David Green

David Green (Books) is the imprint under which I publish booklets of my own poems, when there are sufficient of them. Apart from that, the website has become what it is. I hope you find at least some of it worthwhile.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

My Life in Sport - Cycling Part 3

It has been some time since this little series came to a temporary standstill. I have been inundated with no letters at all from readers asking when it will resume. Well, we can finish the account of the cycling here. And then maybe some other time, there will still be running, darts and pool, chess and etcetera to look forward to. 
We resume the story in 1996.

Something told me it was over, riding past Kemble airfield early in the morning on 25th August, 1996. It felt more like the end of something than the beginning of a third consecutive ride in the WTTA 12 Hour. Three weeks before, I had taken 15 minutes off my previous times for the trial ride from Portsmouth to Swindon and back, improving from 8 hours 55 to 8-40, but although by then I felt llike an old hand who really knew what he was doing, I knew I could turn out another respectable ride by doing what I'd done before in almost identical conditions, it wasn't any longer on any great voyage of discovery. I thought stretching the stamina issue to the 24 Hour event was out of the question despite my dad's optimistic suggestion of the idea and it would need exceptionally favourable conditions to achieve the 225 miles that I vaguely thought might be possible for the 12. Once you've benefitted from a mostly helpful south-westerly wind all morning, riding back into it during the afternoon meant diminishing one's losses and aiming to make it to the finishing circuit rather than sustaining the approximatiion of 20 mph recorded for the first 100 miles. 
In the twenty years since these events, some things that happened one year migght have got mixed up with those of another. This might have been the one in which I ran out of fuel at about 170 miles, the muscles all go limp and I stopped and ate any last remnants of food still in my back pockets before pushoing on again and, gladly, seeing the car with new supplies a few miles later. But it proved how true it is that the body is an engine and needs fuel to run on. As I set off again, I could feel the energy coming back as the blood distributed the calories back into the arms and legs.
The great Andy Cook would have caught me from 46 minutes behind after 4 hours or so and offered a few kind words as he went by at 25 mph, or something like it, because that always happened but even if he had covered more miles than I finally did in 12 hours, he packed in all three of our head-to-head encounters in the discipline because 215 miles might be good enough for me but 255 wasn't going to be good enough for him and so he rode somewhere else the following week to gain satisfaction.
On the finishing circuit, I stopped at a gate and went behind the hedge for an unprecedented second call of nature. Previously, I had manage with just the one such comfort break which I used to pass comment on the sport of golf on the course at Burford. But as I went back to the bike, I saw Gwen Shillaker glide by in her stylish way and that concentrated the mind a bit more. Although she was now in front of me on the road, I thought I must be still ahead of her on miles. She was something of a hero of mine and her example of riding round all day with a cheerful wave and a word for all the supporters had been one of the things I had wanted to emulate in taking up the 12 Hour event in the first place. So I got back on and followed in her tyre tracks.
One has a fairly clear idea of how far one has been and you know exactly when your time is up, 12 hours after you started, and it didn't look as if I was going to post an improved figure on 1995's 217.888 and so, realizing that tyhe next timekeeper on tyhe circuit would be the last I saw within my time, I weaved and wandered across the lane towards him, deliberately using up time in a way that would otherwise be criminal and profligate in a time trial and stopped by the timekeeper and said I was finishing there.
But you've still got some seconds left, carry on to the next one and you'll get credit for it.
No, no, this will do, thanks, I said.
