Archive for July, 2016

2016 ‘Beards, Shorts & Sandals’ season reaches peak

Posted in Beards on July 26, 2016 by telescoper

The Great Question of the day..

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Beard Liberation Front

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2016 ‘BEARDS, SHORTS & SANDALS’ SEASON REACHES PEAK

corbynsandals

BLF permission given for official engagements only

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that the 2016 Beards, Shorts and Sandals season has reached its peak in the recent warm weather in some parts of the UK.

The campaigners say that with temperatures well above 20C in some places the rise in the wearing of beards, shorts and sandals has been significant

Shorts and sandals may be worn all day until 9pm at the discretion of the wearer.

The campaigners say that the image of organic beard, shorts and sandals is one of the key male fashions of 2016 not just in Hackney and Dalston but across large parts of the UK as fashions change and develop.

The official season traditionally runs until August 31st. During…

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Return Trip

Posted in Uncategorized on July 25, 2016 by telescoper

A quick post while I’m waiting in the hotel for transport back to Venice and thence to England. It’s been a short trip but a lot of fun, with a couple of interesting discussion sessions thrown in between the eating drinking and hiking.

Unfortunately I twisted my knee near the start of yesterday’s hike. The limestone rocks around here can be very slippery! Since I’ve had a lot of problems with my knees over the years I decided to return to Base Camp. The friendly owners of the bar at the trailhead gave me a bag of ice to control the swelling and I was forced to spend the morning reclining on a sundowner with my foot up rather than hiking.

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This seemed to work and although I’m still getting a bit of a twinge I can get about reasonably well today.

Anyway, it’s back to Blighty this afternoon for the rest of what will be my last week at the University of Sussex.

Cinque Torri

Posted in Uncategorized on July 23, 2016 by telescoper

Today I was mainly occupied with a hike to the Cinque Torri,  a group of five towering peaks about 12 km from Cortina d’Ampezzo. It wasn’t too strenuous, although the recent rains had made some of the trail a bit slippery.

The route we followed included a visit to trenches, gun emplacements and other fortifications built during the First World War. There was heavy fighting in this area, because it was the border between Austria and Italy at that time.
It must have been very grim for the soldiers dug in above the tree line, especially during the winter.

Anyway here’s a quick snap of me abour to pass through a gap in one of the rocky structures at the peak, just before we started to descend.

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Cortina d’Ampezzo

Posted in Uncategorized on July 22, 2016 by telescoper

So here I am, then, in a small hotel just outside Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Dolomites North of Venice.

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The occasion for this trip is provided by the recent 60th birthday of John Peacock and an informal workshop organised by some friends. I was up at crazy o’clock this morning to get the plane to Venice and we’ve been dodging  thunderstorms all afternoon but I’m sure it will be a nice weekend.

Until later!

Graduation and Beyond

Posted in Biographical with tags , on July 21, 2016 by telescoper

I’ve found a few pictures of this week’s  graduation ceremony for the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex, at which I had the pleasure of presenting the graduands. These are taken without permission from facebook posts!

Graduation ceremonies are funny things. With all their costumes and weird traditions, they even seem a bit absurd. On the other hand, even in these modern times, we live with all kinds of  rituals and I don’t see why we shouldn’t celebrate academic achievement in this way. I love graduation ceremonies, actually. As the graduands go across the stage you realize that every one of them has a unique story to tell and a whole universe of possibilities in front of them. How their lives will unfold no-one can tell, but it’s a privilege to be there for one important milestone on their journey. Getting to read their names out is quite stressful – it may not seem like it, but I do spend quite a lot of time fretting about the correct pronunciation of the names.  It’s also a bit strange in some cases finally to put a name to a face that I’ve seen around the place regularly, just before they leave the University for good. I always find this a bittersweet occasion. There’s joy and celebration, of course, but tempered by the realisation that many of the young people who you’ve seen around for three or for years, and whose faces you have grown accustomed to, will disappear into the big wide world never to be seen again. On the other hand, this year a large number of MPS graduates are going on to do PhDs – including two who are moving to Cardiff! – so they won’t all vanish without trace!

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That’s me in the front row just to the left of the Mayor, in case you didn’t realise. It was very hot with all that graduation clobber on – in fact it was over 30 degrees. Waiting for the official photographs outside in the gardens was a rather sweaty experience.

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Graduation of course isn’t just about dressing up. Nor is it only about recognising academic achievement. It’s also a rite of passage on the way to adulthood and independence, so the presence of the parents at the ceremony adds another emotional dimension to the goings-on. Although everyone is rightly proud of the achievement – either their own in the case of the graduands or that of others in the case of the guests – there’s also a bit of sadness to go with the goodbyes. It always seems that as a lecturer you are only just getting to know students by the time they graduate, but that’s enough to miss them when they go.

Anyway, all this is a roundabout way of saying congratulations once more to everyone who graduated on Tuesday, and I wish you all the very best for the future!

Minor Swing (for the National Day of Belgium)!

Posted in Jazz with tags , , on July 21, 2016 by telescoper

Not far from the hotel in which I stayed during my visit to Ghent last week is a small but pleasant jazz bar called Minor Swing. I mentioned to some colleagues as we passed by the place that it was clearly named after the tune by Django Reinhardt (who was born in Belgium). In fact it was something of a signature tune for him. Anyway, Radio 3 reminded me this morning that today (21st July)  is Belgian National Day so I thought I’d mark the occasion on this blog by posting a version of Minor Swing that demonstrates Django’s superlative gift for melodic improvisation, together with violinist Stephane Grappelli and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France.

Let’s talk about the Black Bird

Posted in Film with tags on July 20, 2016 by telescoper

For those of you who haven’t seen the Maltese Falcon, here’s my favourite scene from the film. Everything about this is just right: perfect dialogue (from the novel by Dashiel Hammett, adapted by director John Huston), perfect acting (Humphrey Bogart and Sidney Greenstreet), and perfect lighting and camera work (credit the great cinematographer, Arthur Edeson). This film is 75 years old this year but I don’t think it has dated at all!