The Fiona MacCarthy

The Fiona MacCarthy

What pleases and annoys

Instinctive, impulsive, and logical but always passionate and reflective of what I feel here and now.

Individual blogs are in most recent, first sequence and are also grouped in various "categories" which are just to the right & down a bit should you prefer to search that way. Please feel free to add a comment.

Blog restarted November 2017


Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Tue, December 26, 2017 15:08:55
Thoughts on Christmas, present.

First Christmas without my mother. Strange isolation tempered slightly by reusing last years christmas card from her. Inked words reignited in loving sentiment.

First ever Christmas tree populated by decorations from my mothers tree which in turn was populated by my Dad before he died in 2007. Never felt inclined before, although boxed decorations probably screaming "love me" "use me" and glitter brightly for being warmed by warming hands and defrosting heart.

First Christmas without my godmother Rosemary whose wisdom and peacebroking most missed.

First Christmas bauble bought. aaahhhh an addiction: a new one!. who knows.

Strange festival for an atheist with stranger cold close family relations contrasted with blossoming warming friendships with several cousins.

The rampant crass crude commercialisation inflaming passions of anti-fest.

Craving simplicity and purity of solid personal friendships renewed and strengthened in ignorance of the con-comm-fest.

Happy and sad, reflective and contemplative. Purposeful and stronger. Yes; strange few days.

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Family Cancer

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, November 26, 2017 06:25:36
Its 2 months now since my youngest sister was told she had a stage 4 brain tumour, non-operable, aggressive called gleoblastoma multiforme. I find even the name of this, one of 130 or so types of tumour chilling. She is not currently suffering ill effects of the daily chemo programme, now 3 weeks old combined with a weekday radiation programme. Another 3 treatment weeks and her body will be allowed to rest for 4 weeks. Mid January will see the chemo start again 3 weeks on one week off. The objective to stop growth and maybe shrink. It will be some time before we now how effective this treatment might be.

Im stunned by the suddeness, the terminal essence of this grim reaper collection dis-service. I seek and attain temporary short term solace in a way I know well. Am confident that my resilience will pull me through this early shock phase before settling in for the medium haul in the new year. I do hope that there is a long haul option of a longer life for a sister I love plenty.

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Seasonal Blues?: No

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, November 26, 2017 06:12:53
The joyful seasonal exuberance is not infecting me. I happily and confidently risk being called a spoilsport as the commercial festival is into full swing already with a week gone and 4 weeks to go before it even starts. It will then last a week at least. At least 6 weeks? is far too long.

For the 12 months to september the UK economy is the poorest performing of leading economies but like the pathetic drug addict we too are in search of our "fix" to make it all okay. Earnings lag inflation and have done so for some time. But if we all get excited then maybe it will be okay in the morning. No it will not.

Im saddened and disappointed by the con-commercial-fest beings extended to such a long period. Im not a kill-joy, but realistic about how we are allowing ourselves to be suckered into think free oblivion.

These words from Shakespeare's Henry IV Part 1

"If all the year were playing holidays,

To sport would be as tedious as to work,

But when they seldom come, they wished for come,"

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Food Festival, Bandwidth, Zebras & Immigrants

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, March 19, 2017 07:14:29
Immigrants & I

On the evening of 16th March 2002 I boarded a plane in Lagos Nigeria, bringing to an end 18 years of life upon the African continent and bound for London where I arrived in the early hours of Sunday 17th March which you may recognise as St Patricks day, an immigrant to this wonderful country. I therefore found the speech by the Irish PM Enda Kenny in the presence of Trump most touching and heart warming as he talked about immigrants. (Consensus on Patrick is that he was from Wales, captured enslaved, freed and returned to bring Christianity). It has been the most impressive political leadership riposte to the ignorance of the leader of the USA.


Certain Women (9/10 in my opinion) was a delightful movie of 3 stories about 4 women in a rural setting of the American North West directed skilfully by Kelly Reichardt. Excellent acting of the ordinary lives of these women seeking to realise ambitions and dreams, explored sensitively. The first two stories reflecting frustrations of working and living in a male dominated society (not a historical movie either) whilst the last story explores the friendship of two very different women thrown together by accident of classroom.

Lion (6/10) as directed by Garth Davis is a heart touching true tale of a boy lost on the Indian railway system, adopted by Australian parents who don’t want their own children (they adopt two). Searching his own roots at University prompted by other non Australian born he (Dev Patel playing adult role) uses Google maps to track down the village he came from. Some scenes with Nicole Kidman are excellent but it is boy-Saroo played by Sunny Pawar that steals one’s heart with his expression and acting. A great movie for Christmas time on the sofa.

“Van Dyck and the artists Eye” at the Laing Gallery was good show of paintings by artists of themselves including the approximately 1640 Van Dyck painting and a Picasso too.

