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The idea of “taking a line for a walk” comes from one of Birtwistle’s favourite artists, Paul Klee. A preoccupation with Klee and his theories was an inspiration for one of the definitive Birtwistle pieces of the late 1970s, Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum. Using Klee’s idea of the difference between “dividual” and “individual” phenomena – the difference between, say, the endlessly divisible nature of water, as opposed to the singularity, the indivisibility, of a bottle of water – Birtwistle conjured a series of different musical materials. The question was then how to repeat these blocks of material, and how to transform them. On their own, each block is like a little machine of processes and patterns, but nothing ever repeats in quite the way you expect. That’s because Birtwistle used a series of random numbers to help generate how the blocks would recur, how long they would last, and even what notes they would use.

And here’s the paradox. “I didn’t make any decisions in writing Carmen,” Birtwistle says, since so much of the structure was generated through random procedures, “and yet it sounds like me – and no one else could have written it.”

A spectacular sunset is reflected in a flooded field in Somerset Levels near the village of Moorland

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?

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

PEOPLE-ONLY-Nigella-Lawson-1955475

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.

Brighton

(The Manchester Guardian, 3 March 1956)

The president of Scarborough Hotels Association, Mr. Harry Lund, is annoyed with people who praise foreign holidays at the expense of holidays at home, and he is also annoyed with the Government. At the association’s annual meeting last night he said:

“We appear to have two implacable enemies – the garlic and olive oil gang of the press and radio, and the Government. By the garlic and olive oil gang I mean those writers, usually women, who happily accept on the Continent the sort of carpetless room with iron bedstead, flock mattress and early Victorian which they would raise all hell about over here. Imagine what they would say if instead of bacon and eggs and the incomparable meats and vegetables of England we were to give them starch-loaded Continental breakfasts and main meals consisting of dollops of spaghetti with a little tomato sauce. If they are willing to put up with that sort of thing over there it’s their own look-out. What we do object to is that they should then be given good space in journals and valuable time on the air in which to drool about how much better and cheaper foreign holidays are than our own.”

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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