And so my career could have continued for two more miles that would have given me a few more yards calculated onto that ride. And now that I look at the result, in which I finished 15th out of 31 finishers, as ever just above the halfway mark, with 215.131 miles, I was only 0.044 miles behind 14th place, which is perhaps about 80 yards. And so, as little as it really matters, I showed a complacent disregard for doing my very best and settled for something not quite as good.
But not by much. There are some good names below me on that result sheet and some more, including the legend, Keith Wright, 4th with 240 miles, above me. It was quite some privilege, especially looking back in disbelief at this distance, to have shared the road with them but only now do I notice that Janet Tebbutt wasn't one of them, and didn't ride any of the 12 Hours that I did, which is a shame. Ahead of Derek Randall, Basil D'Oliviera, Alex Higgins, George Best, Ricci Dohman or Kirkland Laing, she was my biggest sporting hero of all, who was as tough on a bike as she was gentle and unassuming off it. But the one-time Land's End to John O'Groats Ladies record holder was still there, churning out big long rides at her steady pace after I'd become a minor official as my dad graduated from circuit timekeeper to chief timekeeper and then event organizer, including when the race carried the Natiional Championship title and superstar riders like Zak Carr turned up to show what could be done on those roads, although quite clearly it wasn't the easiest of courses or else they would have done even more.
I didn't pack up completely in 1997 but that year wasn't scheduled around training for the big event. I think I did 2000 miles rather than 5 or 6 thousand but I'm afraid, once you've let it go, it's hard to get back, especially entering middle-age and when the whole object of training is to make oneself good enough to take part, let alone be properly competitive.
I made some effort to come back in 1999, pushing myself up hills and srcutinizing the stopwatch for any evidence that training times could be translated into acceptable 10's or 25's, knowing that you have to be at least back to what you could do for short distances before investing in new bikes and 200 miles as week of training through the summer to get back into the all day event. It was never quite there.
Being the sort of babe magnet that I have always been for a certain sort of boho chic, intellectual girl, it was eventually necessary to go on holiday with two girls rather than one and so we rode coast to coast, not quite across America, but across England at its narrowest point, from Newcastle to the Solway Firth but the rented mountain bikes rode like old Russian army tanks compared to a lightweight racing bike and so cycling for me eventually became two and a half hours on Sunday mornings but you notice the difference when you realize that any cloud or chance of rain has become an excuse to stay at home with the Observer crossword whereas a few years before you wouldn't actually set out in the rain but otherwise you'd chance it because you wanted the miles, it was an obsession and it was what you wanted to do.
It must be four years ago now, or maybe five, when I started to get a bad back just at the point when, having escaped from the city and got up the hill and through some fiddly bits of lanes, I was ready to give it a proper go but found myself instead sitting on a bench at the side of the road deciding that I had better make the best of my way back home.
It was a sad, disconsolate end to the best thing I ever did but isn't that so often how it is. Ask David Cameron. Or you could have asked Margaret Thatcher.
And now cycling is almost the national sport, contributing the foundation of the success of Team GB to the inevitable if somewhat gauche medals table in which this country is ahead of China and only gives best to the USA. My obscure place, and the long tradition in my family, in what was for such a long time a minority sport, are less than footnotes in a time up to and including when Chris Boardman's example kindled something about bikes in this country and then it caught fire. I'm so glad I did it at a time when nobody else knew enough about it to understand that I was actually no good at it.  

