Posts

Showing posts from 2021

The Last Igloo

Image
This was shown on BBC4 last night and can be found on the iPlayer currently. An excellent film following an Inuit hunter in Greenland as he heads out into the landscape surrounding his home town to hunt and fish, and constructs an igloo for shelter. It explores the threats to this culture from the rapidly changing climate as sea ice thins and traditional skills are lost.  The opening scene where he says goodbye to his daughters as they play on their smartphones, before heading out to harness his huskies was a lovely way to set up the cultural changes taking place, and the drone filming of the landscape was incredible. The music was also excellent:

The Geography - an iOS/Android Experience

Image
Thanks to the AAG for the tipoff to this interesting-sounding game. A new indie video game, The Geography, "bridges the interactive with the meditative" https://t.co/iUBxqctwu4 h/t @brockwilbur for @TheFastPitch — American Association of Geographers (@theAAG) December 22, 2021 The Geography is a new indie video game from a creative duo that bridges the interactive with the meditative. A collaboration between Michael Berto and Titouan Millet , the program uses geographic data from Svalbard, Norway rendered into low-poly landscapes—brought to life with soft shaders. An endless and nonlinear musical score weaves soundscapes, to keep the ambiance evolving. It costs £6.99 for iPhone.

Kinbrae

Image
Another music post, and an album with a landscape theme to it...

Pink Floyd in Venice

Image
Pink Floyd's concert in Venice.  was an interesting moment in music history and one which also links with the history of the city and its complex issues. The band had been trying to play in the city for some time. In 1987, they released their album "A Momentary Lapse of Reason". The band toured the album around the world. I attended the tour when it reached Manchester, with a concert in the old Maine Road stadium which was home to Manchester City at the time. It took place on the 8th of the 8th, 1988 (and the concert started at 8 minutes past 8. Here's the setlist that I saw:  https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/pink-floyd/1988/maine-road-manchester-england-3bd76478.html There were real concerns over the possible environmental impact of the concert on the ancient city itself. The free concert was held in St. Mark's Square in Venice. This was to be a free concert so people travelled in various ways to be there. The concert was shown last night on Sky Arts on Fre

A Scottish Island - rendered in music

Image
Just listening to this earlier while doing all the work to follow up from 2 days of ERASMUS meetings (of which more to come in a blog post in the next day or so.) This is a wonderful piece of music, composed by William Jackson, one of the members of Ossian: one of my favourite ever bands. The music conveys the atmosphere of different elements of the Scottish landscape , and ends with a suite of pieces named after islands including Iona, Islay and Jura. It can be found on many of the usual music streaming services.

The French Dispatch

Image
Some of you will be familiar with the films of Wes Anderson. They are meticulously made and composed, with each shot having a particular visual style and often a symmetry about them.  His latest film is called 'The French Dispatch'. I saw it on opening weekend. There is a great deal of geographical interest here, from an early travelogue of the fictional city where the action takes place, to a later story involving the kidnapping of the son of the local Police inspector. The weekend before last, I travelled down to London to have a fairly cultural weekend with my son with a film focus, and one of the things we took in was an expedition at 180 Strand of props from the film. We had been to a previous exhibition of props from the animated film 'Isle of Dogs' which Wes made, but this was on a whole other level... once again there was a themed restaurant / cafe that was serving food. The whole film was told as you moved through the expedition with large spaces filled with p

Get your ears around this...

Image
  Update - the actual stream...

Obsidian

Image
 New Jonsi album was released yesterday without any advance publicity. It's excellent...

