Thursday, 20 November 2008

Well, here I am alone....

Today Jenny flew to Uppsala in Sweden, where she's to be external examiner for somebody's PhD viva, tomorrow, I assume. She's back on Sunday afternoon, so I have to plan something nice to cook for her when she gets back. I should have been thinking about that already, since I'll be doing most of my shopping tomorrow night, but in reality I've done some carving, read a book for a bit (Jenny Uglow's Lunar Men, which is a great read, even if it is a bit of a tome) and watched an Attenborough (First Eden, made in the 1970's I think, about the history of the Mediterranean Sea), the latter two while sitting in front of an open log fire with a glass or two of Rioja to keep me company.

Jenny's staying with Prof Per Ahlberg and his wife Janet and daughter Anna. He, as I've mentioned before, was her first PhD student and we've known them for decades. He keeps threatening to force us to visit them in Sweden, but somehow I find the whole prospect just too daunting. A pre-teens daughter, the Swedes notorious vice-like grip on alcohol, and Per's somehow relentless earnestness make it all seem more of a task to be undertaken than a pleasure to be anticipated.

The reality, of course, is that I have almost certainly carefully picked out the worst slants on the whole biz, and when we do go, I'll have a fantastic time. I don't recall, for instance, in all Per's recent visits here, finding his company the least bit arduous; it's just the perception I carry forward, and I don't entirely know why.

Referring back to the first paragraph, and this evening's entertainment, I really love the Attenborough programmes, especially the early ones, where he is so unashamably young! And of course, the graphics are not yet computer generated, but still all made by hand and each frame individually photographed. The sequence showing the advance of Africa on southern Europe, resulting ultimately in the Mediterranean being cut off from the Atlantic was accurate, as far as I can tell, and interesting, but quaintly crude.

And this just opens a new can of worms, of course. As I approach 60, I realise that my heroes are either already dead, or getting pretty decrepit. Well, Hailwood died long before his time, of course, but Attenborough is 80. George Solti was a fantastic conductor who's recording of the Verdi Requiem (this recording is the one I like best) still reduces me to tears.

No, I'm not going to go there. It's too late in the evening, I've had too much to drink, and in any case, you're not interested in such self-centred ramblings. Good night!

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