Robert Rauschenberg at the Tate Modern was mind blowing in showing his versatility, skill and in my opinion his humour. Variety of subject matter, materials used and scale of work from his 6 decades of work frequently took my breath away or just brought a big smile to my face. Eg the stuffed angora goat.

Food Festival, Bandwidth, Shekels, Rugby.

Hosting a Food Festival upon Fish Quay North Shields in the 2nd weekend of March was the outcome of a meeting of minds of an optimist with a lunatic. Saturday was damp drizzly misery forcing a happy adjournment to a local hostelry (Low Lights) for several hours. Sunday brought inspiring freshness of air and sunshine to allow exploration of small range of stalls and standardised options. The sign for chai tea lured me to one but there was no “masala chai” to refresh memories of my Indian adventures. Hopefully the show will return in future years in warmer times and on a bigger scale.

Off to London last week on Tuesday for 3 days followed by a trip to Manchester on Friday, to meet various Agencies and “rocketise” my contract search and shekel-search (ancient use not modern intended) for life and holidays. I admit to not being 100% these past weeks in my emotional state of mind but am getting to where I want and need to be and where my “elevator pitch” is pitch perfect. At one of my meetings this week a non-young agent said I had “bandwidth” and before I used my talons to pop his eyeballs onto my perverse-pool-playing surface in response to references to elastic/ ated waistlines insults as inferred to my mind scanning all wavelengths but missing the right tune. He was referring of course to my breadth of experience rather than being specialised in a micro segment of accounting which is the norm now. But there are roles for those such as I with “bandwidth” (of skills) he assured me. I am more confident than before.

Last weekend saw a van arrive at my door with various family heirlooms including my mothers dressing table. All items welcomed displayed hung (if needed) housed etc and that concludes that phase of a rather rocky nine weeks. Shared pictures from my sister of my mothers home now listed for sale shows a very empty house and home. Mine is delightfully crowded and very homely. Thank you Mum.


Yesterday brought to an end that great competition of rugby rivalry: Six Nations. Ireland have been inconsistent and England consistent but unexciting. I was not optimistic but certainly not as pessimistic as implied by Austin Healeys (an Englishman) prediction of a 23 point victory by England. Ireland played with perfect clinical passion against an uninspiring England winning 13-9 scoring the only try of the match.

England also won the womens version of this same competition and the Table sequence was the same as the Mens being in sequence Eng, Ire, Fra, Sco, Wal, Ita. wonder the odds on that.

Nail Art
Classy Red meeting wild graceful zebra (aka merger african past my present)

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Spring sprung

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, March 05, 2017 07:35:52
At Sanctuary house yesterday, I had nail-art inspiration in the form of the above from an on-line picture of half Yellow vertical block covering half the nail with adjoining black white stripes. To avoid looking like a mutant bee, the Green moved in and non-symmetrical pattern applied. As St Patricks day of Friday 17th is before my next appointment and as I arrived on St P day in 2002, its a nice combo of Irish roots and Newcastle home (the football colours are B&W - for the slower!!).

Last weekend was back in Ireland for Saturday - Tuesday for the "month's mind" for my mother who died 7 weeks earlier on 14th January: How time flies and slowly heals although healing is rather non-linear but the trend is the right way. The family gathering at and after mass (dont do many of those) was very cathartic and it was strongly supportive of a steadily developing positive outlook. Spent 2 days with my sisters at Mum's home to sort and share those items from our 5 decades (approx) shared times. Some items are now in their new home whilst others will arrive next Sunday. Funny how some just fit right in as if they always lived here and others are like waving:at me.

Pursuits of the mind have been scarce this past fortnight but will re-engage with local offerings this week (to come). Bacchus inspired pursuits were too dominant last weekend.Liked the quote from the linked wikipedia article about the months mind from Bede "survivals of the Norse minne, or ceremonial drinking to the dead".

Continue to look for next work contract but my mind is becoming more focused and less emotional: Clearer maybe even like that of a bee. Plenty of work out there but one must have done the near same role very very recently. Being professional interim does not sell in most places as hamsters preferred. Have now got a refined plan for that.

Yoga and walking provide either stretch that body or let the wind blow cobwebs from the mind. Recent reading suggests that the "mind" is not just the brain but a greater spatial occupier. Both very therapeutic and still thinking about mind.

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Darkness lightens

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, February 19, 2017 07:40:27
Picture is from my latest fortnightly visit to the creative Christine at Sanctuary House. idea found by nail guru me on-line of course.

The topic of the music lecture this week from the Explore programme ( was the composer John Cage whose style was best exemplified by the quote "Everything has its own spirit which can be released by setting it to vibrate". His use of chance in itself promoting the concept of risk, such as involving the I Ching to frame compositions or the creative 4'33" work which encourages us to "listen" in the extreme. My own summation is that sound is all around us and it is to us to provide context structure and extract pleasure.