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Dustin Hoffman to play Thom Gunn in New Biopic

And here's a preview.

But I'm only joking.

Sorry about that.

Reading Matter

Stendhal was great, I'm glad I took the trouble to realize the old intention to get around to reading Le Rouge et Le Noir. I won't ruin it for you because the introduction did advise it might be best to read the story first. But one issue it now raises outside of its own themes is not whether the C19th novel was better than the C20th, but by how much.
Stuart Maconie's encyclopedic appreciation of pop music was much to be appreciated in his The People's Songs that I noticed begging me to buy it for one pound from a box of secondhand books seen through the window of the local launderette.  Being of a similar age and disposition to me - his specialist subject on Celebrity Mastermind was C20th British Poetry- I noticed how his assessments of records, and the culture they represented, became more guarded and sceptical at roughly the same point that mine does but he seems very fair and ready to admit that The Beatles, at least in the first place, were just as manufactured as One Direction. But he's a good lad, Maconie. I'm just grateful I don't suffer the same level of affliction of anorak dedication to the subject that he does.

But I was left at a hiatus on a bank holiday weekend with the new McEwan  not arrived yet, the extensive New Grub Street waiting to be started and an excellent-looking book on Byron to order. But one can't let three days pass without serious reading intent just because you'd prefer to read the short McEwan and not have to leave George Gissing halfway through some time next week and so I embarked on the big Victorian survey of literary life during some only mildly diverting horse racing this afternoon and I think it's going to be tremendous.
I don't know what else is due this autumn, the season that generally sees more books being published than usual, I have enough to look forward to already but one can't have too much of a good thing. 
One project stored up to be featured here, once I get around to finishing the long-delayed My Life in Sport series, is The Best Book in the House in which I'd like to pick favourites in such categories as Poetry, Fiction, Biography, Literary Criticism, Sport, Science and any others and then choose the best book in the house from the resulting shortlist.
With the impending return of The Saturday Nap in October, it's possible I've got more ideas than time to do them justice.

Chess Matters

Some might say that there are bigger issues in the world that need attention but I'm drawn to Ray Keene's campaign in his Times column today,
to return the traditiomnal English usage name to the Ruy Lopez, less evocatively known as The Spanish opening on the continent.
The opening is the first one usually finds out about- 1.e4, e5, 2. Nf3, Nc6 although I might launch my own campaign to return to the more descriptive notation of P-K4, P-K4, 2. Kt-KB3, Kt-QB3.
I remember once reading how the Bloomsbury Group abhorred the war but didn't see it as their business and left it to the soldiers while they carried on in their usual way.
And that is how Ray's campaign seems to me. Yes, the world is in crisis on innumerable fronts but, be that as it may, life must go on and it is so that we can worry about the 'Campaign for Restored Chess Appellation' that 'freedom' should be defended.

Meanwhile, some way below the standard of the forthcoming Carlsen-Karjakan championship match, I'm glasd to have found that Spark Chess have developed a multiplayer facility whereby one can play other people and not just their machines. It's taking up more of my life than it should with the intention to have 'just one more game' taking me beyond a sensible bedtime. Under my pseudonym of DianaRoss I have a win ratio of just under 70% with perhaps 10% draws and seem to have found a plateau at a rating of 1820 or so, above which it's going to be hard to maintain a rating much better because one only gains a few points for beating inferior players and then get set back 16 or 18 if you lose to them.
In two popular music clashes, I've lost to BobMarley and drawn with ABBA. I'll add the link into the Recommended list. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

New Acquisition - Rainy Night by Dave Brimage

I was walking past the cathedral in Old Portsmouth a couple of weeks ago in my role as reluctant flaneur and saw the notice advertising the exhibition of the Portsmouth and Hampshire Art Society.
A man assuming an attitude of leisure, I thought, ought to go in and have a look. I've been in before in previous years and it never dawned on me to enquire about actually buying a painting. The local artists are clearly good at what they do but I don't know much about art but I know what I like and, having only once or twice thought about acquiring an original artwork and then thought again, didn't expect to buy one from them.
But I must have been in a good mood and was arrested by this painting as soon as I saw it. It could do no harm, could it, I thought, to look at the catalogue and check the asking price. After all, I was well into a litany of recent winning horse racing bets (which has subsequently come to an end).
Yes, that's fine. I've won more than that this year but it does further delay the project of winning enough to justify buying the Buxtehude Complete Works.
I looked at it a bit more, thinking that if I could paint more than a childish motif of Lips & Bananas, this is what I'd like to do. Not every favourite poem or work than I admire makes me wish I'd done it myself but it is a special quality that suggests itself from time to time. It can even reach the stage where one believes one did have something to do with it because it couldn't have been so apt unless the artist had known as much.
The artist is Dave Brimage, about who I have been able to find out very little but even that adds to the mystique. None of his other paintings in the exhibition were like this. He appears to create a new picture every time he starts a new canvas, unlike some of us who write almost the same poem several times.
One can say more than is necessary about art and it is better to just enjoy something that one likes. But I have noticed compositional features about all the paintings I have on my walls, through years of increasing familiarity. Much of it is to do with the lines that make up the composition, which here line up with the 'disappearing point' up in the top left corner but what I understand from that is that most of the canvas is filled with reflected light from the wet road which is much brighter and emphasized over the real light from the buildings, car headlights and streetlights. Does that mean we should take from the painting the inference that one's distorted reflections on what is real are more powerful than that which is real. Whatever 'reality' is, we make more of it, or a different thing of it, in our skewed perception of it. I think that is probably right whether it was the artist's intention to express it or not.
But I'd be delighted to hear from the artist if he finds this. This year so far, I've only heard from a Latin scholar and a composer whose work I've reviewed so I'd be glad to hear from a painter.
I will hope to take a better picture in due course but in fading light, I had to do it from an angle to avoid a photograph that only reflected the flash.
I'm really glad I got it, for the painting itself to look at more than the fact that I can now, if I feel like it, bracket myself with that kind of wide boy that re-invests profit made from the turf into art.

Katherine Towers - The Remedies

Katherine Towers, The Remedies (Picador)

Not all reviews of new poetry books immediately persuade me to order the volume under discussion- I wish more did- but The Observer's Poetry Book of the Month was this, Katherine Towers' second collection, and immediately did.
While I was at it, I thought I'd find myself a copy of her first book, The Floating Man, from six years ago, and, quite usefully, that arrived first, giving me a few days to catch up with the story so far. I was not surprised too see the Picador mainstays, Don Paterson (editor) and Sean O'Brien acknowledged in the credits there, not only because I'd expect to admire work that owed any debt to their 'influence' but also because, in places, I thought, or liked to think, I noticed a correspondance of mannerism, attitude or style with those of the old maestros.
The first book is dominated by musical themes with Pianola and Double Concerto (specifically the Bach) particularly memorable. I suspected a recurrent facility in the last lines of poems that looked as if it had become a habit that was hard to break. Not a bad thing but once one has done something sucessfully a few times it must be difficult to find a better way out of a poem. Just stop sometimes might be an answer.
The Remedies begins with The Roses, a compact and lyrical idea beautifully realized, that promised plenty more. But so far, at least, the second book seems less substantial than the first. The remedies are flowers in a section of poems on the characters of plants as cures, often somehow in seemingly contradictory ways as if contrariness or opposites are the best remedies for any malady.
One could say that these poems are tangible expressions of the intangible, that the words are given space to breathe on the page or that their ironies are gentle but the book never quite delivers on the promises or expectations one could have brought with one from the first.
Katherine is not the first and presumably won't be the last to take the surrealism of Gerard de Nerval taking his lobster for walks as a theme but she achieves much when transcending the ordinary into a mild surrealism of her own.

Iceberg Season is a fine poem in which,

They drift along the aisles 
of the sound with creaks and growls

seeking a warmth that will finish them.

The Chaffinch is one poem that brings forward the best features of the first collection; The Window and Bluebells,

They can do nothing except look 
down at the earth, which is not a mirror,

are good poems, too, but are mainly evidence that there is more to be expected from Katherine Towers' poetry, that it is to be hoped that it's not six years until the third book, which is where one hopes she will convince us that she belongs alongside the better poets at work in Britain at the moment, which is where she is so often hinting that she might.

Corrette - Les delices de la solitude

Corrette, Les delices de la solitude, Opera Prima Ensemble (Brilliant Classics)

