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Heart shaped wire in scrapyard

Multiculturalism, regardless of what German Chancellor Angela “Ja! Ja! Ja! Mein Gott! Dein Schwanz in meinem Arsch!” Merkel thinks, is not an end in itself. It is rather a consequence of the simple fact that people move around the world, and this has grown exponentially as communication and transportation has become easier and cheaper. It is unlikely ever to diminish.

Where individuals move, there is a tendency for them to absorb at least some of the culture they occupy. Where groups move, the resistance is greater, such as the behaviour of the British in the former empire. Orwell’s “Burmese Days” has a brilliant image of the traditional English garden, resolutely cultivated despite the searing heat of a Myanmarese summer, and by turns either wilting away or erupting into exotic life.

So the question is really the extent to which individuals and groups should surrender their cultures when they move abroad. This however runs counter to the worldwide growth in the perceived value of localised cultures (itself a reaction to the Americanisation of the world). In the UK the most obvious manifestation of this has been the Welsh and Gaelic languages, which are now actively sponsored where before they simply lived or died on their own terms.

So rather than fretting over multiculturalism per se, do we think that it is a good thing to support diversity, or do we think the ideal would be everybody being pretty much the same, and other cultures should only be viewed as relics in a museum or mere curiosities to be mocked and distrusted?

I suppose that, over the years, I must have listened to at least half of Cage’s output at one time or another but, whilst I see no reason not to take him seriously, he deserves to be taken seriously on his own terms, not someone else’s. It is hard to forget what Arnold Schoenberg said of his student but, for me, it is Cage’s way of taking nothing for granted that marks him out as someone of whom to take note; some fucker put it succinctly with the words “something that could be characterized as a musical quality of attention, a heightened awareness of the relation between sound(s) and time which we associate with music”. Whatever that means.

Also “It isn’t a question of learning special techniques as a listener so much as opening listeners’ sense of music to a much wider range of experiences, whether a frog plopping into a pond as in the famous haiku or a pneumatic drill on a building site”. Yes that famous haiku.

This, to me, is what characterizes Cage’s rôle in the musical life of his time.

My own listening experiences nevertheless have led me to get little out of Cage, but that’s a very personal matter and not intended as any kind of value judgement. Whilst a good deal of the gimmickry of which Cage has been accused by some has its origins largely in the imaginations of the accusers (i.e. I do not see Cage as the kind of artist who would set out to do that kind of thing for its own sake), I have to admit that the Cage pieces that I find the most disappointing of all are those that would perhaps be least likely to attract such accusations in the first place, such as the string quartet pieces and the Freeman Études.

As to the “frog plopping into a pond” and the “pneumatic drill on a building site”, I cannot help but think that Cage did himself few favours or helped his real cause when he stated that he had never heard any sound that he hadn’t enjoyed; I’m not for one moment suggesting that this wasn’t true but, taken purely at face value, it could be interpreted as seeking to undermine a sense of discrimination.

But then I’ve probably gotten it all wrong …

I’m trying to think of something good to say about Cage, but I’m reduced to my own gut feelings.

“Interesting” – certainly. His way of seeing things appeals to me. I have an eccentric habit of peering at objects and lining them up from different angles, for example by closing one eye and noting the peculiar differences. The objects don’t change but I look at them differently.

“Important” – I can’t say, but his own convictions shine through. He convinces me.

“Enjoyable” – I have viewed all the clips on YouTube and enjoyed them greatly, not least those featuring the composer himself, either performing or speaking. I possess only his Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano and they appeal to my sense of looking at an object differently, and hearing it differently. I enjoy what I hear.

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Time to get the Jag fixed up!

In a few hours I will be arriving at the Willow Manor Ball where birthday girl Tess Kincaid and her remarkable guests are partying from midnight to midnight (5 a.m. BST).

Christina Hendricks and her Johnnie Walker went down so well last year that she is once again riding shotgun with a case of Black Label; in fact she has already started.

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Squeezed in the back are Tracey Emin and Eliza Carthy – both party animals. Strapped to the roofrack is an unmade bed which Tracey insisted on bringing.

What to wear? What to wear? This year I have gone for a touch of pink.

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See you there!

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The first woman to conduct the last night of the BBC Proms.

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Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me,
Saying that now you are not as you were
When you had changed from the one who was all to me,
But as at first, when our day was fair.

Can it be you that I hear? Let me view you, then,
Standing as when I drew near to the town
Where you would wait for me: yes, as I knew you then,
Even to the original air-blue gown!

Or is it only the breeze, in its listlessness
Travelling across the wet mead to me here,
You being ever dissolved to wan wistlessness,
Heard no more again far or near?

Thus I; faltering forward,
Leaves around me falling,
Wind oozing thin through the thorn from norward,
And the woman calling.

(Thomas Hardy, The Voice, December 1912)

Robert Craft, in my opinion not a particularly reliable chronicler, describes the death of Stravinsky on 6 April 1971:

The intern stethoscopes the chest, says he hears nothing, removes the intravenous tube (with all the feeling of a filling-station attendant removing a hose from an automobile tank), and remarks “Gee, he went just like that.”

While he leaves the room to certify the time of death as five-twenty, I wake V., but cannot directly tell her the truth. “He is very bad … dying … I think … no … he is dead.”

Then I go back to I.S. and hold his still-warm hands and kiss his still-feverish cheeks and forehead, during which I am certain that life is in his eyes for an instant and in that instant he knows me. V. comes, kisses him, and leaves the room crying.

(Robert Craft, Stravinsky: The Chronicle of a Friendship)

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Nigella Lawson rowed in public with Charles Saatchi.

In photographs published in a Sunday newspaper, the television chef appears to have become embroiled in a violent dispute with the wealthy art dealer.

The couple were sitting outside Scott’s in Mayfair, central London, when he appeared to lean over and grab her by the throat.

Lawson, 53, looked terrified before leaving the restaurant alone in floods of tears.

A witness told the Sunday People: “It was utterly shocking to watch.

“I have no doubt she was scared. It was horrific, really. She was very tearful and was constantly dabbing her eyes. Nigella was very, very upset. She had a real look of fear on her face.”

The witness added: “He looked guilty. It was clear he knew he’d done something wrong. He was menacing, there’s no question. She had been abused and humiliated in public.

“No man should do that to a woman. She raised her voice and got angry but at the same time was trying to calm him down, almost like you would try to calm down a child.”

I always knew Saatchi was a shit, but now it appears he is a stupid violent shit. Will he get away with it? Probably. Scotland Yard has received no complaints about the incident, which happened in a public place. No one intervened.

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The Civil Justice Centre, corner of Bridge Street and Gartside Street.

Opened on 24 October 2007, the Manchester Civil Justice Centre is the biggest court complex to be built in the UK since the Royal Courts of Justice were constructed in London between 1868-82.

On completion it had the largest glass wall in Europe: a 63m by 60m cavity glass wall as a façade along its western edge supported by sixty metre high triangular atrium columns all suspended from the 11-storey atrium roof.

The floors cantilever up to 15 metres from the building’s columns creating what the architect has dubbed “fingers”, a feature that gives the building some distinctive interior space.

Architects Denton Corker Marshall won Australia’s most prestigious architecture prize – the Royal Australian Institute of Architects National Awards (RAIA) Jørn Utzon Award for International Architecture for designing this building.

(Source: Skyscraper News)

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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