I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the 1992 movie The Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day-Lewis? It’s got one of my all-time favourite scenes in it, near the end where the heroic Uncas confronts the villainous Magua on the cliff-top – and loses. I find it particularly effective because there is almost no dialogue, the tragedy unfolding with only sound effects (mostly gunshots, echoing round the cliffs) and a marvellous folk tune grinding away underneath on a solo violin before the whole orchestra come in with the main theme, desperately sad.
In fact this combination of action and music got inside my head to such an extent that I did something I hardly ever do, and bought the soundtrack album (if you don’t know it see if you can find a sample online, it’s the track called “The Promontory”). But because I wanted it to remain special, I’ve been careful not to listen to it too often. (Bob Dylan’s stunning song about despair and death “Not Dark Yet” is the only other song I’ve treated with the same reverence.)
So imagine my feelings when I found that almost every street in Edinburgh has shops with loudspeakers positioned outside on the pavement, almost all of them playing this same tune over and over, usually with a pounding rock accompaniment. It’s everywhere and it’s inescapable and it drives me mad. And as I haven’t found anywhere nearby that sells axes, and I assume the authorities would frown at finding one in my carry-on luggage, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot I can do.
Meanwhile I’ve been listening to recording of Shakespeare’s comedies for a change while I knit of an evening, an hour or so at a time. (A good cast certainly brings the text to life, but the downside is no one seems to be able to act as well as I can in my head…) Anyway, I came upon this quote from Twelfth Night about an old song, a quote that’s probably familiar to you all:
The spinsters and the knitters in the sun
And the free maids that weave their thread with bones
Do use to chant it: it is silly sooth,
And dallies with the innocence of love,
Like the old age.
Presumably they’re not weaving thread with, say, femurs here, or dinosaur fossils?
Definite progress this week, my theory being that you speed up as you near the end of a section (it feels, as Treebeard says in The Two Towers movie, “like going downhill”).