02 April 2009

But on a positive note

It's easy to snipe at hacks like Wollaston and that Greek sexist - that's why the blogosphere including this blog is full of sniping. Some things are worth celebrating.

Radio 3 It's my spotify, meaning I don't need spotify. I feel sure that if I want to hear some good music, I just need to tune to R3, and the chances are, it'll be there. Of course, I don't like everything. Curiously enough the two composers who do least for me are Brahms and Liszt, but for different reasons. Melodically, Brahms just doesn't connect with me at all: there's no challenge or fun in his melodies (Mendelssohn can be like that too). And Liszt is just vulgar. The other night I heard Dvorak's violin concerto. Apparently it's quite rarely played, and you could understand why, but it was something I'd not otherwise have heard. So, Radio in general is good for the randomness of what it offers. That's why I hate narrowcasting stations: you'll never hear something you don't like. Where's the fun in that?

An Inspector Calls It's more than ten years since I saw the famous RSC production, but I still remember it and the fantastic postwar communal socialism it embodies. Let us never forget that. And on Sunday, after hearing a R3 production of The Government Inspector it struck me how much Priestly's play is based on Gogol's. The Inspector's name is Goole, for gogolness' sake, and the premiere of the play was - I don't know why - staged in Moscow. At present, I'm indulging myself in the fantasy that I'm the first person to notice this, but that can't be true. I'm halfheartedly gogoling for evidence that this is well known, but haven't yet found any.

Oystercard What a brilliant device! My card needed renewal on Sunday. The only downside is that you have to go to an Underground station to reload it after paying online, and in South London, that means a journey. But it just works so brilliantly. I chose Victoria and without any fanfare or palaver presenting my card got it updated. And then the next day every bus in London knew my card was valid. It's quick, it's cheap, it's brilliant.

The positive power of the internet There's a lot of rubbish on the internet (no, really? says the rest of the world). I saw one site today that offers homeopathic remedies in the form of downloadable MP3 files. But it seems to me that increasingly it's providing a support network and knowledge base for sceptical and serious thinking. Blogs like Wonderful Life assert the astonishing beauty of life while imparting a little scientific knowledge. And the kindness between strangers that you find on Twitter (for a huge percentage of the time) is a superb demonstration of the human preference for sociability and chat over hatred and bile. Talking of which ...

The Daily Mail
Blimey, that's a surprise! But recently, the Mail's online columns have introduced judgement buttons on the readers' comments. So, if you think someone's comment is nonsense, you can disrecommend it. The result is that the loonies, although still high in number, are shown to have little support. Even Daily Mail readers think they're loonies. It may be a while, though, before the paper stops pandering to them. And it would pain me too painfully to give a link here to the Mail so you can see this.

And finally, it is spring. Can anyone be sad in spring? Even the beggar in Granada, who used to wear a sign around his neck saying "Help me. I am blind". An advertising executive gave him not money but advice, and his takings went up enormously when he added the words "and it is spring".

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