Archive for June, 2008
Midsummer night’s dream: FOUND in the Palm House while the storm raged outside.
I have written so many words elsewhere about Dialogues of Wind and Bamboo in the past six months I have never had time to express what I really feel about this extraordinary, all-consuming project. I would love to have found a few minutes every day to record what was really happening behind the scenes: health and safety madness; email gems (Kimho’s throw away comment, “I never knew Louise can play cello on stilts”). All the nitty gritty stuff, that’s what blogs are meant to be about isn’t it?
Even now I don’t really have time. I want to take some programmes down to the Palm House in time for Simon and Ziggy’s Q&A session about their wonderful invention, Three Pieces (see the video)
And I really should be packing for my holiday, as well as cutting back some of the undergrowth in the back garden or at the very least planting out the poor seedlings that have hung on to life while I ‘co-ordinated’ the cast of hundreds (tens anyway) involved in last Saturday’s peculiarly brilliant performance in the Botanics.
I had been dreading rain but I never imagined weather quite as bad as the downpour we performed under on midsummer night. And yet, oddly, getting soaked to the skin seemed to bring all the many different artists and musicians together into one smiling and co-operative team in a way that eluded us during the dress rehearsal under beautiful clear blue skies the night before.
At 6pm Jacqui, Jake, Ian and I sat in the cafe warming ourselves for the evening ahead when we saw the first drops of rain. By 6.30 the rain was a steady vertical stream from solid grey cloud but miraculously a line of brightly coloured brollies had sprouted outside the Palm House and for the next 30 minutes people just kept coming. And most of them stayed for the whole show.
Mattie, one of the down to earth horticultural staff on duty that night, had sent word to ask if we were really planning to go ahead with the performance. But there was no Plan B. Unbelievably, Kimho and I had never discussed what to do if it rained. We just went ahead and the result was one of the oddest and most uplifting experiences of my life. As Colin said in an email the other day,
I think the extreme wet (once I accepted it) lent something very special and memorable to the proceedings. The smells were incredible …and the memory of Chang Zhang dancing in costume in the lashing rain will remain with me for a long time. Very beautiful.
Rob comments on the psychology of such stoicism in Dialogues of Rain and Bamboo, “I had the sense that sheer bloody-mindedness would prevail…”
I treasure the memory of Chang (she dances beautifully but she is also a lovely person) along with a moment in the Palm House when I looked up at the rain battering on the glass while the building filled with the sound of FOUND steaming up the windows: my son’s band playing in one of my favourite buildings; surely this is not happening.
Oh yes, and Louise did play cello on stilts.
That’s it, hardly the nitty gritty (maybe I will get back to that eventually) but I have 20 minutes left to gather up programmes, snip a few overhanging branches and when I get back from the Palm House I really must pack for holiday. Two whole weeks away from email, websites, and Scottish weather. Ray says its hot in France.
June 28th, 2008
This is Susie Brown’s beautiful bamboo sculpture – let’s hope we get the blue sky
Not much more than 24 hours to go now and I am determined to write a little bit about this extraordinary event for my own blog. After months of hard work behind the scenes and miles of emails flashing back and forward between New York, Hong Kong, Thailand, Edinburgh and even London, Dialogues of Wind and Bamboo is about to go public . Yesterday I went more public than I expected when I found myself in a dance workshop in the Botanics as Garden staff wheeled their barrows around Susie, Nick, Anne-Marie and myself in the midst of our meditation walk exercise. (and no that’s not my foot in the picture). Hope to get back to this soon, but right now I am late for the rehearsal.
June 20th, 2008
I just do not think that a case has been made out for extending the 28 day limit any further, particularly as the other proposals in the Bill allow for questioning to continue after charge.
There it is. A brief sample from an honest and convincing email sent to me by a politician I respect who nevertheless voted for 42 pre-charge detention yesterday in the meat market of the House of Commons. Why do politicians in power find it so difficult to carry out their private beliefs in public actions?
A few months ago I attended a Labour party morale-boosting conference for the faithful in Edinburgh. In a church hall with almost heavenly light streaming through arched windows I heard a former minister speak with what seemed genuine passion about the divisive effects of poverty and disparity. At the tea break I asked her why she didn’t talk like that in public.
Her answer was telling. “I knew I was among friends,” she said – or words to that effect (I didn’t whip out my notebook and write them down). Significantly she had in front of her a speech, written by someone else, laced with statistics about how much Labour has achieved. But it was when she put the paper down and started to speak from the heart that the hall really began to listen.
I think much the same must have happened in yesterday’s debate. Diane Abbott seems to have been one of the few who spoke from the heart about the dangers of playing politics for short-term gains in the polls.
Now, once again, I teeter on the brink of resigning from the Labour party. I have hung on despite Iraq because of genuine opposition to the war from many Labour politicians, including the one whose email I quote above. Iraq is the deep, unwashable stain on this government and (as a fire-side psycho-analyst) I feel that projected guilt drives much of the new Labour authoritarian policy on home security. As one cabinet minister memorably put it at a fund-raising event I attended a couple of years ago, “When it comes to Iraq, we’re all fucked”.
I found that candour oddly endearing (at least he wasn’t fooling himself) and wonder if the likes of David Milliband will soon be saying that about 42 days in the sympathetic surroundings of their constituency parties. Candour may be the luxury of opposition politics but that at least is a luxury Labour will almost certainly soon be able to enjoy.
June 12th, 2008
There’s irony for you. A text from Ray this morning, he’s due to chair a seminar in Brussels on sustainable industry but the whole area is sealed by riot police with water canon against French, Italian and Spanish fishermen demanding cheap fuel. “Our audience may not get through the barriers.” While Ray retreats to the green peace of Brussels Botanic Gardens I text him a request for pictures of the riots and they arrive on my screen within minutes.
It will take a brave politician to tell this lot that it is a good thing that cheap fuel is a thing. High energy costs are the only incentive we have to start living within our ecological means. You rarely hear anyone in power making the case for sustainable living with real passion and conviction. But Gordon Brown made a surprisingly encouraging attempt when he faced the erstwhile green Cameron in parliament today. For once I thought he had the advantage over the posh boy.
Could Brown become the new green? Let’s hope so. While the rich world moans about the price of oil the poor world starves.
June 4th, 2008