No Time Toulouse
I'm writing this in Toulouse on this year's last tour day off in France. Unfortunately it's windy and wet out, so I really can't be bothered leaving this nice hotel room with its comfy bed, reasonably speedy wi-fi, choice of bath or shower and, at least now that I've had the window open for a while, decent temperature. It does seem rather a shame not to get out and explore the town a little – but the fact of it is, we aren't here as tourists, we're here to work, so arguably days off are best used for whatever relaxation and recuperation seems appropriate. And right now, for me, that's a quiet day in. I have some lean ham, a bag of tomatoes and a couple of apples to munch my way through, much more my kind of thing these days than a kebab...
Here's a photo taken from the room window. Is this a designer entrance to Dante's Inferno, or just a snazzy way into an underground car park? Either way, it's a chilly day!
Not that I'm just sitting here eating, you understand. That, and indeed writing paragraphs of this blog, is more of an occasional act of punctuation, a comma, sometimes a semi-colon, breaking up the pursuit of my favourite r 'n 'r activities, reading and listening to music.
On the book front, I, like Alex, am a lifetime history fan, so right now I'm tussling with a recentish tome about clashes between the newly developing Gothic cultures and the decaying empire of Rome during the fourth century AD. I say “tussling” because, like what seems to me to be far too many modern history books, it begins with some interesting scene-setting then settles down to what the author seems to think is the far more worthwhile task of explaining, repeatedly and in great detail, how none of the available source material is at all trustworthy and hence nothing meaningful can be written about the primary subject at hand (a.k.a. the reason why one bought the book in the first place). This seems to me to be an inevitable end result of the scientific method of history which has been fashionable since the late 1940s – scientific method demands rigorous proof but since that can't be provided by, in this instance, a handful of surviving documents written fifteen centuries ago according to standards which had nothing to do with modern science, the historian can only write about how history can't actually be written any longer. I'm inclined to think that this simply demonstrates the absurdity of applying scientific methods to disciplines which may perfectly well be non-scientific – and I'll probably drop this book and read some Peter Ackroyd instead. He may make a lot of it up, but he's a pretty decent prose stylist and right now a dose of stylish creativity seems more attractive than a load of scientifically approved sterility.
As far as music's concerned, I'm hooked up to Grooveshark as I write – mini-jack to mini-jack cable connecting the netbook up to the iPod dock for acceptable sound quality – and revisiting Average White Band. Best remembered for their 1974 dance instrumental “Pick Up The Pieces”, this collection of hairy, McEwan's Export-swilling Scots rather surprised everyone by being one of the hardest, funkiest outfits around in the early 1970s, with a great soulful singer in Hamish Stuart (the one in the photo with really big hair). I was reminded of them when Colin hosted an after-show “Funktastic Dance Party” on his birthday (sorry, but I was too busy dancing to take pictures!) and our lovely dancing BV ladies were particularly hooked by the slow, deep bass crunch of AWB's “School Boy Crush”, so today I'm following up that reminder, and thoroughly enjoying the ride. Sometimes the groove falters – for them as for so many other Brit bands, attempting reggae was a ghastly mistake – but most of their recordings up until 1978 were great stuff.
Meanwhile, back home a number of my friends and acquaintances have begun to react to the current craze for posting “selfies” all over the Internet by doing weekly postings of “sockies” instead. So here's one from me, despite my dull taste in socks.
Last minute change of musical tack – Iron Man 2 OST, otherwise known as the “greatest hits” album AC/DC have never released. “The Jack” should have been on there, though, and “Whole Lotta Rosie”, and “It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock And Roll)”, and... OK, so actually it's just another patchy AC/DC compilation. That'll do!