Friday, November 11, 2005

Way too many brackets in this one.

The V&A was marvellous, particularly the random collection of one-for-one plaster copies of stuff like Michaelangelo's David, and that other one, and big pillars and stuff, all piled up like the lair of a successful supervillain. I got told off for touching some iron shutters (to be fair, I had misread a sign which said more information was behind, and thought it meant behind the shutters, and heaved and heaved and heaved only to realize a) they were wired shut b) the sign meant there was more info on the wall behind me and c) I had displeased a man. He was miles away too. Most alert. I managed to saunter past him with an insouciant sort of 'yes yes, I am a prince here on a visit and will forgive you your little misunderstanding'. I wish we still had small denominations of paper money, as I would have like to have tucked a pound note into his top pocket with a wink, but I only had a twenty-pound note or four pence in change, so never mind).

There's a machine that lets you design a fabric, and then email the design to yourself. It looked better on the machine, but to be fair a party of London school-children wanted a go after me, and as they were armed with KNIVES AND CRACK VIALS, I rushed the end a bit. Still.

The Ros (as nobody has ever called them) made a most satisfactory noise. My only worry about Sigur Ros is that yer main chappie sings either in Icelandic, or in a made-up language called Hopelandish. Which means you don't have even a fighting chance of knowing what he's singing about. Staralfur, for example, which sounds like this*: i.e. a wondrous soaring heart-breaking slice of pure otherworldly joy. The lyrics are:

blá nótt yfir himininn

blá nótt yfir mér

horf-inn út um gluggann

minn með hendur

faldar undir kinn

hugsum daginn minn

í dag og í gær

blá náttfötin klæða mig í

beint upp í rúm

breiði mjúku sængina

loka augunum

ég fel hausinn minn undir sæng

starir á mig lítill álfur

hleypur að mér en hreyfist ekki

úr stað – sjálfur


opna augun

stírurnar úr

teygi mig og tel (hvort ég sé ekki)

kominn aftur og alltalltílæ

samt vantar eitthvað

eins og alla vegginna

Their website does at least translate the song title as 'singing elf'**, which is sort of helpful. Anyway, I've been to Norway twice, and though it's not Iceland, it's sort of close, and I like Abba as well, so I think I've worked out the translation of the lyrics. And I have to say, I liked it more before, as it turns out to be actually rather prosaic:

ooh those bloody singing elves (actually 'staring elf')

never one around when you want one

then three come along at once

and you don't see white trollshit any more

what's all that about?

lembas bread?


and bread?


I ask you

my mum right, she leaves a candle out for the singing elves ('staring elves')

when she goes out

but this is wise, for my uncle bjorn, he once failed to leave a candle out for the singing elves ('staring elves') and their keening took on a sinister pitch which drove him to eat his own ears ('staring took on an increasingly Orianne-like narrowing quality which drove him to gouge his own eyes out with a sharpened puffin')

we eventually found him in the snow
quite dead

those singing elves bringing to his face a curious mix of joy and hopeless fear (same)

so probably a good idea with the candles my mother is having

also, all our natural hot springs smell of egg

but that is due to the sulphur (which occurs naturally in the water)
a fact we all learn at a very young age

so fart jokes are considered the province of the very young and the mentally unsound

which is probably best.

Or something like that.

* Yes I've linked to that song before. And it's in The Life Aquatic, that end bit when they finally find the shark. I've got that bit of music from Ferris Bueller as well, when Cameron's staring at the Impressionist painting (is it a Monet?). I can put that up at some point (the song, not the Monet - the song's the Dream Academy cover of a Smith's song) if anyone wants. It made me happy to find it.

** Hang on, as has been pointed out, it's actually 'staring elf' - an easy mistake to make if your attitude to pretty much everything is 'oh well, that'll do'. However in my defence, Icelandic singing and staring are quite similar (they usually do both at the same time, because of trolls, which are hard to spot, but easily distracted by four-part harmonies). Alternative translation has now been added above. Sorry for any confusion.


woot said...

Ha ha ha. Love the elf song!

I previously posted as Paula - not just random person here.

James, I linked to this post in my new blog. Justb an FYI.


Kell said...

LOL - it says it's called "Staring Elf", not "Singing Elf" & somehow that's slightly more disturbing!

Kell said...

And I'd love that tune from Ferris, please - it's gorgeous!

woot said...

Hey Kell. I read user profiles to.

I love So I Married An Axe Murderer!!! I think he used to be funnier than he is now...

Anonymous said...

The Late Tommy Cooper was well-known for stuffing something into people's shirt pockets and saying "have a drink on me". The stuffee would invariably find, instead of the expected money, a teabag.

Kirses said...

i would like that dream academy song!

mrsimon said...

Hi James, hope you don't mind an infiltrator ruining your blog (you might have met me twice in Falmouth, i was on last years writing course).
The end of Life Aquatic is truly wondrous i agree, possibly thanks to the use of said track.
I'm jealous you got to see 'the Ros' live, I had to be content with one song on Jools Holland, poor. But i've been to Iceland and seen their studio, they record in a converted swimming pool, maybe not actually in it but there are some speakers in there. Does that make us even?

Kell said...

[quote] Hey Kell. I read user profiles to.[/quote]
Nice to know I'm not the only one, my fellow red-headed Libran (yup, I'm one too, even if it IS out of a bottle - LOL!).

And obviously a fellow sufferer of Potter-mania judging from the Mugglenet link in your sidebar...

Anonymous said...

this is seriously random and not to do with anything but you've got to check this out:

Anonymous said...

Can I just ask: "Fractal with lacunae"? Huh?

patroclus said...

I wondered about that, jk. To me, "fractal with lacunae" means "broken up, with holes in it". You know, a bit like a doily. Possibly this may not be what James had in mind.

James Henry said...

I was thinking more of lacuna as 'gaps in knowledge'. And 'fractal with' as in the more I look at what I write, the more mistakes I find. Found the phrase used at Making Light and liked it, so, so I nicked it.

mrsimon - I've never even been to Iceland, so you're points ahead...

Anonymous said...

Blue Night Over The Sky
Blue Night Over Me
Dis-Appeared Out Of The Window
Me With Hands
Hidden Under My Cheek
I Think About My Day
Today And Yesterday
I Put On My Blue Nighties
Go Straight To Bed
I Pull The Soft Covers Over
Close My Eyes
I Hide My Head Under The Covers
A Little Elf Stares At Me
Runs Towards Me But Doesnt Move
From Place - Himself
A Staring Elf
I Open My Eyes
Take The Crusts Out
Stretch Myself And Check (If I Havent)
Returned Again And Everything Is Okay
Still There Is Something Missing
Like All The Walls

James Henry said...

So I was close then....

Thanks for that, Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

you made me laugh when you got told off because you thought it meant behind the shutters! hahaha thats cute.