Michel Corrette (1707-1795) thus reached maturity when Bach and Handel were at the height of their powers but died after Mozart. Not a name that I had come across before and possibly not a giant of the baroque period in France, he made a career for himself in Paris under Louis XV, perhaps not universally admired even then. This is not innovative, demanding or individual music but music doesn't have to be those things, it just secures a more significant place in history if it is.
These chamber pieces are for cello and viola da gamba, as one instrument apparently hands over to its successor, with harpsichord continuo ringing along behind them and bassoon making jaunty contributions in some sonatas and organ, less coherently in others.
Because it is the rich texture of the sound that convinces me that this is a disc I'll return to more than most. Like the Wagenseil music for low strings, it has a decorum and sanity that is welcome, civilised and redolent of well-being. Largely free of anxiety, sturm or drang, it is nice work if you can get it. The organ, for me, doesn't quite meld with the rest of the integrated sound but it is not overly intrusive. Although one can't hear any more instruments than there are, like the Buxtehude Trio Sonatas in places, it can give the impression of a larger ensemble for all the activity going on.
I'm not sure that it gives any impression of the delights of solitude because it sounds like eminently social music, not something to be brooded upon or contemplated in private but an elegant and companionable accompaniment to other pleasantries.
It's a welcome addition to the disproportionate amount of space on my shelves taken up by baroque and cello/viol music and Michel Corrette is a fine addition to my list of little known composers.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Oh, Babe, What Would You Say

I've long been interested in the difference between optimists and pessimists. It must be wonderful to be an optimist, genuinely believing that it's all going to be alright, but surely their lives are full of disappointment whereas for those of us whose pessimism is devout enough take solace in each small piece of good fortune.

When I feel fit enough, I try to adopt the devil may care attitude of a Danny Baker, with my cap on the side of my head and a repertoire of ready-made epithets to fit any occasion but I'd rather side with Vicky Coren's darker view expressed when introducing Only Connect. Thus I rejoice in the variegated possibilities of a personality that can be more than one dimensional, unlike some of those overheard on Portsmouth buses and in the purgatorial shopping arcades of Gunwharf on a Saturday. It is in line with my dual favourite poets, Philip Larkin and Thom Gunn, one of who was a hedonistic adventurer into whatever life had to offer while the other said he wouldn't mind going to China if he could come back the same day. But don't suppose for one minute that I've caricatured them in the right order.

I wouldn't usually be in Gunwharf and especially not on a Saturday. My only memory of going for a drink there was the miraculous occasion on which I was persuaded to eventually listen to the free CD of The Libertines that had come with The Observer several months before. It didn't quite change my life but it did revise my opinion of Pete Doherty from 'waste of skin' to 'pop genius'.
But Gunwharf is the best place for me to get the bus back from Old Portsmouth, where I had to go today to collect my new acquisition, an acrylic on canvas called Rainy Night by Dave Brimage from the Portsmouth and Hampshire Art Society's exhibition.
I mean, look at me, flaunting the cash won from six consecutive winners by buying art like a Saatchi.
I wish I could attach a photograph of the painting and perhaps I soon will but, relishing the facility of a new computer that responds quite so quickly has the downside that I can't immediately see how I can put photographs from the camera onto the computer. But I've got my technical man working on it.

And so rather than struggle further with setting up a new website for Portsmouth Poetry Society just now or worry about how the sequence of six winners came to an end today, I'll go and contemplate the painting, which is very much the sort of painting I would like to do if I could paint. You'll see.
And, nearing the climax of the Stendhal book, I can wonder if it's tremendous, great or simply of its time; I can marvel at Stuart Maconie's social commentary in The People's Songs in which I've just reached the point where I've not heard of some of the records he uses as reference points.
And I can think that there is no excuse for anything but pessimism, take comfort in that and enjoy the good things that do, quite regularly, offer themselves. 

It might be depressing that last week a Times football pundit wrote that he was looking forward to more 'bickering' in the game in the forthcoming season because the comma was misplaced in the otherwise facile sentiment he was trying to express or that a BBC radio reporter said that Usain had 'defended' the 100m and 200m Olympic titles three times. No, he didn't. He won them three times but successfully defended them twice.
Before he died, it is reported that Thom Gunn saw a dictionary defintion of 'disinterested' that said it meant 'not interested' and that he didn't mind dying if the world had come to that. I know what he meant.


Thursday, 18 August 2016

What was the first record you ever bought

It's a long time since we had a feature that invited contributions on here and those that did once happen have fallen somewhat by the wayside.

But, by way of bringing not only the new computer but also this website back to life, why not let me know, with any associated story and it might be possible to make something out of it. Although it is true to say that I'm so glad to have found my way back into my own website that I'll post anything, to prove that I can use this computer and I'm not going to bed until I have done.

