Wednesday, February 22, 2017

UKED

Sorted.

Loveable new soprano ukulele bought in Denmark Street music shop yesterday and they even fitted my strap and metal strap button to it. So now all I have to do is learn to play it. One year? Two? We'll see.

That thing sticking out of my head is not a horn. It's the top of an easel.




Monday, February 20, 2017

UPDATE ON THE UKULELE STORY

The classes in the pub were fun and instructive. I learned that pressing down firmly on the strings, fingers and wrist of left hand bent into required positions, then moving to different positions with new bends and stretches of every hand bone whilst simultaneously strumming down/down or up/down/up/ down in a carefree, rhythmical manner with the right hand, all the while hugging the uke flat against the body yet also managing to bend the neck forward to see where fingers are on the instrument's neck... .

Well, I learned that it is not a walk in the park for a short-necked, short-arsed, short-fingered person with rather stiff hands. The teacher was good-humoured, patient, competent and, seeing my struggles, he kindly gave me the last lesson one-to-one. I now know what to do. It's only a matter of training my bones to obey my brain.

I decided that some improvements to the instrument itself were needed if I was to make any progress. A shoulder strap, so that I could forget about holding the uke, would also allow me to tilt it so that I might see where to place my fingers. To remember basic chord shapes I stuck coloured dots on the uke's neck and diagrams on its body. I bought a strap but, as my uke didn't have the posts to attach it, I cut and glued bits of wood for the screws to fit into. Then I got a set of good Aquila nylgut strings to replace the cheap nylon ones on my cheap little soprano uke, googled instruction videos on how to re-string the thing and proceeded to undertake this apparently simple task.

Not simple. More like fiendishly heart-stoppingly difficult. It's a long story but to summarise: the bridge broke when I was tightening a string. I thought I could save it it by gluing a new piece of wood over the broken section. I used Araldite, the strongest glue in the universe, everything looked perfect, I managed to restring the uke. I practiced. I was getting a tiny bit better at moving from one chord to another.

Then yesterday, without warning, suddenly, there was a loud bang or snap or bing or whatever sound four strings make when they've had enough and the entire bridge broke away, strings attached, from the ukulele's body. You can see the miserable wrecked little Aradilted bugger in the photos below as well as my now stringless and bridgeless ukulele. The strings are saved. I'm not giving up. I will buy another, slightly better uke and I will master a few chords, just enough to sing a few songs. I will.





Tuesday, February 14, 2017

HISTORICAL BUMPS

Once upon a time
A man named Donald Trump
Entered a famous White House.
In history he will be known as Bump
Not only because it rhymes
And because of Humpty Dump
ty, but because history
Is an obstacle course
Littered with bumps.
That's why it's called an obstacle course
Of course 

Destiny litters our time
All our times
With bumps. 

To test us all
To find out if we'll fall
Or slump
Or dump
Or jump
Or overcome
When a Trump
By any other name
Appears on the bumpy racetrack
Of history.

Monday, February 13, 2017

CELEBRATING GERARDO GUERRIERI

This afternoon, at the Biblioteca Baldini in Rome, an important event to celebrate the late Gerardo Guerrieri and a new edition of his biography by Selene Guerrieri A Stage Full of Dreams. Below a video by Rocco Brancati of another event a few days ago in Matera to inaugurate his own book on Guerrieri and a forthcoming documentary. The mayor of Matera announces that a street will be named after Gerardo Guerrieri.

I am so proud of my beloved, much missed brother-in-law Gerardo and of the extraordinary women he left behind - his wife, my sister Anne d'Arbeloff Guerrieri who founded the unique Teatro Club di Roma with Gerardo, and their two amazing daughters, Selene and Indira. Selene is speaking in the video below.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

MUST YOU?

Guilt and irritation mixed in equal parts - that's what I get when too much time passes between one post and the next one. Guilt because of a sense of failed duty, as if regular blogging and/or facebooking is a real responsibility. Irritation because I know that's a delusion: I do not have a duty to blog. Anything which must be done is always an irritant. But what happens when something you freely choose to do slides down the slippery slope to MUSTNESS? As it generally does.

Do you have a file or shelf or cupboard or trunk or shed filled with things/projects which you began some time (days?months? years?) ago, flushed with energy, zip and zoom, pencils and tools and ideas sharpened, ready, willing and perfectly able to carry on and carry out? The next question is: how many of these have morphed into Duties (therefore irritants)? And how many are ongoing daily joys? Yes yes I know I know. Nothing is entirely one thing or another, it's a mix, sometimes duty, sometimes joy, and so on and on.

But what I want is the zip and zoom without Duty poking its infuriating head in. I want a foolproof recipe (designed for fools) for avoiding Duty whilst still getting things done. So there.

One of quite a number of things waiting on the shelf to be finished is my online autobio. To get in the zip/zoom mood I started looking at old photos. I have hundreds, maybe thousands of photos - my whole life (with just a few gaps) in photos. I don't know who took many of them, somebody must have, way back then.

 Moi in Paris or Paris environs. I don't understand the feet in this photo, they're like hooves.
 Somewhere by the sea in France, maybe Royan. I still have the same hairstyle now.
 With my father in San Antonio, Paraguay.
 In Los Angeles with my parents, Sacha and Blanche, and my older sister Anne.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

SMALL VOICES CAN MAKE BIG SOUNDS

I want to say thank you and bravo to Gina Miller and colleagues for the courage, enterprise and informed committment, as ordinary (extraordinary) members of the public, concerned enough about upholding the rule of law to challenge the government itself.

Because of their action, what should/could have been obvious to everybody if they'd paid attention is now officially confirmed: Prime Minister Theresa May cannot trigger Article 50 without a Parliamentary vote - she wanted to zoom ahead, ignoring Parliament, and now she can't because the Supreme Court has declared it's against the law.

Brexit will still go ahead but this case is a historical victory, proof of what individuals can achieve without necessarily being politicians, pundits, prime ministers, presidents or any other Persons of Influence.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

INAUGURATION

Whatever others had in mind when the name of God was repeatedly invoked at the inauguration ceremony yesterday, it seems to me that Donald Trump's deity is a two-headed gold idol consisting of himself and money.

Billy Graham's son Franklin declared that the sudden downpour of rain was a holy omen. I felt that the heavenly host, wherever and however you define it or them, were shedding anguished tears.

But what do I know?