Sunday, 4 May 2008

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn

My Dad has just told me that Miss Joan Hunter Dunn has died. Somehow I missed this news completely. Here is her obituary in The Telegraph and The Times.

A Subaltern's Love Song

poem by John Betjeman

Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn,
Furnish'd and burnish'd by Aldershot sun,
What strenuous singles we played after tea,
We in the tournament - you against me!

Love-thirty, love-forty, oh! weakness of joy,
The speed of a swallow, the grace of a boy,
With carefullest carelessness, gaily you won,
I am weak from your loveliness, Joan Hunter Dunn.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
How mad I am, sad I am, glad that you won,
The warm-handled racket is back in its press,
But my shock-headed victor, she loves me no less.

Her father's euonymus shines as we walk,
And swing past the summer-house, buried in talk,
And cool the verandah that welcomes us in
To the six-o'clock news and a lime-juice and gin.

The scent of the conifers, sound of the bath,
The view from my bedroom of moss-dappled path,
As I struggle with double-end evening tie,
For we dance at the Golf Club, my victor and I.

On the floor of her bedroom lie blazer and shorts,
And the cream-coloured walls are be-trophied with sports,
And westering, questioning settles the sun,
On your low-leaded window, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

The Hillman is waiting, the light's in the hall,
The pictures of Egypt are bright on the wall,
My sweet, I am standing beside the oak stair
And there on the landing's the light on your hair.

By roads "not adopted", by woodlanded ways,
She drove to the club in the late summer haze,
Into nine-o'clock Camberley, heavy with bells
And mushroomy, pine-woody, evergreen smells.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
I can hear from the car park the dance has begun,
Oh! Surrey twilight! importunate band!
Oh! strongly adorable tennis-girl's hand!

Around us are Rovers and Austins afar,
Above us the intimate roof of the car,
And here on my right is the girl of my choice,
With the tilt of her nose and the chime of her voice.

And the scent of her wrap, and the words never said,
And the ominous, ominous dancing ahead.
We sat in the car park till twenty to one
And now I'm engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Radio Nowhere

Surely these two songs are the best Bruce Springsteen has written in years and years? I'm glad to hear the Boss back on top form. They two both very different, but both hit the spot. They are from his new album, Magic.

Girls In Their Summer Clothes

Radio Nowhere

I especially like the lyrics of Radio Nowhere.

Radio Nowhere
by Bruce Springsteen

Radio Nowhere
I was tryin' to find my way home
But all I heard was a drone
Bouncing off a satellite
Crushin' the last lone American night
This is radio nowhere, is there anybody alive out there?
This is radio nowhere, is there anybody alive out there?

I was spinnin' 'round a dead dial
Just another lost number in a file
Dancin' down a dark hole
Just searchin' for a world with some soul

This is radio nowhere, is there anybody alive out there?
This is radio nowhere, is there anybody alive out there?
Is there anybody alive out there?

I just want to hear some rhythm
I just want to hear some rhythm
I just want to hear some rhythm
I just want to hear some rhythm

I want a thousand guitars
I want pounding drums
I want a million different voices speaking in tongues

This is radio nowhere, is there anybody alive out there?
This is radio nowhere, is there anybody alive out there?
Is there anybody alive out there?

I was driving through the misty rain
Searchin' for a mystery train
Boppin' through the wild blue
Tryin' to make a connection to you

This is radio nowhere, is there anybody alive out there?
This is radio nowhere, is there anybody alive out there?
Is there anybody alive out there?

I just want to feel some rhythm
I just want to feel some rhythm
I just want to feel your rhythm
I just want to feel your rhythm
I just want to feel your rhythm
I just want to feel your rhythm
I just want to feel your rhythm
I just want to feel your rhythm

Tuesday, 4 December 2007


"Analyzing humour is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it." - E.B. White.

