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Messages - HtoHe

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News and Current Affairs / Re: Today's Barking News Story
« on: April 17, 2016, 12:17:10 pm »
However they got there, it wasn't an accident.  They were purposely placed there in a shape that anyone with a bit of sense should have seen was, ahem, unfortunate. 

I am certainly not trying to blame anyone's father for this.   The point about Maxima's parentage was, I thought, quite clearly made.  It was a huge bone of contention when her marriage to the crown prince was first considered - and many Dutch people thought parliament should refuse to approve the wedding.  My point was that, given this feeling*, I would have thought they would be especially careful to avoid embarrassing incidents.  I'm not just sticking up for my Dutch friends when I say I can see why they often see this family as poor ambassadors for the country.

*and other rather unfortunate royal connections such as Claus's Nazi history and Bernhard's involvement with the Bilderberg group.

News and Current Affairs / Re: Today's Barking News Story
« on: April 17, 2016, 10:14:42 am »
I haven't fallen for anything.  I was, when it was first brought to my attention, sceptical.  But unless my initial reaction was right and the lines are not on the coat at all but were drawn there by a puerile photoshop artist in the media, it has to be mentioned.  This is not a Rorschach blot, for heaven's sake.  Those lines were deliberately drawn and it strikes me as extraordinary to criticise the press for spotting it rather than the people who created the design and those who chose it for such an occasion for failing to spot it.

News and Current Affairs / Re: Today's Barking News Story
« on: April 17, 2016, 12:51:19 am »
I would  think no such thing.  The whole affair is utterly ridiculous, obviously as completely unintentional in its effect as the Indian swastikas are.

Except for the little matter of the Indian designs being engraved on the Indian Embassy while the coat design was introduced into what used to be heart of the Third Reich.

There's no need to give anyone the benefit of the doubt because there is no doubt.

De omnibus dubitandum.  Of course there is doubt - although I have no reason to believe anyone did this deliberately or mischievously it is clearly possible that they might have done.  But intention is irrelevant here.  If anyone thought the display of the symbol was intentional there would be a major diplomatic incident and possible criminal charges.  Context, however, is paramount.  Maxima’s father was actually excluded from his daughter’s wedding because of his appalling history; and the Dutch people are very sensitive about connections between their royals, including the king's father, and the Nazis even though they’re probably nothing more than compulsory HJ membership and military service.  An own goal like this is hugely embarrassing and is precisely the kind of thing that PR people are employed to avoid.  My Dutch friend and all his friends, none of whom are tabloid readers of any description, are horrified that this was allowed to happen.


News and Current Affairs / Re: Today's Barking News Story
« on: April 16, 2016, 11:51:02 pm »
Not really; millions of Britons read the Sun, but that diesn't make it a serious newspaper.
I wouldn't claim for one moment that either the Sun or Bild are serious newspapers. What does that have to do with it? Máxima's minders should have taken a look at her coat and thought hang on, no, that isn't suitable for Germany, why not wear something else?

Which is where we came in.  You would think, wouldn’t you that the entourage of Willem-Alexander (son of ex-HJ, ex-Wehrmacht soldier) and Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti (daughter of a cabinet minister in the Videla military dictatorship) would, for a visit to Nuremberg of all places, have taken greater care?  You really don’t need to be German to see that swastika shape even if you do have to give the benefit of the doubt as to whether it was deliberate.  Indeed, it’s far harder to see why anyone would want to box a cross in with hex keys.  When I was shown the picture, my chief doubt was the suspicion that some joker had tampered with the photo.  I don't see the relevance of Bild or Sun readers to the issue.  Even if we stereotype them to the extent of agreeing that they sometimes have unsavoury views, surely distaste for the Hakenkreuz is pretty reasonable.

News and Current Affairs / Re: Today's Barking News Story
« on: April 16, 2016, 10:36:11 am »
They don't look  remotely like swastikas.  What a non-story!

Are you kidding?  Look at the tracing round the limbs of that cross.  My first thought was that the picture had been doctored by people wanting to make a fuss about nothing but those lines are stitched on.  There's a bigger picture of the back of the coat in the Daily Wail:

News and Current Affairs / Re: Today's Barking News Story
« on: April 15, 2016, 02:44:02 pm »
My Dutch pal alerted me to this, which doesn't seem to have reached the UK media. 

You have to wonder what on earth the advisors that these people employ and their political minders were doing if they missed this:

The Concert Hall / Re: Liverpool Concerts, 2015-16
« on: April 15, 2016, 12:23:26 pm »
Well, apart from the world premiere by a local composer!

