Monday, September 29, 2014

Getting down to it

At the weekend Jessi and Kyra finally moved into the Bethnal Green flat and today were able to appreciate the direct underground line taking them to King's. Now things get serious!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Well said, Sir!

Mediocrity and melancholy

There comes a moment for a writer when the first draft of a manuscript is so close to completion that it is possible to look back and wonder why on earth one has permitted oneself the indulgence of pouring out such a wodge of unmitigated mediocre crap.

In the case of my current project, Chance of Reign, the outpouring amounts to around 430 pages, no less than 160,000 words. The writing has filled my days of radical underemployment for the past twelvemonth most enjoyably. I have taken time to follow my protagonists through just three months of a year which was for both the British and for the Germans uniquely perplexing... 1936... my narrative closing with the opening of the Olympic Games in Berlin.

Is it now time for radical editing... the excision of all the meanders which do not move the plot forward? But my intention has been to immerse the reader in various realities of that year. These realities, as confronted by my characters, are only peripherally the big issues of the day. I devote much attention to the marginalia, the everyday. I allow Matthew to drool over a Mercedes-Benz 540 K and convey, I hope, his passion for motor sport. I permit young Ulrike to experiment with the incongruous sexual freedoms which flourished even in a time of generalized repression. There are excursions into the realms of fashion, design, architecture and film making. The needed research has been a joy to undertake... I keep stumbling across new material which fascinates me. I fear that an edit could result even in a text longer than it is now!

Okay, this moment of depressing doubt will pass. But the gloomy tenor of my thinking is reinforced when my daily late afternoon outing takes me for a beer and espresso to Eiscafé Venezia, which has since April and the closure of Café Schwabing become my regular haunt. On Tuesday the ice cream parlour will close, the 2014 season over. The wonderful Italian staff will return to their homes on the other side of the Alps and the premises will then become a shop selling traditional Christmas bakery and then in the New Year a retail outlet for merchandise related to the Carnival season. These are transitions which takes place every year, but they give rise nevertheless to a feeling of melancholy, of loss.

Yes, in the spring of 2015 Venezia will re-open and welcome customers back to the tables in the sun we hope to see again. By then I may once again drink my early evening beer at the establishment across the street, to re-open as Brasserie Schwabing. Or not.

By then I may even have decided that Chance of Reign... however edited... is not really that bad at all!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Darkening days

I am grateful for the cheerful animated doodle with which Google is bidding autumn welcome. I always feel somehow menaced when the days darken and the nights remain longer for six long months. On my way home from my outing yesterday evening the cold wind already made my eyes water and I am not looking forward to the winter season. However, if translation work picks up and my muse does not desert me, things should be bearable.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Not over until it's over

From the Quartz newsfeed...

"Scotland, as a result of the Scottish National Party’s efforts, is closer to independence than it has been since the Battle of Culloden. The post-modern version of national independence tends to come in small steps, changing the infinitely complex global system a bit at a time rather than by 'kicking the bastards out' and throwing up a new flag. Scotland is likely to reap a series of concessions from its southern neighbor, the one which just proclaimed filial love for its tartan-clad supposed equal. It will receive independence, though probably not the sort we have come to expect from the geopolitics of the 18th through 20th centuries."

And in consequence, the English are mighty worried.

Jeremy Clifford, editor of the Yorkshire Post...

"On a visit to Leeds last Thursday, Nick Clegg said the 'devolution genie is out of the bottle now. In light of the Scottish referendum, there is no going back on the issue of delivering increased powers, not only north of the border but also to the English regions. Indeed, in Yorkshire – where for some time there has been a growing chorus calling for a greater say over major policy issues confronting the county – there is a sense of anger that Scotland will be rewarded for its actions. But Yorkshire is not looking for greater powers on its own. The northern region is a potential powerhouse of economic regeneration, but is held back by lack of investment from Whitehall. Its political leaders already work together to identify how to coordinate themselves, to call for greater autonomy and power. And with that must come greater control over the purse strings."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Oktoberfest 2014

In most years the Oktoberfest is a magnet for foreigners. The Australians have what might be termed a colourful reputation. The Italians invade on the second weekend, their camping cars parked in the most unlikely places. And many kilted Scots descend on Munich, possibly with the express purpose of getting the local girls in their saucy Dirndl dresses to ask that inevitable question...

Will the Scottish visitors this year simply be seeking to drown their sorrows after the defeat last Thursday? I wonder. Maybe I shall venture into town at some point to see for myself. Although I will not visit the bustling festival grounds, the Theresienwiese..Why? Because I am aware of a "been there, done that" feeling which admits of no possible better experience than that of 1989.

We celebrated Jessi's christening in the Hofbräuzelt... family connections allowed us to enjoy VIP treatment. And I was permitted to conduct the band, daughter clutched in one arm, as they performed the Bayerischer Defiliermarsch. Stirring stuff... glorious memories. Prosit!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Close, but no cigar!

 InI must admit I slept badly. There were troubling dreams.

In one I learned to my consternation that 74% of Scottish voters had finally voted 'no'! In another I was confronted with the fact that a much needed client payment would not be forthcoming. And then in my fevered imagination my laptop (a device not in the best of health) gave up the ghost with an ultimate 'blue screen of death'.

A relief it was to waken, make coffee, turn on BBC Radio 4 and listen to over three hours of analysis of the referendum outcome.

The United Kingdom, reeling after a plebiscite clearly showing mass disenchantment with 'politics as usual', will now embark on a process of disruptive constitutional reform. It is a very exciting new beginning.

While the Scots were voting, in London Jessi completed her enrollment at King's... a new beginning of a very positive kind.

I think I prefer to retain that development as the real highlight of the 18th of September 2014.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mei wär des schee...

Bavaria is very much older than any German nation, with a millennium of autonomy which ended only 150 years ago when Ludwig II was the last monarch of the state which, like Scotland, sports blue-and-white as its colours. In the beergardens (and we have again the right weather!) today's referendum is a subject of conversation. The Scottish example... and its possibilities... inspires discussion. The only problem is that while there are a good number of Bavarians who would love to see a separation from Federal Germany, there are also Franconians who are fed up with being part of the Freistaat Bayern!

So I guess hell will be icy before we see a Bavière libre! In the meantime I am hunting for updates about separatist urges in France, where the media are happy enough to report about the nation with whom there was such a long-lasting Auld Alliance.

[Ach, 'tis all just thumb-twiddling to help fill the hours of this momentous day!]