A mixed bag of New Year goodies, a bit like those Xmas raffles which I never seem to win………
I’ve been looking forward to the arrival of this book for a while now, and it does not disappoint. Based on a splendid exhibition mounted by the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, in 2013/14, it examines in exhaustive detail Turner’s special relationship with the sea and the people and vessels whose lives depend upon it. Is there a more cataclysmic vision of the battle of Trafalgar than Turner’s, or a more heartbreaking one than the Temeraire being towed on her last voyage to be broken up? Even on the printed page Turner can take your breath away, and this beautifully illustrated volume strikes me as getting to the heart of his extraordinary art.
At the risk of over-sharing I feel that I need to tell you that I fell in love over Christmas, quite unexpectedly. Innocently listening to ABC Classic FM one afternoon (making a cup of tea if I recall), the announcer Graham Abbott introduced a work that he hadn’t come across before but indicated was something rather special, and then proceeded to play a piece by that most loveable of English composers, Hubert Parry; his Ode on the Nativity, written for the 1912 Hereford Festival. Well one hearing was all it took, and I’ve hardly listened to anything else since. Gorgeously rhapsodic, melodies to die for and here given a performance that could hardly be bettered; you can listen for yourself via the wonderful Naxos Music Library.
One of those reference books you pick up for five minutes and put down two hours later, this most recent edition is just as full of the old and the new, the great and the not-so-great, the known and the unknown (at least to me), as we have come to expect. As a huge fan of British film this is like manna from heaven, and within just a few minutes of browsing I had already compiled a list of films to chase up, either for the first time or a happy rescreening; the entry on that grand old dame, Athene Seyler, makes me desperate to see the delightful Make Mine Mink again for about the 100th time!
For those in need of a little high-art, a triple-feature to scare your socks off! If, like me, much of your mispent youth was spent slouched in front of the telly in the black-and-white 1960s, then you will doubtless have come across at least one of the Creature From the Black Lagoon films; possibly viewed from behind a cushion or other protective screen. Tom Weaver and ghoul-friends have put together this definitive exploration and homage to one of the seminal horror concepts of the 1950s; and yes, I now want to rewatch all three of these as well!
And I just can’t resist a bit more of the irresistible Athene; the payoff is adorable!
Happy New Year to one and all!