Friday 1 January, 2021

A dog’s life

Quote of the Day

”I love metaphor. It provides two loaves where there seems to be one. Sometimes it throws in a load of fish.”

  • Bernard Malamud, playwright, 1975 in a Paris Review interview.

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

The Grateful Dead | I Fought The Law | Live


Like many of my student generation, I was a fan of the Grateful Dead — the first band to really understand the power of bootlegged music and (later) the Internet. I once shared a (speaking) platform with their lyricist, John Perry Barlow (who was one of the founders of the Electronic Freedom Foundation and author of the famous Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace). This particular number has a fascinating and extensive discography. There’s an excessively clean-cut early version of it by the Bobby Fuller Four, and an impressively noisy and aggressive rendition by The Clash. Green Day also recorded it, and doubtless many others. But as a Deadhead I still prefer Gerry Jarcia and his crew.

Long Read of the Day

The Master and the Prodigy — Bill Janeway on biographies of John Maynard Keynes and Frank Ramsey

This is a masterful review essay on two fascinating and impressive biographies — Zachary Carter’s  Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes and Cheryl Misak’s  Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers. I devoured both during the first lockdown and talked about them in my audio diary, and felt that I’d got a lot from them. Reading Bill Janeway’s long essay, however, made me realise that I had only scratched the surface. So it’s really worth making an appointment with yourself to read it.

The Beatles: 60 years on

Yesterday’s post about the poster for the Fab Four’s Litherland gig after their return from Hamburg prompted a small stream of interested reflections.

Hugh Taylor (Whom God Preserve) wrote:

Interesting to compare the price of that Liverpool gig in 1960 with the Beatles’ appearances in Cambridge. In March 1963 they were playing support (even though they’d released two singles by then – one of them rather successful) for a date in which prices were between 5/6 and 8/6. But by November, it looks as though the cheapest Rear Stalls had increased to 6/6. But they were headliners by then, with two number ones to their name.


There’s an entertaining description of their November visit on singer and activist Tom Robinson’s blog – his brother worked for Varsity (didn’t we all!), and was sent to interview them…

The brother was allocated three minutes for an interview in a dressing room after the show. His report of the encounter is a hoot (or, if you’re of a pedantic turn of mind) an hoot. Here’s a sample:

Local journalists queued outside the dressing room door. There were grumbles as I was led to the front. “He’s only a student!” said PR. “He’s only got three minutes. You’ve all got five!” The grumbles subsided, but only a bit.

PR knocked. “Enter at your peril!” shouted a Liverpudlian voice that could have been John, Paul, George or Ringo. PR pulled a face and gingerly opened the door. I edged in behind, pulling out my compact notebook and pencil stub.

The Beatles sat perched like parrots on a line of cane chairs, clutching cigarettes and wine glasses, glistening with perspiration.

“Who’s this fine figure of a young man?” said John Lennon pretending to screw up his eyes as he peered at me while drawing heavily on his fag.

“Varsity, University newspaper,” said PR. “He’s only got three minutes.”

“Ringo! Stopwatch!” said Paul McCartney.

“Haven’t got one,” said Ringo Starr. “But I’ll count the seconds.”

“One hundred and eighty,” said George Harrison. Ringo started counting down aloud.

“He’s clever!” said John pointing at George. “He does MATHS!”

“Aren’t YOU supposed to be clever?” said Paul pointing at me. “Being a student!”

I nodded.

“He’s NOT a student,’ said John. “He’s an UNDERGRADUATE. Under-Grad-U-Ate! Students call themselves that at Cambridge Uni-Ver-Si-Ty. Right, Mister Undergraduate?”

“We’re in Cambridge?” asked Paul. “I thought it was Oxford.”

“Ordinary universities have students,” said George. “Posh places like Oxford and Cambridge have UNDERGRADUATES.”

The interview wasn’t heading in the direction I’d planned…

Wonderful. Do follow the link.

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