Enjoyed Denzel Washington's adaptation of August Wilson's stage play "Fences" about a dysfunctional and very non rare family set in the 1950's Racist USA. Disappointed dreams of the father Troy (Washington) who has replaced love with automaton duty, is conditioned by the racial roles of the time and seeks to impose his values and distrust of sport upon his youngest son who has the same sports genes but less confined by walls or fences than his father. The conflict between the two is realistically harsh. His wife played by Viola Davis struggles to bind the family and is a delight to watch. The dialogue of the script is a gem to the ear. My assessment 8/10.

Later this Sunday I start a 2nd yoga class which I hope will complement my long running (no run!!) saturday session and returns me to where I was in 2015 with 2 classes per week. This body needs love and care.

Busy week, work search but no interviews yet. Continue and expand approach next week. No worries.

Off to Ireland next weekend for a Mass in Waterford on Sunday for my mother and then to her former home on Monday/tuesday in Navan to sort out some things. The growing daylight in the morning mirrors my own lightening of mood but dark days intrude too sometime.

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Blog restarted

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, February 12, 2017 07:20:24
A few weeks ago, this picture was taken of me whilst waiting at Agra rail station en route to Varanasi: a minor 12 hour overnight journey officially (Northern India if you must ask and my website has my notes and pictures). There were some seasonal delays in services due to fog but I was thinking and making plans whilst reclining on my rucksack under the protective covering of my sunhat at approx 8pm.

Back home in North Shields now, its time to make those plans real.

Firstly I am actively engaged in looking for a new work contract to replace last year's excellent contract at Goldsmiths University in London. No longer bound to the beautiful North East but free to apply my skills wherever I can source good meaningful and intelligent fairly paid work. (not too much of latter nearby but there is some). But here is "Home".

Secondly, I am continuing my interest in what is artistic and or educational in its broader sense. This week I have been lucky to enjoy

The German black comedy Toni Erdmann with its sensitive observations about an unhappy relationship between joke making father and work focused ambitious daughter. At nearly 3 hours its a longer than normal movie but such is the quality of the script and performance of the father daughter actors that its a joy of a movie 8/10 for me.

Also enjoyed but not as much T2 Trainspotting a follow up of the classic movie from 20 years ago. The acting is excellent, the script slow moving for the first half in explaining what happened so long back which I my opinion could have been sped up with a different technique for explaining the past. Its 4 lads now Mark, Simon, Frankie and Spud with the latter making the biggest steps in life following advice from Mark that he has to replace his heroin addiction with a different and better addiction. A lesson that can be applied to any other bad habits we may have which im working at (not the heroin bit!!). 7/10 for me.

A very thought provoking exhibition at the Baltic by Italian artist Monica Bonvicini, made much better by a 1-1 guided tour by a staff member. One floor is the big installation and painting works and loved the variety of techniques applied and in particular the use of drip paint in the 2 colour paintings of buildings in USA following various natural disasters. The 2nd floor of her work focused on control including various displays of bondage gear in everyday shapes. That was also good <smile>.

A lecture as part of the Explore (WeAreExplore) programme on the use of forms of Jazz music (broader sense rather than purist whom I think get it wrong by too narrow definition) by classical composers including Shostakovich (eg Tahiti Trot), Gershwin (eg Rhapsody in Blue), and Darius Milhaud (La creation du Mond), not to forget Ravel and Walton amongst other. The start of this Jazzy thing was of course back in Ragtime and loved the sounds of Scott Joplin to shade the blank canvas as my mind was rather blank on the matter at the start of the lecture.

Northern stage is one of my favourite theatres and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein a stirring imprint upon my childhood brain. I was therefore expecting to enjoy as I did Dr Frankenstein directed by Lorne Campbell and Polly Frame playing Victoria a female version of the Victor of old. Excellent acting and I especially enjoyed the "dream" scenes blending so magically with reality. The themes of where life begins and ends as well as taking responsibility for our actions are ageless but more complicated with Science. So appropriate as we create more complex and therefore more "human type" robots.

Live music excursions to the Exchange last Sunday for the monthly (1st sunday) musicians playing their own compositions rather than covers followed by the Boneshakers at the Maggie which following the departure of the manager seems to have shut its doors this week (was closed saturday night 10.30pm), and no future music listing on display as is normal. Will check out today but it will be a sad miss to the live music scene and more so being 100 yards from my back door.

Bucket list of short and longer holiday destinations taking shapes as well as other plans for the next 2 decades or so. Life is too short

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Autumn Arrives (6th weekend in L)

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, September 18, 2016 10:57:35

Autumn arrives

Time is moving on and whilst I have enjoyed much in this fascinating city I realise I have barely touched the surfaces.

Some venues have seen my footprints far more than others.

