Well it’s about time! I presume they save the wood for next year.
How long do these sukkahs stay up for? Wikipedia tells me “a week” but my neighbours on both sides have had theirs in the backyard for nearly a month now. Maybe they’re following some secret, extra-pious rule like the Vatican do by waiting until February to clear away their nativity tat.
Barely cognisant of my own religion, let alone anyone else’s, I was intrigued when the neighbours started constructing what appeared to be a large plywood box on their back lawn. For a few days I imagined that Scott Walker was about to start recording a new album in my street, or that the local kids who play in the yard were about to be saturated with orgones. No-one had ever told me that the Jewish religion obliges its followers to perform annual DIY.
You’ll have noticed the railings above the roof, showing that the local sukkahs have been adapted to suit British conditions: a tarpaulin can easily be drawn over the traditional branches covering the roof, to keep out the rain. This also explained the unusual addition permanently attached to the shed on the other next-door neighbours’ house.
When I first moved in I noticed the translucent roof mounted on pulleys and assumed the residents were keen amateur astronomers, who kept a telescope handy for backyard stargazing. Nope. Another retractable roof to keep the branches dry. Although it does seem a bit like cheating to have a permanent lean-to on your house and just chuck some branches on top when sukkot rolls around each year for Instant Sukkah.
Like all you mortals I get inappropriate junk mail, such as the flyer offering me discounts on entire sheep and teatowels for Ramadan. This one threw me for a second:
What do you think this pamphlet was trying to sell me? I’ve blanked out the last bit, because when I first saw this ad all the signals – amateurish layout, the word “passion”, the attempt to emulate the look of Facebook, the rainbow, the passive-aggressive use of imperative tense, the big old building, the ascending stairs, the open door, and (to be perfectly frank) the clean-cut young black man – made me assume this was yet another flyer from one of the hundreds of charismatic churches in the East End, and that the final word would be “salvation”.
I was wrong. Was this confusion intentional? Is pretending to be a god-botherer a way to get people’s attention now, or have I slipped into a parallel universe?
What is the lingering appeal of the vinyl record? Classical music store Harold Moores Records is refurbishing for the next two weeks, and has been making room in the basement by clearing out all the second-hand LPs and dumping them in a skip in Great Marlborough Street. The result:
I was alerted to this feeding frenzy when a friend sent me a frantic text ordering me down to Soho. By the time I arrived the skip was only one-third full. Luckily for me they were still bringing out fresh stock/trash, from some of the more insteresting racks. More importantly I was able to grab an empty box everyone else was ignoring, so I could actually lug the lot home.
There were, of course, people who came up to the skip, poked around a bit, and then left once they had determined that there were only classical records. Despite this, some people were content simply to grab a record or two and then leave. A couple of guys were about to leave when they decided that the records were appealing enough as objects to make it worth their time to make a large and varied selection.
Vinyl records and gramophones are the steam engines of music: impressive and elegant works of engineering, advanced in technical and industrial development yet still obvious enough in its means of operation for the everyday mind to intuitively grasp and appreciate. Subsequent recording technology is too efficient to be impressive, too inscrutable in its technology to admire on an aesthetic level.
I found myself picking up a couple of records which I already have on CD; not for any retro-chic appeal they might possess, but because the old LPs are clearly “newer” than the CD reissues. They are artifacts of the time when the recording was newly-recorded and released, and so still an unknown quantity – far different from the “classics” preserved on CD.
Despite whatever protest Harold Moores’ staff may have made, at least at first, the records had obviously been kept in stock for some perceived monetary value as objects, not as recordings. That album of Henze’s El Cimarrón was priced at £36. You can get the same recording on CD at Amazon for at least 10 quid less, and without the scratches, dust and surface noise. No wonder no-one bought it.
Every morning I go past Conway Hall on my way to work. A while ago I just twittered that for the last two days the front entrance has been surrounded by truckloads of pianos being wheeled inside. This morning I caught a glimpse through the front door of the corridors lined with pianos.
I’d been hoping for at least a super-duper version of Les noces, if not some sort of weird, quasi-musical ritual going down – the hall opens its doors to all sorts of meetings. Instead, according to their website they’re just hosting a piano auction this week. Google takes the fun out of everything.
It’s been a bastard of a week, so no time for lovefun online. I’m firmly relocated back in East London, the world capital for dodgy chicken shops. It’s good to see I’m not the only one with a fascination for these establishments. Now here’s a musical tribute we can all sing along with! (Found via Floccinaucinihilipilification.)