Nora Batty’s seriously wrinkled stockings

15 12 2012

So if you’ve no idea who Nora Batty is, firstly check out a few classic episodes of Last of the Summer Wine. It’s based in Holmfirth, a lovely little place in West Yorkshire.

Kathy Staff as Nora Batty. Source Jane, over on Noisy Shoes

Anyway, apart from the inherent value attributed to it simply because it’s a mention of Yorkshire, the reference is entirely irrelevant. If you’ve already been and checked out Last Of the Summer Wine – I apologise. It’s not very funny, is it? But the scenery is worth it. I have no idea how they found so many non-raining days to film the series!! I can attest that a great way of upsetting your spousal partner is to frequently interject with “I’ve been there”. It works wonders at whittling away marital stability it seems.

Anyway, now we’re safely back from that cul-de-sac (Literally “bag’s bum” in French), on to the real tale…

I often have lunch at Murchie’s in Richmond, near my office. It’s actually their distribution centre, but they have a little café on the side which sells lovely salads and of course their luxuriant range of tea. The lovely serving wenches there (I jest – no comments thank-you. I wouldn’t DARE call them wenches to their faces. Or bottoms, for that matter) are very friendly and pleasant. To the extent that the whole point of having a salad at lunch seems lost on them. I often have a serving so large that it cascades apologetically over the tub (designed to standardise the portions!) and onto the paper plate added to the ensemble for the purpose. I always have Russian Caravan to drink. I am reportedly the only person to have it, yet am teased frequently with questions of whether I’m having “my usual green tea” or the Earl Grey.

Anyway, where was I? Holmfirth, Murchie’s, tea, ah yes…

So Murchie’s often have the radio going just to add a little ambiance to the otherwise rather stark room. They’ve done their best with the addition of a (non-functional) pot-bellied stove and some half-hearted Welsh dresser thing as a display cabinet, but when all’s said and done… it’s an industrial unit. And it looks like it!

But the music helps. I’m normally trying to read some book or other, and the music helps set the mood. Usually it’s Sirius satellite radio (why do North Americans pronounce it “serious”?!) The time of day I’m there, it’s some acoustic programme, and they often have classic songs being re-imagined either by the original artist or someone covering it. There’s no commentary (cheap radio production), but thanks to Shazam, I can usually figure out who is singing any songs I like, and I can acquire a version when I get home.

There was one tune on pretty frequent rotation, and it really hooked me. I used Shazam, and it turned out to be Norah Jones – Say Goodbye, from her brand new album Little Broken Hearts.

Bring me back the good old days,
When you let me misbehave.
Always knew, it wouldn’t last,
But if you ask, I’d go again.
Yeah, I’d go again.

Here she is performing it live

So anyway, I duly ended up getting the whole album, which is moody and opulent. There’s some boppy yet thoughtful tunes like Happy Pills

And the downright creepy Miriam. Ms Jones is plainly not someone to cross in matters of love!

Anyway, I now listen to this album on rotation in my car, alongside Regina Spektor, Coldplay, Mother Mother, Lloyd Cole (who was VERY cool and personally messaged me the other day!) and a bunch of other equally eclectic tunesmiths. And then I hear the other day that Ravi Shankar has died.

Wikipedia: Ravi Shankar

I confess that I was only vaguely aware of his work, and that was strictly in the orbit of George Harrison and the Beatles. A tiny fraction of his work and influence. And those two threads might have stayed forever blowing independently in the breeze until this evening. This evening (after watching Life of Pi), Mrs E casually mentioned that Norah Jones was his daughter! Turns out her full name is Geethali Norah Jones Shankar. Her half-sister Anoushka Shankar took after their dad and is an accomplished sitar player too.

Music it seems really does flow through your blood!





Patricia Piccinini

2 12 2012

I’ve been thinking about “social networking” recently. I went to a marketing seminar on Tuesday, and that was much of the focus. But it bothers me. The more social media we use, it seems the less truly social we become.

We share inane minutiae about ourselves on Twitter, Facebook (or Twitbook as I once heard them collectively called) to a world that couldn’t care less. Because we can, we do. Yawn. But I think it’s worse than just irrelevant. I actually think it’s negative.

A relationship, be it romantic or friendship (or both, or somewhere in the middle, or neither, or…), waxes and wanes over its lifespan. It gets little pulses of renewal when some new facet is uncovered. “I never knew you had six toes!” It’s not that these little things are secrets per se – they just weren’t worthy of explicit mention. When they do pop up in a conversation, they’re surprising and renewing to the bond that was formed. You realise then that no matter how well you thought you knew the person, there’s an infinite number of layers and facets within them. They’re interesting.

Real people are fascinating.

Online people – less so.

It’s a manufactured persona. A marketing effort. Usually we ourselves are the marketing department and typically suck at it, but “celebrities” really do have other people paid to manage their online “social” persona. I am under no illusions whatsoever that Obama is REALLY checking his LinkedIn connection to humble ol’ Quieter Elephant… especially as I can’t vote in the US! Lloyd Cole on the other hand is (and I say this respectfully) past his creative prime, and I’m a little more confident that he himself creates the tweets I read from @Lloyd_Cole. Especially as he is looking to fund his next album through pre-orders.

