Saturday, August 14, 2004

This is Solti

Originally uploaded by Duchenj.

It's the silly season, it's Saturday night and as usual I'm home alone because Tom is working, so here is a picture of our cat, Solti - Sir Georg for short. He lives up to his name. He thinks he's the boss. He thinks he's a tiger. We think he's a mobile teddybear with whiskers and, sometimes, claws.

It's warm and muggy here in London. After a hectic patch I've been doing useful things like washing my autumn skirts, buying jeans and trying, rather half-heartedly, to practise Faure.

A propos of ACD's comment on my misuse of the word 'crossover' the other day, I wonder what people made of the use of Mahler 3 in the Olympic opening ceremony yesterday? Despite the symbolism of the half-nude dancer on the sugarcube suspended above all that water, which according to the BBC commentator was 'man becomes a logical, spiritual being in quest of knowledge', it is still only a major sporting event that can expose Mahler 3 via TV to an audience of 4 billion. With my naive facility for being wonder-struck, I was blown away by the whole thing and am thoroughly in favour of Mahler being aired in this way, which goodness knows he deserves. The rest of the summer is going to be deathly, with nothing on TV except sport, sport and more sport. Honest to goodness, the BBC had nothing better to do today than show the HUNGARIAN Grand Prix. Excuse me while I vote with the red button at the top and take up a good book instead.

Speaking of good books, my Vilnius thoughts were reawakened today by a conversation with the editor of the Jewish Quarterly, for whom I've written a substantial article about the trip (yes, the editor of the JQ is prepared to work on a Saturday and so, mercifully, am I!). I am now reading The Pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman's memoirs on which the film was based - immensely harrowing. But not nearly as harrowing as the book that Philippe gave me for my birthday last year, 'The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania' - an 800-page tome of the diary kept by Herman Kruk, a librarian in the Vilna ghetto chronicling, day by day, moment by moment, the descent into destruction, horror and death of 90 per cent of entire community during the Second World War. Kruk, too, was eventually shot. Just before, anticipating his fate, he had buried the manuscript of his diaries in the presence of six witnesses, one of whom later dug them up; they constitute a horrendously vital document.

Oh my, there is a series about Stalin on Channel 4. I shall now go and watch a programme about Soviet genocide...

PS - I've been tinkering with my list of Musician Friends, deciding to limit it to those who have been round to dinner and/or invited us to their place, or with whom we have good intentions about getting together socially if they and we can ever find a moment when we're in the same place at the same time. I've also put the list into alphabetical order, since it was previously random and "there's some as might take their placing amiss". At some point I'll get round to making a list of Musicians I Think Are Interesting, to restore the casualties of these decisions.