Thanks to Jimmy Carr on The Culture Show for alerting me to this quote.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Fade Into You

Great film soundtracks of all time? I'm sure there are many contenders of greater stature, but this evening I will mostly be voting for 'Stealing Beauty'.
Whoever it was that was in charge of collating the set of songs for this film knew what he/she was doing, big time. I have played this CD over and over for many years, and have yet to tire of it. The film came out in 1996 but I only saw it some years later, and it was only on a second viewing a few years after that, that I fully grew to appreciate the diverse soundtrack. And in amongst it's glorious range of songs, (from Hendrix to The Cocteau Twins), there is Mazzy Star.
I had never heard of them, to my shame, (what can you do?) but I have since then bought (yes bought) all their albums. Perhaps the reason I had never heard of them is that you rarely hear them played on radio. This means that decades can pass before one finally wakes up to a distinct sound. Mazzy Star have been around since 19bloody89. Yet I hadn't heard of the name till some ten years later. Good grief. The reason why I suddenly bring this up now is that the other day I was listening to the Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie show on BBC Radio 2, (at least I think it was them) and they actually played Mazzy Star. Yes. I think this is the first time I have ever heard them on the airwaves. It re-ignited the flame.

I love the film too, by the way. A friend of mine said she thought it was just a load of old men chasing young girls. True I suppose, but I won't bore you now as to why I think it better than that. Anyway to finish off why not treat yourself, dear hapless reader, to a video of the great band itself, singing their biggest hit, "Fade Into You". As Stuart Maconie said, "it is a song which seems to stop time", or words to that effect.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Daniel Eatock - Editions & Originals

There is as much wit and food for thought at the current exhibition at The Kemistry Gallery as you might see anywhere in Tate Modern. Daniel Eatock's work has a wonderful effect on me: when I walk out of the gallery I am immediately looking at life in a slightly different way. Can't ask for more. His press release says..."Eatock is interested in connections between image and language, titles, punch lines, miscommunication, subversions, open systems, contributions from others, seriality, collections, discovery and inventing.". His website invites photographic contributions from readers. I first came across Daniel Eatock through 2point8, so thank you Michael.

Saturday, 17 November 2007


This is quite something, the world's first high-definition image taking of an Earth-rise from the Moon. As the site says though, "we use the expression "Earth-rise" in this press release, but the Earth-rise is a phenomenon seen only from satellites that travel around the Moon, such as the KAGUYA and the Apollo space ship. The Earth-rise cannot be observed by a person who is on the Moon as they can always see the Earth at the same position." Keep watching the video for a short while before you see the earth rise. Thank you Boing Boing.

Sunday, 21 October 2007


I came across this poem many years ago, I am not sure where, but I noted it down. I recall searching the bookshops at the time, (long before the days of internet), for a collection of Jean Earle poems. But I gave up after finding absolutely nothing anywhere. I am not surprised that I didn't find anything, since even an internet search today comes up up with virtually nothing, apart from the bare minimum. Wiki has nothing.

So dear reader, count yourself lucky to be reading this astonishing poem. Angry, sad, heartfelt and thought-provoking, you won't be reading it anywhere else. Unless you bought the book, which I doubt you have.


By Jean Earle

An old farmer always named one cow
Bluebell - and let himself get fond
Of that one. Ambling in to milk,
He kept his hand on her.

Yet when she left for good - as all must -
He always beat her, hard,
Into the van.

Young then, I did not understand -
When I was old and could not cope with more
Dead weight, how I would thrash my griefs
Into the van. "Get in!
Don't come haunting round my yard!"

Saturday, 20 October 2007

In Two Minds

Sometimes it is both intuitive and immediate. At other times it can take weeks, or even months, for me to select which photo, in a sequence of similar but slightly different 'decisive moments', is to be 'the one'. Sometimes I shelve my decision for a few weeks, and come back later, hopefully with a clearer head. It is encouraging and interesting to see that Henri Cartier-Bresson appeared to suffer from this same problem on occasions, apparently having difficulty deciding which image to print and publish. On at least two occasions he changes his mind and selects another similar but different image later. Two examples below. The first is an image from his book 'The Decisive Moment', followed by the more familiar version. The second is from 'The Family of Man', again followed by the better known version. These examples are not like looking at a contact sheet, but instead reveal how HCB changed his mind about which image he ultimately preferred. I know I have seen a different version of the Seville, Spain, 1933 photo published, the of the kids through a broken wall. If anyone can tell me where, it would ease a nagging in my mind. And if one day I change my mind about one of my own images, I'll be in good company.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

She's Lost Control

I've loved the melancholic and intense music of Joy Division ever since I first heard it on the John Peel Show. So a real treat for me to see 'Control', which I did last night. This is a film about their lead singer Ian Curtis. It's really good. It helped put the songs into context too, as well as being a fitting tribute to the band. Perhaps best known for 'Love will tear us apart', their two albums also includes many other powerful songs, all of which are characterised by beautiful tunes (which you can easily whistle or hum), and memorable lyrics. They have stood the test of time, (my life-time anyway) and are a must-have Desert Island disk. Buy their albums. See the film. Their T shirts are nice too. I still have my original 'sound wave' one, above.