Two examples I know of from the office where I work are Wishing Well by Free, which is quite acceptable, but then The Bump by Kenny, which even my taste for the potency of cheap music does not allow.

My own story is that it was Mozart, in the version by Waldo de los Rios that reached about no.5 in the hit parade in 1971. And it was also the second record that I bought because I went to France with Junior School and saw a 7 inch record with six more pieces listed on the cover. But I wasn't to know that those were the tracks on the album, on an advert for it, rather than pieces somehow crammed onto those 7 inches of vinyl. But I got the album soon after.

Otherwise, the first  pop song I bought, for 45p, was Meet Me on the Corner by Lindisfarne, written by Rod Clements. I heard it again the other week and wondered why it had taken me 44 years to realize what it might really be about.
I've been reading Stuart Maconie's book , The People's Songs, in which he reveals that The Hollies' Carrie Ann is actually about Marianne Faithful and then goes on to explain the circumstances of the story that had hidden in broad daylight for three decades.
Meet Me on the Corner is a blissful nursery rhyme that disguises the fact that it is the same as Lou Reed's Waiting for the Man, and on the same subject
I had the opportunity to speak to Rod several years ago and all I could do was say gormless things. I wish I could have asked him about that belated insight now

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

All The Nightmares Came Today and It Looks As Though They're Here To Stay

Some lines of poetry are pertinent to situations that they were not intended to describe. Perhaps that's what poetry is. Perhaps that's the genius of it, when it is genius.

I don't think David Bowie was writing about getting a new computer and trying to set it all up in Oh You Pretty Things.

However, the fact that I'm writing this and you're reading it is a sign that I have made some progress.

I don't know when I'll be able to see e-mails sent to the usual address and so, in the meantime, I think you can use dg171059@gmail.com.

And I'd be delighted to hear from you to confirm you've read this and so that I can add you into my new address book. Wherever that is.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Portsmouth Poetry Society Programme 2016/17

P O R T S M O U T H     P O E T R Y     S O C I E T Y   2016 – 2017

The Portsmouth Poetry Society meet at 7.15 – 9.30 on the first and third Wednesday of the month at St. Mark’s Church Hall, Derby Road, North End, Portsmouth. The following programme has been arranged for 2016 – 2017.

7th   Sept:    Free For All
21st Sept:    AGM + the Poetry Competition results.

5th   Oct:    The poetry  Esther Morgan – Bloodaxe poet.
19th Oct:    Write a poem where you meet your younger self.

2nd  Nov:    Free For All.
16th Nov:    The poetry of Tomas Transtromer – in translation.

7th  Dec:    A workshop writing rhyming poetry led by John Dean.
21  Dec:    Christmas Party + poems by Spike Milligan. Venue TBA.

4th  Jan:    Free For All + poems on the theme of the sea.
18thJan:    Views from a hill – write or find a poem.

1st  Feb:    The Poetry of Ted Kooser – American poet.
15thFeb:    The Avant Garde Movement led by David Green.

1st  Mar:    Poems on the subject of hair. Find or write a poem.
15t Mar:    Free For All and or Acrostic Poems.

5th  Apr:    Look into the drawer/cupboard/sideboard of a poet and find?
19thApr:    Poems on the theme of gardens. Find or write.

3rd  May:    Poems inspired by film/music. Bring music if you can.
17th May:    Poems inspired by a teashop. Find or write.

7th  Jun:    The Poetry of Seamus Heaney.
21st Jun:    Outing – to be arranged.

5th   Jul:    Outing poems + Free For All.
19th Jul:    Talking to an inanimate object eg: car/table/jug/spoon etc.

