Friday, 2 January 2009

The Stunned Silence

Is it just me - or just this unconscionably long (uniquely British, I suspect) Christmas-New Year break - or is there a kind of stunned, concussed hush in the air? The government - i.e. scary Ben Bradshaw, who seems to be the only functioning minister just now - is still keeping us entertained with such transparent nonsense as this (and by the time he was holding forth on the Today programme, BB had elided '90 per cent overweight or obese' into the even more ludicrous '90 per cent obese' - and he was sticking to it). But the commentariat, normally so active at this time of year, are looking back aghast, rather than peering confidently into the future as they used to do at the drop of a cheque. And no wonder - 2008 was the year that the utter futlity of 'expert' prediction, or - in the finance field - 'expert' anything at all was demonstrated about as graphically and comprehensively as it could have been. As I've remarked before, the banking meltdown was entirely predictable and yet no one (at least among the big beasts, the Men Who Know, who are taken notice of) had the slightest inkling that it was coming. Who among the 'expert' commentariat would dare to look ahead now to the coming year? Especially as the one thing we can be fairly sure of is that it will not be a lot of fun...
Never mind - I' ve been listening to a CD of Bach violin concertos that my son gave me for Christmas (including the glorious double concerto). Whatever happens in the world, Bach will still be there, and people will still be turning to him for sanity, beauty, solace and joy. There - that's my prediction, for the new year, and every year.


  1. Happy new year Nige, upon returning from the wilderness I have just read your new year address, left me with an all over warm glow. One of last years treasures has been the discovery of your blog, long may you carry on at the same pace and with your usual integrity. 2008 was indeed a year to remember although some of it will be I suspect, better forgotten, saying that the worst thing to happen was to leave the year with two less teeth than you started with is something of an achievement in these fraught times. The slings and arrows are coming thick and fast and are coloured Braun. Nice to see our young Bradshaw starting the year as he means to go on, talking shit.

    We finished the year with a half century bookmark, traversing Glencoe,s Aonach Eagach ridge almost fifty years to the day since I first climbed it, this time in perfect conditions, brilliant blue skies, minus ten and thin mist forming around the tops, John Donne had it in a nutshell.

    On a hugh hill.
    Cragged, and steep, Truth stands, and hee that will reach her, about must, and about must goe;
    and what the hills suddennes resists, winne so; Yet strive so, that before age, deaths twilight,
    Thy soule rest, for none can work in that night.

    I also have found Me Cheeta an absolute hoot and await with interest the publication of chapter eight, another gem was The assassination of Jesse James, a much underrated movie and of course belatedly, The Wire, possibly the best TV drama series ever. Add to the list the continued presence of Jools Holland and the cup nearly runs over.
    So, to all of us chickens in bloggyland, a glass raised in appreciation of another year chalked up and in anticipation of the next one, ditto. Lang may our lums reek, if you are out there, superior being, may the glance that you cast upon us be a benign one.

  2. I'll drink to that Malty - and good to have you back. I was wondering where you were - in climbers' heaven clearly - lucky man!

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  4. Whatever happens in the world, Bach will still be there, and people will still be turning to him for sanity, beauty, solace and joy. There - that's my prediction

    Intellectual vanity or the most cheerful and sanguine presumption, Nige?

    Sometimes I have the impression the world is in a trance, with no grasp of the shape of things to come. For this is the point at which empathy or perhaps amused compatibility, leaves me. A mortal duel between two antagonistic forces is already delineated: as the world's population grows, that of its culture dwindles. And all that which is tremendous and good now, will one day signify the end of civilization - at least in the terms in which it is understood in the drawing rooms of Carshalton.

    Still, you have another century or so. May I recommend Dvorak, The Ninth - (New World) Symphony. It has a nostalgic quality (besides, I love the adagio)...


  5. How many bleedin' cantata's did the old boy write, better ask Harnancourt I suppose. Oh, you Bach O' philes. Listening to Karajan's Lohengrin at the moment, sublime, erotic, mysterious, dynamic, unmissable. Elsa from Brabant, we love you.

  6. Just finished watching HBO's rendition of "Angels in America," which is really just as good as the play was on stage (I saw it twice), if not actually better. Al Pacino and Meryl Streep devastatingly good.

    That millennial feeling is the same one we have at year's end and new year's beginning (only times a thousand) and it's your mood here, Nigel. But "Angels" *really* addresses Selena's comments. If you all have not seen this film version of Tony Kushner's play, I urge you to. It is a tour-de-force.

    Ah, Glencoe. Malty, it musta been cold up there this time o' year. I was there in July a couple of years ago, and it was not warm even then! But lovely.

    Hope 2009 is good for everyone here. Already it's bad for some folks -- John Travolta's family today -- and an uphill climb for many. Malty, we need your mountain-climber skills....

  7. Thanks everybody. In the event the silence of the commentariat did not last - in the past few days the usual tsunami of predictive twaddle has engulfed all media. At least this time we know - and they know - it is twaddle.