08 February 2016

Blaming it all on love

It has been a long time since I ran more than 5K: quite a long time since I ran more than about a mile, in fact. Not this year, but today I changed that.

There have been many, many reasons for my lack of running. It boils down to a lack of willpower, of course. The weather doesn't help, but I missed the best of it today anyway (although I also missed the worst of it). Lucy and I set out not quite sure what was going to happen - well, Lucy never has any idea what's going to happen, as springer spaniels tend to exist only in the moment - the epitome, perhaps, of mindfulness, a topic about which I had been doing learning a little and which I hoped to practise a little on my run.

Although the rain was holding off, it was cool (a friend who saw me setting off remarked that it made her feel cold just to see me, in tee shirt and shorts) and windy. Storm Imogen was coming in from the distant Atlantic. The wind was in my face heading out of the village, and partly so all the way along the Bargeway. Likewise when I reached the Ridgeway: I worked hard for a couple of miles before turning right to head down towards the village, and then with the wind at my back I was flying.

The time was not important, nor was the pace. I paused to take a photo, having seen with some horror how the Harwell site has grown since last I came this way. The large building in the picture, which resembles a sports stadium, is new and lies just behind the farm - and close to Dido and Aeneas, the prototype reactors.
Impossible to give a good impression of its sheer immensity, in what should be - is supposed to be - a protected landscape. I despair. Chilton is also spreading in that direction, and threatens to go even further up the hill, housing forced into open fields because the site insists on keeping room for expansion.

The point is that I forgot to restart my Watch after snapping that inadequate picture, but that I wasn't particularly bothered. It might have been interesting to see what my pace was once I hit the tarmac, with a strong tailwind, but I don't suppose it would have been particularly impressive. What mattered was that I ran, and ran for the regular nearly seven miles, and felt fine. And just a little mindful, too.

26 January 2016

Russian winter

For the second time, I extended my Moscow visit by a day, on this occasion so that I could see some of the sights. Unfortunately, two days in the preceding week that had to be devoted to obtaining the necessary visa meant that I really didn't have the time I needed to enjoy myself in Moscow, but as I was booked on an evening flight I had little choice - I suppose I could have found a convenient place to hang out with wifi and got on with some work ...

I began the day with some work, and a late-ish breakfast. I thought about going to the minus-second floor of the Petr I and using the pool and fitness room (and I bet there is a sauna too) but that was as far as it went. I packed my bags and left them in the hotel's baggage room to collect about 3.30pm, which I reckoned would give me plenty of time to get to the airport to check in for my 6.15 flight - how did I work that out, I wonder?

Bolshoi Theatre
My first goal was Red Square, as the whole purpose of staying for a Monday (as opposed to arriving early on a Friday for some sightseeing) was to go to Lenin's Mausoleum, which I had established is closed on Fridays. So I crossed Revolution Square, marvelling at how slippery Russian snow isn't compared with English stuff, and then found a way through some charming back streets and old buildings to Nicolskaya, a street of designer shops that puts Regent Street to shame, and which takes you to Red Square (between that cathedral of consumerism GUM and the rebuilt Kazan Cathedral, which apparently had been destroyed in Stalin's time).

Revolution Square

Kazan Cathedral
 Red Square has a sort of Christmas Market going on (of course Russian Christmas is later than ours, but even so it was surprising to see so many Christmas trees and other seasonal stuff still in evidence - but someone explained to me that it is not uncommon to visit someone as late as March and find their home still decorated for Christmas: and if Christmas was arbitrarily set in the darkest time of the year, to provide an excuse for something to lighten the mood, you can understand why Russians might wish to string it out as long as possible) which Daria had said I might like to visit - but it didn't look exactly bustling, and seemed from outside more like an amusement park than what I understand by the expression - reminiscent of Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, the very idea of which appalls me.