Back at the Tate for the modern art collection. Picasso’s 3 dancers great painting indeed but Dali’s Metamorphosis of Narcissus the one that hit my brain full on. Dazzling creativity. The range of paintings, the variety of styles, the output of such talent. A nice haven from the crowds is the balcony in the members area facing the river where one can sip and savour a flavoured waterey refreshment at 350 pence or so whilst enjoying a fabulous view. The frequency of visits to the non free parts of this venue have paid for the annual fee.

My other frequent favourite is the British Museum and this weekend I enjoyed free tours of the “Japan” collection (note this is also an air-conditioned room far up and away from the sweltering (korea and Inca rooms too provide respite when London gets hot). The 2nd free tour was of Sassanian glassware which prompted a time check as to century. From 250-600AD/CE and strung between Syria and Iran was a powerful and rich empire. Yes the old glasses and bowls impressive but it was the small coloured glass perfume bottles that caught my eye. Small enough to be enclosed in a fist, they were such a personal touch from a time so distant. My perfume bottles will not last so long!.

Back to live Comedy and this time at Comedy Carnival at Club rumba next to Trocadero. Friendly intimate more personal and distinctly cheaper (£16 entrance on Saturday and change from £20 for a bottle of wine). I laughed from beginning to end and eyes filled with water several times as a range of varied and talented comedians pushed various boundaries of humour. Much preferable to the Comedy Store nearby.

Do the crowds never give up. Every street so busy, every table occupied, bars boldly busy.

National Gallery for the George Shaw exhibition. Detailed paintings particularly of trees in enamel. The rest of the Gallery will be explored in instalments as will the Portrait gallery nearby who have daily talks on specific paintings and occasional musical recitals.. More work lol

My 3rd and final visit of this years Proms was #72 (previously 37/57) and as close to the Last as I could get.

Woody Allen’s Café Society seemed auto biographical in style, well acted, beautifully filmed and costumed and with a ¾ dazzling script.

Ron Howards documentary on the Beatles Eight days a week was very enjoyable and technically they have done magic with old images. Ringo’s comment about how poor the sound systems were in the USA where they frequently played over the staium tanoy system was hilarious. He had to watch the movements of Paul’s arse to work out where they were in the song. They were good at songwriting, professionally packaged to perfection and incredibly close knit team of four.

Andrew Neil chaired a session on plotical landscape of Britain post Brexit vote. Anatole Kaletsky (doom), Liam Halligan (optimistic), Chris Darbyshire (on fence) Claer Barrett (no views of note) were united in not being sure of their facts. Why anyone would talk before Andrew without fact checking beats me.

Next fortnight

Cosi fan tutte, Tate talk on Georgia O K, British Museum talks on Egyptian wisdom and their new SA art and a New Statesman/ Goldsmiths lecture. Those booked must fill in the gaps lol

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Last Summer Bank Holiday (5th weekend in L)

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, September 18, 2016 10:55:39

Last Bank Holiday of Summer

Comedy Store in central London was my first London Comedy night out. It was slick professional and pricey. The comedy was no better than that which I have experienced at the Stand, Newcastle although maybe the best were all at Edinburgh this weekend. Jammed pack in rows of seats that would make Ryanairs Michael blush. I laughed of course. But at £26 for ticket, nearly £25 for bottle of wine and £12 approx for a steak sandwich, it aint cheap. My normal prices at Stand are £12 entrance Saturday (£6 Friday for same acts with annual membership £30) and change from £20 for a bottle of wine (quality comparable).

An earlier visit to the Tate which is another venue to be explored slowly revealed the photographic works of the Finnish Konttinen based in Byker from 69-77 recording the British working class. She clearly was welcomed into the homes of many and her pictures are natural, professional and a historic record.

Walking in Hampstead was part of my series of Sunday walks via “London walks” where one turns up at a Tube station at a certain time, no booking, pay a £10 for 2 hours guided walk. Hampstead is quaint, perched on a hill to the North, pretty and pricey. Ridley Scotts 30 room home was sold for £28m. I find the idea of £1m per room supportive of the idea of keep the plebs out. In a local pub that seemed to have missed the gastro pub paint brush a Sunday lunch was enjoyed at £12 whilst a woman from up north (Manchester me thinks) quibbled about the price of a half pint saying that for same £2.40 she’d get a pint and more back home. The east European staff could not care less, nor could I.

A tour of Westminster Abbey on Sunday was moving beyond belief. The introduction included the memorial to the unknown soldier and the story was relayed by our Guide in a way that moved tears to cheek with ease. In a place that hosts remains and records of so many powerful and famous it was the death of a single symbolic soldier that made the most impact. Id like some of my ashes scattered in the quiet cloistered area. My ghost will have much to learn as night falls and spirits mingle.

