Day 35 – another rest day. Today, since I’m not really going anywhere, I wanted to post some fairly random things that haven’t made it into my daily blog. I keep a scrap of paper handy as I’m cycling along, and will happily slam on the brakes to make a quick note, then get going again. This takes the responsibility away from my biking brain for remembering what it was, but now I’ve got a room for a few days I’m finding those scraps of paper that had gone missing. Here we go:
Michala Petri. That’s what it says here, Michala Petri. It’s taken me a few minutes to remember why on earth I would have written down the name of the Danish recorder virtuoso that the Guildhall Strings (hello G strings!) spent many years recording and touring with. We had the same record label (RCA) as Michala and promoted our recordings together. So why was her name on my list? Here’s why:
This is the song of a bird I hear everywhere, as I cycle, as I eat lunch, as I try to get an early night, and its purity of tone and clarity of projection is quite staggering, audible above the sound of passing traffic, to match anything that Michala Petri could ever have achieved on her finest sopranino recorder with her amazing technique. Please, someone tell me what the bird is. I keep forgetting to ask and it’s driving me nuts. There’s no “slide” between pitches, which most birdsong has some of at least. It’s just bang on, ping, got it in one take. The regional variations are interesting, changing the type of repeated C (dotted rhythms, super fast show-off semis, lazy days can’t be bothered ritardandos, sometimes the whole thing a tone or two lower, and once, or rather one bird several times, it went upwards, C, D, FFFFF which was odd.
For your entertainment (and mine!), and especially to all of my G Strings friends, I’d like to share with you this spectacular video of Michala and GS playing her recorder version of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (currently unavailable!), our first RCA CD together, with the late great George Malcolm CBE (1917-1997) on harpsichord (I’ll never forget his cadenzas, and listen out for his impromptu fills) conducted here by an unknown gentleman in the privacy of his own home. I love his relaxed approach to the use of downbeats. BTW, it’s Spring, not Autumn as listed.
At breakfast this morning I finally met up again with the famous Calgary Two who checked into the same hotel as me yesterday. We shared a very enjoyable booth-like discussion about all those bikerly issues that affect us, our different routes through Canada, and also family and friends. We all felt that any kind of deadline quickly becomes a stress in this biking world. The unpredictability of progress means that flexibility is the key. They’re now out looking for a second breakfast whilst I’m doing some sorting out of my kit before leaving again tomorrow.
Next up is “Danny rose woody is it a booth?”. I do know what this one is – Woody Allen’s heartbreakingly funny masterpiece, Broadway Danny Rose, opens with a group of old time “acts” reminiscing together in the Carnegie Deli (opposite Carnegie Hall NYC). I couldn’t remember if this scene was actually in a booth, and found it was in fact around a big table, but the spirit is that of a great booth encounter, time stands still, the plates are pushed aside, the memories flow and no-one wants to leave. Worth watching the whole clip (despite the odd inserts from the person who posted it):
One of my favourite Woody lines is in this mobster-related New York story. Woody and Mia Farrow are in the car discussing her mobster husband:
Mia: “This guy shot him in the eye”
Woody: “So he’s blind?”
Mia: “No, dead!”
Woody: “Of course, because bullets go right though…”
An unexpected, timely and very rare butterfly sighting has just been received at the blog, from Stewart B of Tswassen, famous for his bear
I’m still waiting for someone to improve on my Word Game score, Daze, Doze, Dead. I can’t believe I’m not way off the game.
Here’s another scrawl: “Useful useless”. This is after listening to a fascinating science podcast, during some long Prairie miles back in Saskatchewan, about Prof. Robbert Dijkgraaf and his study of “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge“. It’s on The Guardian Science Weekly for anyone interested, and concerns the way that outwardly interesting but useless activity and research can lead to unexpected connections and consequences, which of course made me think of The Usefulness of Useless Miles for exactly the same reason. If I wasn’t riding for SOS Children’s Villages you could make the case that there is no actual purpose to what I’m doing, except my own made-up purpose of crossing the continent by bicycle, but the process creates events and connections that do have a purpose and cause you to experience and to think about things in ways that you may never have done sitting at home eating biscuits and drinking tea.
Today is a day for CrossingCanada housekeeping. I’ve gone through panniers, got rid of more than one thing, washed clothes, and given the bike its weekly service:
Any club riders following the blog will be blanching at this, since flipping the bike is a no-no (scuffing issues amongst others) but I’m pointing 180° from club riding at the moment! Result of the service: a big pile of crud scraped off everything revealed that I’m about ready for a new chain. Luckily there’s a bike shop opposite. Unluckily no one has shown up for work today, so I’ll just have to live with the odd chain-jump and stick in the middle chainring until my next chance.
Here’s another note: “NFC rails truck” – this one is a Normal For Canada entry that I forgot about. You’re cycling along and see a flat-bed truck coming the other way. Then you realise that it’s too far over to be on the opposite side of the highway, it’s actually in a field, but it’s making a huge amount of noise. In that field, it transpires, is the railway line, and the truck, with CN logo, is screaming along the rails on its own bogeys doing something critical no doubt for the upkeep of the track. As is often the case, I’m the only one stopping and staring, because this is quite normal for Canada.
As I write, another baseball game has started up at the stadium opposite. I’m sorely tempted to spend another $10 and go back in after really enjoying the evening there yesterday. This may sound strange to a Canadian, but the vibe of the crowd is much closer to a cricket crowd than anything else. People really don’t focus on every ball, I hear lots of chat going on, people wandering in and out, and lot of “what happened?” questions to each other. At a football (soccer) match the level of passionate involvement remains pretty high throughout the game, and I imagine the typical hockey, basketball or football game here is the same. Baseball builds to moments of great tension, then it all falls through and we’re back to square one. Relaxing to watch! The view is so good from my room on the third floor, through the rail of drying clothes, that maybe I’ll just enjoy the freebie. I also have some binoculars to catch the big moments. When you’re not actually in the stadium, it looks an awful lot like just a load of blokes having a knockabout.
One last entry for today. Crossing Canada has given me the chance for many amazing sights and experiences that have never come my way before. Today was no exception, but not quite what you might expect – whilst I was packing up at the hotel this afternoon, the movie of “Annie Get Your Gun” started on tv, and I was hooked. I’ve played many of the great Irving Berlin numbers with the John Wilson Orchestra (There’s No Business Like Show Business, Anything You Can Do, You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun and many more) but had no idea what a superb musical comedy it is. It had to accompany my pannier-packing at first, but I kept stopping for the great show-stopping moments, forgetting what I was doing afterwards. Two lines that stood out this afternoon (I’m planning to watch it again when I get back home):
“You can’t shoot a male in the tail like a quail,
No you can’t get a man with a gun”
Chief Sitting Bull tells the showpeople he has three guiding rules that he never breaks:
“Keep bow tight, keep arrow sharp, and never put money in show business”