Wednesday, 20 May 2009

I long to be where I cannot go…

There are so many wonderful places to visit in the world, each one crowned with an elusive jewel – that perfect moment in that perfect location, where everything comes together to form a brilliant memory that stays with you always.

It’s never just about the place though. Perhaps it’s the unique impact of seeing something for the first time, the emotion of being there with someone special, or simply having the time to appreciate somewhere that you’d normally rush through. Circumstances create the situation, and that can make all the difference.

And yet, this week I’ve found myself absently wishing to be in places that I can never visit. Not the summit of Everest – it’s possible, however unlikely, that I might stand there one day. No, I’m thinking of places that are truly out of reach.

Places that only exist in the past, in my childhood, in history.

Reading Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I wanted to be there in 1960s London; reading Brideshead Revisited I yearned to walk through the pre-War streets of Oxford. Browsing on Google Streetview reminded me of the places in Scotland I was taken as a toddler – all gone now, as entire neighbourhoods from my childhood are bulldozed and regenerated.

There are so many wonderful places, and I’ve been lucky enough to experience a number of them. I wonder if any of those will form the unattainable desires of future generations?

Friday, 15 May 2009

Seeing Inside

For anyone who enjoyed The West Wing, or simply likes to see behind the soundbite, I can heartily recommend the Official White House Photostream on Flickr. Featuring truly brilliant photography by Pete Souza, it offers a compelling insight into the the day-to-day business of President Obama and his administration. Of course, there's no such thing as truly "candid" photography inside the White House, but this comes pretty close, showing the President and his staff in original, and sometimes surprising, stances and settings.

If you have a flickr account, you can add the photostream as a contact (it's updated every day or so). At the very least, you might enjoy taking a quick look at it by following the link below.


Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Hitting the Level Cap

Apologies to all non-gamers, I know it's geeky but achievements like this are rare for me and I thought it worth noting. Yes, after many months - perhaps too many months - playing Lord Of The Rings Online, I have finally reached level 60. This is currently the highest level available and means that I can't score any more experience points.

Until they bring out the next expansion pack, anyway.

It's unusual for me to persevere with a game this long, and I'm wondering if it will continue to hold my interest now that I've got this far. Time will tell.

I thought I'd celebrate by posting a picture of my newly-maxed character at the scenic Lake Evendim, but sadly the weather was overcast there today. As a photographer, so often frustrated by unattractive skies, I found that rather ironic.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

This week, I've found myself reading "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" by John Le Carré. I'm not sure if I've read it before - the story is of course familiar from repeated viewings of the excellent TV series - but I suspect this may be my first time with the book. I have a bad habit of buying paperbacks then leaving them on the shelf to be 'discovered' at a later date and the fact that the spine is unbroken and the pages are free from water marks makes me think this book had escaped my attention until now.

I'm struck by how beautifully written it is. Not just a good story, well told, but masterful narrative and elegant language to heighten the understated gravity of the Cold War spy trade. I've picked up other titles by Le Carré that didn't engage me but this has been intensely enjoyable. If only I could write like that...

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

I shouldn't laugh but...

With all the unhappiness and hysteria surrounding "media flu", it was a nice to hear a positive swine-story for a change.

Anna's brother had the excellent idea to make a pretend mobile phone call while travelling on a crowded train. He spoke loudly and at length about his first day back in the UK after a wonderful trip to Mexico, then proceeded to stifle sneezes as the carriage around him emptied.

I know some people will frown at this, but I think it's no more irresponsible than the constant shrieking of the TV and tabloid news, and it certainly made me smile when I heard about it.