Red Square was cordoned off behind a crowd barrier, and two militia men were examining people's bags before allowing them through. I had no bag, and they didn't need to check what was in the cavernous pockets of my ski jacket, so I walked through and across the cobblestones, marvelling at who and what must have passed over them in the past. Of course they might be recent cobblestones, but even so - do they easily take the weight of one of those new Russian tanks, the sort that broke down during rehearsals for last year's May Day parade?

The Mausoleum was, of course, closed. It does not open on Mondays either. When it does open, there is a three-hour window which is why I'd turned up shortly after ten, but if it's closed all day that doesn't actually help does it? When I am in Moscow I feel the history all around me, but I don't seem to be able to get close to some of it.

Eschewing the State Historical Museum (which I must go to one day) and the museum of the war of 1812 (ditto), I headed for Tverskaya, thinking I was looking for no 8 which turned out to house a bookshop in one window of which was a display dedicated to what seemed to be a new biography of Visotskiy - a guitar (the guitar? I doubt it, though I probably saw it at the Taganka five years ago) leaning against a chair, a microphone on a stand, and a bookcase piled high with copies of the book. But perhaps it was merely that today happened to be his birthday - a fact that had escaped me until Ruslan pointed it out, after I was back home.

I consulted the scrap of paper on which I had noted down the important information for my day at large in Moscow, and found that I had overshot - I should have stopped at number 6. Lonely Planet told me I was looking for a nondescript security door in the courtyard. At the entrance, a car trying to gain access despite the "no entry" signs was involved in a standoff with a much larger commercial vehicle attempting to come out, so I walked through the jam and there to the left was just the door I was looking for, beneath a sign reading (in Cyrillic) Transylvania, accompanied by a stylised illustration of a vampire bat.

I opened the door (there was a notice, incomprehensible to me, in Russian on it, but as I couldn't do what it told me, if indeed it told  me to do something, I took the risk that it wasn't anything serious) and found myself at the top of a flight of stairs leading down to a Soviet-style cash desk behind which sat an Soviet-style impassive woman. Russians, particularly those who grew up in the Soviet Union, strike me as a very impassive people. Beneath the surface they are warm and friendly, but they seem to have acquired an outer persona which gives nothing away and allows nothing in. It is not hard to understand why.

Passing a rack of what seem to be music-related postcards - no Mashina Vremeni, but the Putin-supporting Valeriya is in evidence - I descended into the shop. It comprised several rooms, crammed with CDs and vinyl from floor to ceiling. Below the shelves along the walls are drawers which, when pulled out, were also filled with CDs. I have never seen a record shop like it.

I quickly found the Visotskiy section, but my brain was suffering a bit of Cyrillic overload and I didn't pause long to examine them. Thinking to explore the rest of the shop, and to find some Mashina Vremeni CDs, I wandered through rooms devoted to several different types of Metal, blues, rock-and-roll, jazz, another genre that evidently includes Cliff Richard because there was a boxed set of his works, and much more. The classical section, perhaps just as well, appeared to be closed, with a chair blocking the doorway. Steve Hillage catches my eye, and Kevin Coyne and Siren, then a whole section of King Crimson alongside The Beatles and the Rolling Stones (they might find that rather flattering). And in the far corner, filed away (I think) alphabetically, the first four Stackridge albums - the American CDs. Amazing. I thought about taking a photo to prove it, but refrained. In any event, to enhance the Soviet-style shopping experience, one of the assistants was following me. He might not have worried about photography, but I didn't want to get into an argument which would be made immensely more complicated by mutual incomprehension.

Instead, I asked him whether he spoke English - my most-used piece of Russian, of course. His response suggests that he thinks he does, a little, but he was wrong: my Russian is better. "Mashina Vremeni?" I ask him, and he leads me back to the cash desk. It turns out that Russia's most successful rock band is filed away just across the gangway from Russia's most popular bard - indeed, at one time at least, her most popular man, of any calling.