Meetings are open to anyone with an interest in poetry. You don’t have to write poetry to attend. A charge of £2.50 is made for casual members. Full members pay £45.00 per
year (this is paid £15.00 per term). For more details contact secretary Denise Bennett 023 9248 0577 or email denisebennett@talk21.com

William Lawes, Richard Boothby

William Lawes, Complete Music for Solo Lyra Viol (Harmonia Mundi)

If you ever wondered who had the best job in the world, wonder a bit more if it might be Richard Boothby, who is Professor of Viola da Gamba at the Royal College of Music. Among other things, he also formed Fretwork, so he hasn't done too badly.
William Lawes, heroic enough to be the subject of poems by Geoffrey Hill,
died in 1645, aged just 43, inpetuously rushing into battle at the siege of Chester

and was a friend of Robert Herrick. But, having died 40 years before Bach was born, one can't help but think that these short pieces, mostly dances, are not unlike the Cello Suites. None of them quite approach three minutes in length and they don't appear to be grouped into suites but one gets all the same idea of  inventive formality subordinating vigour to rigorous effect even if not quite to the same depth of exploration.

I think I owe all of this fascination with the cello's mournful, lyrical, humane ancestors to Jordi Savall and the soundtrack to the film, Tous les Matins du Monde. Depardieu is Marin Marais, trying to find out what music is from the grieving St. Colombe. How potent esoteric music is. One phrase in the Couperin Lecons de Tenebres and I have more such music on CD than I have of Beethoven symphonies.
The tone of the viol used by Boothby, made in Charles II's time, is resonant and rich, recorded in what is clearly a fine acoustic in the RCM.
I am glad to have found out about music in the 1970's when exemplars of the avant garde, the likes of Bowie and then punk rock blew away othodoxies and made one keen to explore not just anything but just about everything. I'm glad it led to things like this.

St. Martin's Vineyard, Dry Eastard-Seyval Blanc 2015

It's not often I venture into wine writing. I only do it occasionally and those occasions are novelties, like Cliff Richard's Vida Nova or the Chateau David I used to buy in Sainsbury's.
However, I'm sometimes the lucky recipient of donations from those who have a bottle of wine they don't want and my sister returned from the Scilly Isles with this rarity.
St. Martin's vineyard is the most south-westerly vineyard in England, which comes as no surprise but their website doesn't seem to mention prices, which would be interesting. It is possible that it comes in a bit more expensive than it justifies but that is not to say that it doesn't make an immediate impression which I thought was lime but the label claims for gooseberries. It is more like a Sauvignon Blanc than a Chardonnay, a bit more attention-seeking than a Soave, but less rebarbative than the Philip Larkin books I have photographed it in front of.
It is all the things one expects of a summer, light drinking refreshment with a disarming zest and friendly demeanour and as the climate continues to make the British Isles more suitable for vine cultivation, its position on the outskirts of the industry should assure it of a niche in the market as long as it is not outrageously priced.  


If in doubt, make a list. I realize that this often arbitrary parlour game is no substitute for cogently constructed critique but it is easier.
The BBC Music magazine has invited 151 conductors to nominate their three favourite symphonies and produced a Top 20 on the basis of the opinions offered. Beethoven's Eroica comes top and is thus the subject of the magazine's free disc.
Quite rightly, Beethoven shows up the most but Sibelius surprisingly less than one might have thought and when he does, it's no. 7 that gets the most mentions.
While Vladimir Ashkenazy picks two of the three that I would have chosen, if asked, because no sooner does one see such a feature than one has to have a go oneself, our local hero, Kirill Karabits, selected Lyatoshynsky 3, Prokofiev 5 and Terterian 3, not all of which I'm on leitmotif-whistling terms with.

If you want to find the complete list then I must direct you to the magazine but what you won't find there are my choices- Beethoven Pastoral, Schubert Unfinished and Sibelius 5. With honourable commendations to Mozart 40, Berlioz Fantastique, Beethoven 5, Sibelius 2, Gorecki Sorrowful Songs and Mendelssohn 4.

But, as ever, beware of the BBC magazine with its lightweight reviewing and facile phrase-making. In a review of some solo Bach violin, it says the performance makes,
even the A minor fugue sound like musical droplets falling onto a warm bed of contrapuntal moss

I mean, really.