Friday 30 October 2009

Jerusalem in the rain

We took a walk through the Old City, and it rained. And rained. And
rained some more.

Please note
We are building up a blog diary of our visit to Israel and the Occupied Territories of Palestine, and a full collection of photos from the trip will shortly be up on Flickr. You are welcome to visit and tell us what you think.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Sierra de Teruel

The highlight of the Cinema and the Spanish Civil War season at the BFI has to be the showing of Sierra de Teruel. This portrait of Republican airmen at war was shot in Spain (mostly) by André Malraux in 1938-9; work on it continued in France during 1939 but it was caught by the Second World War and never completed. It has never been seen in this version in the UK until now. A version of the film has been shown under the title Espoir (also playing in the BFI season); however this one is Malraux's own version, smuggled out to Mexico after France fell and later deposited in the US Library of Congress, where it lay unregarded for 40-odd years.

It is performed with little rehearsal but a great deal of passion by a mostly amateur cast, and this gives it a raw, documentary feel. The film culminates in a magnificent 10-minute scene in which the villagers help bring the wounded - and dead - airmen down from a mountain-top crash; this scene is apparently much shortened - or even cut? - in the Espoir version.

Víctor Erice introduced the showing with an account of the film's genesis, and an analysis of the differences between the two versions. It was a very affecting talk, which he himself found difficult to deliver at times, in particular when, at the end, he referred to the film as "una elegía para la Segunda República Española" ("an elegy for the Spanish Republic"). After the film he showed two short extracts from his current project, one of which is his own filmic response to Sierra de Teruel.

I would very much like to see if it could be possible to arrange a showing of this film at the ACIS Conference this September.

Cinema and the Spanish Civil War

For those of you within reach of London, the British Film Institute is running a season of films dealing with the Spanish Civil War throughout the month of June 2009. The season was opened by Paul Preston (ACIS Honorary President). Paul also had a hand in the selection of films, which includes a range of documentaries and fiction films from Spain and elsewhere, made between 1936 and last year, several of which have not been seen in the UK before.

I've managed to get up for a couple of sessions so far. Last week I saw Canciones para después de una guerra (Songs for after a war), which, to my shame as an aficionado of cinema and popular music, I had not seen before. The film is not so much about the Civil War, as a commentary on the society that grew out of it. It's an amazing, fast-moving montage of images of life in Franco's Spain, still and movie, much of it from advertisements or official sources such as NoDo, and all accompanied by a barrage of popular songs of the period, some classics, some hilarious, some both.

The film gives a startling visual and aural impression of la España carpetovetónica - the retarded state in which Franco struggled to keep Spanish society for 40 years. I've got a very funny book* about this somewhere, a collection of cartoons and advertisements from the Spanish press of the 60s and 70s, which makes an interesting complement to the images and sounds of this film.

* Celtiberia Bis, by Luis Carandell (1974) - there's a blog in the same spirit at No recomendable, and an article by Carandell from El País: Y España era celtiberia.

Monday 25 May 2009

Tuesday 31 March 2009

Micalet Street View

View Larger Map

That's Micalet at the back of the square - though it looks as though we can't get any closer. Is this because Google's cameras are on vans, and the top end of the square is pedestrian?

And here's a commentary - in Spanish - for a tour round the square, just using the left arrow to rotate round on the spot:

Sunday 29 March 2009


Sun 15 Feb
Les Batons, Hollingbourne, Kent

We're all fandango fans now! Kerry leads Les Batons through the four parts of this Basque dance, with Chris on txistu.

Swan Stepping again

Tue 24 Mar
Swan, Falmer

Valerie steps out. 77 - puts the rest of us to shame! This is now a regular evening - fourth Tuesdays - with some of Sussex's finest; you can see Will and Bob, and hear Dan, Michi and far too many strings. Next month it'll be back to the barn, and a bit more space for everyone.

