Monday, 22 October 2012

The Choral Variation (part one - the early weeks)

What constitutes a band? (Don't worry this is a reminiscence post not a musing on a possible relation between string-theory and M-theory - but in case Stephen Hawking is reading, remember you read it here first. And Stephen, I also once came up with a convincing and beautiful explanation of universe generation involving an infinite yet curved geometric plane spinning into a kind of multidimensional blade after a night drinking Guinness and Sambucca. So, if you ever feel the creative intuitions drying up, I recommend Guinness and Sambucca - not in the same glass obviously!) I've digressed too much, I'll start again:  

What constitutes a band? As a founder member of Nineties Dorset phenomenon: the Choral Variation, I like to answer this question in the broadest possible way. A band is any group of people who call themselves a band. The Variation were not hidebound by the sort of conventional activities of rehearsing or playing gigs, nor did we bother with such conventions as learning to play our instruments properly or sing. Nevertheless, a band we called ourselves, therefore a band we were.   

The band consisted of me, Jamie, Le-ann, Julia and (occasionally) Ed. Three of us met up at a celebration of Ed's wedding last week and they reminded me that we had written a song in 1996 imagining ourselves as adults. Regular readers know that I seldom throw away anything - so I dug it out when I got home. It has a certain melancholy sweetness in its naivety. Here it is in full - notes follow (The only alteration I have made is to change my own real name to Finn to preserve the anonymity of this blog.)

The Summer of '96

Do you remember the summer of '96 
When we didn't know what was to come?
Do you remember the summer of '96
When everything we did was fun?  

It was the year before I left this town
And we all stated to lose touch,
When the days drew in and the sun went down,
I found I couldn't do as much.

Do you remember the times we spent playing whist
And writing songs outside?
Do you remember the times we spent getting pissed
And remember how hard we tried?

The tiny problems seemed so big
But they were never quite like now.
Looking back and thinking of it
We solved them as we knew how.

I got a letter from Ed yesterday,
Says that he's doing alright
Since he left these shores for the USA
Searching for his endless night.

Three weeks ago I saw Leann
But I had nothing left to say.
I kept in touch as best I can
Though she lives so far away.

As for Julia she joined the force
And sailed across the world.
Friendship never ran its course
But then, that's how life unfurled.

And finally Finn settled down
Had two daughters and a son.
He lives in a small suburban town
But there's so much that he hasn't done.

The original was sung in the first person by Jamie on our debut album 'To infinitively split' - and was inspired by the fact that Jamie was moving to Somerset (a whole thirty miles away) and our adolescent reflections on what that meant for our futures. Finding Yeovil too cosmopolitan and crowded for his tastes, Jamie left for Bangor in North Wales and eventually settled on the Isle of Man.

I got a letter from Ed a few weeks ago inviting me to his wedding reception. He has no plans to relocate to the USA.

I bumped into Le-ann unexpectedly at a gig in Dorchester a couple of years ago, we had plenty to say to each other.

Julia never joined the navy, thank goodness.

I have no progeny. I live near the centre of a small city. There is so much that I haven't done. But that could be true of anyone. I can only suppose arrogant, cocky 15-year-old me, intended it as a warning to cynical 31-year-old me: settle down, breed, live in suburbia, regret. In that order. Annoyingly, he can talk to me by writing contemptuous song lyrics on a sunny day in 1996, but I can't talk to him until Hawking finishes that time machine - someone buy him a sambucca!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Set of all Sets

I couldn't sleep last night and, like most people (I'm guessing - I haven't done a poll or anything), when faced with insomnia, I like to think about some of the great problems of analytic philosophy. "Does the set of all sets contain itself?" I wondered. Here is some of my reasoning presented in that most venerable of philosophical forms: the dialogue.

Bertrand: Does the set of all sets contain itself?

Freddie: Yes. Obviously. Otherwise it would be indistinguishable from the set of all sets except itself.

Bertrand: But, if the set of all sets contains itself, the copy of itself within itself also contains itself and so on.

Freddie: wtf! Mind = blown! 

Bertrand: I thought you'd like that.

Freddie: So the set of all sets does not contain itself?

Bertrand: But if it does not contain itself then it is at least one set short and can't really be the set of all sets.

Ludwig: It's a meaningless question. Try counting sheep.

Bertrand: Pay attention Ludwig, he tried that here.

Freddie: He was much better in those days, look it's got a nice photograph and a little poem...