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Download ditz

I'm in the doghouse for screwing up on I-Tunes.

I've been somewhat in the naughty corner this weekend for downloading music for my cat. 

I should perhaps explain that the said cat, Bemby, is pretty much stone deaf now. Aged nearly 19, he's otherwise in good health, though naturally he sleeps a lot. I've had to learn to call him by waving, using a flashlight or clapping my hands very loudly.

But he was always such a musical little beast, with a particular fondness for Bach, and for Mahler (if he heard me playing Mahler, he'd come from anywhere he was in the house, sit nearby and purr happily away). It seems tragic that he's lost his hearing.

Bembo listening to music

However, I realised a few months ago that my laptop has come to the rescue. On the Macbook Pro, there's an area prone to strong vibration on the right-hand side of the keyboard, by the tracker pad. It took me a while to work out that Bemby wasn't being difficult when he kept getting onto the keyboard as I sat typing on my lap - he was listening to the music through his feet.

I'm certain of this because he sits in the exact same position every time, purring away, and during the loud passages, he pricks up his ears and knits. If I turn the music off or down, he looks very surprised, even if his eyes are shut. 

This has become a daily routine and now, every morning, he heads for my lap, rests one or both paws on the metal and miaows for the music to start. 

Obviously, he likes the more percussive stuff, especially piano, though he has little use now for my beloved slow movements. So anyway, I thought I'd get him the Hammerklavier Sonata. A quick search round found that it had been recorded by Brendel, whose playing I love, so I logged on to I-Tunes, found a Brendel Beethoven CD for £9.99 - a good price, I thought - and hit 'Download'.

Well I should have looked first, shouldn't I? Far from being the usual couple of sonatas and some fillers - about an hour's worth of music - that you get on theaverage CD, there were 206 (count 'em) tracks: over 19 hours' worth of music. It took hours and hours to download, and because we have two machines on the same account, just as long for the DH as for me. 

My name was mud on Saturday, especially as my other half was trying to download an app from the same site and his download was at the end of my queue. Oops.

Well, it's here now and it's beautiful - just the most thoughtful playing. And the DH, ace robot-builder, is now trying to work out some sort of soundbox that Bembo can curl up in and enjoy his music by himself. Watch this space. 


No more TV any more

We have cut down our TV watching to a few hours a week.

While the DH was away recently, I decided to pretty much stop watching television - that is, only turn it on for programmes we really want to watch. I found by doing so that I seemed to have a lot more hours in the day and I enjoyed the quietude of not having chatter in my ear all the time.

The thing that flipped me was switching to Radio 4 one morning to avoid the sport on BBC1 and hearing the words: "Since the collapse of the Dutch Government yesterday". This was an event that had not been mentioned on the television news and I suddenly thought Balls to it. They're not even telling me the bloody truth. I don't even live in Britain any more, why do I give a stuff about Jeremy Cunt and what he's up to? I know they're all thieves and liars; I wouldn't vote Tory if you stuck pins in my hands, so why am I aggravating myself listening to their doings? If I want news, I'll get it from the Internet, not have it pushed at me in my living room. I also hate the breakfast show's new setup, with the presenters squeezed together, and no Sian. So, the hell with it. 

It's not as if we ever watched real rubbish - game shows, reality TV, talent competitions or any of that crap. We were pretty discerning watchers, but we did have a habit of leaving it on in the background, muted, between the programmes that we really wanted to watch.

So, when the DH got back, I suggested to him, courtesy of an idea in the book Organized Simplicity (review to follow) that we each pick three hours a week of TV we really want to watch and other than that, we switch it off. We can watch DVDs if we wish (currently on Series 4 of The Wire, which is brilliant), but we will be more circumspect about general television.

We both chose The Good Wife. We're also watching my old friend Mary Beard's new series, Meet the Romans, and have recorded Bettany Hughes' series on goddesses. And to be honest, that's about it. We struggled to get to our three hours. I no longer watch Mastermind or Only Connect, Bang Goes the Theory or Horizon - they don't quite pass that badge of quality. They're OK but they're not unmissable. So, period dramas and history documentaries it will be, plus Alicia and Will once a week. 

That leaves a lot more lovely time for reading, hobbies and listening to music. Our morning seem much quieter and more restful, with the sound of birdsong from the garden and Bach or Beethoven on the stereo, and our evenings now seem incredibly long, even though we go to bed at 10.00. 


Madonna does it again

There's been some negative press about Madonna being 'too sexy' on the cover and promos for her new album Hard Candy. Balls to that, say I

blog imageMadonna's new album came out a couple of days ago and is expected to make the Number 1 slot in about a week. Described as in club mode but this time with an added urban hip hop beat, she's also promoting it with a series of sexy videos and a raunchy cover showing herself in a leotard and thigh-high boots.

Well honestly, what do people expect? Slippers and a furry dressing gown? Madge has always played on her sexy image, and since she's still in fantastic shape at 49, I don't see any reason why she'd change it. Tina Turner was rockin' on well into her 50s. The Rolling Stones are at it in their 60s. I hope Madge will do it till she drops off the twig.

blog imageWhat strikes me is that all the negative press is to do with her sexiness and not the actual music, which seems to be pretty universally agreed on as excellent. Madge has always chosen good producers and collaborators of all kinds, and this became really noticeable about the time she used William Orbit for her Ray of Light album. She's also a very astute cookie. She knows that she hasn't got the world's greatest voice, or body, or dance ability. What she does have is a talent for her talent, which is crucial in a performer. She surrounds herself with ability, sings the best she can, dances the best she can, keeps herself in great shape and works like a dog. I don't think anyone would attend a Madonna concert and go away feeling cheated.

At what age is a woman supposed to stop being raunchy, I wonder? When it feel comfortable for men? Bollocks to that. Madonna still has a body most 20-year olds would envy and the kind of face that just makes me wish I'd been born with a chin. More power to her.



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