Tuesday, 17 March 2015

A great song I've not heard for 25 years - Harare Mambos

I found on youtube a track that was one of my favorites years ago after hearing it on John Peel - the Harare Mambo's Kudendere.

The girl who sings the second verse has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard

The Youtube link is


Monday, 16 March 2015

Recent reading 2 - Cedric Villani's Birth of a Theorem

Now this is a curious book.  It is not every day that a book about mathematical discovery is featured on Radio 4.  What I particularly liked about this book was the inclusion of various bits of the actual mathematics, rather than just miss it out as such books usually do.  True, the mathematics is incomprehensible, but that rather adds to the value of including it.

The account of the collaboration on the proof is also very interesting - especially the number of re-writes it went through.  And apparently you can win a Field's Medal before your proof has been accepted for publication.

Sadly I will never win a Field's Medal.  For most of my life this was due to insufficient mathematical ability, but for the last fifth or so of my life, it is due to my age.  Which is a better reason - similar to the explanation about why I will never play in an under-21 international football match

And why do the French produce so many great mathematicians?  And the Hungarians?  And Jews?

Recent reading 1 - Steve Hanley's The Big Midweek

There are quite a number of books related to The Fall - biographies of Mark E Smith, books about all the people who used to be in The Fall ("The Fallen").  One of my recent reads has been Steve Hanley's recent autobiography of his time in the band.

I saw The Fall about half a dozen times in the early to mid 1980s and, though I continued to roughly follow the band since, I do tend to look on that period as being the "golden age", especially as the track Smile is probably in my all time top ten (my preference is for the Peel Session version).  This corresponds to much of the period that Hanley was in the band.

I was particularly struck by the effort it seemed to be to keep the band going - the day-to-day stuff.  Indeed it remains something of a mystery how the band is still going.  As I write this I am listening to quite a recent LP by the band, Ersatz GB, not a record I know well.  And yet the current version of the band is the most stable there has ever been - I assume that is due to Mark E Smith's current wife.

Some years ago, there was a great documentary about The Fall in which Paul Morley wondered aloud whether we had all been fooled by Mark E Smith.  Whether he might not be the genius we all think, but instead was just a drunken tramp who we had all been tricked by.  Hard to tell at the moment I would say.