Another YouTube link, why not?


One thing which I was very curious to find out after seeing the film was who sang the cover version of Shadowplay over the credits. I have now found out, and it is none other than The Killers, probably my most played band this year. It all comes a full circle.

I also came across an interesting interview with Natalie Curtis, daughter of Ian, who was one when he died. She says "The first time I heard their album Closer, I thought it was out of this world. I assumed all music was done with that level of style and intelligence. As I grew older, it was a shock to discover not everything was that amazing." I second that.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Tip for Victory

My tip for victory is Lewis Hamilton. Not that I know anything about F1. I haven't watched a minute of it in my life until a few months ago. I took some photos of Hamilton crashing his Go-Kart in June and have been following his progress ever since. Victory in China would give him the drivers' title in his debut season, and make him the first rookie in Formula One history to win the prestigious title. So the best of luck to him.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

The Decisive Moment

An idle moment. Via Kay von Aspern to Andrew Wiese I came across Henri Cartier-Bresson’s 'The Decisive Moment' in the online edition. A must-have bookmark, and it's made my day. Very interesting to see the book in this form. I've held it in the flesh, but have not had time to look at it more carefully. What a treat. Thanks Kay and Andrew.

Venus in Furs

As Boing Boing says, here is an all-too-short clip of the Velvet Underground playing "Venus in Furs" at Andy Warhol's Silver Factory. A worthy link in my scrap book.


Sunday, 16 September 2007

Not Adlestrop

A real life sequence of events can suddenly jog my memory, remind me of a song, a film, a book. A favourite poem in this case. Sitting on a train not so long ago, Clapham Junction, south west London, I saw someone on the platform who caught my eye. Before taking a photograph, I usually weigh up the situation in terms of how good the picture is, the risks involved etc. However sitting in my carriage I felt somehow protected. The train started to move, and I raised my camera and snapped. My subject saw me and smiled. But with every second the distance between us was increasing, and I knew I was safe. Not the bravest way of conducting street photography, but no less valid for it either.

And here is the poem I was reminded of. I first read it in The Independent, I don't know how long ago, maybe ten years. But I have never forgotten it. A mad scramble to find the cutting when I got home, (I cannot recite it by heart), but luckily it turned up.

'Not Adlestrop'

By Dannie Abse

Not Adlestrop, no - besides the name
hardly matters. Nor did I languish in June heat.
Simply, I stood, too early, on the empty platform,
and the wrong train came in slowly, surprised, stopped.
Directly facing me, from a window,
a very, very pretty girl leaned out.

When I, all instinct,
stared at her, she, all instinct, inclined her head away
as if she'd divined the much married life in me,
or as if she might spot, up platform,
some unlikely familiar.

For my part, under the clock, I continued
my scrutiny with unmitigated pleasure.
And she knew it, she certainly knew it, and would
not glance at me in the silence of not Adlestrop.

Only when the train heaved noisily, only
when it jolted, when it slid away, only then,
daring and secure, she smiled back at my smile,
and I, daring and secure, waved back at her waving.
And so it was, all the way down the hurrying platform
as the train gathered atrocious speed
towards Oxfordshire or Gloucestshire.

Saturday, 15 September 2007


It is extraordinary to think of a tree being a thousand years old. This can be the case with the baobab tree. I heard a programme on BBC Radio 4 on which Thomas Packenham was being interviewed about his new book "In Search of Remarkable Trees – On Safari in Southern Africa". It is perhaps a little early to be planning Christmas shopping, but this new book is something I would like very much. I lived in Africa as a kid, and remember these trees, which were also called 'the upside down tree', because it looked like they had been uprooted and replanted with their roots sticking in the air. The tree on the front of his new book (below) is not a baobab I don't think, but an impressive sight none the less.

Photo by Thomas Packenham

Thursday, 13 September 2007

On the Road

What better way to start my blog than with this link to my Flickr friend Matt Weber. Matt points out that "Fifty years ago, "The Book" hit the stores and made quite a big impression on young Americans, who hit the road in droves trying to find the America that Jack described so well..." The author Jack Kerouac also wrote an introduction to Robert Frank's "The Americans", which had an even bigger impression on me personally.

Photo by Matt Weber.