Monthly Archives: March 2013



Easter Sunday; the clocks changed; and the sun came out.  I made for a beach early.


I had it to myself until a lone runner overtook me.  Our paths crossed again as she ran back and we nodded ceremonially.


The waves curled into the face of an opposing wind, which whipped foam away from their crests, occasionally creating a reasonable facsimile of those perfect white horses which are so seldom seen along this coast.


Not sure what this assemblage is about; I found it rather sad.


I’d not been to this particular beach since last year, and don’t know when this slide came down.  A large chunk of cliff has rafted down onto the beach, and the incoming tide prevented me walking around.  In view of recent instances of walkers having to be dug out of landslides, I did not attempt to climb over.

The stretches of sand and fine shingle had been swallowed by the waves.  I walked back strenuously over the ankle-turning cobbles of the storm beach.

Birds’ bottoms


Out of the wind


Things to do when you can’t sleep: xxvi


xxvi : Listen to a lecture about sleep and dreams

It was given by Professor Glenn Wilson as a Gresham College lecture, and is available on the web at in the ‘past lectures’ tab.  I was already familiar with some of the content, but it reinforced that knowledge and there were interesting new bits dotted in like currants.

After that, I dropped in on Professor William Ayliffe talking about how artists over the centuries have used the way visual processing happens in our brains. He drew out the astonishing integrative action of the brain, co-ordinating all its discrete processes (edge detection, colour analysis, brightness etc.) to make the results seamless as we experience them.  The lecture was more of a challenge, as I’m less familiar with the material, but I will be returning for Ayliffe’s other talks in this series.

The knitting is coming on too.

I need a word


for a noise the guinea pigs make when contented, which includes elements of a churr, the bubbling of a small stream, and a sound effect for science fiction originally created by the Radiophonics Workshop.

Even the mighty Oxford English Dictionary is no help when you have a meaning but not a word.   ‘Warble’, combining one of its obsolete meanings ‘vibrate, quiver, wobble’ with its more common musical sense? Or ‘prill’, which means a small rill of water, but could be used as a verb?  And then there is ‘papple’, meaning ‘to emit a sound like that of boiling water’, with a variant form ‘popple’.  Or if I go with a nonce-word, what about ‘purble’?

None of them are quite the ticket, though …



Last night there was a live broadcast to cinemas of the National Theatre production of Alan Bennett’s latest play, People.  In our local establishment two screens were used, as there were so many takers.  It’s an excellent use of modern technology to make drama and music available to rural populations, who cannot get to such events without  major investment of time and money.  More!  (RSC, please note.)

The play deals (in a somewhat absurdified way) with the dilemma of impoverished owners of stately homes:  to NT or not to NT?  Alan Bennett says he has always been irritated by the National Trust but didn’t know why, so he wrote the play.

I don’t think that this was the cream of Bennett’s writing, but it was thought-provoking and entertaining.  Much may be forgiven to a playwright who can see the point of creating juicy roles for older women, and thus allow some very good actresses to keep working.  And in this way, he has given us some legendary moments:  I only have to say ‘cream cracker’ …

Things to do when you can’t sleep: xxv


xxv : Watch morally improving television

Challenger is a dramatised documentary-style film based on Richard Feynman’s account of the investigation which took place following the  Challenger space shuttle disaster.  ‘Dramatised’ is the operative word here, and I certainly don’t think this told us anything new.  However, for those of us who watched the shocking simplicity of Feynman’s icewater experiment the first time round, it brought back memories, and on this occasion it felt very personal to watch the manoeuvres of investigation, whitewash and whistle-blowing.