Friday, August 18, 2017


It suddenly occurred to me the other day that despite holding the late, great Frank Zappa in the highest musical esteem possible I don't actually own all that much of his output. I think I've heard all the really famous stuff, but even that I'm not entirely assured of. I mean, there's an awful lot of it, apart from anything else.

I immediately decided to begin to put this to rights by downloading something from iTunes, and have been listening to said something with abundant delight for much of the week. (In the interest of full disclosure I'm talking about Apostrophe which, I suppose, is just about as close to a mainstream album as you're likely to encounter in the back catalogue.)

The funny thing about Frank for me is that I really should find the adolescent humour, to which he was so obviously addicted, boorish in the extreme but it just makes me smile. As does the music on its own - a quality I can't think of in any other composer.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Range Of Options

Sad sight of the day: a young man carrying a laptop emblazoned with the well-meaning slogan, Failure is not an option. Made me wonder when he would find out just how much of an option it actually is.

Funnily enough this was just before teaching Miller's Death of a Salesman, a play the deep truth of which anyone believing in the slogan needs to learn (before learning it the hard way.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Room For Improvement

There are occasions when I surprise myself by behaving in a remarkably mature, almost wise, manner. Fortunately such occasions are few and far between. Much as I'd like to arrive at enlightenment, part of me prefers the adventure of getting there and its many, many detours.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

It's Doom Alone That Counts

Just reached the Isle of Mull accompanying Keats on his trip to Scotland and read this devastating sentence in Motion's account: It was on Mull that his short life started to end, and his slow death began. I'm so used to thinking of the great poet as inevitably doomed to an early death that it's never occurred to me before that his death at such a young age was possibly avoidable. He was still worn down by the difficult trudge to the island when a few days later he started nursing his dying younger brother Tom, which left him open to the highly infectious tuberculosis that killed Tom.

It's all intensely sad. But, considering what he would achieve in terms of the works penned after the Scottish adventure, it's also strangely inspirational.

Monday, August 14, 2017


Are you the designated driver, staying sober and responsible, getting everyone home in one piece? Or are you one of the helpless who need ferrying home? I suppose it falls to most of us to act out both roles at one time or another, though I'm not sure we end up choosing which we want to be. I suspect that the role selects us, for better or worse, and we find out which we were all along.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ducks, Finally

All things, including ducks, come to he who waits. Well, more like ducklings really.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ducking The Issue

Nothing duck-related so far today. Plenty that's been sleep-related though, thankfully so given the trials of yesterday's journey.

Lots of noisy kids, almost an entirely good thing, except when I'm trying to mark. But achieved my quota for the day.

Just back from teh tarik gajah and roti canai sardin and a gun battle with Akmah at Aziz's place. It doesn't get any better.

Still no ducks today.

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Quick One

Travelling north this evening for a brisk visit to Mak's. This appears to be duck-related, of which there will be more anon. Now charging batteries, literally & metaphorically.

Postscript: the notion of a 'quick one' and a 'brisk visit' was rendered supremely ironic by a super-massive jam getting through Tuas, stretching before even entering the tunnel on the AYE leading up to the checkpoint. It took us well over two and a half hours just to get to immigration. Noi reckons it's like this every day which makes me wonder how those who commute from JB and back to work on a daily basis cope with this. Quite frankly, I couldn't, and didn't. We reached Sungai Petai in the early hours and were supremely glad to do so.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Nodding Off

I fall asleep with almost frightening ease these days. This is a talent I'm very happy to cultivate. In a sleep-deprived world it makes sense to enjoy a sense of plenty.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Bit Of A Gap

I'm a bit annoyed at myself for not having access to my Oxford Collected Poems of Keats at the moment. It resides in its usual place on the shelves at Maison KL, but it was pretty obvious I might need it when tackling Motion's biog of the great Romantic, and it turns out that the biographer and former Poet Laureate includes so much close detail on the works that I feel a bit lost without it. I've just finished the chapters covering the writing of Endymion and they really don't make a whole lot of sense unless you're looking at the actual poem.

Bit of a confession here: sad - and embarrassing - to say, I've never read Endymion from beginning to end. Oh dear.

Which has been making me think of just how many other stone cold classics I've never come to grips with. Byron's Don Juan immediately jumps to mind, though for some reason I don't feel too embarrassed about that. Having said that, I suppose it's a bit of a stretch to claim Endymion as a classic considering the bad press it tends to pick up. But it's obviously major Keats and a bit of a gap in my reading to say the least.

The thing about Motion's account of the writing of the poem is that it creates an urgent desire to read the thing asap. One sure sign of an excellent biography, I reckon.