Spectacular Starlings Signal Winter Is On It’s Way
No one knows why they do it. Yet each fall, thousands of starlings dance in the twilight above Gretna, Scotland. The birds gather in magical shape-shifting flocks called murmurations, having migrated in the millions from Russia and Scandinavia to escape winter’s bite. Scientists aren’t sure how they do it, either. Even complex algorithmic models haven’t yet explained the starlings’ acrobatics, which rely on the tiny bird’s quicksilver reaction time of under 100 milliseconds to avoid aerial collisions—and predators—in the giant flock. Despite their show of force in the dusky sky, starlings have declined significantly in the UK in recent years, perhaps because of a drop in nesting sites. The birds still roost in several of Britain’s rural pastures, however, settling down to sleep (and chatter) after the evening’s ballet.
from Mercian Hymns by Geoffrey Hill
Edward McKnight Kauffer - How Bravely Autumn Paints Upon the Sky, 1938
Published by London Transport
tickets available at the Curzon website
Judging by the trailer, the recently discovered cinematic print of The Wicker Man looks incredible.
To celebrate this release The Memory Band will be performing a short set of songs and music from the film at a special launch screening at Curzon cinema in Soho on 27th September, when the new print is made public.
Full details and tickets are available via the Curzon website
The Wicker Man: The Final Cut - Official Trailer (by STUDIOCANAL UK)
Seamus Heaney - Follower
My father worked with a horse-plough, His shoulders globed like a full sail strung Between the shafts and the furrow. The horse strained at his clicking tongue. An expert. He would set the wing And fit the bright steel-pointed sock. The sod rolled over without breaking. At the headrig, with a single pluck Of reins, the sweating team turned round And back into the land. His eye Narrowed and angled at the ground, Mapping the furrow exactly. I stumbled in his hob-nailed wake, Fell sometimes on the polished sod; Sometimes he rode me on his back Dipping and rising to his plod. I wanted to grow up and plough, To close one eye, stiffen my arm. All I ever did was follow In his broad shadow round the farm. I was a nuisance, tripping, falling, Yapping always. But today It is my father who keeps stumbling Behind me, and will not go away.
Ailein Duinn a ni ‘s a naire (Dark-Haired Alan)
One of the recordings now available at the Alan Lomax Digital Archive is a traditional Gaelic song as performed by singer Flora MacNeil, originally from the island of Barra. The recording was made in 1951 at the house of Calum Johnston in Edinburgh.
You can listen to Flora’s version of “”Ailein Duinn a ni ‘s a naire” here
In the above photo Flora is on the right and Annie Gillies on the left.
I first heard the recording on an old vinyl compilation and it is among my favourite of traditional songs. In making the latest album I wanted a melody to use in a piece I had written representing that part of Britain beyond the chalk and subsequently I chose this melody to transpose and insert into the new composition “Facing The Granite Country”.
"As regards any specific book, I’m trying primarily to tell a story, in the most effective way I can think of, the most moving, the most exhaustive. But I think even that is incidental to what I am trying to do, taking my output (the course of it) as a whole. I am telling the same story over and over, which is myself and the world…I’m trying to say it all in one sentence, between one Cap and one period. I’m still trying to put it all, if possible, on one pinhead. I don’t know how to do it. All I know to do is to keep trying in a new way. I’m inclined to think that my material, the South, is not very important to me. I just happen to know it, and don’t have time in one life to learn another one and write at the same time. Though the one I know is probably as good as another, life is a phenomenon but not a novelty, the same frantic steeplechase toward nothing everywhere and man stinks the same stink no matter where in time."
William Faulkner, from a letter written to Malcolm Cowley in 1944
It’s been a wonderful week for cloudwatching.