Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What Mr Lilly thinks of Capricorn

Qualities of the Signe Capricorn   It’s the House of Saturn, and is Nocturnal, Cold, Dry, Melancholly, Earthly, Feminine, Solsticiall. Cardinall, Moveable, Domesticall, Fourfooted, Southerne; the exaltation of Mars.
Diseases   It hath government of the Knees, and all diseases incident to those places, either by Straines or Fractures; it notes Leprosy, the Itch, the Scab.
Places   It shewes an Oxe-house, or Cow house, or where Calves are kept or Tooles for Husbandry, or old Wood is laid up; or where Sailes for Ships and such Materials are stored; also Sheep-pens ad grounds where Sheepe feed, Fallow-grounds, barren-Fields Bushie and Thorny; Dunghils in Fields, or where Soyle is laid in houses low, dark places, neer the ground or threshold.
Corporature   Usually dry Bodies, not high of Stature, long, leane and slender Visage, thin Beard, black Haire, a narrow Chin, long small Necke and narrow Brest. I have found many times Capricorn ascending the party to have white Hair, but in the seventh ever Blacke, I conceive the whitenesse proceeded from the nature of the Family rather then of the Signs.
Kingdomes, Countries, Cities   Thrace, Macedon in Greec niow Turjkie, Albania, Bugaria, Saxony the South-west part, West-Indies, Stiria, the Isles Orcades, Oxford, Macklin, Clebes, Brandenburge.

-          William Lilly, Christian Astrology (1647)

Does God love children?

I'm always fascinated by the proposition that God loves children. There seems a long catalogue of events that suggests otherwise, from the Aberfan tragedy (a whole infants' school bured in mud) to the more recent massacre of over a hundred children by the Taliban. If one was a parent, and saw someone attacking one's child, I suggest one might intervene. God the Father (sic) who apparently is all-powerful, choses to look on and do nothing. Mind you he seems to hate all mankind, of whatever age, given his recent disinclination to intervene when two innocent people were murdered in a Sydney cafe, to say nothing of the wars that have decimated almost every country on earth since he  . . . oh yes, leaned against a cloud watching  his own son being murdered. Three cheers for Christianity? I think not. One of the sillier religions, I'd say. The only reason to wish that it were true is the sad thought that the Popes and all the rest will never know what nonsense it is, as they slip away into dark emptiness.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hurrah for Christmas?

Christmas comes, but once a year is enough.

'Still xmas is a good time with all those presents and good food and i hope it will never die out or at any rate not until i am grown up and hav to pay for it all.' - The Complete Molesworth (Geoffrey Willans)

The first rule in buying Christmas presents is to select something shiny. If the chosen object is of leather, the leather must look as if it had been well greased; if of silver, it must gleam with the light that never was on sea or land. This is because the wariest person will often mistake shininess for expensiveness.' - P. G. Wodehouse.

How to teach children that violence pays.

For many years I was a fan of Saturday afternoon wrestling on British TV - 'the grunt-'n-groan boys' as they were called. It was skilful, extrenely amusing, and with relatively little violence; simply whatever was necessary to score a fall. The American wresling shown now on TV is really appalling (though you will notice I still watch it, or how would I know?) There are occasional bouts which show some skill, but violence is the keynote, and sometimes is allowed to erupt outside the ring as well as inside. The referees really need scarcely be there at all for all the attention anyone pays them; wrestlers' managers are allowed at ring-side and often interfere in the action; and from time to time four or five guys gang up on someone who has won a bout and beat him into submission. I suppose the actual violence can't be as bad as it looks - no-one appears to suffer from broken bones, unless this is carefully edited out; but the general idea that violence is the way to win is certainly the keynote, and what that dioes to or for American yougnstes I can't imagine.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Keep your dreams to yourself!

The ABC radio news awakened me this morning from a long and extremely detailed dream, which for once I was able to 'fix' before it was forgotten (usually they slip through one's consciousness like fish and wriggle away before one can actually remember them). In another life, I would very much like to have researched dreams much more thoroughly than we did for the two books we wrote on the subject. It's clear that dreams can be 'interpreted' - are revealing, critical, helpful, though I'm sure occasionally (though rarely) meaningless. Maybe in time someone will invent a means of accessing and recording them - though this might be extremely embarrassing from time to time, and maybe new privacy laws would be necessary! Their sexual content still often shocks people, revealing tastes which in waking life they would reject as unreasonable or even offensive. Neither Freud nor Jung seemed to get this quite right - Freud indeed becomes laughable on the subject, when making such assertions as 'The tie is always a sexual symbol!'
For those whose first language is English, puns are often central to the interpretation of a dream. Once when we were for a time appearing on morning TV interpreting viewers' dreams, a young woman had dreamed that she was pulling a sweater overher head, and her head fell off. Clearly (and she admitted it) this referred to the fact that the 'wool had been pulled' over her head by a man over whom she had 'lost herr head'. In another case, a girl kept dreaming that she was desperate to go to Bristol, though in waking life she knew nothing about Bristol and certainly had no intention of going there. But she admitted to wanting breast implants - and in Cockney rhyming slang (and she was a Cocknet) Bristol = Bristol Cities = titties, i.e. breasts!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Tale for Mr Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch might like this anecdote: or not.

