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  Thu 24th February 2011

Roupell St

I'm in a pub squirreled away in the beautiful early C19th residential streets behind Waterloo station, where you'll need a million pounds for a two bed house, drinking Doom Bar in its own glass. London looks beautiful and well dressed. I like the girl-watching, but I'm glad that I don't have a job which demands you put such an effort into appearances just for work.

I'm here for my PhD. There was a day-long colloquium about Brian Ferneyhough, a composer I'm interested in (or rather, whose social world I'm interested in). On YouTube there's a comment on one of his pieces saying "I heard a similar piece played by drainage workmen on assorted hammers and shovels while stuck in roadworks on the A27 Chichester bypass on 22 July 2005".

It was a good day but a long one. Towards the end of it, Ferneyhough started talking at exhaustingly long, unilluminating and abstract length about his music, then insisted on playing us his Sixth String Quartet in its entirety, (a work we were going to watch on a film shortly afterwards) thus eating into all but ten minutes of the meagre time allowed for the wine reception. I know how selfishly privileged that sounds, but after seven hours of papers and talks, everyone wanted a break and a natter. "I really want you to hear it now," he said. Brian, we just want a drink now.

I invited a few friends along to the evening concert, who gamely attempted the music. One of the pieces went wrong and a redfaced viola soloist caused the music to stop and resume, which I found quite exciting, like an out-take. My friend Kev said "This is the ugliest audience at a concert I've ever seen," and one of the other people at the seminar earlier in the day said "They all wear black professionally, so they've turned up in grey to show how vibrant they are when they let their hair down." Contemporary classical music audiences don't meet the bar of London girls on the tube in rush hour.

After the concert we went to the pub. Kev's a taxi driver and as we walked through Covent Garden Neil said "Don't ask him the way. He'll charge us when we get there."

I also arranged to meet with a couple of people about the research and have just been sitting on a sunny terrace by the Thames talking to someone from the UK's main body for the promotion of new music, my eyes constantly straying to the girls going to and fro from London Fashion Weekend which was setting up for some reception or something in the same building.

Right, off to Greenwich to talk to someone who blogs about contemporary music now.

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M / 56 / Bristol, "the most beautiful, interesting and distinguished city in England" -- John Betjeman [1961, source eludes me].

"Looby is a left-wing intellectual who is obsessed with a) women's clothes and b) tits." -- Joy of Bex.

WLTM literate woman, 40-65. Must have nice tits, a PhD, and an mdma factory in the shed, although the first on its own will do in the short term.


There are plenty of bastards who drink moderately. Of course, I don't consider them to be people. They are not our comrades.
Sergei Korovin, quoted in Pavel Krusanov, The Blue Book of the Alcoholic

I am here to change my life. I am here to force myself to change my life.
Chinese man I met during Freshers Week at Lancaster University, 2008

The more democratised art becomes, the more we recognise in it our own mediocrity.
James Meek

Tell me, why is it that even when we are enjoying music, for instance, or a beautiful evening, or a conversation in agreeable company, it all seems no more than a hint of some infinite felicity existing apart somewhere, rather than actual happiness – such, I mean, as we ourselves can really possess?
Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

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One good thing about being a Marxist is that you don't have to pretend to like work.
Terry Eagleton, What Is A Novel?, Lancaster University, 1 Feb 2010

The working man is a fucking loser.
Mick, The Golden Lion, Lancaster, 21 Mar 2011

The Comfort of Strangers

23.1.16: Big clearout of the defunct and dormant and dull
16.1.19: Further pruning

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