The Gerrard Chronicles 2014

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Art Scene


The death of Charlie Brewster rather shook Ken, as he was the first important friend to die younger than Ken. However, Charlie was not the sort of person one writes an elegy for &, because of his interest in the supernatural, Ken started a piece to be called, "The Mysteries" in the Summer. Work was still on-going at the end of the reporting year, delayed by the Islington U3A brouhaha below & software problems. (Ken has written his own vast thought-clarifying artificial intelligence system). One might think that with 36 works written, amounting to 20+ hours of music, it would be getting quite easy to churn stuff out but it isn't. It gets harder, as one has to make up one's own set of rules afresh for each piece.


Islington U3A relies largely on peoples' houses for premises, this being a major problem, not just in the Inner City but, as we found from the U3A Group meetings on cruise ships, all over the country. We were fed up with trashing our Drawing Room every month for the meetings, so did a deal with the Claremont Project to use their Upper Hall & big screen on the quid pro quo that Claremont members could attend the meetings. This seemed an intelligent deal, with six wins: our groups get more space & have expanded; the autodidact Claremont members, anxious to improve their minimal education but often very poor, get another educational opportunity; we don't have to trash our house; Claremont get more classes; it costs Islington U3A not a penny & finally, the U3A gets more publicity & more members. However, the Wicked Witches who seem to dominate IU3A (& act as it they own it), threw our talks out of the programme & deleted them from the web site without a word of consultation & on the excuse that members would be outside the U3A insurance. Ken shot this down, as Claremont is a registered charity & fully insured but they then complained that non-payers would attend the shows. Head Office advises that non-payers should not attend meetings. However, that is only "advice", as the U3A is not a top-down organisation & we know that all sorts of arrangements & dodgy deals take place at other U3As to solve the premises problem & ours was a Socialist solution.

Fortunately, we own the domain name "", which we had paid for as a goodwill gesture when the U3A started up, because of the quite extraordinary action by the Chair last year to cut Ken out of the web site by buying the much more expensive "". Then, Ken had put a hot link from our domain to, but now he took that off & set up a rival web site, more efficiently laid out, with all the groups on the front page, including our own. The Wicked Witches did not spot this until Ken leaked it, whereupon two of them tried to bully him into taking it down. Ken, not suseptable to bullying, offered to do so if our talks were reinstated, a reasonable deal they refused. A kangaroo court was organised, at which his deal was again refused: how stupid can you get. They then took this as a golden opportunity to get rid of him & told him he was expelled, a power that surely should only be used for crime or sexual harassment. Avis, strangely, has not been expelled. This is no way to run a U3A.

At London (Hampstead) U3A by contrast, Ken was asked in the Summer Term to take over the "Topical Topics" group from Elaine Allouf, who had done four terms excellently at short notice when Sophie Landau died. This involves him in getting a speaker every week in Term Time, which is a big call. This, he has so far managed to do, with an exciting programme starting in the Autumn Term with Robin Weiss on Ebola & other speakers ranging from a poet; the Iranian Opposition; Samaritans; on Egon Schiele; Emigration (by a shipmate of Ken's); Asexuals; Nicaraguan Indians; the Italian Futurists & so on. By the end of the year. he had filled all the Spring Term slots as well.

Parkinsons UK is now a regular gig. They had "Tchaikovsky" from Ken & for the first time, one from Avis on "Van Gogh", where she amazed them with the sheer volume of his work.

Cruise talks. Fred Olsens hired Ken through the P & R Agency to give music talks on the Norwegian Celebration Cruise (on this link).

Royal Academy & Tate. As usual, we went to all the shows & others at the Courtauld (Egon Schiele) & British Museum.



"Little Revolution" by Alecky Blythe
"Fred & Madge" by Joe Orton
"The Vertical Hour" by David Hare.
"Our Town" by Thornton Wilder


"Otello" by Giuseppe Verdi
"The Girl of the Golden West" by Giacomo Puccini. Both at ENO.

Ken's reading list of books for the year:-

"The Casual Vacancy" by J K Rowling. Her first adult book & quite a saga.
"Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen. Fascinating circus story.
"Soldaten" by Neitzel and Welzer. Analysis of secretly recorded German POW conversations, which do not surprise me.
"The Pity of War" by Niall Ferguson. Makes the case that we should have stayed out of WWI. (tome One)
"Sundowners" by Lesley Lokko. Very superior chick-lit with several correct political messages.
"The Warden" by Anthony Trollop. Fairly kindly but firm condemnation of the corrupt use of charitable funds by the Church.
"Pietr the Latvian" by Georges Simenon. First Maigret.
"The Late Monsieur Gallet" by Simenon.
A strange Maigret, where he solves the non-crime but decides it would be best all round if he claimed it was unsolvable, which it looks at first.
"The Three Emperors" by Miranda Carter. Kaiser Wilhelm, Tsar Nicholas II & George V, as fine a set of buffoons that
you would not put in charge of an ice-cream van. (tome Two)
"Cosi Fan Tutti" by Michael Dibdin. Cops & robbers in Naples. An absolute hoot.
"Foreign Affairs" by Alison Lurie. Excellent American observation of the English scene plus two stories.
"Storm of Steel" by Ernst Junger. Brutal lyricism. His four years as a German soldier in WW I. Remarkable.
"The Brideshead Generation - Evelyn Waugh & his friends" by Humphrey Carpenter. Well researched & written saga about a total shit.
"Other Peoples' Secrets" by Louise Candlish, Complicated plot, more like an opera.
"The Sleepwalkers" by Christopher Clarke. Best of the books on the run-up to WWI. (tome Three)
That is three 600 page tomes about the First World War read &, while I am clear about who said what to whom, nailing down
responsibility is still difficult. Probably the Austrians for not getting on with a quick war against Serbia after the assassination,
which nobody would have minded much & which the Austrians would have lost anyway.

"The New York Trilogy" by Paul Auster. Very unusual. Three tales which are associated & nothing much happens for 314 pages.
"The Pike" by Lucy Hughes-Hallett. A thrillingly written biography of the preposterous D'Annunzio.
One has the keep reminding oneself that the man was also actually, a great poet.
"The Transit of Venus" by Shirley Hazzard. More very superior chick-lit, written in great style.
"Expo 58" by Jonathan Coe. Amusing cold war tale.
"The Hanged Man of St. Pholian" by Simenon. Improbable but fascinating tale.
"Danubia" by Simon Winder. 'A personal history of Habsburg Europe'. Very personal & witty.
"The Mahé Circle" by Georges Simenon. Not a Maigret, about a Doctor's disintegration.
"The Radetsky March" by Joseph Roth. Brilliant. I should have read it decades ago.
"The Grand Banks Café" by Georges Simenon.
"Night at the Crossroads" by Georges Simenon.
"We need to talk about Kevin" by Lionel Shriver. A chilling masterpiece. Even the Daily Mail got this one right.
"Inequality & the 1%" by Danny Dorling. Packed with graphs & numbers. Says the super-rich are on the way out.
"The News Machine - Hacking the Untold Story" by James Hanning with Glenn Mulcaire.
Badly written record of what was actually happening at the News of the Screws.
"The Logic of Life" by Tim Harford. Amusing economics book but knows the answers & fits the facts to that. Typical economist!

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Contact: Ken Baldry or Avis Saltsman, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)020 7359 6294 or e-mail him or her
This page's URL: Last revised 1/12/2014 Copyright: Ken Baldry 2014 All rights reserved but print it off if you want to.