A language of the gods

In those days not many language teachers played gramophone records to their class, but Mr King did. They were old and very precious to him and us, and he kept them in brown paper bags in a satchel that he put in his bicycle basket when he rode to school.

The blog’s most proflific researcher (aka my mother: sorry there’s no pay-rise this year, but I’ll give you Christmas off that zero hours contract) found me John Le Carre’s address on why we should learn German. You can hear both the novelist’s view, and also an entirely genuine pleasure at learning.

What did they contain, these precious records? The voices of classical German actors, reading romantic German poetry…And I discovered that the language fitted me. It pleased my Nordic ear.

In between musings on the connections and sympathies that come from learning language, and an appreciation for the fierce attention to truth that German can provide, there’s still time for a joke.

You’ve probably heard the Mark Twain gag: “Some German words are so long they have a perspective.” You can make up crazy adjectives like “my-recently-by-my-parents-thrown-out-of-the-window-PlayStation” And…you can turn for relief to the pristine poems of a Holderlin, or a Goethe, or a Heine, and remind yourself that the German language can attain heights of simplicity and beauty that make it for many of us, a language of the gods.

Three cheers for this speech! I’m still grateful every day for the amazing – and eccentric! – German teachers I had. They gave me so much, even when my language was learned rather than instinctive: fun, new authors, a way of understanding my own language, and friends.

Sao Paolo


This floating display method in the Sao Paolo Museum of Art look stunning. The building itself – a glass box floating between a brilliant red pair of bands, and set in a lush green garden isn’t bad either.


Garden peace

After a sunny afternoon walking (and possible getting a bit too hot), and hiding in a cafe with asparagus soup and Sachertorte to recover, a walk in Vienna brings you to this


and this


and this (flute and violin duo doing Michael Jackson hits just out of sight)


and then this.


Instant peace.


Volksgarten and Burggarten, Vienna June 2017.



Durer / Rubens / Signac / Schiele / Lebasque / Lebasque / Cezanne / Vuillard / Nolde / Feininger / Monet / Monet / von Werefkin: Sunday in the Albertina, Vienna. June 2017.



Wrapping up the church crawl was Liverpool’s Catholic cathedral

The Lutyens crypt was shut when we visited, so I only saw the post-war upper half.



I suspect it’s the glory anyway. A space-ship like round congregation allows everyone access to the altar, excluding no-one


and round the edges, a series of deep-set chapels each private and each home to a different colour and mood.


The chapels give a moment of privacy and reflection within the wider celebration and I can’t choose a favourite.


Photos May 2017.