Twitter: a love letter

January 24, 2014 at 7:46 pm | Posted in cycling | 4 Comments
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It’s commonly assumed that twitter is a place for those who have nothing better to do. No trendy, witty friends, no quirky-but-satisfying hobbies, no demanding-yet-fulfilling work, no thrilling sex life.

imageI’ve got all of these, of course (well, I’m not working much at the moment, which explains why I have so much time to google around for Sherlock/ Cumberbatch/ procycling / cobbles/ cake/ fancrafts crossover blogs to submit Benegent-Wevelbatch to). With such a full, rewarding life, what can twitter possibly add?

I know people who say things like, ‘Oh, I get all my financial news through twitter,’ or ‘I just use it for interacting with students,’ or ‘It’s great for finding out what’s happening in the world of publishing.’ These people are either lying, or they don’t understand.

Here are the real reasons to love twitter:

  1. Silliness. I’m not talking cat videos here (though if you haven’t seen the kittens on the Roomba set to Rite Of Spring, go and watch it immediately), but highly-refined, top-grade, personalised, industrial-strength silliness on a daily basis. Whatever you find funny, there’s someone out there who will take it to the next level. And then make a .gif of it, just for you.

A completely randomly-selected picture of someone else’s procycling crush. Not mine. Obviously

  1. Thoughtfulness. People remember stuff. @_mmmaiko_ makes sure I get a copy of every procyclist’s birthday cake that goes past in her timeline. @pariswheels sends me emergency pictures of my procycling crush when I’m in the doldrums. And an army of people spot and link to tweets about procycling dreams to feed revesperminute.
  1. Help. Post a dilemma and within minutes, people are offering advice. Then criticising each other’s advice, then getting into full-on name-calling scraps (this has only happened once, so far. Oh, actually, twice.). People DM about their own experiences, and offer real-life help: coffees and bike rides and cyclocross lessons. Someone will always tell you to man up (I’m looking at you, @rebecca_slack) and take the mickey out of you kindly (I think @broomwagonblog’s being kind, anyway).
  1. Motivation. No, not Alain de-sodding-Botton. People, out there, doing what they do: biking, painting, thinking, creating, writing, reading, racing. Not stars, or celebs; just people, Getting On With It. I’m inspired to Get On With It, too.
  1. Like minds. I spend my whole life searching obsessively for people I click with. Those rare, insane, mind-meld moments where you think, with a cold rush, ‘Oh. You really GET this, don’t you.’ Everyone who hung glumly around record shops as a teenager, hoping to meet a real live person they had something in common with, is now on twitter. And you can weep helplessly with them over the word ‘haunches’, and play pun games that nobody else finds funny, and help them imagine the cast of Downton Abbey doing cyclocross. And it’s just marvellous.

I stop grumbling and get my ‘cello out

January 19, 2014 at 8:20 pm | Posted in music, tv & film | 1 Comment
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Weirdly, all that griping about violin playing in Sherlock made me itch to play the ‘cello. I learned at secondary school, did grade 8 in sixth form and joined the orchestra at University (when I auditioned, the conductor told me I’d ‘just about scraped in’… ba-dum TISH). The orchestra finished me off; packed with serious, high-achieving music students, the repertoire was far too hard and I dropped out before the end of the first term.

Living in Manchester about a decade later, I picked it up again, and had lessons with the terrific and hugely talented Jenny Langridge from Psappha. But then I got a lectureship, and all my spare time went on weeping about syntax and losing sleep over phonetics, and I stopped practising.

I kid myself I’ll take it up again, but I know what it involves, and to be honest, I’m too lazy. You know. But every now and again I dust it off, and crank up the vibrato, and laugh at myself making a great load of noise.

Yesterday I worked out two Sherlock themes. I’m ridiculously pleased with myself. The boiz (8 and 5) broke into spontaneous, unbribed applause when I played them this morning (this is absolutely true). By popular demand (well, @festinagirl and @pariswheels told me to, but it was late at night, so they may have been drunk) I’ve audiobooed myself playing them. Disclaimer: they’re not very good. Those of a nervous disposition may wish to change channels now.

I also worked out the Borgen theme, so this one’s for @ScandiCaroline and @scsmith4 and all the Scandi crew. You’ll have to imagine the piano:

The empty violin case

January 17, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Posted in music, tv & film | 3 Comments
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Everyone has their pressure point.

For some, it’s the wrong kind of aircraft, the tubes going the wrong way, the wrong route in a London taxi. For my mum (who used to be a vet), it’s inaccurate representation of medical phenomena (our family now call this Oh, Blood Doesn’t Spurt Like That, after giggling at her watching The Killing one evening).

sherlock pressure point

I adore Sherlock. It’s glorious. Such attention to detail. I love it to death: the clever visuals, the knowing script, the nuanced acting, the way every scene is set up around lighting Cumberbatch’s bizarre, beautiful face. I’m completely rapt. And then Sherlock plays the violin.

I should know better, but I watch anyway. It’s not as bad as some efforts I’ve seen on screen: his fingers are in roughly the right places, he’s holding the bow properly. But it’s not right. I start to twitch. The boyfriend (who is a proper musician, rather than being a lapsed I-did-grade-8-but-the-University-orchestra-broke-me ‘cellist, like me) starts to laugh. It doesn’t bother him, but he knows it makes me want to kill people*.

Why is it so hard to look like you’re playing an instrument? I should say, immediately, that I am in no way criticising The Divine Cumberbatch (TDC), because everyone knows he is marvellous and delightful and made a very good fist of learning to play in a single week (his violin teacher blogged about it). I understand that actors don’t have six months to spend on learning an instrument when it’s a minor part of the character**, and even if they did, there aren’t 10,000 hours in six months, so what would be the point? But surely this doesn’t have to be the only way. I’d like to see that week spent, instead, on looking really convincing. Sod the sound, or where the fingers are. Shoot long, or very close up. Bow convincingly, move with the music, feel it, express it. Sway. I can teach you to sway, TDC. NO CHARGE.

Twitter mostly thinks I’m splitting hairs.

Does it matter? Well, yeah, it does. Because when Sherlock picks up the violin and plays like a beginner but sounds like a virtuoso, the spell is broken. Even though I KNOW no-one hires (or even is) a consulting detective; even though Sherlock’s ability to deduce someone’s marital infidelity or sexual preference or childhood trauma or latest Strava KOM from the state of his fingernails is crackers; even though the explanation of the faked death is risible, it all makes sense within the show. It has internal consistency. Sherlock behaves as he should, everyone else behaves as they should, the world around them behaves as it should, and we can believe. This is why people get upset about the taxi rides, and the tube rolling stock, and so on. We can laugh, but for them, it breaks the spell.

The Case of the Singing Violin, 1955 (many thanks to @bazzargh for making the .gif)

The Case of the Singing Violin, 1955 (many thanks to @bazzargh for making the .gif)

And what I’m REALLY peeved about is that this is a missed opportunity to show us something else about the character. How WOULD Sherlock play the violin? Technically perfectly, but devoid of expression? Or would it be the outlet for the emotion he won’t, or can’t, show elsewhere in life? I want to know.

gif nicked from the wonderful bbcsherlockftw, who nicked it from somewhere else, I dunno, I'm sorry

*it’s not just Sherlock. I hate this in all films/ tv. Hence the boyfriend laughing at me.

**there are notable examples of actors making a jolly good job of learning to play when it’s the focus of the film, but this is a different issue.

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