Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

Leipzigzag

I look down at my feet of red clay
The stone threshold is a vale
Worn by hundreds of residents
On thousands of journeys
Behind which lies the story of Nathan
And his married sister Else
In which seventy-two years later I stand
And cross my path with theirs.
What mathematics zigzagging
Across the great gentle curve
Along the angles of history
Brings their heirs to this square
Where I feel they were happy?

The code is broken
By a facsimile map
On the back shelf
Of a dusty museum shop

Promenadenstrasse
Blown to high heaven
By a home-grown bomb
Ironically Angle or Saxon
Or written out of existence
By Soviet canonisation
Comes into alignment
In the palimpsest of charts
Etched back into history
As Käthe Kollwitz

As the lines and angles align
Our trajectory bounces off the city museum
Across the top of the central square
Towards Nat and Dora’s quarter
I fire off a text to a vestige of their family
Dead loss
And shoot off a volley
To the other half in the other Old Country
Prompting tears

Then the rectangle is spotted

Simple concrete
With invisible walls
And bronze chairs
For the invisible congregation
It’s Saturday morning, about eleven
Just the right time
And Nat’s three off-spring zag off onto the rectangle
Sit in the cold back row
Where I wonder what strange geometry
Brings us back here
And what the old man and his sister make of this
I’m sure he’s pleased we got him back home

On Kristallnacht
They melted the angles
And Moorish curves and arches
In their chaotic flames
Then charged the Israelites
To demolish the remains

A hundred and forty haunted seats
Seventy-nine people per seat
Plus interest for 1933 to 1938
By the time the 69th arrived
The maths of dark bureaucracy
Calculated zero squared

We spun off to the first point of the triangle
Twenty-two twenty eighteen
Sixteen

A space

A car park
Emptiness
Covered by a blue cloudless sky
Tranquil leaves swaying

Two years on plus two days
I zig back into town
To complete some symmetry
And get these last lines down
In the fatherland
Land of my fathers
May the old language endure

Emptiness
A car park
A space
By the corner, the first corner
We piece together the crystal shards
Of our past
By reflection
As eighteen so sixteen
Then translated to Carmel Court NW11
And rotated to that opening scene
Of burgerlich Krakow apartments abandoned
In haste
What fearful symmetry

A sweep round the circular by-pass
Brings us to the stone threshold
Number one on the Northern square
Is point two

The address on the birth certificate
With its eagle and perverted cross
What fearful geometry converted that cross
From auspicious object
Turning right and rotated
Night on blood in emptiness
To helpless subject with broken limbs
Nailed to the intersection

Father don’t forgive them
They knew what they were doing
They typed it all out
Signed and sealed it with the eagle
They had staplers and ink pads
That’s how mundane they were

The address after all these years
Turned out not to be home but hospital
The red pin dropped
On the point of birth
The last point of the triangle
Where the sons of the son of the son
Played on the black posts
Rising and falling
Lifting the feet of red clay
In the triumph of fearless play

A vestigial homeland triangle
Superimposed on the triangle of father . son . son .
Is a star
Look up
Burning across time
And space
Ad infinitum…

 Leipzig, 27th October 2012

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The Northern Line Game

‘The Northern Line Game’ was one of three street games I played with my friends in my 20s. ‘Secret & Obvious’ involved sitting at a cafe table with Stuart and first saying what was obvious about any selected passer-by and then revealing a secret of theirs (perhaps derived from clues in their appearance, perhaps belying how they project themselves). ‘The Name Game’ involved sitting on some steps with Katherine, usually in The City, and guessing the names of passers-by i.e. formulating rather fanciful handles inspired by their appearance. ‘The Northern Line Game’ was also played with Katherine, a fellow Northern Line native with a similar sensibility, now moved on from the shadow of Edgware Castle to Aspen, Colorado. You get on the black line in town and travel out to the suburbs, guessing exactly where each person will get off. The distinction between say a Hendon Central and a Colindale is a fine one but she was masterful in her judgments. Here’s a first stab at mapping out who is where on the Northern line these days. If you can help refine or improve the station names please feel free to add your thoughts below and I’ll amend the map. Also if you can help with the southern stretch which is out of my range…

Parents Screw You Up – Adam Gee Archive #3

I commissioned this one around 2003 for Channel 4’s Family site. It was written by Tim Wright, my collaborator on MindGym. The title and aspects of the design are derived from an anti-drugs campaign of the late 70s or early 80s (Heroin Screws You Up) via a cover article in a university magazine when I was at college by novelist-to-be Wendy Holden, a contemporary of Tim’s and mine at university and fellow Girton girl. Plus of course a tip of the hat to Larkin. This light interactive offered you a route as a parent or as a child. It was commissioned at the same time as The Showbiz Baby Name Generator.