Benoit Guerbigny at Dansez Français

Patcham, Brighton
Sat 21 Mar

Benoit did a workshop in the afternoon, and two lengthy spots in the evening, playing music from Poitou and elsewhere. A great day's music and dancing, thoroughly enjoyed by a good crowd. They didn't all get up for this mazurka, though, did they? The others were probably watching the dancers in admiration.

Saturday 28 March 2009

Where am I?


If you couldn't tell from the recording, try the original boo. It would be nice to be able to embed the photo and map here, though.

Thursday 19 March 2009

Sounds accidental

And here's an accidental recording Brian accidentally sent from his trouser pocket to mine, via voicemail . . . Ah, the wonders of modern technology.

See the previous post for the full story. And yes, my cheeks are still glowing.

Sunday 15 March 2009

Gracias caballero

Estrella Morente at Sadlers' Wells last night - though this video is not from there! Nor did she have this group with her - just a couple of guitarists and three others supporting with palmas and occasional voice. The clip's from a show she did a couple of years back, set in the gardens of the Generalife in the Alhambra in Granada; it's a zambra, performed with a small band of bandurrias - there's a DVD, but I'm not sure if it's been issued on CD - it should be!

The first half last night was performed seated, dressed formally in black suit with white blouse and black bootlace tie, and the treatment was for the most part traditional. After a brief instrumental interlude she returned in flowing flamenco dress and shawl, both of which she used to great effect in a series of more dramatic and adventurous arrangements.

For the final song the guitarists left the stage, a searing electronic monotone started up, and Estrella and the three supporting singers came to the front of the stage and stood in a circle of light and sang a slow, powerful song with palmas and sharp, breathy vocalisations providing a cross-cutting rhythmic accompaniment. Stunning. There was no way they could have done an encore after that - and the audience didn't even ask for one.

Afterwards we were looking for a bar in the theatre, and saw a crowd of people in the Lilian Baylis Studio. As we went in we realised they were all on their way out - then we realised 'they' were Estrella and the other performers - and she was stopping for photos with members of the audience.
So I took a couple on my iPhone - and she came over and shook my hand, and gave me a kiss on both cheeks . . .

I told her the final song had been "estupendo", and she said "Gracias, caballero".

Star-struck? Me?? Who cares! Gracias, Estrella.

Estrella's website

My pics don't seem to have come out :-( , and nor does the 30 seconds of video Brian took on his mobile. Isn't it always the case?

And yes we did manage to find somewhere for a drink - a Tapas restaurant in Upper Street - good tapas, a bottle of Rioja, and a coffee with a coñac to finish off. Well, the evening needed celebrating, we thought.

She'd referred to the final song as a martinete - a blacksmith's song sung slow, without guitars or dancers, with just the sound of the hammer on the anvil marking out the rhythmic accompaniment. I can't find a version on any of her own records, but her father Enrique Morente's Sueña la Alhambra starts with a martinete, which could be the same song - it opens the DVD, and he sings it in a similar setting to Estrella's version last night - a group of five men, this time, in a lighted circle, with an invisible chorus providing a similarly mysterious aural backdrop.

Tuesday 3 February 2009

Who's that big one at the back?

Mon 2 Feb

The folks in Jan's street get to know each other, and some of the children get to build a snowman for the first time in their lives. I wonder how long it will stay up? See also the view from Crouch End.
[Jan's pic]

Monday 2 February 2009

Meanwhile, not very far away

. . . across North London, the snow had also fallen in Sarah's back garden. They say this is SE England's heaviest snowfall in 18 years. See the previous post for Andrei Arshavin (?) Walking in a Winter Wonderland, the next one for how 25 went mad in the snow in Brighton, and the one after that for some snow in Southern Spain. All today (well, yesterday, by the time I get this posted).
[Sarah's pic]

Arshavin arrives to sign contract

"Arsenal have gone to great lengths to make me feel at home", he said (in Russian, of course). "This is just like St Petersburg".

Pic on
Stop Press Tue 3 Feb:
What he actually said, a day later, was: "I see weather like, in St Petersburg. I feel like, in my country." In English. Does he read my blog?

