Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Cherry Tree Carol

My favourite Christmas song...

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Cut out fairy tales

I've become obsessed with Lotte Reiniger - it was bound to happen sooner or later...

And here's a little documentary

And dinosaur clouds

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Imaginary Greenhouses

I recently got back from a week running poetry workshops on the Yorkshire Dales by the beautiful Grimwith reservoir. Possibly more to come from that... but my favourite discovery of the week was the remains of the gardens of Oakworth House. The house belonged to Sir Isaac Holden and no longer stands (see drawing for how it once was) - it even had its own Turkish bath house - but the gardens still stand in some way. But what really amazed me was the tale of how these gardens once stood under a giant glass dome. I love old greenhouses - there's something extraordinary about old glass - how it seems so thin and battered yet strong - how each mark seems to hold a piece of the history of what was seen through it... In this case the dome seems to have been purely for show - in a way to contain this mythical world he wanted to create - to protect his extravagant dreams from the prying eyes of reality. Today you can still wander around a maze of forgotten interconnected grottos and high stone walkways going back to nature and thankfully left unscathed by beastly health and safety. Local kids apparently climb in at night and live their secret disapproved of lives hanging around the slippery mossy rocks. I like the idea that it comes alive then - that this place is somehow still secret - that you need to know an unspoken code to unlock its stories. I would love to do a project there and hopefully I will one day... I will try and get hold of some photos of this modern forgotten dreamscape... But till then, here's to English eccentrics and dreaming of your own world...

Hamlet Gonashvili

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Hausu Halloween

Beware of lampshades and kittens this evening...

Friday, 25 September 2009

Strange buildings of Tbilisi

I've never quite figured out what the second building was built for, though it's one of my favourite examples of buildings that look like they could be from a 60s sci-fi film. The first building was where everyone got married during Soviet times - Christian culture was so imbedded in Georgia that they built somewhere that looked like a modern cathedral for the civil ceremonies.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Camping near Chechnya

Shatili in Khevsureti near the Chechen border is really one of the most strangely beautiful places I have ever been... And it really was on the border - I fell asleep and woke with a very comic stripy tan and a confused border guard staring down at me!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Tbilisi, party...

Green eyes flicker
like forests too
deep beneath black
hair confuses me.

House swaying and
City (so bright!) in
shudders of light - a
patchwork of disco-floors
and bright beetles
Too still! (he stared)
through youth
music too old to not be
loaded with implications
(wrong!) for now.

A small dog
scattered across the floor.

Green eyes
I wanted (wrong!)
This city I wanted too… Collect
balconies crumbled in
my pocket, a body
to smash them
to pieces where I lay
(Green eyes) I wanted…
(Breathe) through
falling stars the
grape vines dropped
shadows over echoes
I stood in

Vodka bottles
(half empty) leaving
guitars half strung for
green eyes (wrong!)
An empty home.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Birdie went a courting

I'd forgotten about this well known clip from Mr Attenborough. Male birds of paradise trying to impress the ladies... The last one is possibly the best bird I have ever seen. Although bowerbirds have the best decorating habits (and build dens which is always a good thing) - they're going to be on a new series this autumn!

I also rather like lyre birds...

Thursday, 9 July 2009

The Mystery of Marriage

Best and most English sex education film EVER from 1932 - how incest is best avoided in favour of a cousinly embrace as demonstrated by mould anyone?

Love on the wing

This little gem of an animation was made for and then banned by the Post Office in 1938 - I like the idea that the letter physically changes into the stories it holds... I miss proper post!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

I <3 Decorator Crabs

They dress themselves up in seaweed! I also think there is a type of beetle that does something similar, but with things that make it look more bejeweled, but I beastly can't remember what it's called...

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Waltz of Circassian Beauties

William appears to have made a Paper Hats video. It's really rather lovely in a Nashville version of Oliver Postgate kind of way...

Monday, 18 May 2009

Moscow to Tashkent 1958

Okay so this has a lot of bias based on the fact that it is an American documentary from the 1950s about the Soviet Union, but in terms of the footage it's amazing to watch - Moscow, Tashkent, Samarkand, collective farms, nuclear research institutes...

Snap the Gingerbread Man

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Of ovens and model villages - it's Tito (baton) time!

As May 25th approaches and every harbourer of Yugoslav nostalgia dusts off their memorabilia in time for his birthday, this post is dedicated to my love of the batons of Tito's youth parades. Held every year during his rule as part of his official birthday celebrations, people from different areas across Yugoslavia made these batons to be carried to Belgrade via a mass countrywide relay (I think there was also one official baton each year). They liked to get them to him via impressive feats, including helicopters and absailing! I recently went to an exhibition at the Tito museum in Belgrade which had a load of these homemade batons on display. Being a fan of homemade presents of the slightly ridiculous variety I feel like my skills might have actually been appreciated at this time! I particularly like the random use of a plastic toy oven...

