Just Nathan

A musical offering, in parts
November 30, 2002
Nowhere in NW3

We went down to Hampstead this afternoon to see Muriel, Ralph, Vincent, Cosmo, Fif, Caroline, Chris, Tamara and Carla for a "second day of Chanukah" family do. I guess it was ok, although I missed Mum and Dad, who were out at a charity event.

Muriel and Ralph are going to Siegfried on the same evening as me, so hopefully we'll be able to have supper together.

Please don't confuse Chanukah with Christmas - they are rather different, despite the superficial similarities. It's twenty-one years since I was in New York at this time of year, seeing the Lubavitcher Rebbe in the wet snow. Memories.

Posted by nathan at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)


November 29, 2002
Changed title

I've just edited today's entry as it was a whinge about NTL broadband and computers generally, and I'm trying to be less grumbly.

I listened to the second act of Siegfried again today in preparation for the ENO / Barbican performance in a couple of weeks.

Posted by nathan at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)


November 28, 2002
Welsh Boarders

Meetings in Cardiff today - then a long, long train journey back to Cambridge.

Posted by nathan at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)


November 27, 2002
EPNS not steel

Off to Sheffield today on business, by train, not car because of the icy fog over the last two days. I must be mad to take such a risk. But it paid off - I managed to do loads of work on the train and only arrived a few minutes late.

The trin from Sheffield to Cardiff was not as good, with delays amounting to over half an hour.

The teaspoons were made in China.

Posted by nathan at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)


November 26, 2002
Credo ut intelligam

St. Anselm (AD 1033-1109) was a brilliant teacher and defender of the Christian faith. He was also the Archbishop of Canterbury.

He is best known for the celebrated "ontological argument" for the existence of God in chapter two of the Proslogion, but his contributions to philosophical theology (and indeed to philosophy more generally) go well beyond the ontological argument.

Follow St. Anselm's Argument:
1) God is defined as the being in which none greater is possible.
2) It is true that the notion of God exists in the understanding (your mind.)
3) And that God may exist in reality (God is a possible being.)
4) If God only exists in the mind, and may have existed, then God might have been greater than He is.
5) Then, God might have been greater than He is (if He existed in reality.)
6) Therefore, God is a being which a greater is possible.
7) This is not possible, for God is a being in which a greater is impossible.
8) Therefore God exists in reality as well as the mind.

He is also well known for his famous motto "Credo ut intelligam," or "I believe in order to understand".

Posted by nathan at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)


November 25, 2002
And the day passed me by

I really can't remember what I did today. Did I wake up at all?

Posted by nathan at 11:44 PM | Comments (0)


November 24, 2002
In Neidhohle

More coughs and congestion this morning, but a pleasant lie in before returning to Cambridge. Hopefully I'll shake off this cold soon - I'm so intolerant of things like colds.

I've now listened through the first two acts of Siegfried with the libretto. It's so differently scored and paced from the other three operas in the cycle that it has been a pleasure to return to its charms. I've been trying to understand three key scenes; the death of Fafner, the Wanderer's motive for seeking to block Siegfried's path to Brunnhilde and his descent to seek Erda's advice at the commencement of the third act.

Mum and Dad came to Cambridge this evening - both seemed tired, but we had a pleasant meal (Alfred baked cod which was delicious) and watched Ice Age (yes again) on DVD.

Posted by nathan at 10:09 PM | Comments (0)


November 23, 2002
Out on the town

What a strange lunch! We went to a restaurant in Hackney for the birthday party / book launch of a friend of Alfred's. A most peculiar event.

We had cocktails (an Old Fashioned for me) and a pre-theatre supper with Erik at the Trafalgar Square hotel (well worthwhile, but don't stay in the hotel). The evening continued with a performance of "What the night is for" at the Comedy Theatre. The play was well performed - improving through the evening as Gillian Anderson (some televsion actress) discovered a rhythmn to her delivery. The topic, marital infidelity, was close to the knuckle and one could hear uncomfortable coughs and people shifiting in their seats throughout the performance. My main criticism was that, as so often in plays and films, the impact would have been greater had the play been cut by twenty minutes.