Frederick Greenwood, editor of 'The Pall Mall Gazette', met in his club one day Lord Riddell, and in the court of conversation Riddell said to him: 'You know, I own a paper.' 'Oh, do you?' said Greenwood; 'what is it?' 'It's called "The News of the World", said Riddell, "I'll send you a copy." In due course he did so. Next time they met, Riddell said, 'Well, Greenwood, what do you think of my paper?' 'I looked at it,' replied Greenwood, 'and then I put it in the wastepaper basket. And then I thought, "If I leave it there the cook may read it" - so I burned it.'

Just listen, why don't you?

So I've just yeard that during the past twelve months I've been on-air for no fewer than 178 hours and 30 minutes introducing classical music on Sydney's radio station Fine Misic 102.5, And what's nowhgere near the record - Stephen Wilson has done well over 400 hours! The station is completely run by volunteers, with together an enormous knowledge of music (including jazz). Without wanting to boast, I guess this is probably the best independant classical music station in the world, on-air for 24 hours a day every day of the year, with music from every composer from Bach and Monteverdi to Borodin and Mahler and Berlioz to Britten and Tippett and Copland and Adams. Have a listen - we broadcast streaming from finemusicfm.com
Music, ho!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Schoolgirl sex

Just been re-reading Romeo and Juliet and realised that under present law Romeo would be arrested for child molestation. He is clearly considerably older than Juliet (in his late teens - old enough to be banished). Though in the original source of the play Juliet is 16, Shakespeare makes her 13, going on 14 – the age of Nabokov’s Lolita!  When she wakes after their wedding night it’s quite clear that she has been well and truly, um, made love to. Incidentally, Juliet’s nurse, always portrayed as an old or at least middle-aged woman, is only 26 – and she lost her maidenhead at 12. What a fun place Verona must have been! I suppose one of the youngest Juliets was Olivia Hussey in Zeffirelli’s film (15). Leonardo Di Caprio’s Juliet looks about 18. No producer would dare to show the play as Shakespeare obviously intended . . . but why did he make Juliet so young? Was the boy actor who first played her particularly young? 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Musical Christmas Day

Given three hours from four o'clock on the afternoon of Christmas Day, to fill with music - what does one do? Since the programme is entitled 'Christmas On Stage' I've fixed on a suite from The Nutcracker, Act I of La Traviata, a suite from Petrushka, Act II of La Boheme and Act II of Fledermaus. On with the dance, let joy be unconfined! Anyone coming across this can tune in to the programme at 05:00 GMT from Finemusicfm.com

Friday, November 14, 2014

What Mr Lilly thinks of Sagittarius

Qualities of the Signe Sagittarius   Is of the fiery triplicity, East, in nature fiery, hot, dry, Masculine, Cholericke, Diurnall, Common, bycorporeal or double-bodied.
Diseases   It ruleth the Thighes and Buttocks in the parts of mans body, an all Fistulas or Hurts falling in those members, and generally denoteth blood heated, Feavers Pestillentiall, fals from Horses, or hurts from them or four-footed Beasts; also prejudice by Fire ], Heat and intemperatenesse in Sports.
Places Sagittarius Signifieth   A stable of great Horses, or Horses for the Wars, or a House where usually great four-footed Beats are kept; it represents in the Fields, Hils, and the highest places of Lands or Grounds that rise a little above the rest; in houses upper rooms, neer the fire.
Shape and forme of Body   It represents a wel-favoured Countenance, somewhat long Visage, but full and ruddy, or almost like Sun-burnt; the Hairs light Chestnut colour, the Stature somewhat above the middle Size; a conformity in the Members, and a strong able body.
Kingdoms, Countries and Cities subject to Sagittarius   Spaine, Hungary, Slavonia, Moravia, Dalmatia, Buda in Hungary, Toledo, Narbon, Cullen, Stargard.

-          William Lilly, Christian Astrology (1647)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Somewhere on the Somme

My father, George Nevin Parker, lieutenant in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, in a garden somewhere in France, looking fairly relaxed during the Battle of the Somme. He survived the slaughter, but never smiled like this when I asked him about it. The most he would ever say was, 'It wasn't too good.' Rather like the other survivors of the battles of the First World War, now almost a century ago. I could never persuade him to say more - except that he heard the news of the armistice and the cease-fire whole sitting in a latrine just behind the lines! He lived until 1970, luings never quite recovered from the German illegal use of gas.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Who's working on the Mississippi?