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August Arty (4th weekend in L)

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, September 18, 2016 10:53:48

My 4th London weekend

Set in a rather posh part of town, okay its very posh aka Knightsbridge, the Royal Albert Hall is a lovely building in tribute to some long dead bit of royalty. But in contrast to the Royal Opera House it conveys a feeling wrapped in an atmosphere of British essence of normality, packed full with a love of music. And so it was upon my first visit to building amidst the 2 month long series of proms, number 37 that I swivelled my chair to gaze over the Prommers, those who stand for a sliver of the seating price having perhaps queued for upwards of 1,300 tickets designated for non cushioned attendance. As it was not packed by ay any means many stretched out upon the floor. The musical programmes was varied and entertaining. (prom #37 Waltons Partita, Webern’s Pascaglia and Brahms 4th the latter being the only piece I had heard before but all equally enjoyed

The Royal Academy (London is tough on those seeking venues of a Republican hue) is that semi egalitarian semi democratic, majority elite where a bunch of Artists in the club or guild or Union depending on perspective invite British artists to submit works of art and approx. 10% approx. get to be displayed and cannot help but wonder how much gets displayed in bed in order to get displayed on the walls. The selection process by reported accounts is flawed and artists who have financially made it judging who to admit has the hint of non fairplay to it. The rooms are delightfully bright and the displays of artistic exhibits conversation prompting in the main and pleasing in the minority. The bijoux garden areas surrounded by 4 high storey buildings a pleasant respite from how did that get in here to how did the gem survive the architects pen in a city noted for the price per square foot. Your two feet will probably fit with a shape of 1 foot square but your hips and shoulders will probably not. Ordering 2 glasses of prosecco for my friend & I and asking of snacks, offered bowl of almonds and waiter says I will bring them over, shot the bill up into levels (I have just returned from a meal of afghan spag bol for /£6.50 at nearby Perseplois) I decided to skip contemplation . £23. The absence of pence from bills is a warning.

I had by this weekend been to the Royal Opera House to see 3 very different shows, Obsidian tea plus 2 other dance/ballet, Verdi’s Il Trovatore and the Bolshoi’s Taming of the Shrew, without misogyny. The Bolshoi will not be back in London next year touring Paris, Scandinavia, New York and Japan and as it was my birthday week and as there was only 1 seat left for sale and none for Swan Lake, it seemed only fair to join the reverse-paupers in the stalls for Le Corsair (The Pirate) and their last night in town or indeed the UK. Critics may debate the finer points of Ballet but they bring an expertise to costumes that is superlative. The most humble of parts and judging by only 2 performances are attired in the most delightfully coloured, tailored and role appropriate costumes. As tho the Ballet and having only seen UK groups before before Obsidian tear, the Bolshoi bring a lightness of touch, a glide and a gracefulness, an energy and excitement enhancing sense. They are true Masters and Mistresses of their art form. I’m glad I paid the asking price of £135 but I leave my friends assured that my next three shows at the ROH in total cost £12 less than that single price. Yes, Im back up the top dusting the ceiling but still savouring the beauty of what art is available so frequently here.

The options on Sunday based upon why not go on the river was to go up river somewhere nice or downstream to Greenwich. Those of you familiar with the way of rivers and as limited by there being only one will understand the great choice of 2. Greenwich won and we headed off in the non touristy but tourist filled commuter boat. The Cutty Sark waved its sails and gosh it is small, the village was jammed with tourists. The former naval building designed to assist the recovery of sailors of the British navy from injury and ailment so vast in scale they could probably accommodate the entire naval staff now. It was and is a symbolic tribute of physical and perhaps psychological benefit to those who had served to expand and maintain the empire at its height. Up the hill to see the folk queue to be pictured on the meridian line and learn about Harrisson’s clocks (Dava Sobel’s Longitude purchased) provided a technical guru expertise counterbalance to the physical ardours of those who recovered at the base of the hill. Atop the hill allowed those Londoners to update their clocks daily. And all that in the last 2 centuries.

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BM, Tate, V&A and a bit of the Bolshoi

Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, August 07, 2016 08:03:44

Extracts from my past fortnight in London: A bit of education, entertainment, exercise and relaxation.

Went to a #zlistdeadlist at British Museum which was a humorous look at 4 people from history who did not quite make it to the history books, but were a close 2nd to say the least; or so was the opinion of a comedian or curator with a comedians’s touch. At the end we voted on our favourite (Roger won)

· Arthur Cravan eccentric is a good choice if a single word to describe an intimidating pugilist whose physical presence was often more powerful than his fists. Trotsky was impressed enough too.

· Harry Price a failed magician is perhaps a bit cruel but the talking mongoose story crueller still and that bit not by me

· King Roger of Sicily was a canny lad to use a Geordie expression who thought that coinage bearing islamic and christian symbols a wiser way of uniting a multi cultural society.

· Lucian of Greece who was writing science fiction 1800 years ago and also of crossing the Atlantic.