I was also quite impressed in the exhibition by some of the random presents made for Tito by various societies. Below are the society of dentists' creepy diorama, the pharmacist society's gift, which Damian Hirst obviously stole from, the orthopaedic society's somewhat creepy gift, and my personal favourite (purely for incongruity rather than the physical object), the completely random gift from the society of nuclear research - anyone who can find the link between said profession and a taxidermy spider and snake wins a prize (if you're lucky one of my classy homemade presents)!

Monday, 11 May 2009

My new imaginary friends...

Georgian ghost log ladies...

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Another classic Belgrade shop display...

...this time just randomly on the street - I like the tradition of random street display cabinets - there's some good bridal ones, but this is my favourite from my recent trip!

Also to prove my point that all caravans eventually end up floating on the river in Belgrade - here is one seemingly on dry ground, but look! - there are tin barrels waiting to send it on its not quite a house or a boat random drifting way...

1900s Tbilisi

Saturday, 25 April 2009

White Jazz

Oh it's all so very arch and English I know, but I just remembered how much I used to love this band...

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Istanbul huzun poem for Belgrade...

You cradled me through this city.
Held my hand so
lifted gently above sodden streets
rain smashed through the soles of my shoes.
I did not notice that they had been full of holes for you.
Gradually wearing through from days held
Streets wrapped warm shivers from the trail of your hands
Too large for mine, they had enclosed me.
But I was okay.
You stood tall,
Shaded me from darkness
The drips of light that fell from your smeared hair bruised the side of my face.
I smiled then.

That night the city curved around me.
Too small
to be held properly
You encased me in your body.

There was a tower that saw everything.
Noticed us crawling streets that wound up to it
Like reversed rivers
It was a little confusing where they were going.
But they all led to the same place -
You and me and this city entwined in damp stone and old water.
We would be held here in flashes of light
An imagination snagged in electoral flags,
Scattered like village fete bunting.

The house with the face stared at me when you spoke
Laughed in ribbons of crumpled wood
Cried private history
It understood.

This city floated around us -
Too far to touch I had to see it in snapshot splutters
Minarets and blocks of flats the ground was trying to steal back
Crumble in so it could feed off their stories.
It held their secrets safe - people could walk the streets and not be weighed down by them.
I whispered mine out on the wind
Stroked your hair as you lay in my lap and hoped you’d get lost in an incantation.
I needed to lose you somehow and it was hard with you so close.
You would not let me go

Like the weather balloon broken from its tether
We drifted away.

Thought if I did so fast enough it would take with it these ideas of us that were
too strong now.
You were too strong for me.
As you smiled I felt the soft ropes that bound me to you tighten - mark my skin so
I was
Stained in pin-prick blushes.

Too much silence
(in miniature)
Made the small birds louder than cars.

The empty bus stops flickered
Strained to illuminate this place too caught up in darkness, falling
It fluttered
Caught the water breeze
Made new

Echoes spread themselves across the stone
Matted rain so these last dregs had to struggle more
To be heard
The light was heard more than seen here
Reflected like dropped stones and
Your silent whispers
I had misunderstood.

I touched your hand as you failed to move away.

Istanbul is a melancholic longing, he’d said.
Held in my eyes,
You sprinkled through the cracks that fell across buildings.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Memories of a city... pt 2

Michael took much better photos than me...

It's funny when you visit a new city - it's the initial atmosphere that hits you that always fascinates me. Istanbul wasn't what I expected - too functional in some way - but rather than dismissing my preconceptions, I felt like they were true, but hiding... There is a whole different city lurking on the same land somehow. Like it is waiting for you to understand and then it will reveal itself... One day I will go back and find it, but for now Michael's photos do quite a good job at catching the hints that flew past us on the wind...

Sunday, 5 April 2009

I <3 oversized cats...

A good topic for a hungover Sunday morning and a not reluctant, as I'm too pleased (they are so good), acceptance that Simon was right and not making fun of how gullible I am. Ligers exist! Immense excitement...

I have always been a fan of fat animals - my pet rats remained enormous even after a strict fruit and veg diet (though they did use their exercise wheel as a hammock...) - and capybara will always rule the fens in my heart... But anyway - what I actually want as a pet right now is a Maine Coon cat - you have to see photos of them with random strangers I don't know to truly appreciate their scale... And they have tufty ears like lynxes!

Friday, 3 April 2009

Memories of a city...

Orhan Pamuk was right about Istanbul - the melancholic longing of huzun somehow is the key to this city...

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

I'm off to...

ISTANBUL! So in honour of my impending adventure with the lovely Michael here is the only video for a Selda Bagcan track I could find. God that album is good...

Friday, 9 January 2009