Why Liverpool couldn't have had this, I don't know.  Wouldn't the BBC consider a joint commission?  Wonderful irony to be doing In the South instead, though.

Did anyone get to last week's concerts.  I could have gone with a big effort and I always like Sibelius 2 but in the end going out of my way for Bruch's 1st Violin concerto (even with Tai Murray) was too much.

Theatre / Iphigenia in Splott - Liverpool Everyman
« on: April 15, 2016, 12:16:03 pm »
This is certainly an energetic performance by Sophie Melville and might well appeal to some people, but I left feeling curiously unmoved after the 75 minute monologue.  I scanned a few reviews afterwards to see if I’d missed anything obvious, particularly to see if anyone could explain the connection to the Iphigenia myth.  All I found were vague references to sacrifice made to ease a society’s problems but the analogy still looks hopelessly weak to me.  A more satisfactory comparison, I thought, would be The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists as the piece asks us to examine the popular perception of the protagonist Effie as a selfish, obnoxious waster and consider instead what she sacrifices for the general good.  The trouble is that where Tressell’s decorators invert the conventional view by being seen to create all the wealth rather than being beneficiaries of the employer’s largesse, Effie’s sacrifice consists merely of not taking everything she can all the time.  It’s not even a particularly original insight.  The notion that those at the lower end of the income distribution table provide a useful service by accepting relatively poor living standards was widespread at least as early as the 1960s.  Gary Owen gives the argument a big twist with Effie’s central act of ‘philanthropy’, which can’t really be mentioned here without spoiling the piece but which I, for one, found unconvincing.  Also unconvincing is Effie’s, ahem, frankness about her sexual behaviour; but then I tend to align myself with Erica Jong’s Isadora in being suspicious of women’s openness about their sexual appetites when those women are fictional characters invented by a bloke.

The main reason I found this piece, for all its energy, less than satisfactory, is that even with the default bias towards the protagonist on her side, Effie is a very unsympathetic character shot through with the immature individual’s insistence that they’ll do exactly as they please regardless of what anyone else feels coupled with an outraged astonishment when other people don’t listen to them when they do choose to harangue them.   I don’t know to what extent Owen wants his audience to notice this but Effie’s ugliness goes far beyond braggadocio at times – as witness the way she revels in the fact that a young mother she upsets can’t do anything because she knows Effie lives in the same neighbourhood as her children.  Another thing I found rather off-putting was Effie’s accent.  I’ve never, in real life or in the media, heard anyone pronounce English in the way she does.  Of course, I don’t know all the accents in Britain but this was certainly not how I imagine Cardiff people speak.  It’s not helped by the fact that while Splott is a real part of that city it does rather sound like one of those made up towns in Little Britain.

Iphigenia in Splott is at the Everyman until Saturday.  You might enjoy it more than I did.  The applause after last night was enthusiastic, but that’s so common these days that it signifies little.  For all my reservations, it’s still better than watching telly – and last night there was the added advantage of missing Liverpool FC’s giving themselves a mountain to climb in the first half and getting out in time to see them successfully scale said mountain in the second.

Proms / Proms 2016 unveiled
« on: April 13, 2016, 10:31:44 pm »
Anyone else had a look?  At first glance it looks quite interesting.  Unfortunately for me the highlights seem to be fairly evenly distributed so there are fewer obvious extended trips to London suggesting themselves than in previous years.  I marked off a few 2 night stays: 2/3 Aug Steven Osborne in the Britten Concerto/Schubert 9, then Dutoit with Duke Bluebeard’s Castle; 19/20 Aug Karita Mattila in The Makropulos Case, then a Prom at the Roundhouse with works by Birtwistle, Ligeti et al; 28/29 Aug Wesendonck Lieder/Alpensinfonie then Herbert Blomstedt & Andras Schiff in an all-Beethoven concert; 3/4 Sep (for those who really enjoy queuing) Rattle and the Berliners then Dudamel and the Venezuelans,

The festival is putting itself about a bit this year with Proms at the Roundhouse & Sam Wanamaker theatre as well as the more usual venues.  And the trend towards including less ‘classical' repertoire continues with stuff like Quincy Jones, a David Bowie themed Prom & Kamasi Washington - and a  'Strictly' Prom.  I shan't be attending any of those, though I'm not saying which I'm actively avoiding and which I'm just skipping!   Some top choral artists will be in attendance including Stile Antico, The Sixteen and Les Arts Florissants.

I tentatively suggest this is the most adventurous season for some time, though perhaps not the closest match for my personal taste.