Erik and Alfred went off for a drink whilst I returned to Fawlty Towers to nurse my cold.

Posted by nathan at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)


November 22, 2002
Firemen on strike

More cackhanded meddling by Tony's pugilistic pal.

Oh, how I wish for decent political leaders.

Posted by nathan at 08:24 PM | Comments (0)


November 21, 2002
Answers to nothing

High upon a hillside, a preacher tells his story to a crowd
He tells the same old story, a thousand times he's read that story loud.
He wants to give the answers but his words are only
Answers to nothing

Lying in my bedroom, a man comes on my TV with a grin
He tells me to believe him, he said that I should put my faith in him
He says he has the answers, but his words are only
Answers to nothing

Hear the chosen leaders say we can't stay sitting on the fence
Believe the stuff they feed us, they're buying guns and bombs for our defence
They think this is the answer, but their thoughts are only
Answers to nothing.

Where is all the friendship, how can all the comradeship be done
What of all the teachings, what of all the things that we learned when we were young
It doesn't bear the asking 'cos the answers given were
answers to nothing.

Midge Ure: Answers to nothing, 1988

Posted by nathan at 07:49 PM | Comments (0)


November 20, 2002
Thanks to Walther von der Vogelweide

Meistersinger made for a tremendous evening. It was most enjoyable viewed as an ensemble piece, with no outstanding singers, but many competent performances. As a spectacle, it worked very well indeed, and Mark Wigglesworth conjured a good performance from the orchestra.

There were a couple of excellent articles in the programme, both derived from the Cambridge Opera Handbook.

Only the end of the third act leaves a strange taste in my mouth.

OK then

Walther von der Vogelweide

Posted by nathan at 11:56 PM | Comments (0)


November 19, 2002
Locker Inspection

The Iraqis have accepted last week's UN resolution and the timetable for weapons inspection.

Why can't I trust our leaders? The grinning vicar of St. Albion's and the unelected President seem determined to provoke a war. Have we learned nothing from the experiences of the twentieth century?

Wahn! Wahn! Überall Wahn!

Madness! Madness, Everywhere madness! Wherever I look searchingly in city and world chronicles, to seek out the reason why, until they draw blood, people torment and flay each other in useless, foolish anger!

Hans Sachs, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Act 3. Translation Peter Branscombe

Posted by nathan at 07:16 PM | Comments (2)


November 18, 2002
A sunny day

It was cold and foggy, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Mind I don't sneeze on you.

Posted by nathan at 10:17 PM | Comments (0)


November 17, 2002

I awoke very early (as usual) with a cold (unusual) and have been sniffing and sneezing all day.

We watched Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors on DVD yesterday evening. I hadn't seen the film since it first came out in 1999. I already had the closing quotation from Professor Levy in the thoughts section of my web site. Despite the overlaboured references to eyes, opticians and God being all-seeing, I still find this to be one of Allen's most measured and intelligent films. The idea that we are all faced with agonising choices, that we are indeed the sum of our choices, is a manifesto for free will above predesitination. The Rabbi being blind in thought before he is blind indeed is sobering.

I had the pleasure this morning of lying down for an hour and a quarter with a mug of lemsip to listen to the Archer's Omnibus. I know it hardly chimes with my "culture vulture" interests, but I enjoy it. So there.

More Meistersinger now - only three days to go.

Posted by nathan at 02:41 PM | Comments (0)


November 16, 2002
JustNathan on the (In)offensive

Good evening Mum.

Posted by nathan at 04:32 PM | Comments (0)


November 15, 2002
It's so much nicer to come home

I returned to the UK this morning (thanks EasyJet) and immediately turned on R4 in my car as I drove back to Cambridge from Luton airport. The absence of news for a few days has done me no harm whatsoever. I am far too much of a news junkie - and it doesn't make me any happier to listen to the same dreary tales of misery in the world. All that's changed in the few days is the fireman's strike.

I went straight from the airport into a heavy negotiating session (which I'd expected) - by the time I finally managed to put my feet up, it was 9 o'clock and I fell asleep happily on the sofa. Alfred cuddled me, which made for a perfect homecoming.

