Friday, 10 November 2017

This indigested vomit

You might be getting bored by my now-weekly blog starting with the familiar words 'it's been a busy week', but there's no end in sight. Life is hectic but it's very far from dull. Academically, every class has been a joy: the students have really exceeded my expectations - from the Sonnets class to Ballard (Hello America and The Unlimited Dream Company), the lecture/seminar on The Handmaid's Tale and the class on Brick Lane. I've also trained the new module and course representatives ahead of our regular review meetings, and we ran a mini-conference which ranged from Being an Editor to Why The Dutch Students Hate Cheddar and British Tap Water. They really, really hate them. In return, I promised to show them Andrew Marvell's rather Ukippy poem – and rather bitterly extended –  about their country. Here's an extract from 'The Character of Holland':

Holland, that scarce deserves the name of land,
As but th’ off-scouring of the British sand;
And so much earth as was contributed
By English pilots when they heav’d the lead;
Or what by th’ ocean’s slow alluvion fell,
Of shipwrack’d cockle and the mussel-shell;
This indigested vomit of the sea
Fell to the Dutch by just propriety.

To give a bit of context, the Commonwealth and the United Provinces had fallen out: despite both being Republics and Protestants, the Dutch had carried on trading with Royalist British colonies and were a bit shocked by the regicide. In a stunning echo of the British triumphalism currently in vogue, Cromwell's advisors even popped over to Holland to propose a merger of their countries – not overwhelmingly embraced by the Dutch – and then suggested joining up to biff the Spanish before dividing up the globe between the two countries. The Dutch suggested a free trade agreement and the English carried on capturing Dutch ships. It all ended with a short and rather mutually exhausting war and then they had a break before having another go in 1667, when the Dutch rather daringly sailed a fleet up the Thames, captured Sheerness, trashed Gravesend, sunk a lot of British ships and helped themselves to some of the good ones. 

But I digress (it's a blog: they're meant to digress). I must get back to writing next week's lectures on Niall Griffith's Sheepshagger (I told him some colleagues and students were horrified by it and he just said 'my work here is done'), on The Duchess of Malfi, Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth and Gil Scott-Heron's The Nigger Factory and something else which temporarily escapes me. The Gil Scott-Heron class will be interesting. We're going to have the discussion about whether the word should be used at all, and if so, by whom: the class is, unlike certain universities you may have read about, very diverse. After that, it'll be interesting to see what they make of the novel, which I really rate. I'll have to play some of Heron's music too. Definitely 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised' but probably not 'Gashman'. Let's just say that revolutionaries are not all-round progressives.

It hasn't all been work: I've been to two gigs recently. I've reached the age where I'm only seeing bands from the past, in the company of 99% balding blokes. Recently, they've been seminal post-punk Wire and Ride. In my defence, they either didn't tour or had split up by the time I was going to gigs as a youth, so I'm just filling in gaps. I was a bit disappointed by Wire: every record is a joy but the live sound was so sludgy that the spare quality of their recent albums didn't really come across. Like Ride though, they really excelled when they wigged-out and went on an extended Krautrock-style improvisation. Utterly thrilling. Here's a recent one and one from their debut album, which you might recognise because REM covered it on Document.

Here's some Ride - one of the wonderful shoegaze bands swept away by the Britpop degradation. 

And just because I was singing it on the way to work the other day, Sisters of Mercy's 'This Corrosion'. 

See you next week.

1 comment:

Alan said...

OK, you've caught me. I must ask: why do Dutch students hate Cheddar and British tap water?