England is famous for odd pronunciations of towns and villages and standing here by this sign you can see one of the classics. I mentioned it the other day in my post about Dylan Thomas. It says Mousehole, but it is actually pronounced Mausl. When I was in All About Eve we had a country writing and rehearsal retreat that we rented near a place called Leominster, that’s Lemmster. Don’t even get me started on Worcester sauce, Wuster sauce or Leicester, Lester. We have great difficulty pronouncing Dionne Warwick’s name over here, because we have a town called Warwick, that’s Wohrick. And remember I have a German wife so she is constantly surprised by English pronunciations as I am by German pronunciations. (Tricky language that one.)
But languages are great fun once you make some progress. I can’t remember exactly the first time I had a conversation with someone in a foreign language, either in broken French or Spanish, but it was exhilarating. If you speak in another language for an extended length of time, it makes you tired, perhaps because the language centre in the brain for your mother tongue is not in the same place as a learnt language. I read a book called Phantoms In The Brain by V.S. Ramachandran where I read about this. The book was full of fascinating examples of the brain’s shenanigans. People who had lost their ability to speak a language they knew fluently due to a brain injury. People who don’t want their legs anymore (yes, I did just say that). People who see cartoon characters everywhere. It all sounds so absurd and even funny, but those people who hear voices are having a terrible time. Think of people who are going through this current crisis, how are they dealing with their mental health issues being cooped up inside all day?
You might have heard of the book The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat by Oliver Sachs. Fascinating. You might have seen the film Awakenings with Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro, also fascinating. In real life Robin Williams took his own life, what a tragedy to lose a man like him to mental battles, a comic genius. Did you ever see Dead Poet’s Society? I loved that film. Once in a hotel foyer in Minneapolis, I was standing in reception and there he was. I didn’t recognize him at first. It was that odd situation when you think you know someone and then realize, oh, it’s him from the television. I was 6 feet away from him, I was about to say something, I opened my mouth and then realized it was Robin Williams. But he noticed this and as I didn’t speak he looked almost disappointed, as if a conversation would have been okay for him. I wish I had spoken to him, he didn’t seem scary or unfriendly, but I just backed out as I realized it wasn’t someone I knew, it was a mega famous person out of context.
It’s hard to keep your head together these days. The lies vs. the truth, the bombardment, the pressures, money, survival, especially now. The modern world can kill you, it makes you promises that it can’t keep. It makes you compete, threatens you if you don’t fit in and when you consider the life people lead outside the west it’s even worse. Being gay in Afghanistan, a woman in Pakistan who has to worry about ‘Honour Killings’. Then there’s FGM, oh my God! At least if we don’t conform to society’s rules in the west we can find like-minded people and we’re not breaking any laws. But why won’t the majorities leave the minorities alone? Let people lead their lives the way they want. You can say it’s fear, you can say the foreigners are taking over (I don’t see foreigners, I see people), but I don’t think it is that, it’s the cruel side of stronger humans belittling weaker humans. How do they get away with it? Bring on the nerds! That’s what I say! Ha ha!! In fact bring on the foreign nerds, even better.
Today has been a mellow day, but I did get a call from Niko, my MOAT partner. I haven’t spoken to him in ages and that was really nice to talk to him. He was calling from Stockholm and we were discussing the situation there. They’ve done it all differently and only time will tell if they were right or wrong in their approach. But Niko and his wife have had the virus (they think), she had fever, he couldn’t breathe, but as it was with Alan Merrill, they won’t put you in hospital unless you are dying and they won’t even test you to see and if you do actually die then well, too bad. I also spoke to Salim in Texas and he said people are going mad out there. Please let this be over soon. Dear Mr Virus, stop now, enough is enough.
Music today is all Dylan, I need a dose of those stimulating words. Dare and I went to see the Dylan Desire tour at Earl’s Court in London in the seventies and I’ve always loved that album. So I may go seventies Dylan today having played a lot of the sixties albums quite frequently and recently. So I’m going Desire (1976) and then those box sets that came out of The Basement Tapes and Blood On The Tracks, I’ve been dying to get into those.
Song Of The Day is After Eight from Hanging Out In Heaven (2000). A calm look at throwing it all away.
You told me you were coming after five
If I’m alive, after five
I told you it’d be better after eight
When it’s too late, after eight
And if you hear a floorboard creak
Be sure that it’s not me
My feet won’t touch the carpet
Now the world has set me free
If you wanna be there in good time
Get off the line, drink your wine
If you don’t think you’ll make it, it’s okay
Gone tomorrow here today
And if silence is what shocks you
It’s just a different kind of noise
It’s bad for you, but it’s good for me
I didn’t have much choice
Hanging Out In Heaven (2000)