Emerging at the end from the lecture theatre in the basement into the Big Hall as I call it was met by the gigantic stare of an ancient carving. I had gone the left stairs and everyone else the right stairs not that they were any righter so to speak. But there was I eyeballing alone a giant of the past alone. A moment of personal enchanted magic


is for me, a lovely venue for a coffee in sunshine in haven of touristy madness. The plaster caste moulds of famous European statues a great tribute to effort of replication. But jewellery blew my mind as to the variety scale and delightful intricacies of superb craftsmanship

Lingerie display very brief on materials history and styling. Tatty touristy.

Tate's Bhupen Khakhar exhibition (Mona's and Georgia's are/were much better) would have been improved by more guidance on imagery. I also don’t appreciate being told that displays contain adult imagery in a gallery and hey presto we get a painting with singular or multiple penises. Its an art gallery not a Victorian temple.

British Museum’s guided tour of its top exhibits is excellent value for money, for time and for guidance through this labyrinth of magic. On my particular tour with Norwegian guide, not a Brit in sight of what were nearly all from rest of world drives home to me the craziness of erecting barriers on the movement of people when art is global. On my menu:

1. England Sutton Soo

2. Lewis chessmen walrus tusk chess from india. En route Norway to Dublin- A story in itself.

3. China money –no!! the money is not made of Chine but paper money so so old.

4. Portland vase which has survived several smashes and careful reconstruction

5. Silver cup 2000 year old roman times portraying gay lovers of greek design themselves a further 400 years older. (and some would say that homosexuality was a reflection of our decadent culture: as natural as time itself. and attempts to purchase blocked by arch loony archbishop Canterbury

6. Nebamun Egyptian hunting scene

7. Standard of UR

8. Rosetta Stone but note replica available on right with the rreal thing and real crowds on the left of central hall.

9. Korean Iron Buddhist statue,_Koryo_dynasty_02.jpg

10. Easter island takeaway

11. Mayan lintels of imagination and cruelty

12. Winged bulls Sabbou from Iraq would look good on most driveways

13. Partheneon which is rather big and no wonder they want them back.

London walks was tailor made for my mindset. With some 20 tours per day, rocking up at tube station with no appointment, paying a tenner for a two hour guided tour of this fascinating city with like minded people. this particular sunday:

Old Jewish area at Whitechapel was educational and then I googled the factions of Judaism and so many interpretations. Like the other 2 monotheistic the first object is multiplication of options. The polytheistic religions at east offered multiple objects of veneration.

1000 years of Westminister was exactly that and in 150 minutes too. Killing and conquering on the battlefield and the bedroom: what else did you expect.

Previously enjoyed Famous square mile, mayflower to brunel of which the former was the best of the 4 and the latter the least enjoyed BUT only in comparison with the other four.

BFG aka Big Friendly Giant was a delight in escapism, imagination rampant and feel good supreme. No intellect required just love. Its a movie in case you thinking something else

Taming of the Shrew by the Bolshoi at Royal opera House was top class. The interpretation was modernised to present a sense of equality between Katharina and Petruchio with a meeting of minds replacing the older “taming”. Purists trounced by modernity in a classic art form. Humour reflected splendidly, characters so true and costumes a delight in complementing a choreography that was vibrant and visually enchanting.

Goldsmiths “artist teacher and contemporary practise” visually disappointing as the artists seemed to assume I knew what I was looking at. Note to artists: please help us more. Twas the same problem at Tate’s Bhupen. We are not all reared in the mothering chamber of artistic hatchable incubation.

Coming Up next fortnight
Proms #37
Royal academy Summer exhibition
Le corsaire from Bolshoi
A talk on collecting middle eastern art at BM
Others to fill in gaps as not enough there

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My second weekend in London

Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, July 17, 2016 08:40:00

My 2nd weekend in London (this year) seems rather a surprise after being here working week wise, since February. Did not expect to be here so little but plan from now till September is to spend every 2nd weekend exploring and learning.

On Friday last, where I took the day away from work and went looking at Jewellery from Mesopotamia at British Museum. So little has changed in many styles and designs in 4500 years or so. Could imagine the necklines that may have worn the same. I have decided after little thought that the BM can only be explored piecemeal as it overwhelms me in terms of breadth and depth. Some evening sessions booked as I seek to learn more behind the scenes. Took the opportunity to pop into the Sicily exhibition with its bright touristy inviting pictures (it might have been sponsored by Visit Sicily) and also its fascinating multi-cultural multi religions which for the most part got on with each other. Carthaginians Greeks Romans and Arabs all contributed and benefited from this gem of an island. Coinage for example would contain symbols from both Islam and Christian faiths which is in stark contrast to so much hostility in recent days between these faithless faiths. (84 varieties of dead bodies in not so nice incident in Nice).