My new acquaintance starts pulling out Mashina Vremeni CDs and placing them, for my perusal or perhaps for me just to buy, on the cash desk. Before long there are about 20, and I notice that this doesn't even include Reki i Mosti. Then he starts producing Andrei Makarevich's solo work - and, who knows, given time he might have got onto Margulis's and Kutikov's solo albums too. I looked politely though the second pile of about 20 CDs, then consult the price list. Each CD carries a code number, like greetings cards in English shops, so I have to match them against a list on the wall. The range is extraordinary. Some of the classic MV CDs - Part Time Commander of the Earth, God Slow Music - are about the full price you'd find in a London record shop, although allowing for the cut-price rouble that's actually about twice London prices (I wonder how much they were on sale for at the Palladium in December, when I didn't even get to see the merchandise stand?). Mashiny ne parkovat was 750 roubles, which seems about right, so I choose it - and it opens with one of my favourite songs. As for what else is on it, the album-art Cyrillic script is particularly hard to decipher, so I took my chances with it. The cashier rings it up before I can communicate that I haven't finished yet: but as I am the only customer in the shop, I guess it's not a problem.

Then on to Vladimir Visotskiy. I wanted some help, but my shadow had gone: when he reappeared I was holding a double CD of VV's war songs, and he managed to convey to me that this might not be what I was looking for. (I had spotted the word "воина".) But what did I want? I've since learnt that Gorbachov authorised the release of a complete edition of VV's recordings, which appeared in 20 volumes, and there appeared to be many if not all of them here. I could have done with a "greatest hits", but there didn't appear to be one. I ended up with a single CD entitled "monologues" (the opening track being a song I know - "я знаю", I tell him - and love) - live, with lengthy spoken introductions which I will struggle with for a long time - and a double the title of which translates as "on the big wagon" (something that the artist never was, it occurs to me). The prices were very reasonable, so I added them for less than the price of one Mashina Vremeni album.

And I suppose that when you don't really know what you're buying, so long as it's the right artist it doesn't matter which CDs you choose.

I walked back to Teatralnaya and, with one change, headed to Shabalovskaya, one stop further out from Oktyabrskaya with which I had become so familiar. It's not really very far from downtown Moscow - the next station is Leninsky Prospekt, which is still pretty central - but the feel is very different. This is definitely suburban Moscow, all blocks of flats and ordinary, day-to-day shops rather than offices and public buildings. Lonely Planet told me to head south on Shabalovka, but street names are hard to find - strange, because usually in Moscow there are plenty - then take the first right. It said five minutes, I think, but perhaps the snow made me slower: however, soon I found myself outside the formidable and clearly ancient brick walls of the Donskoy (no, spellchecker, not Donkey) monastery. I had to walk round much of the wall, past crumbling brick towers, before I reached the entrance, and the passage leading into the monastery was covered with a fantastic array of frescoes and script. How do they survive in this climate?

Inside the fortified walls, it's like a religious city. Monasteries were clearly much more than religious houses in medieval Russia. The Donskoy commanded a major route into the city, at a time (1591) when there was a real danger of invasion - not that Russia has ever really been free from the danger of invasion, or actual invasions. There's a cathedral, and as if that isn't enough there's also the New (or Great) Cathedral - and all this in an enclosed space in suburban Moscow! I passed a grocery shop - продукты - and it looked as if the monks are the producers not the customers.

As I was here to see a grave, I sought out the burial plots - and there are several. (I later learn that there are also a couple of large pits containing the cremated remains of victims of Stalin's purges.) Consulting a sign which directs visitors to the graves of famous people (conveniently arranged so that I have stand in a snowdrift, although it turned out that the same plan is posted in each different plot so I didn't have to look at this one), I discovered that the one I am looking for is not mentioned. In fact, few dates from the 20th century appeared in the long list. So I walked around, relishing the tranquillity of the place, and marvelling at the way the pathways have been cleared up to a point, so I found myself having to plodge through deep snow from time to time.

