Friday 21 June 2019

Impaled on nails of ice, bareback ladies had fish

Regular readers will know of earlier reviews of Mr Robert Fripp's current ensemble: so please take comments therein as read, and I will add an incremental review from the Royal Albert Hall show on 20th June.

For those unaware, the RAH is big, so it was a handy thing that the 3 drummer lineup persists. Together with a modicum of electronics, hearing them was not a problem. Had they played any errant notes we would have noticed and poured ridicule, but this turned out not to be necessary.

In appearance there is not much change: Collins now starts to resemble a retired physics teacher, although I have never met a physics teacher who can play sax like that. Stacey kept his hat on throughout (again), and spent a protracted period with his back to me hunched over a keyboard that was the size of of a small meringue (I think - maybe he was trying to thread a needle?). Mr Fripp remained imperious at the rear. I suspect he had invisible pieces of string attaching his fingers to each member of the band, thereby ensuring good behaviour.

Reviews of earlier concerts in the tour promised a long-overdue outing for Cat Food; indeed Levin's web site had a picture of the setlist confirming this. Well, it seems that on taking the stage, Mr Fripp saw me and my all-too evident enthusiasm for this ditty, so he substituted The Letter. This is, of course, a very jolly song which drew prolonged applause, but I remain unsated. Likewise, LotR remains unexhumed; would it attract negative attenton these days? Hmmmm. Ballads old and new reinforced the fact that there is a half-century of back catalogue to call on, and three hours was not really enough to do this justice. Unsurprisingly, C21SM appears as encore but this as a new arrangement, including a splendid contribution from Stacey, and a couple of bars of Colonel Bogey for good measure.

Shall I see them again one day? It would be hard to resist the temptation, but I'd be pleased if they were to appear closer to Abersywtyth: I understand the Caersws Ice Rink makes a good high-capacity venue.

The succeeding day, I visited the roof garden at 120 Fenchurch Street (free!), of which more anon.

Friday 7 June 2019

Llanfihangel Genau'r Glyn [Llandre]

In search of Castell Gwallter.

The castle was a text book motte and bailey (lat/long 52.462459, -4.028706), presumably of timber that was built by a Norman invader (Walter de Bec), captured by a Welsh chieftain (Owain Gwynedd), retaken by the French, and abandoned, all between 1100CE and 1200CE. On the ground, the earthworks are very evident still, but hard to capture from ground level through spring foliage.

The Coflein entry has many excellent pictures, some aerial, that make the matter clear.

The castle overshadows the small church of St Michael which is very grand: in its grounds lie a 2000 year old yew and a terrific cemetery on a precipitous incline.

There is a circular walk which takes in the cemetery and skirts the castle site, along which there is a collection of poetry. Most poems are (wrth gwrs) in Welsh, but here is one that mentions the castle.

The excellently maintained Llanfihangel Genau'r Glyn website is full of historical information, including a complete list of the cemetery inscriptions, a Herculean achievement. The area was once central to coastal trade, and the parish of disproportionate local importance, meaning that many of the graves are of great interest and significance.

Dr Beeching did for the railway station, but the line remains, with regular trains to Aberystwyth.