Theatre / Re: Arnold Wesker
« on: April 13, 2016, 09:58:54 am »
I wonder if we’ll see more of Wesker’s work now he is gone.  Although one of my earliest memories of theatre is the schools broadcast of Chips With Everything and one of the best things I’ve seen in the last few years was the Donmar’s Roots it is something of a surprise to read that he wrote 50 plays.  There can be little doubt that there was still an appetite for his stuff as I was unable to get a ticket for Chicken Soup with Barley at the Royal Court and had to queue for the sold-out RootsThe Kitchen at the NT also filled the house.  It was, too, a little surprising to hear him referred to as Sir Arnold Wesker on the Today programme this morning.  I can’t remember his being knighted; nor can I remember hearing the 'Sir' used when his name was mentioned in the past. 


Note: shouldn’t this be on the ‘News and Current Affairs’ board?  I’m sure it doesn’t matter in the great scheme; but once the thread disappears from the ‘Recent Posts’ that would be the board I’d go to in search of such tributes.

News and Current Affairs / Re: Today's Barking News Story
« on: April 10, 2016, 08:40:15 pm »
We've all heard of 'lies, damned lies and statistics' but this is quite astonishing.  I vaguely heard the reports of low uptake of shared parental leave and assumed that they would be more or less valid if adjusted for the propaganda slant that various people would put on them.  But Radio 4's More or Less on Friday (repeated this evening) basically exposed the whole thing as preposterous (listen to the first item in the programme):

I thought I'd have a quick look and see if the reporting of this atrocious piece of research had been as slapdash as More or Less suggests and the first thing I came across was this in the Grauniad:

Note that the Graun tells us "The headline on this article was amended on 5 April 2016. An earlier version said that 1% of new fathers were opting for shared parental leave. The figure relates to all male employees at the companies surveyed."  But the body of the article still contains stuff like "Research among 200 employers by the firm My Family Care found that more than four out of 10 had not seen a single male employee take up the right. At 11%, only between 0.5% and 1% of male workers had taken shared parental leave and fewer than 10% reported more than 1% takeup" - neglecting to mention that the entire survey is based on questioning male employees regardless of whether they have fathered any children since the introduction of SPL.

The Coffee Bar / Re: The Minor Moan thread
« on: April 04, 2016, 10:05:25 pm »
And with the progressive cutback in government funding to local councils, and frozen council tax rates things will get steadily worse.
Well, whilst I see no evidence of anything getting any better in the neck of the woods in which I find myself, there's certainly no "frozen council tax rates" - rather the reverse, in fact!

Certainly the recent bills have rather made a mockery of the 'frozen' rates of the last couple of years.  When I got those bills with all the congratulatory fanfare about freezing the council tax I'm afraid my first thought was I'd rather pay a modest increase than suffer the service cuts that would inevitably follow.  The cuts duly came and now the council appears to have imposed an increase (ours is almost 5%) aimed at recouping the money lost in the last couple of years.  You can bet your life we won't be getting the axed services back.  I appreciate that this policy has largely been forced on local authorities by central government but surely nobody forced our council to pretend they were doing us a favour when they implemented the centrally imposed 'freeze'.

News and Current Affairs / Re: Ronnie Corbett, 1931-2016
« on: April 01, 2016, 08:48:46 pm »
Ronnie Corbett tended to come across as rather twee for my personal taste but the objective evidence is undeniable inasmuch as people who I found enormously funny (John Cleese, Ronnie Barker, Barry Cryer and others) actively chose to work with him, which is a sure sign of a major talent and superb professionalism.  And, of course, he has lasted through the generations and found admirers among comics of a very different stamp - as last night's tribute demonstrated.


Radio / Great Lives - Joanna MacGregor on Nina Simone
« on: April 01, 2016, 08:32:49 pm »
One of the joys of going to J Mac's concerts and recitals at Liverpool Hope was her lucid and enthusiastic introductions to the music and the composers (from JS Bach through to George Crumb); so I was delighted to see her advocacy of Nina Simone in this R4/R4X series.  Well worth a listen, imo.

Theatre / Re: Cleansed - Dorfman Theatre
« on: March 29, 2016, 10:20:55 am »
I couldn't get to 4.48 Psychosis in Sheffield and I'm reluctant to see it as an opera before seeing it as a play - in much the same way as I'm reluctant to see Phaedra's Love in French in the Barbican's portmanteau production before I get to see a more 'conventional' production.  It's certainly interesting to know of these developments, though; and I shall look out for any reviews.

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