Still I couldn't find my goal, and I had expected it to be pretty prominent. I asked a lady in a fur coat (well, most of the ladies I saw were in fur coats, and so were many of the men). "Sorry", she replied, with a rather Gallic shrug, taking me somewhat aback - Natalia's advice about not asking babushkas for directions because they would be unlikely to speak English being not disproved but certainly shown to be valid only up to a point. So I approached the uniformed man in the glass booth in the middle of the compound - it occurs to me that there are glass booths containing a uniformed person all over the place in Moscow, on the street, at the bottom of escalators on the Metro, and evidently in monasteries. In answer to my opening gambit he admits to no knowledge of English, but at the mention of a name he indicates with hand gestures that I should either go round to the back of the Great Cathedral, passing it on the right hand side: or alternatively that I should go through it, which seemed less likely.

I met my fur-clad interlocutor again, and with hand signals, shrugs and odd words indicate that I have received directions, and off I go. In no time I spot what I am looking for, distinguished only by the photograph of the occupant and the extra space around it.
Solzhenitsyn's grave
 The notice I had seen near the entrance was only in Russian, so I had not been able to ascertain whether it meant that photography was permitted or forbidden, but the word не did not appear and there was no line through the illustration of a camera so I thought a photograph would be allowed. Anyway there was no-one watching - as far as I could tell ...

After that I headed off to the Metro station again, nodding gratefully as I passed the glass booth, the occupant of which acknowledged my thanks. I added an extra change to my journey to Arbatskaya, because I got off the first train at Oktyabrskaya and had to catch the next one to go an additional stop - or so I thought, though looking now at the Metro map I can't work out how I made the journey. Having already visited Moscow's best record shop, I wanted to go to its best bookshop, despite the fact that it would be full of things that I would not be able to understand very much. Dom Knigi was easily found on Novie Arbat, opposite Tarantino, the restaurant I'd been to with the students last year, and turned out to be a wonderful bookshop not unlike big English ones - not at all the Soviet-style shopping experience I'd had earlier or seen in Russian Language and People on the BBC back in 1980, and with which I'd once been familiar at Foyle's.

Fiction was on the first floor (or second floor, in Russia) and there I found banks of paperback editions of classic literature. I didn't want Воина и Мир, which is long enough in translation, or Доктор Живаго even though the author's near-namesake was very much on my mind... Again I struggled with Cyrillic alphabetical order, before realising that finding Tolstoy (dead easy: many very fat books to look for) then working back would easily lead me to what I wanted.

The illustration on the cover identified Cancer Ward for me. The Gulag Archipelago was in a different section. The First Circle I could spot easily. But I still had to go to another bookcase altogether before I came across a copy of Один день Ивана Денисовича - only 165 roubles, and it contains four other stories too including Matryona's House which I remembered reading long ago. I might stand a chance of getting through something of that size in Russian, and anyway it makes a fantastic and very reasonably-priced souvenir and it's nice to have bought it in what was the top bookshop in the Soviet Union, even though that state disappeared so long ago.

Old Arbat is a part of Moscow I'd wanted to see - I remember a scene from Доктор Живаго being set there, perhaps in this very (extraordinary) building.
But Arbat Street itself is about as authentic as Oxford Street. Fortunately touristy souvenirs were something I wanted, so I spent some of my remaining roubles on scarves and some more on fridge magnets for my colleagues - an exercise in British irony, aided by the Russian variety which has caused the creation of a range of fridge magnets depicting their president in various guises (one in typically macho pose with the slogan, if I have understood correctly, "make my day" in Russian), and more showing Lenin or Stalin. I selected five, and the assistant pointed out that their special offer meant I could have another for nothing, or another 100 roubles (which is not very much more than nothing), so I picked up one showing Yuri Gagarin, placed it with Putin, Stalin and Lenin in the basket she had bought for my selection, and said "поехали!". To my delight she laughed. It is immensely satisfying successfully to make a joke in a foreign language.

I regained the Peter I by about 3.30, having returned to Arbatskaya metro station thinking to take the blue line to Biblioteka Imeni Lenina (Lenin's Library) and there changing to the red line. Well, I did that, but without having to take the blue line at all. Both stations (and more!) formed what in London would be considered a single station, connected underground, so all I had to do was follow the signs and walk. And to think that when we dined at Tarantino I followed Tim's directions to Smolenskaya, changing from red to blue at Biblioteca Imeni Lenina to get there, then walked back a long way!