Saturday morning took me into Tate modern for an early show, one of the benefits of my new membership where I got the opportunity to wander around for an hour before the hordes (like of me too) descended to see the Georgia O Keefe show. Born in Wisconsin of Irish-Dutch-Hungarian parents (still just 2 parents but you can work it out), she lived and worked between 1887 and 1986. I liked the quote from her “I don’t know what art is. No one has been able to give me a satisfactory definition”. She travelled within the States living in deserts and cities and painting with curiosity and love what she saw. A return visit to the Mona Hatoum exhibition was also enjoyed as it allows a different view of this talented and very creative artist.

Saturday afternoon saw me exploring the street art of Shoreditch with Dave and his Shoreditch Tours. Opened my eyes to the diversity of artists from around the globe as they too pushed the boundaries on the definition of Art, the materials used, the methods of application (not talking a spray can of graffiti), the inspiration for the message and medium used and the thoughts they inspire in us the audience. Poles (the vertical metal ones in street) adorned with various messages of an artistic nature. Curiosity engaged to learn more and simply to observe better what surrounds us when we walk, travel.

A musical about a baby kidnapped by a gypsy, allegedly murdered (ring any modern bells a sleeping nanny by the way), revenge initiated, a woman murdered and in error but her daughter seeking revenge, two brothers competing for the love of the same woman and on opposite sides in a war but not knowing they were brothers. This was the first half. Tacky? No way. Verdi’s Il Trovatore at Royal Opera House on Friday night was to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw void of intellect and strong on passion.

Three very different movies last week at Goldsmiths Cinema venture with Curzon

Maggie’s Plan had the cast and the talent, a script that in places was electrifying but the editing was careless too often with opportunities lost, emotions artificial and perhaps too rushed to complete.

Absolutely Fabulous was a longer version of its former weekly format, with over the top acting particularly from Patsy, a script that was sharp, a plot that sometimes drifted as if to fill the time and cameo appearances galore. It was in the editing department that I felt that it was sharper and more professional uplifting this movie from where it would otherwise be. Commented on as my vies digress from professional reviewers and I saw these movies 24 hours apart.

When we were kings, was a re-release of a 1996 documentary on Mohammed Ali. A true revolutionary more genuine than Che Guevara who (Che) strangely remains an icon beyond his shadows whilst a true revolutionary was Ali. It was nice to see Kinshasa again as the setting for most of the documentary and that great battle between 2 boxers are different stages of their career in 1974. (my residency was 1995-97). Ali’s opposition to conscription in a racially divided country as a young man (did time for it too) was a reminder of how little has changed when we look at Black lives matter and yes despite a President of mixed race although we keep being told he is Black which is rather insulting to Obama’s mother. I believe that Ali would have been a far stronger leader and respected commentator was it not for Parkinsons. It’s a pity we lost decades of his poetic and musical voice fronting a good and kind human.

Sunday will see a walking tour late morning, some quiet reading of art books acquired and a trip to the Globe theatre for Macbeth this evening (cost£7.50 which is perversely the going rate for a glass of wine)

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melodies of notes and love

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Wed, June 22, 2016 22:07:44

A musical weekend with The Force on Friday and then “Big Red and the Grinners” (Sunday) providing good quality live music entertainment and pleasure in my local home pub, the Maggie Bank. I am firm in the opinion that the absence of live music is a poorer place to live. Sub optimal in extremis. Both bands were energetic, professional and left me feeling much happier for enjoying their magical touches.

In the middle of last week (Tuesday) I was very fortunate to attend and enjoy some great entertainment from Paul Cassidy at Goldsmiths; Frederic Chopin Ballades 1&2 and a new composer to me Frederic Rzewski born 1936 Ballades 3&4. Great contrast, great talent and great luck to be there.

Mikado by Scottish opera at Theatre Royal Newcastle was a dilemma in entertainment. It offered ingredients of pantomime, predictable lines eg “Yum Yum” as the main female lead and whose humour from aging magician playing touch bum with young female assistant was more in Carry on mode. Or maybe carry on just adopted the great scripting and lazily enjoyable music of Gilbert & Sullivan. Skilful, professional but so dated despite some efforts to make it au-jour (to the present day if my French is awful)

More recently I enjoyed intensively the delightful movie Tale of Tales, an extraordinarily creative trilogy of fantasia and imagination. There was plenty of material for plenty of discussion and I do wish I had seen this with an equally adventurous imaginative friend. Skip here if you plan to see.

For me the tale of the 2 brothers born, of selfish maternal love at all costs to have a child and then create 2 by sorcery. Their love for each other proved stronger and overcame the other one sided love of the warped mother.

The Princess in hope of love who is married off by a father more in love with a flea than her to an ogre of great physicality but no love, she wins, forgives father and becomes queen.

The two sisters in aged support and gentle but eventually cruel rivalry. The twist was the rich bloke fooled into accepting into his bed one of the old women , then realising his error trying murder before falling in love with the reincarnated but now younger woman. But she loses her youthful skin and runs away. Love is more than physical although that is oft the spark.