‘Niggers all work on de Mississippi –
Niggers all work while de white man play . . .’
Every time there’s a new production of Jerome Kern’s Show Boat, there has to be a production meeting about whether those lines (the originals) should be sung, or whether they should be changed (I’ve heard ‘niggers’ change to ‘darkies’ – surely not much difference? – and ‘poor folk’!) The answer is a no-brainer: of course the original text should be kept – the show is a classic and shouldn’t be messed about with. Neither should there be any offence – the ‘n’-word (as everyone now has to call it) was common parlance in southern states of America in the early 20th century, and nobody at the time of the play would have used any word. There should be no hesitation in printing or saying it if one’s using it properly; using it as an insult is another matter. It’s a question of usage.
The current scandal in Australia is about the Professor of Poetry at the university, who in an email to a close friend used a number of highly offensive terms referring to women and aborigines. He claims that they were used in a ‘playful’ way, and that he and his friend had a long-running  competition as to who could be most offensive. I have to say the email didn’t read that way; it seems rather to reveal the inner sensibilities of a man one wouldn’t really want to know. But that’s perhaps beside the point, which is: shouldn't everyone have the right to write things in private without the risk of someone making the words public? I dare say almost everyone has at some time said or written words which they would not like to be generally repeated – an opinion about a friend, for instance. I keep a journal: I certainly wouldn’t like some passages in it to be printed and publicised without my permission. Clearly there must be exceptions: if someone had captured a letter from Napoleon revealing his plans for a battle, one would expect them to have been made known; if someone had actually managed to get hold of a letter from Himmler detailing his plans for the Final Solution, it would have been criminal not to publish it. But in general,  surely everyone has a right to withhold their words, their private opinions, from the public without the fear that some sly interloper will publish them?
It’s never going to be possible for anyone to be completely private again, it seems. Broadcasters are told never to say anything in a studio, even with the microphone turned off, which they wouldn’t say with it turned on. To be completely safe, we will have to take the same view of an email. Won’t we?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A quick sandwich before dying

Another school shooting in America – but this kind of thing now seems to be embodied in the American psyche, and sad that of its young people. We badly need to know why apparently sane young boys decide suddenly to shoot a class-mate (in this case a girl, so possible pubescent love of a fatal kind). As to adults, of course some idiot is always going to be able to obtain a gun and go on the rampage – but the point is that it’s much too easy to do so, and the idiots of the N.R.A. are intent on making it easier still. They are clearly not rational people with whom it is possible to argue, or they would see that ‘the right to bear arms’ is not a phrase which should be permitted to remain in the constitution – that those that inserted the phrase had in mind only the historical  situation at the time when the constitution was written. (This is clearly illustrated by the attitude to constitutional government: the authors would have been appalled that anyone should think that the phrase ‘government of the people’ might apply to people with black skins.) A country’s constitution should not be written in stone.
No country is free of idiots. In Australia for instance there are Members of the N.S.W. Parliament who represent the Shooters’ Party, one of whose main objects is to preserve the right to shoot in the National Parks, to the considerable danger of those who think the parks a good place for a quiet picnic. Time for just one sandwich, then a bullet in the back of the head. And drug-related gangs preside over drive-by shootings which have injured innocent men, women and children. The problem isn’t a simple one. But don’t tell me that making guns a great deal more difficult to get and keep – and prohibiting civilians fro m owning military weapons – wouldn’t be a considerable help.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

What Mr Lilly thinks of Scorpio

Qualities of the sign Scorpio   Is a cold, watery, nocturnal, phlegmatic, feminine Signe, of the watery triplicity, fixed and North, the house and joy of Mars, feminine; usually it doth represent subtill, deceitfull men.
Diseases   Gravell, the Stone in the Secret parts, Bladder, Ruptures, Fistulas, or the Pyles in Ano, Gonorrhea’s, Priapismes, all afflicting the Privy parts either in man or woman; defects in the Matrix.
Places Scorpio Signifieth   Places where all sorts of creeping Beasts are, as Beetles, &c., or such as be without wings, and are poysonous; Gardens, Orchards, Vineyards, ruinous houses neer Water; muddy, moorish Grounds, stinking Lakes, Quagmires, Sinks, the Kitchin or Larder, Wash-houses.
Forme and Description   A corpulemt, strong, able Body, somewhat a broad or square Face, a dusky muddy Complexion, and sad, dark Haire, much and crisping; an hairy Body, somewhat bow-legged; short necked, a squat, well trussed Fellow.

Kingdoms, Countries and Cities subject to Scorpio   North part of Bavaria, the Wooddy part of Norway, Barbary, the ingdome of Fez, Catalonia in Spaine, Valentia, Urbine in Italy, Vienna, Messina in Italy, Gaunt, Frankfurt-upon-Odar.
-          William Lilly, Christian Astrology (1647)