In other circumstances (less snow) I might have walked back to the hotel and enjoyed Alexandrovsky Sad, but gardens are not at their best when snow-covered so the Metro to Teatralnaya/Okhotny Ryad/Ploshad Revolutsii (another multiple station) was the better choice. I collected my bags, used the facilities and headed back to the triple Metro station. My bag had to go through a scanner at the insistence of a bunch of very friendly security guards - you don't get them like this in other countries, I'm sure - and then I arrived at Paveletskaya where it seemed the aeroexpress has recently departed and it would be 20-something minutes before the next one. It never struck me that I should check train times to the airport - I assumed they'd be every ten or fifteen minutes. I occupied the time with a cup of coffee (Americano, having learned a lesson about cappuccino with UHT milk at the Tretyakov's café on Friday) and a muffin, having eaten nothing since breakfast. By the time we reached Domodedovo I had less than an hour before the flight was due to leave - fortunately with so few people able or wanting to travel between Moscow and London check-in, passport control and security were almost deserted.
Paveletskiy Voksal. Somehow the typeface is just right.

On the plane I complete the FT weekend crossword before we reach Kaliningrad, including making up a hand-drawn grid.

Here's a pertinent song by Hungary's most successful rock group (yes, really), Omega:

19 January 2016


I scraped the ice off the car windows, inside and out, this morning so I could make an early start. My neighbours, returning from Florida as I prepared to set off, reported that the temperature was minus 3. My early departure was necessary ‎because I have to hand in my visa application before 10 so I can fly to Moscow on Friday, where minus 3 would count as shirtsleeves weather.

At the station, a robot announcement tells us that the 0820 to Reading and Paddington - a civilised train, not too early and almost empty on account of its having started in Oxford - is delayed. That's all: just delayed. Later a figure of seven, then eight, minutes is mentioned, along with the useful information‎ that the fastest train to London will be the 0820 from platform 5. So, no change, except for the odd eight minutes.

Posters on the platform explain that FirstGroup has taken the "unprecedented " step of removing its name from that of the railway it operates. The company tells us that it sees itself not as a franchise but as a custodian (using a clumsy split infinitive in the process).

‎What fools do they take us for? The First brand is so toxic, it's no surprise they want to hide it. Some people might mistake the revived Great Western Railway brand for that of an efficiently-run public service.

At Reading a woman sits next to me and proceeds to attend to her makeup. When did this become acceptable behaviour, I wonder? Casting a glance at the end result, I think her time was wasted anyway.

11 January 2016

Музыка под снегом (Music under the snow)

The day after witnessing the final appearance of my favourite band (so, with a vacancy to fill), I was at what might have been only the second UK appearance of the prime candidate for the position of my new favourite. They didn't quite make it, but it was a good evening.

I'd like to write a great deal more about Mashina Vremeni at the Palladium on 20th December, but there's relatively little I can tell you. Astonishingly, not one word of English was spoken by the band - and I know that Andrey Makarevich speaks it pretty well, from seeing him interviewed on TV. You'd have thought that they would tell the audience in the local language what song was coming next, given that they were in a country where their repertoire would be less familiar to an audience than back at home. Especially as at least one of the songs appeared to be pretty new. You might also have thought that they might tell us who was whom (I knew who most of them were, but that's not the point: and in particular who was playing lead guitar following the departure of Yevgeny Margulis?). At the very least they might have said "thank you" when the audience applauded, just as Paul McCartney (and no doubt others) have said "спасибо" when playing to Russian audiences.

It wasn't necessary to look far for the reason. In fact it was all around  me. The audience was almost exclusively Russian - Tor and I might well have been the only non-Russians in the place. But it would have been nice if someone had spoken from the stage to us, and any other new English fans who might have been there. Of course I started listening to Mashina Vremeni to improve my Russian (did I really write "improve"? From this low a base, it's not very accurate to use that word - "to learn some Russian", perhaps), but I wasn't expecting such an immersive experience as this.

