- His Dark Materials (The Play) adapted by Nicholas Wright ★★★☆☆
- Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman ★★☆☆☆
- Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood ★★★★☆
- The Mabinogion by Sioned Davies (Translator) ★★★☆☆
- The Defenders by Philip K Dick ★★★☆☆
- They by Kay Dick ★★★★☆
- Economic Science Fictions by William Davies, et al. ★★★★☆
- Survival of the Richest by Douglas Rushkoff ★★★★☆
- Recitatif by Toni Morrison ★★★☆☆
- The Sandman #1: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman ★★☆☆☆
In my novel Lost In Paradise, I make use of a handful of poems to aid the plot. I hadn’t planned on doing this at the outset – other than including a few lines from Milton’s Paradise Lost – it just happened after Scarlet, one of the story’s protagonists, uttered a line from Louis MacNeice’s poem ‘Snow’.
World is crazier and more of it than we think…
… a line that just popped into my head as I was writing.
One of the poems I make use of is ‘Le Pont Mirabeau’ by Apollinaire. This is the fragment I used:
Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Lucienne
Et nos amours
Faut-il qu’il m’en souvienne
La joie venait toujours après la peine
Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure
La Lucienne is la Seine in Apollinaire’s original, but since the Lucienne is the river that runs through the story’s imaginary city of Parrinon, I took the liberty of changing it.
Being a poem, the words and meaning are open to interpretation, so I leave that to the reader – and Google Translate if you don’t read French.
But the reason I’m writing this note is because only yesterday I discovered that the Pogues recorded a version of the poem in an English translation, and it’s simply marvellous.
And their translation of the poem, tuned to fit the lyrics of a song, is quite beautiful:
Below the Pont Mirabeau
Slow flows the Seine
And all out loves together
Must I recall again
Joy would always follow
Let night fall, let the hours go by
The days pass on and here I stand
Sad as I was to hear of the death of Robbie Coltrane today, it triggered a wonderful memory of the big man from 1990 when I saw him play Dario Fo’s classic solo piece Mistero Buffo — a play which the Vatican denounces as “the most blasphemous show in the history of television”. Marvellous!
I was sat in the middle of the third row of a tiny theatre that Robbie completely filled with his colossal presence and physical hugeness. And being so close to the stage, he often made eye contact, which made the experience all the more intense. It was in Scotland too, so he didn’t hold back on the accent. An astonishing night out, a breathtaking experience, impossible to forget.
I found this related piece in the Scotsman.
An outstanding series of five short videos (~10 to 20 minutes each) based on Michael Faraday’s lectures The Chemical History of a Candle.
In these lectures Michael Faraday’s careful examination of a burning candle reveals the fundamental concepts of chemistry, while at the same time superbly demonstrating the scientific method.
“So you want to hear a story? Well, I used to know a whole lot of pretty interesting ones. Some of them so funny you’d laugh yourself unconscious. Others so terrible you’d never want to repeat them. But I can’t remember any of those, so I’ll just tell you about the time I found that lost thing…”
Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing is a thing of beauty. Wonderful art woven with an evocative narrative that’s inspirational and fun. Do watch it.