Thursday, February 28, 2013

Swift action removes threat of headscarf.
Men in ridiculous headgear take offence at unacceptable headgear.

The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: "Islamophobia on the red carpet"

The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: "Islamophobia on the red carpet": "One of the less-reported stories of Oscar season was the nomination of the remarkable Palestinian film Five Broken Cameras in the d...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Claims by blacklisted construction workers that some of the information held about them on an illegal database came from undercover Police officers are to be addressed as part of Operation Herne.
"The ongoing investigation into the activities of the Special Demonstration Squad, a deep undercover section of Special Branch, will look into the claims following a complaint submitted by the Blacklist Support Group."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I've got a copy of a biography of Jan Potocki*, author of one of my favourite reads. He was much more than an author; soldier, politician, publisher, world traveller, pioneer (I'm informed) of the discipline of ethnology. I think that means something like historical anthropology. This fellow is one of my worthies.

Where to start?
Many years ago - early 1960s - I came across a book in the public library called "The Saragossa Manuscript" - good title. I took the book home and read it, a great yarn though unusually constructed. The story was old, written originally in French by a Polish nobleman. It was also incomplete, some of it had gone walkabout, creating a mystery about the whole project. There was some biographical information about the author in the introduction which whetted my appetite for more. But no more was forthcoming.
Fast forward to 1995. I'm reading a review in the Guardian by Salman Rushdie. "It's taken a long time for Jan Potocki's masterpiece ... to be published in English. Now at last it has been ..."
What? I read this book a generation ago, what are you havering about, Rushdie?
When I got hold of the book in question I found out what Rushdie meant. This was a translation of what was claimed to be the complete novel, "Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse". Strangely though the earlier version seemed to have been forgotten.
And here's another mystery. The translator of the earlier version was one Elizabeth Abbott, an American lady. I've tried to find out more about her without success. A reference to a translation of a work of Stendhal is all I've found, nothing biographical. My interest in her is based on the fact that I found her version to be superior to that of the later translator.
The introduction to Ian MacLean's translation makes no reference to the Abbott translation, published in the USA in 1958, or to Christine Donougher's "Tales from the Saragossa Manuscript" published in 1990.
The story of the publication of the original is complicated. It appears that the first part was in a Parisian publisher's possession in 1804, but not published. It did appear, however, in Saint Petersburg at that time. Parts one and two were published in Paris in 1813. Part three, completed before Potocki's suicide in 1815, was never published in France.
Plagiarised versions of some of the tales did appear in France later in the 19th century and were the subject of litigation. Still the whole of "Manuscrit ..." made no appearance.

In the 1950s the author Roger Caillois was putting together a collection of mystery stories and unearthed the story of the "Manuscrit ..." He went on a hunt for the completed work, without success. Finally he decided to publish parts one and two with an explanatory introduction. This was the version translated by Ms. Abbott.
Caillois' reintroduction of the work stimulated further reseach into the mystery of the "Manuscrit ..." and led to the discovery of a Polish translation of the whole work.
This was translated back into French and published in France in 1989. It is the version MacLean translated into English.
Job done!
Not so fast! By this time a whole school of Potocki studies had come into existence, and various libraries, Polish and Russian, private and public, were microscopically inspected for additional manuscript and printed version. This resulted in the discovery of two versions of "Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse", since published in French in one volume.

There is a wikipedia article on Jan Potocki, and one on the "Manuscript ..." There's even more here, but it's in French. Also, I forgot to mention a film, Polish.

*Pronounced PotOTSkee.

Monday, February 25, 2013


The Clegg cover-up was not a cover-up, just something he hoped would go away if he ignored the complaints. Politician lies. Dog bites man.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, a dirty old man, has given Celtic supporters a headache. Orange bigots are going to have a new repertoire of songs and chants about another bigot of the wrong religion.

John Kerry is on a tour of Europe and the Middle East, kidding us that we are of the slightest interest to his compatriots. He's got things in the wrong order; he should find out from the Israelis what American foreign policy is before he tells the British government what IT'S foreign policy is.
He'll soon be filmed for posterity doing the western politicians' Via Dolorosa; the Wailing Wall in the requisite silly headgear, the Holocaust Museum. He will be suitably chastened, and declare himself poor endangered Israel's best friend forever. The fact that Kerry's family was from Central Europe and originally surnamed Cohen certainly means that the Mark Regevs of this world can't tell him anything about the Shoah. No matter, he'll be there as a representaive of the blood-libellers who let it happen, and he must have his nose rubbed in it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I watched a programme last night in which the comedian Eddie Izzard traced his ancestry. More precisely he followed a trail across continents worked out by geneticists. It was, in truth, not about Izzard and his family, but the family of man, Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Last night it was the migration of the female line out of Africa, through Asia into Europe. Over time, naturally, the population whose movement was followed got smaller and smaller, as the human race divided and the various branches went their separate ways.
There is another programme tonight following Izzard's male line.
One thing I learned - all blue eyed people descend from a common ancestor way back in time, and at some stage were settled on the shores of the Black Sea. I hear the call of the Eurasian Steppe.
The blue eyes are linked, in some manner which I could not understand, with the beginning of man's adoption of milk, i.e., animal milk, as part of his diet. Apparently not everyone adapted easily to the new food, but the development of the blue eye colour was a sign of successful adaption.

[Small digression: the Greek for milk is gala. One Greek word for blue is galanos, which also means 'blue-eyed'. I think it is also a Greek surname. It's often noted that the ancient Greeks didn't have a word for blue, hence Homer's "wine-dark sea".]

I'd love to get a personal DNA reading, such as can trace one's ancestry back before surnames gave a clue to one's ancestry; before nations were formed and borders drawn on maps; before recorded history perhaps. I keep checking to see if the fee charged for this service has yet matched my ability to pay up and order.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I've remarked before on my liking for lists, and my inability to complete one.
I keep trying to put together a list of my ten favourite music tracks. When I kicked off I had no trouble in identifying the top two. Then, noting that neither was sung in the English language I decided on two top tens - one of songs in the mother tongue and one of songs in other languages.
But songs? What about instrumental tracks? So a third list was born, which means that I should have a top ten comprising thirty tracks. If only! I've kept control of the instrumental list but the others have gone over budget. I think my top ten has thirty-eight participants. Nitchevo, I soldier on.

1. Harvest Moon - Cassandra Wilson
2. Love Hurts - Gram Parsons and Emmy Lou Harris
3. Ordinary Joe - Terry Callier
4. Going Back - Dusty Springfield
5. Will You Love Me Tomorrow? - The Lovely Shirelles
6. Sea of Heartbreak - Don Gibson
7. Rikki Don't Lose That Number - Steely Dan
8. Badge - Cream
9. The Folks Who Live on the Hill - Miss Peggy Lee
10.Light Flight - Pentangle (alias The Pentangle)
11.After the Goldrush - Prelude
12.Love Letters - Ketty Lester
13.Domhnall Óg - Seosaimhín Ní Bheagloigh (English version)
14.Worksong - Oscar Brown jr.
15.I Feel Free - Cream
16.Shopping for Clothes - The Coasters

1. Maruzzella - Renato Carosone
2. Alors Raconte - Gilbert Bécaud
(These two are my all-time favourites, O mia giuventù bruciata!)
3. Aïcha - Khaled
4. Milord - Edith Piaf
5. Oran, Oran - Maurice el Medioni
6. La Mer - Charles Trenet
7. Malagueña Salerosa - Trio Los Paraguayos
8. Clandestino - Manu Chao
9. Barbès - Rachid Taha
10.Ne Me Quitte Pas - Jacques Brel
11.Ana Fi'l Hob - Les Orientales
12.Les Deux Guitares - Charles Aznavour

1. All Blues - Miles Davis and Quintet
2. Ebony Samba - Stan Getz, Luiz Bonfá
3. Apache - The Shadows
4. Angie - Bert Jansch
5. Take Five - Dave Brubeck Quartet
6. Chega de Saudade - Dizzy Gillespie
7. She Moves Through the Bizarre - Davy Graham (alias Davey Graham)
8. Bad Penny Blues - Humphrey Lyttleton
9. Chunga's Revenge - Gotan Project
10.Green Onions - Booker T adnd the MGs

In all three lists the first two tracks really are one and two in preference. The rest are in no particular order, because I am so indecisive .

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Nearly 15 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement Marian Price McGlinchey is the victim of administrative internment. Marian was bailed by the courts but sent to prison at the whim of the British Secretary of State who alleged Marian had breached the terms of the licence she was released from prison on in 1980. This licence was overridden by the Royal Prerogative of Mercy (pardon) Marian received shortly after her release.
"When this point was raised the authorities claimed the pardon document was either lost or shredded in 2010. Surprisingly, the British government claim to know the content of the missing pardon yet have failed to produce evidence to substantiate their claim. So how can the authorities make a decision based upon the contents of a document they have not seen? Oddly enough a number of copies of the 13th century Magna Carta still exist yet we are expected to believe that a royal pardon issued in 1980 is missing from government archives with no other copy to be found. This is the only pardon in the history of the British Monarchy to go missing."
(Pauline Mellon)

Monday, February 11, 2013

So the Pope is throwing his hand in. Can't be to spend more time with his family. Maybe he wants to spend more time with 'Gorgeous George'.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Russian government has requested permission of the (unelected) British government to award the Ushakov Medal to surviving veterans of the convoys shipping arms and essential supplies to the USSR in World War 2. The Cameron-Clegg cabal has refused to allow it. Their reason - that British citizens are not permitted to receive medals of foreign origin after five years.
This is a blatant lie. In my adult lifetime - i.e., since the late 1950s - I've heard of many World War 1 veterans receiving belated military awards from France and Belgium.
What's going on Cameron, you wager of wars from the Downing Street dugout?

Friday, February 08, 2013

If only life imitated art.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Today's Guardian G2 carries an interview with pianist Ahmad Jamal. Something he said was, I think, worthy of quotation -
"Things are in a mess, and that's an understatement; so much is being lost because of greed. There are very few authentic, pure approaches to life now. But this music is one of them, and it continues to be."
The music is jazz, though I learn from the interview that the Maestro calls it "American classical music".
Fair enough.