I can't even tell you much about what they played. Povorot, of course, and the screen helpfully displayed the lyrics so I could try to sing along with the chorus. Poka gorit svecha, thankfully, and Marionetki (even if I hadn't recognised it I'd have identified it from the graphics). Razgovor na Poyezde was in there somewhere too (notice that, just as they didn't bother to speak any English to me, I am not bothering with Cyrillic). Krai was a new one on me but it had the lyrics on the screen. Krisi (which may or may not be subtitled "Pezniya o Putine" - song about Putin) featured: pretty obvious what that title refers to. No Prazdnick nachinaetsya seychas though.

I got so lost that I'm not even sure whether they performed Musica pod snegom - however, here it is anyway. Still enjoying listening to the music, even if I feel rather let down.

Amazingly Agnes

I looked back at my recent posting about Stackridge's Final Bow, having found myself this morning unable to get "Amazingly Agnes" out of my head. I wrote in the earlier post about the verbal wit of their early songs, which has been rather lacking in later material: what better example than a song in which cruel, stool, Timbuktu, mule, bull, and fool are made to rhyme? I speculated that perhaps what was missing later in the band's history was Crun's lyrics, but Agnes turns out to be James Warren composition. As is "Anyone for Tennis?", which was also on my mind earlier - "silver hairs are sprouting from my cranium/now cramp has stopped me mining for uranium ..." (On the other hand, the band occasionally produced some really crass lyrics: "Dangerous Bacon" comes to mind, with embarrassing references to the Holocaust and rape - that's a "Smegmakovitch" lyric, I think, a pseudonym for James, Crun and Mutter working together, and I suspect they cringe when they think about it, although they certainly performed it as recently as 2007, which is only "recent" in the case of a band that lasted for 46 years. Apart from that, it's a nice little song, but to me it's a huge "apart from ...".)

08 January 2016

The Final Bow

Stackridge have been part of my life since 1973, and on 19 December 2015 they played their final gig at the Fiddlers in their home town, Bristol. Being without a ticket for that evening until almost the last minute (being the band's lawyer has its perks, in addition to an acknowledgement on their last CD) I bought tickets for the previous Saturday in Bridport too - so saw two of their last four or so appearances.

At Bridport, their manager Mike volunteered that the band was better on this last tour than ever (which means since 1969), or the best they have ever been, or something. Who am I to disagree? But I will anyway. It was the first time I had seen this line-up, and they were superb, but to me Stackridge were always the band I saw at Newcastle City Hall in October 1972, supporting Lindisfarne, who had just released Dingly Dell, on their home territory. (I'd gone understanding from the ticket that the support band was some label-mate of the main attraction called Genesis, and was very pleasantly surprised to find they'd been substituted, even by a band I'd never heard of.) James and Andy were still present in the 2015 line-up, but the rest weren't. Mutter (whose own band was support at Bridport and the Fiddlers) put in a couple of guest appearances, and I had the pleasure of meeting Bill at the Fiddlers (adding the last autograph of the original line-up to be reverse side of my Stackridge Rhubarb Thrashing Society membership card), but of Crun there was no sign and Mike Evans would, unfortunately, hardly have been welcome.

The last line-up are certainly excellent musicians, and they have some great material in their repertoire, and they made the best of it with some fantastic arrangements - "Fish in a Glass" (previously one of my least favourite Stackridge pieces, from an album that largely makes me cringe) with ukuleles, which also featured in the lovely and much newer song "All I Do is Dream of You". Much of the earlier material, though, was lacking something - they played pieces like "Lummy Days", "Syracuse", "Teatime", "God Speed the Plough" and the three great songs from The Man in the Bowler Hat ("Fundamentally Yours", "Last Plimsoll" and "Road to Venezuela") so they sounded as much as possible as they do on the record, even down to Clare playing what often sounded very like Mike's original solos, raising interesting copyright questions in my mind. But without Mutter's flute some of them sounded thin.

