We had a lovely lunch with Elisabeth yesterday at the Wheatsheaf, in Maids Moreton. The staff were very friendly and we had a great roast lunch served up on a big salver, which we served ourselves from. After lunch we visited Tony, Gemma and Hannah for tea, along with Colin and Christine. The tea was a homemade summer pudding and homemade sponge cake, along with quite a few other treats. I was dead impressed with Hannah’s Perfect Petzzz puppy. It was scarily lifelike, and you could hear and see in breathing—spooky. Hannah has the Chocolate Labrador.
We collected Michael’s 40th birthday present today: a lovely original watercolour of St Catharine’s College Cambridge by Derek Abel, that Elisabeth bought around 1985. We also collected Michael’s rowing oar that he won in 1988 at the Lent Bumps. It’s now in the kitchen, hanging on the wall. We used a new inflatable roof rack (HandiRack) to fit it to the top of the car. It worked very well.
Michael popped around to Hertz by Cambridge Train station and picked up a Ford Focus Ghia for the weekend. We drove to Bicester, via the round-abouts of Milton Keynes, to visit Elisabeth.
She cooked a great lunch, with home poached salmon and parma ham with melon. We drove down to (I think (Furniture Village in South Abingdon and Elisabeth bought a smart new two-seater G-plan sofa. She was impressively decisive about what she wanted, no messing around.
We’re picking up Michael’s 40th birthday present: a watercolour of St Catherines College Cambridge by Derek Abell. Elisabeth bougt it about 20 years ago at the Bennet Gallery (now closed). We’re also planning to pick up his rowing blade. But more about that tomorrow.
Had a lovely Millennium Dragon Chinese takeaway from the restaurant in Bure Park: probably the best takeaway place that I know.
Spending the night in a Travellodge at Bicester Cherwell Valley Services. It’s pretty basic. No biscuits with the tea and no restaurant for breakfast: but it is only £26 a night.
The first time I tried to read this I found it a hard slog and difficult to start. Now on the second reading I’ve raced through it and really enjoyed the concise overview of the history of myth. The start a bit hard to get into, and similarly I thought that the last half a dozen pages were hard going.
The book covers the major periods of myth:
- Palaeolithic—myths from a hunter society (e.g. Heracles)
- Neolithic—myths from a farming society (corn gods, fertility, mother earth)
- Early City Dwellers—myths about battling with nature to keep civilisation safe (e.g. flood myths) and a distancing from ‘The Gods’ as man becomes more in control of his environment.
- Axial Age—as old spirituality declined there was a large shift in religious expression towards philiosphy and a huge growth in systems arising from philosophers: Buddha (565–483), Confucius (551–479), Socrates (469–399), Plato (427–437), Aristotle (384–322). ‘The Gods’ disappeared. Judaism started.
- Post Axial—Nothing much changed here until the works of Plato and Aristotle were rediscovered, leading to the:
- Great Western Transformation—when industrialisation and the application of logic brought about a literal interpretation of myth and religion (discrediting the first and to a lesser extent the second). Scientific thought and religion were becoming incompatible and the rise of the literal, rather than mythical, understanding of texts like the bible.
“A Short History of Myth” (Karen Armstrong)
Set up my phone today for moblogging, so that I can post photos direct to my blog. Entering the text in the keypad is a bit tedious, but it can be done. I’ll post some details and links later.
Moblog via Picoblogger
After just having finished The Penelopiad, I’ve already finished the next book in the Myths set (so far they haven’t been very long). Jeanette Winterson is a great writer and her treatment of this myth is remarkably similar to Margaret Atwood’s treatment of The Penelopiad. The characterisation of Heracles is great fun.
“Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles” (Jeanette Winterson)
Read the first novel, by Margaret Atwood, in the Canongate boxed sets of ‘myths’ that Michael gave me for Xmas. It’s fantastic: the situation for the telling of the tale and the tone of the story-teller (Penelope) were fresh and quite a surprise. There is breaks in the story-telling to hear songs and poems by the 12 maids, who Telemachus kills, which were also both amusing and moving at the same time.
Back in December 1998 I read The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion by Sir James George Frazer, which was a mighty read and a comprehensive coverage of worldwide myths. So with this basis I really enjoyed the 12 maids analysis of their own meaning in the myth.
This book is great fun.
“The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus” (Margaret Atwood)
Starting on Good Friday we followed the Lea Valley Walk 31 miles up the Lea Valley, from Limehouse Basin in London to Waltham Abbey, then from there to Hertford.
The walk follows the River Lea and the parallel canal, the Lea Navigation. Both of these were used to transport goods into London. The Lea Valley became lined with industry and farming as a result. The area is rich with history, a good overview is given in the link above. At points during the walk the canal and navigation merge, and for most of the way they run close together, joined by railways lines leaving London Liverpool Street.
Michael and I went to see Jerry Springer the Opera last night at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge. There were two massed protesters outside the theatre handing out leaflets to little effect.
The cast were excellent and I particularly took a shine to Johan Pearson who played Steve the bodyguard/show security. Valda Aviks (Mary), Dean Hussain (Satan) and Wills Morgan (Jesus) were all excellent and Valda has a stunning voice.
I’ve only seen clips of the TV show, so a lot of the show traditions were lost on me, but the Opera was still great fun, rude, crude and really enjoyable. I loved the song Jerry Eleison (Kyrie Eleison), which was very humorous.
Michael had bought us seats four rows from the front, so we had a great view of the cast and the orchestra: I enjoyed watching the percussion guy racing around his instruments, served by three TV screens of the conductor and he was having a great time.
Back to the Christians: I don’t think the opera was that awful. Sure, Jesus admitted to being a bit gay, God looks cast in the Danny la Rue mould, Jerry is deified more than Jesus… all the things they complained about in fact. But overall, it isn’t the horror show they were ranting about.
A review of the touring production from the BBC.
Finished Annie Proulx’s short stories, Close Range. They were very moving, particularly Brokeback Mountain. A general theme of loneliness and unexpected, random death across all the stories. Now I’ve read the book, I can see the film!
“Brokeback Mountain” (Annie Proulx)