Podcast of the week

My love of podcasts is still going strong, and the latest one to cross my radar (very much in a sequence of Backlisted and The Reading Women) is the LRB podcast.

0E68210A-529B-4B49-A3B6-938FBD504217

The first pieces were very much in the nature of 20 minute reviews, so if you want to know what a Giorgione painting is or isn’t, and the chicanery is art attribution, or an investigation of if “international relations” is just “race studies”, then it’s here.

6E293C7B-8FF2-4CDB-8847-7131681E4D44

But there’s also a longer-form interview style that develops, so you can also hear the Asia editor of The Times on North Korea, discussing with an American South Korean author the common iconography of north and south Korea, or a riveting, freewheeling, incisive interview with Carmen Callil of Virago fame (“such a lot of short malnourished people with bad teeth”) on Angela Carter and why Bohemia is bad for women.

In fact that latter one was ringing in my ears as I went to the Rodin Museum recently and thought of Augustus John saying with complete seriousness what a “great pleasure” it must be for his sister Gwen to serve such a man as Rodin…

Get travelling

82CF67F9-475B-4894-8070-B8F1A8A17E0E

Fascinated by this video collection called The Sari Series, which shows you how saris are worn differently across the subcontinent. The aim is to remind younger women how versatile the garment is, how they can mound it to their own style and how it doesn’t have to be relegated to occasion wear.87738174-A991-48E4-AB2A-82EE7B7A46D2

You can search by region, and again there are several styles that are standard here, with some styles that cross state. “borders”.

C0B91C2A-1579-402C-8871-A533CB6AABA5

For anyone who’s followed Instagram feeds and wondered what the different style names refer to, this is your guide.

40DC8700-DE35-4E6E-B744-D67C9CF3412A

Endurance

298BABE6-9C67-415E-BCA0-CE8906D204F58613814D-E43F-41E7-9274-773983C0C4BE20CB9B7E-2EF2-43B6-9094-8D165743FD9E

As the Advent pilgrimage season continues, here’s some stunning photos from @martinrhartley’s Instagram feed. Martin seems to specialise in capturing Arctic expeditions and as well as these incredible images, his text is worth reading. He outlines how just standing still will kill you even though you might be in full protective gear, how an arctic explorer is also a mother of four in a classic “man pulling shed” shop, how clipping the corners off food packets and unnecessary zips and mosquito nets in a tent can save vital kilograms, and how salt leaches into the ice making it ironically very difficult to find ice to melt for drinking water. Fascinating and with no trace of self-pity.

The Autumn Season

IMG_6585

Like most cities, London sees September shift from pop-up restaurants and pop concerts to a parade of plays, operas, history exhibitions and weighty films to get you thinking after the summer break. Here’s my list of things I’ve seen and would recommend:

Image use embargoed until 7.30pm 28-09-17

1. Aida at ENO: superb singing, including from the chorus, and most definitely a star in the form of this new Aida herself. Great sets – hats, masks and leopard skin a go-go – of the Hollywood musical kind and none the worse for that.

IMG_6587

2. The girl from the north country – at the Old Vic and now sold out, but the cast recording is available online and well worth the price for some gutsy, gritty, beautiful performances.

IMG_6588

3. Oslo, which is now transferring to the West End. I liked the political negotiation parts best rather than the drawing room marriage comedy, though despite the good cast in London, I wonder how I’d have felt if I’d seen Jennifer Ehle in New York.

IMG_6589

4. The Scythians at the British Museum – wonderful gold pieces discovered in the 18th century frozen in the Siberian tundra, along with the remains of silk, cheese, pottery and wooden coffins. All the wrong postcards, but it doesn’t matter if you’ve been to actually see the show. Quite big, but can be done in an hour. The BM is on fire still after their American Dream show earlier this year.

Your email back, however

Synaesthete would like to meet

Other synaesthetes describe their experiences as pleasant whilst for me it is a constant sensory overload…. pick up any cheap paperback that uses too many mixed metaphors and that is my day to day, with all attempts at clarity squandered by confusing, muddled leaps of imagery. I see fireflies when a tyre screeches, smell fried onions when I step on an upturned plug…

Online dating marked a huge step. At first I found the profile I created absolutely disgusting. Reading through it, the paragraph smelt of tar and vinegar and was full of sticky, tooth-chewing words. I had no hope of response to such a squalid, acrid thing, and imagined that anyone to whom it might in any way appeal must have some kind of perversion I did not want to share. You must understand that it was not just that I did not have high hopes, I actively dreaded who would be interested in such a thing. I gave it to my doctor to edit, and he gave me two thumbs up, but I could tell by his tweedy, neoprenaged vowels, he was just being kind.

Your email back, however, smelt like a sea breeze: that was all it took. I didn’t have to read about the interests you listed, your hobbies or your star sign. It was that sea breeze smell, cutting through the snow and mown grass, that convinced me this was a chance I had to take. I organised a meeting.

You chose a spot at Piccadilly, within sight of Eros and the Criterion. I like Piccadilly Circus; the exhaust fumes and the chatter present me with a fresh inky blue, it’s almost precisely the colour of the line on the Tube map. To me the flashing neon adverts are a barbershop quartet suffering the giggles, which pleases me, and the tourists’ interbraiding accents cause a firework display of neurological responses. The taxi drivers’ swearing is accompanied by different shades of silver, squeaky and lickable.

As I waited, the rain made a pink overture against my jacket. And your colour, when you introduced yourself? You must not be insulted, but you were blank. A soundless, tasteless, brilliant blank.

IMG_6261

From “Attrib. and other stories by Eley Williams”, a book I’m rushing to buy after hearing this extract read aloud on the Backlisted podcast.

Sao Paolo

IMG_4505

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.

IMG_4504

Passmore Edwards Sailors Palace

IMG_3565

At a time when government seems to be relying more on old-fashioned philanthropy to keep services running, rather exert itself to help, I was intrigued to see this building in East London recently.

IMG_3564

Passmore Edwards was a philanthropist of the 1890s and 1900s whose other endowments include the library that is now part of the Bush Theatre in West London. In the new century, he endowed this mock Tudor gatehouse to be a place of rest for international sailors staying in London on leave.

IMG_3563

Poignantly the project, opened by the Kaiser and Edward VII, fell through when WW1 broke out. But the building remains, and more can be read about it here and here.

IMG_3562