"It's very nice to go travelling, to Venice, Paris
or Rome, but it's so much nicer, yes it's so much nicer to come home"

Posted by nathan at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)


November 14, 2002
Tum ti tum

I'm missing the Archers.

I know I could listen to it on the Internet, but I prefer to listen on Radio 4. I'll just have to wait until Sunday's Omnibus edition.

There was much more snow on the Jura Mountains today, but it poured with rain on the CERN site!

The Jura Mountains from the CERN hostel

Posted by nathan at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)


November 13, 2002
Preparing for Meistersinger

One of the benefits of being without Radio 4 is that I can listen to Meistersinger on my CD Walkman in preparation for next week.

Posted by nathan at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)


November 12, 2002
What the mountains tell me

I'm back in Geneva for a few days. It poured with rain yesterday, but it's a cold and sunny morning right now.

I've had a most amusing time trying to find an electrical connector from a British plug to a Swiss plug. After searching the emporia of Luton Airport, we discovered an adaptor that claimed to connect British plugs to power supplies IN 148 COUNTRIES!!!! It was a false claim, as we found out upon arrival in Geneva. The pins fit the socket, but the plastic housing is too big to allow connection.

So I pinched an adaptor from the projectionist when I gave my talk yesterday. Shh....

Posted by nathan at 06:51 AM | Comments (0)


November 11, 2002

Give generously to the Royal British Legion

Posted by nathan at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)


November 10, 2002
The Philosopher's Pupil

Alfred made a delicious panzanella salad and pannacotta for supper, which we had with tuscan cocktails. Very civilised. We watched Iris on DVD. It's the true story of the lasting romance between Iris Murdoch and her husband, John Bayley. The film alternates between scenes of their student days in Oxford and old age, with Iris succumbing to the reletless advance of Alzheimer's disease. The contrast between Iris as a bon vivant and John Bayley's stammering awkwardness was facscinating, as was the persistence of their love to the end. I cried as I realised my own (and Mum's) worst fear - being an intelligent person inexorably, implacably losing one's critical faculties.

Sorry Pita, I didn't mean to whinge, but it was a very moving film. Judi Dench was in so much finer form than on the stage a fortnight ago.

Posted by nathan at 06:52 AM | Comments (0)


November 09, 2002
The Pink Panther was a cipher

When I wrote my diary entry yesterday, it wasn't really a picture of the Pink Panther I was thinking of. But I was far too timid to upload it. Even though it was titillating rather than pornographic.

Have I Got News For You now has the egregious Anne Robinson as mistress. She has developed such a fearsome reputation for herself. It was rather amusing to see Messrs Merton and Hislop undermining her authority on the basis of her former sycophantic relationship with the bouncing Czech, Robert Maxwell. Come back Angus!

Anne Robinson

Anne Robinson: snarling bitch, admirable dominatrix or pussy cat?

If you want the picture I was thinking of yesterday you'll have to ask. Nicely.

Posted by nathan at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)


November 08, 2002
A whinger, moi?

Pita called me this morning and told me what an unreconstructed Victor Meldrew I've become. I have a beautiful partner, a flat of my own, a car, a business, two marvellous parents, a brother and nephews and nieces who love me. I go to the theatre, cinema, opera and great restaurants whenever I want. My friends are kind, thoughtful people and we can rely on one another in times of need. I have a lovely glass of wine in my hand and (if Alfred would allow me) a bar of white chocolate. So why does my blog come across as a stream of miserable consciousness, moaning and groaning about life, the universe and everything. The death of the Conservative party, the appalling state of our roads and railways and my own working habits all seem to rile me. I'm like some latter day Bessie Smith.

Bessie Smith: Down Hearted Blues, I've been mistreated and I don't like it, What's the matter now - singer extraordinaire

I can't explain this persistent, nagging dissatisfaction that plagues me. Others must envy my life and lifestyle, but for me it's never quite good enough.