How much did you get screwed up?

How much are you screwing up your off-spring?

The pay-off

One of a pair

Archive #1
Archive #2
Archive #0

London Lineage

From being born at one of London’s highest points to tapping these very words beside one of its secret oases, my whole life has rolled out along the Northern Line so this evening I had a stab at mapping it…

My Northern Line

The Casting Game #24

Tim Lovejoy as Mark King (Level 42)

Tim

as

Mark

in The Big Thumb, biopic of Level 42

Brave Beyond Belief (what Felix Baumgartner actually said)

Yesterday evening (14 Oct 2012 UK time) Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner become the first human to go faster than the speed of sound without a vehicle, reaching a maximum velocity of 833.9 mph (1,342 kmph). In jumping out of a balloon 128,100 feet / 24 miles /39 km above New Mexico, the 43-year-old also smashed the record for the highest ever freefall.

VIDEO: Here’s him making the jump:

The moment skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumped

For me the magic moment is when he gains control around 3’30”.

VIDEO: And here’s him landing, with his reflections on the jump as the audio (from a press conference):

Felix Baumgartner lands on his feet

Here’s the accurate quote of what he said just before stepping out of his capsule – it’s been misreported as he repeated it roughly at that press conference afterwards.

Felix Baumgartner's actual words

4 more characters from On The Road

…and because I enjoyed the movie so much this evening at The Phoenix on the high road in East Finchley, here are four of the supporting characters (one of whom lives in Blighty now, in Bracknell of all unhip places)

Carolyn Cassady – Camille

William Burroughs – Old Bull Lee

Joan Vollmer – Jane

Al Hinkle – Ed Dunkel

 

4 characters from On The Road

To mark the release of Film4’s movie of ‘On The Road’ here are 4 of the main characters

Jack Kerouac – Sal Paradise

Neal Cassady – Dean Moriarty

Allen Ginsberg – Carlo Marx

Luanne Henderson – Marylou

 

Dean and Marylou getting it on

On The Road triptych

D & N as Neal & Jack – City Lights, San Francisco, July 2004

On The Shelf of Honour (Big Sur is just out of frame)

I licked my lips for the luscious blonde – The On The Road scroll,
British Library, London, October 2012

 

 

My Bond’s My Word

I spent a large chunk of Friday afternoon, while waiting for the viewing of the final cut of Hotel GB Programme 5, perfecting the art of shooting Bond title sequence photos (with an old iPhone and a toilet roll) – here’s one I did of Dr Christian aka Dr Know

The Name’s Christian, Dr Christian

Friday was dubbed James Bond Day by some film marketeer as it marked the half-centenary of the release of the first Bond film, Dr No in 1962. Enfant Terrible #2 just asked me how many Bond films there were so I thought it may be public-spirited to put a definitive list here. The answer is 23 plus 2.

Stuntman Bob Simmons – effectively the first big screen Bond – in the opening sequence of Dr No

Dr. No (1962 – Sean Connery)
From Russia With Love (1963 – Sean Connery)
Goldfinger (1964 – Sean Connery)
Thunderball (1965 – Sean Connery)
You Only Live Twice (1967 – Sean Connery)
[Casino Royale (1967 – Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, David Niven, Dalia Lavy & Terence Cooper, with Woody Allen as Jimmy Bond)]
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969 – George Lazenby)
Diamonds Are Forever (1971 – Sean Connery)
Live and Let Die (1973 – Roger Moore)
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974 – Roger Moore)
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977 – Roger Moore)
Moonraker (1979 – Roger Moore)
For Your Eyes Only (1981 – Roger Moore)
Octopussy (1983 – Roger Moore)
[Never Say Never Again (1983 – Sean Connery)]
A View to a Kill (1985 – Roger Moore)
The Living Daylights (1987 – Timothy Dalton)
Licence to Kill (1989 – Timothy Dalton)
GoldenEye (1995 – Pierce Brosnan)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997 – Pierce Brosnan)
The World is Not Enough (1999 – Pierce Brosnan)
Die Another Day (2002 – Pierce Brosnan)
Casino Royale (2006 – Daniel Craig)
Quantum of Solace (2008 – Daniel Craig)
Skyfall (2012 – Daniel Craig)

The name’s Bond, Sean Bond

The name’s Bond, Daniel Bond

The big question is which is the best of the 23/25?

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