I also find most of the recent material - meaning, I suppose, later than the first three albums - inferior to the earlier stuff. There are some super songs from the later period - Red Squirrel and Long Dark River from their most recent album, A Victory for Common Sense, for example, and I've even come to like "Highbury Incident" and the aforementioned "Fish in a Glass" (I always liked "No-one's More Important than the Earthworm", the only evidence that Gordon Haskell was once a member of the band - for two weeks, as James explained in his introduction) - but they don't have the quirkiness, or even eccentricity, of the early stuff. "Al I Do is Dream of You" is wonderful, and in a similar vein (to my mind) to "Teatime" (the first song played at the first Glastonbury Festival - indeed, as Andy mentioned, the first note at the first Glastonbury, and it was a B, which he played by way of illustration), but it lacks the verbal wit of the earlier song and the main reason it stands out is the ukuleles - including Eddie strumming away behind his drum kit. Perhaps what the new material lacks is Crun's lyrics? I might be utterly wrong but it's an interesting idea that just crossed my mind.

Stackridge 2015 also missed Crun's presence on stage, and Mutter's. James has always been an entertaining frontman, but in a dry, low-key way, while Andy is not really a natural frontman at all, and among the many things that stood out about the band back in 1972 was that Mutter, Crun and Mike contributed so much to the general madness of a Stackridge gig. There was also the giant cardboard cut-out gnome presiding over the stage, of course - and when gnomes were outlawed a few years ago a large part of the band's appeal disappeared, for me. I defiantly wore my gnome badge at the gigs, though.
 And the Mutter badge, which Linda, his wife, told me they have on a noticeboard at home:

Perhaps what all this means is that with the passage of time Stackridge became just a bit more serious than they were all those years ago, and perhaps that's just a universal progression. But it means that, while I was very, very pleased to be part of the final event in their career (notwithstanding talk from the stage about next year's reunion), I was celebrating memories at least as much as I was enjoying the present and mourning the demise of the latest incarnation of the band. They had much more than just the name in common with the group I fell in love with in 1972, but to me there was a sense that Stackridge had really ceased to exist many, many years ago (I'd say after Bowler Hat). Other fans, if they read this, will disagree, some of them vehemently, although I am certainly not devaluing Stackridge 2015. Perhaps I'm wrong to compare them with their younger counterparts: and now I think of it, I'd hate to be compared now with my 16-year-old self. The final iteration of Stackridge were definitely a fine band, which I'd have gone a long way to see (in fact I did, though not from Tokyo or Philadelphia, like some people I met at the Fiddlers). It's just that I'd have gone a great deal further to see Stackridge Mark I.

07 January 2016

I threw it all away

 If I haven't blogged for a while, a friend remonstrates with me, and I certainly haven't been blogging much - and he remonstrated with me before Christmas. I have had a lot going on, some of it fit to write about here, but not much running - the Boxing Day Parkrun in Didcot is not the only occasion on which I have laced up my running shoes since last I posted anything here, but most of the others aren't much worth writing about. I did have a day doing a bit of running in London, first delivering nomination papers to ALCS when I stood for election to the board then (after a tube journey) paying a visit to a good friend ... but not the sort of running schedule I like to maintain, let alone the sort of schedule I want to maintain.

I'm not good with New Year's resolutions, either making them or, on the rare occasions when I do, sticking to them. I thought about running today, even changed into a pair of shorts and put my shoes on, but then it was cold and miserable outside, I had a stack of work to do and it was later than I realised. Tomorrow, perhaps.


03 December 2015

SOLO IP for sole and small IP practices: A tribute to Jeremy Phillips by Peter Groves

SOLO IP for sole and small IP practices: A tribute to Jeremy Phillips by Peter Groves: On Wednesday 25th, I had the honour of speaking at Jeremy’s penultimate event before his retirement, the annual IP editors and publishers lu...