I can't deny my feelings as I express them in this blog. I'm doing my best to give a resonable reflection of my mood as I write. Maybe Occam's Razor applies and I'd be happier if I took a sunnier, more optimistic view of life.

To cheer myself up, here's a picture.

Is that a boemb?

Posted by nathan at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)


November 07, 2002
Breakfast with the toffs

It's funny how the Cambridge Colleges bring out the inverted snob in me. It must have something to do with watching "Porterhouse Blue" last week.

I'm getting ready for my trip to Switzerland on Sunday. I still can't find that silly little plug.

Time to start listening to Meistersinger.

Posted by nathan at 07:35 PM | Comments (0)


November 06, 2002
Pub in the Fens

I had supper with some business colleagues at a pub called the Three Tuns in Fen Drayton this evening. Unfortunately, that meant I could only drink orange juice, which I was thoroughly sick of by the end.

The highlight of the day was a haircut from the gorgeous Russell, who was mightily offended when I was unkind enough to remark on his expanding midriff. He's always pleasant to chat with - I shouldn't have been so horrid.

We've booked our "December theatre evening now". Fourteen of us for supper at Zilli Fish Too and then Stones in his Pockets at the Duke of York's. I think we even have a hotel sorted out now.

I can't break out of this dreadful spell of poor sleeping. it's gone on for well over a month now. I'm exhausted by 9 o'clock and manage to stay awake until 10:30. By 2-3am I'm awake again. Yuk.

Posted by nathan at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)


November 05, 2002
IDS - wholly fool

Well, he deserves it. I dislike that man almost as much as the PM with the menacing grin. He is digging a hole for himself from which he will never escape.

Why is the Tory Party incapable of choosing a leader who has a chance of returning the party to office? Why can they not realise that "dry" economic policies can be combined with "wet" social liberalism? Their attitude towards Section 28 and the adoption bill is logically and morally inconsistent and appals me. I am ashamed of them. They disgust me.

So please, IDS, crawl into your little bigot-hole and realise that people with intelligence and a conscience will NEVER vote for you. Go away, and let the party put somebody in place who has a chance of setting the House in order.

We watched the Midsummer Common fireworks from the warmth and dryness of our kitchen window. Gunpowder, treason and plot.

Posted by nathan at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)


November 04, 2002
Oooh! Catty!

Well, some people take umbrage when challenged.

Posted by nathan at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)


November 03, 2002
Well I've never done that before

Walkyrie was on yesterday (Saturday 2nd November)

Oh well. Anybody fancy a ticket for yesterday's performance?

Credit Dark Horse Comics

The Walkyrie Brünnhilde joins Wotan on the peak

We watched a super film Ice Age on DVD. It was a really good laugh.

Posted by nathan at 04:06 PM | Comments (0)


November 02, 2002
Rain, rain, go away

I've been sitting at home working for part of the day and scanning more photographs in to (eventually) be uploaded to my gallery. I wanted to go for a walk to clear my head after yesterday, but the rain has been persistent and heavier through the course of the day.

Walkyrie tomorrow at the Barbican / ENO. When I saw this production at ENO in January, I was very disappointed (except for the excellent Orla Boylan as a lumbering and fearful Sieglinde). Kathleen Broderick, dressed in tight black leather from head to toe was an unusually foxy but unconvincing Brünnhilde. Oh well, I'll stop carping and go with an open mind.

In preparation, I have listened through my Solti and Furtwängler recordings with the libretto and completed reading the excellent cartoon Ring (book 1) by P Craig Russell. Buy it.

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

The sword, and the blasphemous union of Siegmund and Sieglinde

Posted by nathan at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)


November 01, 2002
How one can be so wrong about people?

I was mortified today in conversation with two people I felt I knew well. Their understanding of events and discussions was so different from mine. I won't go into detail (which shows how wary I am of this diary), but I was shocked.

What's worse is, had I been born with the same degree of paranoia as one of the two, I might misinterpret events in the same way.

Very strange and I'm not at all sure what to do next. Has the trust between us been irreparably damaged, or was it just his mood on the day. I'll probably let things settle for a while before making a decision.

Posted by nathan at 06:23 PM | Comments (0)