Saturday, 31 July 2010


When I was little I played around in a gymnasium. I was an amateur gymnast. Ten years on and I still like to play around in gymnasiums. A mixture of injury, apathy and the summer holiday gym closure has meant that I’ve not been to gymnastics for over three months. Until the gym opens again I’m having to satisfy my need to watch guys do crazy stuff via the medium of youtube:

Also, some drawings I have made of parkour:

I am writing a novel for teenagers that incorporates parkour. The last drawing is of a main character in that novel; Scott. Watch this space for further info.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Scott Heim

I’ve now read two of the three books written by Scott Heim. I watched the film Mysterious Skin before I read the book, simply because I did not know it was a book until after having watched the film. Brady Corbet spoke about the book in the dvd extras section. The film had really got to me. Not only the amazing performances of Joseph Gordon Levitt (my favourite actor) and Brady Corbet, but for the way it was filmed, the subject, everything about it.

So I read Mysterious Skin. The film is very close to the book. The book is more in depth, and in some ways I think the film is more successful than the book because it holds things back that the book delves right into. The film is certainly the subtler of the two. However, I found Mysterious Skin to be an awesome read. The way the vantage points flick between characters really worked, in my opinion. Heim’s style is cool. It’s rare for me to find novels that are actually cool, that can contend with films, TV, music. Don’t give teenagers shit like Twilight to read, give them stuff like Mysterious Skin.

We Disappear is just as good. I couldn’t put it down, and like with Mysterious Skin, the style was cool. Obviously it was less harrowing than Mysterious Skin. I did feel that We Disappear went deeper than Mysterious Skin, and Heim had got a little better at writing, his style more honed. I felt We Disappear outwitted me at times, kept me on my toes, whereas Mysterious Skin didn’t, perhaps partly because I already knew how it ended, having seen the film first.

Both these novels are examples of fresh writing, vibrant/ interesting characters, gritty subject matters. For this reason I think they are good for young people to read (17+). Heim’s style is flawed. It is by no means perfect. The characters in Mysterious Skin alternate the narration, but each chapter has the same narrative voice, despite the fact that different characters are narrating from chapter to chapter. This didn’t bother me, because their different personalities were crisp and obvious enough from their actions, rather than their narrative voices. Heim tends to over explain some parts, gives the reader too much detail sometimes. But again, I think this is part of what makes the books cool. They are not perfect, they are rough around the edges and that suits the subject matter and the audience.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Basket and Book Fair

In May I made another willow basket, this time using a different weave that I forgot the name of already. It came out better and larger than my first basket and now stores my knitting. The first basket has become a rollag container. (Wool spinners will know what I'm talking about.)

I've recently attended a third basket making course, this time making a frame basket. That was a lot harder and the willow dried out in the hot sun by the end of the day, loosing pliability. I managed to finish it and will post photos up as soon as I take some.

Today I cycled to Stourhead because there was an antiquarian book fair on there. I bought three books:

Man and the Land. Part of the New Natrualist series. #31

I just bought a rug loom from a local old lady. I have no idea how to use it. Perhaps this book will tell me how.

Hopefully this will help in the coming months!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


I was in the bookshop a few weeks ago and spotted a book about Trotsky. On the cover was a photograph of Trotsky as a young man. Like so:

I know next to nothing about Trotsky, but the photograph of him as a young man grabbed my attention. I suppose you could say that I got the female equivalent of a hard on. What I especially liked about his appearance was the pince nez glasses.
I couldn’t get that photo out of my head. I bought the book and wrote a story about a young Trotsky impersonator.
(You can read the story here.)

A week or so ago Mr Kite and I were in Shaftesbury and he spotted a couple of pairs of pince nez glasses in the window of a charity shop. They were beautiful objects. I really, really wanted them. So I bought them. And now I officially collect pince-nez glasses. Here are photos of the first two in my collection.

These fold up.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


Marathon runner
Doing well
Loses the path
Another strays too
They're both confused
But make friends
A friendship that lasts
Even better than
Finishing a marathon

London Philharmonic Orchestra: Shankar, Glass, Adams

Last week I went to London to see David Murphy conducting three pieces, Shaker Loops (John Adams), Violin Concerto 1 (Philip Glass), Ravi Shankar’s Symphony world premiere.

It was incredible stuff. I can’t really put it into words. Listening to it live is very different from a recording. Firstly, it was quieter than I had thought it would be. When I listen to Philip Glass in my headphones it really drills into me (in a good way). But live it’s different, it is more distanced and therefore refined. The emotion of the piece is a lot more prevalent live. It’s like watching a film or reading a book where you really relate to the main character and that character is going through all sorts of stuff that really gets to you, so you can really feel how that character feels. The solo violinist was Robert McDuffie. The passion in his performance was intense. I can’t explain. I’d love to be his next door neighbour, listening to that every night as he practices.
As I was listening to the concert I was thinking about life and humanity. Now, I really don’t think humans are all that. We’re a plague upon this earth. When I listen to music like this I think about how it could be performed three hundred years from now, when electricity is no longer feeding our collective habit. I can hear the beauty in humanity when I listen to this. I don’t often hear it. There is craft here. This music is the product of human hands and minds. I feel this is different from electric-fed music where the sound has been taken through wires and into machines that have not been built by people, but other machines.
This sound comes through the musicians, the composer, the conductor, the instrument makers. No wires. Nothing but human hands and minds and hearts.

Ravi Shankar’s symphony was his first and a world premiere performance. It had never been listened to before. Anoushka Shankar played the Sitar. She spent the better part of an hour sat on the floor in what would have been an impossibly painful position for me. The sounds were a marriage of the east and west. I loved to hear such classical Western instruments making such a vibrant Eastern sound. The Sitar is an instrument that holds an intense power, far more powerful than western instruments. It’s like hearing the voice of the gods. To me the sound is a lot more refined and spiritual than western instruments, even western instruments making eastern sounds. The piece sounded like freedom, connected into a lighter sort of realm than Glass or Adams. Anoushka spent her time bopping to the rhythm, something that doesn’t really happen in other symphonies. There was clapping, the use of human voice (but not really singing) both of which really added a level to the music that broke through the mind/ body barrier that I think western composers have. By this I mean, you could feel a rhythm that makes your body feel connected, want to dance, want to move in time with the sound. That is not really present in Glass or Adam’s, at least not as obviously.
I can’t really relate what I mean. This music moves beyond the realm of written language.

I think I am hooked. I think I will go again to see classical performances of this kind whenever possible. The tickets were a hell of a lot cheaper than any other music gig I have ever been to (£16 for a fairly good seat. You can get them as cheap as £9. Compare this with Audioslave, who I saw years ago at a cost in excess of £30 and it made me semi-deaf for a week).
I love that what you hear at the concert is unique. It will never be played in that exact same way again. It is transient. Transience is beautiful because life is transient.