Here We Go Again

Do I dare to eat a peach? CropI renewed the domain subscription for Beautiful Railway Bridge today. I’d been putting if off till the last minute – the lights would have gone out tomorrow – for several reasons. One is irritation at being being bombarded with reminders by WordPress when I knew the deadline and didn’t want to think about it until absolutely necessary. And part of the reason for not wanting to think about it was a reluctance to question whether writing a blog is worth the effort.

Yes, I get a great deal of pleasure from making a good blog post. But there’s always the fight with the worst broadband service in Britain, the faff of putting in all the links, and the maintenance involved in making over a thousand posts accessible and easy to find. And most of all there’s the self-imposed guilt when I don’t post on a daily basis.

The maintenance thingy is a shambles. And the images are scattered between this and an unused blog, when I really want them all in one place. It will take literally years to get everything sorted out, but that’s me in perfectionist mode – it might be better to ignore the trait as much as possible. Knowing where everything is probably matters only to me.

Which is a roundabout way of saying I’m still here and attempting once more to post every day. Ish.

Doctor Who’s Forgotten Genius: Delia Derbyshire 1937 – 2001

derbyshireDelia Derbyshire is most well-known, if she’s known at all, as the musician who transcribed Ron Grainer’s theme tune for the first Doctor Who into the electronic form we all remember. But she was also a pioneer in electronic music, producing effects on tape that weren’t replicated until synthesizers were invented.

Over the weekend, I’ve been blissfully wallowing in the 50th Anniversary programs, centred around The Day of the Doctor. It’s available on the BBC iPlayer for another 6 days. Just as interesting were a drama about the inception of Doctor Who in 1963, An Adventure in Space and Time, and a documentary about the Doctor Who phenomenon, Me, You and Doctor Who.

From the latter two I learned more about Delia Derbyshire, which prompted me to search out her other work. Here is her version of the theme tune. She was apparently much irked by later producers wanting to tweak it – she couldn’t understand why it should be changed on a whim.

Derbyshire should have had equal credit with Ron Grainer, who wanted it as well, but the BBC Radiophonic Workshop refused to credit the work of individual employees. This frustration was one of the reasons she left in 1973 after 11 years.

The soundtrack for a BBC documentary about the Tuareg people of N. Africa, Blue Veils & Golden Sands, is another example of her innovative genius. She used a bog-standard metal BBC lampshade to get the vibration effects, giving it a whack, then cutting off the first bit of the sound.

There was also some theatre work and a collaboration with David Vorhaus in a band called White Noise. In this 1969 track, Love Without Sounds, you can hear what an interesting singer she is.

Derbyshire left London in the early Seventies and gave up music, apart from a brief period in the Nineties. This is a BBC radio play about her life.

And here’s a Radio Scotland interview, in three parts, from 1997. She sounds so young.

Finally, here’s a clip from Me, You and Doctor Who, as well as some of her other music.

I’m very pleased that her work on the theme tune is at last recognized in the credits for The Day of The Doctor. Earlier recognition might have laid the foundation for a long and productive career.

Grayson Perry: Playing To The Gallery

Grayson PerryThis year’s BBC Reith Lectures are on the subject of that mysterious place, the art world. I’ve never quite understood how it works. Fortunately, Grayson Perry is here to tell us, based on his 30 year career as a successful potter.

He’s an engaging speaker, direct, honest, witty, cynical, yet serious about art. The titles of the four lectures – Democracy Has Bad Taste, Beating The Bounds, Nice Rebellion, Welcome In!, I Found Myself In The Art World – let you know he’s going to places less honest commentators wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. It’s subversive and affectionate at the same time.

Perry gives the lectures in his alter-ego as Claire, but since this is radio, it falls to Sue Lawley to describe his frocks, all designed by his students.

Grayson Perry: Playing To The Gallery

And here’s a video interview from a year ago.

The Art of Australia

The Gathering - Sidney NolanThe BBC recently broadcast The Art of Australia, presented by Edmund Capon, a former Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. I knew nothing about Australian art, not even the names of any artists, so I watched the documentary to see what I was missing. A whole world, apparently – I was blown away by the energy, bravura, and sheer diversity of Australia’s artistic output.

The BBC series has packed up its tents and the programs are no longer available. Fortunately, the series is still being broadcast by ABC for Australian viewers, and their website still has the first two episodes online. The last won’t be broadcast till November 5.

As a taster, here’s the video of a talk in the Art Gallery of NSW about Sidney Nolan, one of the most interesting of the modernist painters featured in the series. He’s well-known for his iconic portrayals of Ned Kelly, as shown above in The Gathering.