So, having said all that – it’s not without its uses either. As with a hammer – it’s a tool that can’t be used for solving every problem, but it does have a place when used appropriately. A big one for me is learning. We never stop learning. If we do – we die. Maybe not physically, but practically. Young people think old people are worthless because they find it harder to learn and adapt. Kids, eh? I think “getting old” is just another way of saying “full!”. The elderly have learned so much in their lives. The young could benefit from tapping into that hard won knowledge and experience. Then the old could learn how to mentor. Win-win!

So I enjoy the opportunities the interwebs (as Bunbury would call them) offer to access new-to-me ideas, opinions and stuff generally. I enjoy StumbleUpon because of its randomness within the scope of my selected interests. (Though “Babes” does seem to come up more often than most. Just sayin’…)

And this very morning my computer, via software written after I arrogantly left the profession claiming “there are no new interesting problems to solve”, delivered to me the work of Patricia Piccinini.

Wikipedia: The Young Family; Patricia Piccinini

Wikipedia: The Young Family; Patricia Piccinini

Born in Sierra Leone, she’s an Australian artist, specialising in “hyper-realistic” sculptures. Typically fibre-glass, silicone, human hair, real clothes. Though her work is varied, a common theme is “what if?” Particularly that emotional space where we question what it is to be human.

I encourage you to check out her website. There’s some amazing work. Thought-provoking as well as technically brilliant. I suspect some readers will be repulsed, others fascinated.

 





Victoria – where old Citroën’s go to die?

10 08 2012

When we moved to White Rock, BC, there was an old Peugeot garage just by the river. It’s since become a repo car re-seller with an odd variety of merchandise… including a yellow hearse for a time. This was our first indication that Canada (along with the rest of North America) had largely spurned European mass market cars some time ago. Of course, there are still the premium brands like Mercedes and one often sees Maserati, Ferrari and even the odd Aston Martin and Lamborghini in downtown Vancouver.

Volvo, Audi and BMW are reasonably commonplace too. But come lower down the food-chain and it’s pretty much VW or nothing. Fiat are making a recent come-back with the 500, it’s true, but where are Renault, Citroën, Peugeot, Seat, Saab?

But the true Euro-fan is still out there, and I sometimes get pleasantly surprised by a Triumph TR6, an MG Midget and even once a Renault 4. Immaculately cared for and lovingly maintained.

Imagine then my surprise to see not one, but two Citroën 2CVs in Victoria! In the space of a mere 5 days. One was the relatively common (back in the day) banana yellow, but one was nothing short of amazing. I can only think the owner was either a complete extrovert, or was strapped for cash and was repainting it one panel at a time while his supplier kept running out of paint!

Apologies for the photo quality… I only had my BlackBerry with me when I stumbled across this find on Victoria’s Fort St.

And life wouldn’t be complete without a bit of Lloyd Cole now, would it?





Love You So What?

18 02 2012

It’s a wet weekend in White Wock. Nothing unusual there then! This is after all BC. In the middle of a bloody temperate rain forest for Pete’s sake!

But today, I find myself a little melancholy. Time for some Lloyd Cole then. Bad Vibes album, I think.

I have always admired “Love you so what” because of the classic line “Paris in the Spring doesn’t mean a damn thing to my baby“. It has haunted me since the very first time I ever heard it.

I’ve been to Paris many times. I’ve loved it. I’ve hated it. But it’s always meant something!

Here’s a clip from iTunes… where you can buy the track or the whole album: Love You So What

LloydCole.com: Columbia Hotel 1984 by Joe Shutter

LloydCole.com: Columbia Hotel 1984 by Joe Shutter

Love You So What

Lloyd Cole

You up and leave me cold turkey
When you know I could not tie my own shoe
This does not please me, no not exactly
Guess you do not give a damn for my love

Everybody knows that she’s worse than religion
No you do not cross a woman in love
Everybody knows that the turn of the season
Paris in the spring doesn’t mean a damn thing to my baby
No, no no, no

You beat me up, you put me down
You’re slamming my name all over town
Guess I’m big enough to roll with the punches
But you bruise me, you abuse me damn good

Everybody knows that she’s worse than religion
No you do not cross a woman in love
Everybody knows that the turn of the season
Paris in the spring doesn’t do a damn thing

I love you so, so much
You love me so, so what
I love you so, so
You love me so, so what

La la la la la, la la la la
La la la la la, la la la la
La la la la la, la la la la
La la la la la, la la la la la





Some Old Photo

13 12 2011

I was looking through some old photos I keep stored somewhat randomly on DVDs, and I came across a series from my 2004 business trip to New York city. Most were devoid of any style and merely reminders of places I’d seen. One however, caught my eye…

Bleecker St, NYC

Bleecker St, NYC

At first I couldn’t see why I’d photographed that particular intersection, and then I remembered. Bleecker St. was previously only known to me via the lyrics of the great Lloyd Cole, in his song “What Do You Know About Love?” Famous in the 80’s as front-man of Lloyd Cole & the Commotions, he subsequently went solo and moved to the US.

Check out this particular song on YouTube.

Lloyd Cole, ‘What Do You Know About Love?’, 1990 – YouTube.