Ear

It was a quiet night in 'The Cloth Ear', or so I thought, for suddenly everything went dark - there was a total eclipse of the bar. Looking up I was confronted with 'Gargantua' or three of them to be precise. At first I thought it was 'The Roly Poly's' night out but quickly realized it was more like a reunion of the wyrde sisters from Macbeth (actually a reunion of the wyrdes would be like a sunday school outing compared to these three - one of them had a voice that could shatter concrete and proved it, frequently.) Ironically the slogan of the bar is 'rediscovering the gentle art of conversation'.

Saturday night in the center of Belfast

Belfast seems to having a glut of rainbows this weather. This is one I encountered on the way to a local bar, and again if you look carefully you can just make out the second half of the double rainbow.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

George Melly

George sings lead vocals with The Stranglers on Old Codger a song they wrote for him.
Harmonica by Lew Lewis

What an old codger I am
What an old codger I am
What an old codger I am
What an old codger I am
What an old codger I am
What an old codger I am

Communion's got a lot of grace
It's got style and bread and wine
But they're not mine!
You know what I like!

What an old codger I am
What an old codger I am
What an old codger I am
What an old codger I am
What an old codger I am
What an old codger I am

I may be long in tooth and jaw
But I've got a lot of nerve
When it comes to an angel boy
Pray for me!

What an old codger I am
What an old codger I am
What an old codger I am
What an old codger I am
What an old codger I am
What an old codger I am

When the choir is singing in the aisles
And the moon tomes up over the steeple
I might just turn into a bol-weevil
And creep up on you with my beef-jerky!

Hey baby!
We're gonna shave 'em dry
You know what shave 'em dry is?
You'll learn!
Mmmm, that's good, that's good!
That's very good!
Just close your eyes baby and think of England!
Well why not?
I always keep my socks on!

Friday, 6 July 2007


I am not for one instance going to dare suggest that this is how MLL parked her Citroën Diane (c:=