True love is stronger than selfish love. Embrace. (okay I will xxx)

Typed as Ireland beat Italy and go through to next round. FANTASTIC only saw the replays as I typed lol
Wednesday 26th June, 2016

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Busy time

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, June 19, 2016 09:06:37

Greetings. It’s been a while and a busy while too. But it also has been very good.

For the past few months (4 in case you curious), I have been commuting from home (Yep, that is still North Shields) to London on a weekly basis. For most of that time I have regarded the Angel of the North statue on the outskirts of Gateshead as a sign that I’m home. What then followed was a frantically busy period before Monday dawned and a commute work cycle repeated. Busy working week with a bit of time after work in one of a several options before retiring to hotel room for a bit of telly and sleep. A bit of a bitch in terms of quality of life!

In the past month life have been changing and improving with slightly more social routine be it music, or a movie or a different place. An effort which would conceivably draw critique from any good friend “could try harder at life”

With work contract very recently extended by 4 months a different and better personal plan is in place. There is more to life than work-sleep-boring routines.

Last weekend was the first during which I stayed over in London. Stupid to have stayed away from there so long but now there are bookings for end July and August where I will stay alternate weekends.

For my first stay on a sunny Friday evening, I ventured south from my hotel a great distance of 10 minutes getting to Peckham Rye which is a treasure trove of English life at a gentle pace and much different to Peckham high street with its never ending blare of blues and yellows emergency vehicles. Awful noise. Peckham Rye started with an ice cream cone and a stroll around the streets of small shops bustling with activity and fresh produce competing to be sold. Artusi provided the meal and Victoria Inn the refreshment as sunlight enabled a joyful feeling to permeate the ether and lift any darkness.

Saturday morning had me eagerly travelling to the British Museum for “Sunken Cities” a memorable and wonderful exhibition of treasured buried in 2 cities off the delta of the Nile. The strong bonds of Greece and Egypt were obvious in terms of their deity worship and a bold statement of living together when we shortly vote of divisions between us and our neighbours. Trade binds in the money sense but people bond too across countries as they have done for millennium. The equivalent of gravestones bear testimony to people adopting aspects of both cultures in which the Gods of the Greeks had human form whilst those of the Egyptians had animal form.

British museums are charge free but special shows as this have a cost of approx. £15 which deters many. A positive aspect of this for space loving me was the relative calm compared to the rest of the museum.

A contrast was offered by the Modern Tate which used the cash register to dampen the audience numbers at certain parts of its displays. Its sinful to keep the Mona Hatoum away from the general public as its inspirational in its creativity, provoking at every step and entertaining.

Evening time had me walking around Covent Garden busy as could be before seeking calm and entertainment at the Royal opera House. Excellent Ballet performance with a threesome of ballet: Obsidian tear (a sorrowful watery emission from the eye or a rip- you to decide) with Wayne McGregor providing the choreography for 9 male dancers in a strange and beautiful performance prompting many questions and leaving the interpretation to the audience. Wonderful not to be simplified. The 2nd performance was “The Invitation” by Kenneth McMillan a retelling of a controversial ballet from the 1960s’ about the crossover relationships between a younger and older couple. The 3rd ballet was “Within the Golden Hour” by Christopher Wheeldon a mesmerising performance by 7 couple dancing either as a couple or 2 couples through 7 dances until the final stupendous scene. The 3 ballets in one night provided great variety entertainment and thoughts for the mind. The quality of the dancing superb and the setting divine. Return visit booked.

Sunday morning had me enjoying one of the many walking tours in rain, for 2 and a half hours through the quiet silent streets of the business district, its wonderful streets of old, rebuilt churches and the special peace of St Dunstons with its Blitz bombed walls untouched for over 7 decades and now a garden space of serenity in a money mad making stretch of trillions but emptied for a Sunday. Lunch in a Christopher Wren pub was a touching reminder that people are often remembered for one thing only when we often do many great things.

I don’t see myself moving lock stock and barrel to London in 2016, but I will spend more of my personal time there this year. In November I will be looking for a new contract in London as the quality of engaging work is there at a day rate that covers the expenses and hassle of commuting. The North East offers average quality work at average £rates and lengthy gaps between contracts that crucify any savings and cause unnecessary stress (2 mths last year and 1 this year with a low paid role in between). A creative blend of work life balance is an option as my work does not mean I have to be in London for 5 weekdays but that depends on my client / customers and by negotiation. My dream job would be 3days in London per week with alternate weekends, a 4th workday each week here at “home” during which days (all 4) I would do a working week of say 37 -40 hours. Its good to have a plan and I must simplify how I tell it.

Will be back here more often now.

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Temporary sabbatical

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, April 17, 2016 08:28:06
Have been working away in London since February and my personal life more than slightly impacted.
Will be returning here in next week
best wishes

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