Thursday 29 January 2009

First snowdrops


Wed 28 Jan

In the rain, of course. And a week or two later than they've been in recent years. Here's a few more, also taken this morning. I'll try again in a day or two - preferably in the dry - and see if I can get them in focus . . .

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Swan Stepping

Best foot forward

Stepping at The Swan, Falmer
Tue 27 Jan

There are several English traditions of step dancing, none of which I knew anything about. Gypsy and Traveller communities in a number of areas have always stepped. Rosie and Kerrie do Appalachian and other American versions; with the support of a number of local musicians they are now seeing how much English traditional music they can step to. Here's a few more grainy iPhone shots - I'll try to remember to take a proper camera next time.

Thursday 22 January 2009

From right to leftie

From right to leftie

The Guardian
22 Jan 2009

A new era begins, and there’s so much to take on board. It’s not just the sight of Barack Obama in the Oval Office, a place that has become associated with George Bush. It’s also that we must once again get used to a left-handed president signing more...

Wednesday 7 January 2009

Lewes via Google Earth

Powered by Google Earth Hacks | Map Details | Create your own!

Use the navigation controls to find the coast (5 miles to South), Brighton (10 miles West), London (60 miles North). You will probably have to install the Google Earth plug-in to get it to function.

It's very easy to set up: just go to ShareIt, locate a place and copy the embed code into your blog (or wiki, or any other web page). Then everyone can explore to their heart's content.

Tuesday 6 January 2009

Sun, sea, spray and stones

17:45, 17 Dec 2008

Bourrée Grandes Poteries

Gérald and Corentin at Verton, May 08. Music by Drift.

Google Earth Micalet

Powered by Google Earth Hacks | Map Details | Create your own!

Another from Google Earth Hacks. I wanted to place it in the sidebar, but I couldn't get it to display properly at 200x170, so I've put it here at 400x340. Navigate out to see the rest of Valencia, Spain and the world. Tilting doesn't have much effect here, as there don't seem to be any 3D images yet. They'll come, I'm sure.

Monday 5 January 2009

Sierra Nevada

Powered by Google Earth Hacks | Map Details | Create your own!

ShareIt from Google Earth Hacks lets you choose a location and show it in GE in a blog. Seeing as how it's GE it should allow you to explore to your heart's content. Try tilting to see the mountains in profile; or fly North to Granada, South to the Alpujarra villages, the Contraviesa range, and the coast.

Sunday 4 January 2009

Testing post to blog

What happens when I try to post a file from direct to Blogger?

Hmmm. Not sure about this. As someone has commented on, it doesn't distinguish between various blogs you might have - I have 3 on Blogger at the moment, it just posted the file here without checking with me if this was where I wanted it.

Mon 5 Jan: And now it seems to have gone . . .
Tue 6 Jan: And come back again . . .

Saturday 3 January 2009

Happy New Year!

If you've got room for one more card, and you'd like Season's Greetings from me, just:

1) choose an image and click on it to download the front of the card from
* * NB: I haven't tried this before - I think you will need to sign up for access to my folder first * *
2) then download the 'back' file
3) print both files onto paper or card of your choice - preferably back-to-back
4) fold down centre and place on display

Happy New Year!


Synchronised Ducking
IMG_3962 copy

Landing and flying
IMG_4002 copy

IMG_4031 copy

IMG_3939 copy

Standing and flying
IMG_3995 copy

Swimming through stars
IMG_3952 copy

IMG_3893 copy

Technical note:
All pictures are from a set I took at the Charca de Suárez wetland reserve - map, website (Spanish), primary school project wiki (Spanish) - near Motril (Granada, Spain), on 21 December. I cropped a selection of the original images down using iPhoto; you can see a set of the crops on Flickr, and a Synchronised Ducking sequence in the previous post. I chose the ones shown here for the cards. I designed the cards in Pages, printed them onto white card, and gave them to friends and relatives (as you do at this time of year); some I emailed as .jpeg attachments. I have now posted these .jpegs to the file store at For this post I have embedded the images from Flickr, and changed the link in the embed code so that it points to the card stored on, from where you should be able to download them.

I hope it works!