Tuesday, 15 August 2017


Transformed into arrows
let's all soar together, body and soul!
Piercing the air
let's go soaring, body and soul!
With no way of return
but transfixed there
rotting with the pain of striking home,
never to return.
One last breath! Now, let's quit the string,
throwing away like useless rags
all we have had over the years
all we have enjoyed over the years
all we have piled up over the years
and whatever else.
Transformed into arrows
let's all soar together, body and soul!
The air is shouting! Piercing the air
let's go soaring, body and soul!
In dark daylight the target is rushing towards us.
Finally, as the target topples
in a shower of blood,
let's all just once as arrows
Never to return!
Never to return!

         - Ko Un

Monday, 14 August 2017

Broadsword calling Danny Boy

I have been to Austria for a few days, mainly to the Salzkammergut. I have, as this post's title would indicate, been to the castle which features as Schloss Adler in 'Where Eagles Dare'. In anticipation of this I bought a cheap, second-hand DVD and a couple of days before I flew out, after putting it off several times, forced myself to watch it. I would first have seen the film when I was thirteen and seem to remember enjoying it enormously. However, not surprisingly my tastes have changed in the intervening decades and this time round I had to give up 45 minutes in. According to the ever-reliable interweb the film - supposedly referred to by Clint Eastwood as 'Where Doubles Dare' - came about because Richard Burton was getting divorced and, needing some money quickly, persuaded Alistair MacLean to knock something up in a couple of weeks; frankly I'm surprised it took him that long.

The view from the bell tower

Burg Hohenwerfen can also apparently be seen in a much better film, briefly appearing in the background of one of the shots during 'Do Re Mi' in the 'Sound of Music'. The tour guide who told me this went on to complain that the various locations during that sequence were many kilometres apart and that it was physically impossible for the von Trapp family to have got from one to the other while singing the song. I took advantage of the ride up to the castle in the funicular railway to teach her the difference between diegetic and non-diegetic film music. In return I learned that Austrians use a different facial expression from us when showing interest and gratitude. Anyway, mentioning the funicular obviously draws attention to the fact that there are no cable cars. Hollywood lied to us; who'd have thought it?

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Battle of Lewisham

 “If you cannot convince a Fascist, acquaint his head with the pavement.” - Leon Trotsky 

The fortieth anniversary of the Battle of Lewisham, which falls today, has been given some unwanted context by events in the US. I was there of course, and the pictures in yesterday's Guardian and the others I include here certainly bring back memories.

"Are you a communist?"
"No, I am an anti-fascist."
"For a long time?"
"Since I have understood fascism." 

- Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls