Iain Cameron's Diary
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2007-01-23 - 4:38 a.m.

Back at Hertfordshire U yesterday all day to work on our social science research application – the deadline is 24 January and fortunately it’s not me that has to put it all together. I drove back from Hatfield via Aylesbury along the A 41 which worked well even during rush hour. This becoming a favourite route.

Today I am going into the centre of Birmingham to meet the funding agents on an EC programme which supports the transfer of innovation in vocational education. For this meeting I have had to fill in a form sketching the shape of the project I have in mind. I drafted a version on Friday and sent it in on Saturday having looked it over. I felt sufficiently confident over the weekend to send it off to Portugal, Ireland, Slovenia, Austria and Germany and today I got my first positive response. So far so good. Feedback from colleagues is OK too.

This evening I am meeting Francis at Middle Aston overlooking the upper Cherwell Valley – on Wednesday we are running a workshop on the issues the Hertfordshire is about with three of the organisations who promote engineering as a career to school children. The UK has decided that there are too many organisations trying to do similar things in this field.

On Sunday night we saw The Last King Of Scotland which lived up to recommendations although as the story unfolds it gets harder to watch as the naďve central character gets closer to the brutality of Amin regime and ends up being tortured at Entebbe . The central character is in his mid 20s and the action is set in the early 70s. James McAvoy who portrays him gives a very cogent account of the weaknesses of this generation – he was born in 1979. Apparently he also played Mr Tumnus the Faun in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe – perhaps that explains it given that story made such an impact on people of that age? Forest Whitaker is also extraordinary.

Fopp has opened in Guildford and at the weekend they offered Jack Bruces’s Shadows in the Air for one pound. Its an absolute snip. The reviews suggest that its worthy but gloomy. I have got to the point where I don’t notice the latter characteristic. The songs are interesting, the voice is just the same, the words are rich, the band is very very good and there are several star guests.

I also picked up Daphne Bailey’s book about Jeff Buckley’s album Grace – she is an assistant professor at Princeton and has an interest in what happens to black culture after the Black Power movement. She positions JB as the next chapter in the Reynolds-Press ‘Sex Revolts’ evolution. This gets her off to a good start with me as I think the R-P volume is unsurpassed in its treatment of gender in rock. On this reading JB manages to take elements of classic Led Zep macho rock and blend them with oceanic lost-boy songsmithing. She forges links back to Rilke, Patti Smith and Morrisey and sees JB’s time in the East Village as the stimulus for him to be extremely innovative and take his songwriting gifts to the limit. She also discusses the parallels between JB and Nina Simone.

This has sent me back into my JB collection starting with Live at Sine and the CD single set and then Mystery White Boy. My copy of Grace has been stolen by one of my children so I suppose I’ll have to get another one.

DB doesn’t discuss Sweetheart the Drunk and I am so intrigued by what she makes of side one of this that I may have to write to her and ask.

I also find that I am listening to Tori Amos – a very different kettle of fish.

James McG has written with his reactions to 10 Short Stories.

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