Alfred Lord Tennyson – I stood on a tower

I stood on a tower in the wet,
And New Year and Old Year met,
And winds were roaring and blowing;
And I said, ‘O years, that meet in tears,
Have you all that is worth the knowing?

Science enough and exploring,
Wanderers coming and going,
Matter enough for deploring,
But aught that is worth the knowing?

Seas at my feet were flowing,
Waves on the shingle pouring,
Old year roaring and blowing,
And New Year blowing and roaring.


favourite books

so as promised, to end the year here is a list of my favourite books, in no particular order

Aminatta Forna – the memory of love
Carlos Ruiz Zafon – the shadow of the wind
Mario Vargas Llosa – the green house
Mario Vargas Llosa – the war at the end of the world
Jorge Amado – gabriella, clove and cinnammon
Jorge Amado – the war of the saints
Jorge Amado – Dona Flora and her two husbands
Gabriel Garcia Marquez – in evil hour
Gabriel Garcia Marquez – a hundred years of solitude
Jose Saramago – the year of the death of ricardo reis
Jose Saramago – the gospel according to jesus christ
Murakami – norwegian wood
Paul Theroux – dark star safari
John Malathronas – brazil – life, blood, soul
John Lane – a very peruvian practice
Joe Abercrombie – the blade itself
Louis De Bernieres –  The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman
Ildefonso Falcones – Cathedral of the Sea
Terry Pratchett – Reaper Man
Terry Pratchett – Witches Abroad
Terry Pratchett – The Truth
Terry Practhett – Making Money

William Makepeace Thackery – The Mahogany Tree

Christmas is here;
Winds whistle shrill,
Icy and chill,
Little care we:
Little we fear
Weather without,
Sheltered about
The Mahogany Tree.

Commoner greens,
Ivy and oaks,
Poets, in jokes,
Sing, do you see?
Good fellows’ shins
Here, boys, are found,
Twisting around
The Mahogany Tree.

Once on the boughs
Birds of rare plume
Sang, in its bloom;
Night birds are we:
Here we carouse,
Singing like them,
Perched round the stem
Of the jolly old tree.

Here let us sport,
Boys, as we sit;
Laughter and wit
Flashing so free.

Sorrows, begone!
Life and its ills,
Duns and their bills,
Bid we to flee.

Life is but short —
When we are gone,
Let them sing on,
Round the old tree.

Evenings we knew,
Happy as this;
Faces we miss,
Pleasant to see.
Kind hearts and true,
Gentle and just,
Peace to your dust!
We sing round the tree.

Care, like a dun,
Lurks at the gate:
Let the dog wait;
Happy we’ll be!
Drink every one;
Pile up the coals,
Fill the red bowls,
Round the old tree.

Drain we the cup. —
Friend, art afraid?
Spirits are laid
In the Red Sea.
Mantle it up;
Empty it yet;
Let us forget,
Round the old tree.

Come with the dawn,
Blue-devil sprite;
Leave us to-night,
Round the old tree.

bookless wonder

Somehow the unthinkable has happened, miscalculations have taken place, over zealous effort has engineered a situation that is bearing on intolerable.
I have no books left to read..
I finished what will probably be my last Garcia Marquez book, at least until he brings out a new one, if indeed, he does bring out a new one.  Anyhoo, I’m at a loss to explain how this has happened.  I get books for my birthday (June), for Christmas (you all know that one) and every April my mate comes up to London and we spend the day book shopping, a good portion of which is spent browsing the delightful haven that is Foyles on Tottenham Court Road.
The end result being I normally have a stack of books to move onto when I finish my current one.  The content, form, style, subject can vary wildly from one book to the next, but the knowledge of always having an unread book with a marker in it at some point, to break up the monotony of the tube journey or to ease me into sleep at night is like a balm to my weary soul at the end of a long day.
Alas, somehow now I have cleared down my pile and am left gazing at my bookshelves looking for something that is not there..I will probably re-read something to keep me going, but I’m itching to get my hands on something new, time will tell if I can hold out for Christmas..

lost in music

So earlier on I was listening to my Sunday staple, the Basic Soul show with Simon Harrison (theres a link to his website at the bottom of the blog), and he opened with Un Canto a mi Tierra by Quantic and his Combo Barbaro, he then followed it up with Osmar Milito and Rita Jeep, which I loved.  I searched emusic for it, they had it…sweet, it was on an album of Jorge Ben covers…hmm…I’ve already downloaded loads of stuff from that album, maybe I’ve…ah yes..of course, I’ve actually already got it..
Still after the show finished I jumped around emusic and decided that it would probably be a good idea to clear down some of my saved for later albums, which I randomly add in in the middle of podcasts or when I find a tune I like and either have no credit left or no time to  listen to it.  As I started buying stuff I flicked over to my itunes, started deleting playlists and realised that I need to step up my massive organisation operation on my music collection.. 14670 songs, according to itunes thats 47 straight days listening, plus 1983 podcasts I haven’t yet listened to.
I’ve been trying to do this for a while, I’ve selected a load of albums and compilations to listen to and decide whether to keep, I’ve also chucked a load of albums into a playlist that I haven’t listened to for ages.  The sheer amount of music on my iTunes, and the way I buy music now (normally cherry picking the tracks I like), means that I very rarely listen to albums all the way through, so thats something else I’m making an effort to do.
When I was younger, I used to love making my own cassettes, and later CD’s.  Each one was a complete labour of love, (as explained by John Cusack in the brilliant High Fidelity) and when I discovered that MS publisher allowed you to create cassette covers to print out, I used to spend all my time at school knocking them out.  A girlfriend of mine when I was younger emigrated with her family to Australia and I spent weeks making a double cassette for her when she left, with all our favourite songs on it, and I even added dialogue from films (done by recording the track while holding a microphone to the TV, having to do the whole thing again if I did it wrong) and later the same effort would go into making CD’s.
Now I make far fewer CD’s, and the playlist function in iTunes has left me struggling with what exactly to playlist and how to create one.  If I restrict myself to a CD’s worth of music I will playlists coming out my ears, if I have playlists going on for hours, will I ever listen to it all?  At the moment I’ve tended to keep playlists restricted to certain genres of music but if theres a word to describe my taste, it’s eclectic, so I feel I’m not creating the kinds of playlists I actually want to listen to.  So thats another mission.
One playlist that I have got is what I would play if I was DJ’ing.  Next year I want to do a DJ course, and so that is one playlist I will be keeping and hopefully using a lot more.

So the organisation continues, but heres the list of tracks I’ve bought today:

Gilles Peterson presents Havana Cultura: The Search continues (album)
Ed Royal – Coisa Boa (feat. Micheline Cardoso)
Miles Bonny – Lumberjack Soul
Captain Planet – The Ningane EP
Merge of Equals – Hoshi No Namida
K’bonus & Negghead – Harmonizing parts 1&2
BK-One – Tema do Canibal
Slow Club – Two Cousins and Never Look Back

Dollie Radford – December


No gardener need go far to find
The Christmas rose,
The fairest of the flowers that mark
The sweet Year’s close:
Nor be in quest of places where
The hollies grow,
Nor seek for sacred trees that hold
The mistletoe.
All kindly tended gardens love
December days,
And spread their latest riches out
In winter’s praise.
But every gardener’s work this month
Must surely be
To choose a very beautiful
Big Christmas tree,
And see it through the open door
In triumph ride,
To reign a glorious reign within
At Christmas-tide.