Dune

Image
I read 'Dune' by Frank Herbert for the first time over 40 years ago, and also read its sequels. It's a remarkable and dense book with plenty of political intrigue. The setting is the planet of Arakis, where a hallucinogenic drug called 'Spice' can be found in the desert sands. This is needed to enable interstellar flight, and a series of guilds and Houses controls power within the Imperium and fights between each other. There's an allegory here for the way that a planet's environment can be affected by the desire to mine a precious resource, and how greenery is sacrificed, but the indigenous people fight a rearguard action against large incoming Houses (corporations). This guest essay from New York Times has some background on Herbert's relationship with an indigenous person during his youth which may have influenced his thinking, and the plot of the book. The film also does a sensible job of covering the first part of the book, and setting up a second

A French Dispatch

Image
Caught the new Wes Anderson film  last weekend and it's rather wonderful.  There are the usual Wes Anderson touches, with immaculately framed scenes, shoot-outs, animation scenes and great performances from his usual ensemble cast with some new additions. I loved the Owen Wilson travelogue of Ennui, France. The cinema also had plenty of postcards of the lead characters to pick up and here's Owen Wilson 's tube-map themed one. I'm heading to an exhibition of the props from the film in London in a couple of weeks.I hope it's as good as the one for the 'Isle of Dogs' film. Here's a taster...

New Aimee Mann on the way

Image
A new Aimee Mann album is always an event for me. She has been a constant in my weekly listening since the mid 80s. I have been able to see her play live too on her rare visits to the UK. The first time was in the Duchess of York pub in Leeds: a small room which I believe has now closed down, and where she may as well have been playing in my living room she was so close. The latest album is out in early November and is themed around the book 'Girl Interrupted'. Lyrically there are few to compare with Aimee - I look forward to the new album.

Arctic Icebergs

A nice piece in the Geographical magazine on "artist and geographer" Nick Jones.  He travelled up to the Arctic to paint icebergs in the Arctic Ocean and the results are rather wonderful. Check them out.

Grab a coffee and listen to some geography...

Image
I'm pleased to say that I am the latest of Kit Rackley's guests on the Coffee and Geography Podcast. We chatted about a range of things which Kit picked up on in their summary. Some of the audio had to be rerecorded by me separately because of problems my end, so there was a little more in the original recording on my GA Presidents blog and the legacy of the former Presidents' work. Well done to Kit on editing that in so smoothly. Why not head there to listen to me , or perhaps to some of the other guests who are far more interesting than me :) The Podcast series has also just passed 1000 downloads. Well done to Kit and all the previous and future guests.

Garden of Remembrance

Following a run of musical posts, here's a powerful piece from Fish, exploring the impacts of dementia... as we have events for World Mental Health Day.

Bright Magic

Image
Bright Magic is the latest album from the band Public Service Broadcasting. It is influenced by the city of Berlin, and influenced by 'Metropolis', Kraftwerk, Vangelis, Marlene Dietrich, Weimar era Germany and the history of the city. I was due to visit in 2020 for an ERASMUS trip, but the pandemic ended those plans. I have blogged about this band and their music many times before. This is another triumph after 'Every Valley' and 'The Race for Space'. The final track embraces the quotidian... with a rendition of a poem by Kit Tucholsky called 'Eyes in the Big City' with vocals by Nina Hoss. Looking forward to seeing this played live in November. Check out the album on your favourite streaming service... 

Crown Lands

I've blogged about Crown Lands before... their latest EP is now out in full. Check it out...

Full English

Image
An interesting Conversation article on the carbon footprint of a full English breakfast. The article explores how to reduce the impact of this meal, which 80% of British people apparently say they enjoy. I used to enjoy the Little Chef and hotel breakfasts on my road trips around the country in my GA days.

Anna Dillon

Image
I love the recent artworks which have been created by Anna Dillon. They are called Wessex Airscapes.  They are on display at Radley College through September. They were created in collaboration with aerial photographer Hedley Thorne. Go to Anna's website and for each painting you will see that there is a link to a short sound file which tells the landscape story of each painting, including something of the history and geology of the locations... a really nice additional element.

Eberhard

Image
The last few years have seen several of my musical heroes passing away, particularly the drummer  Neil Peart of Rush, who I saw many times in a period spanning 30 years and the keyboard player Lyle Mays , who I saw many times playing with Pat Metheny. A piece of music composed by Lyle has just been posthumously released, paying tribute to the bassist Eberhard Weber , who I have also seen play numerous times with Jan Garbarek. He had a stroke in 2007 and has been unable to play since. I remember a solo bass concert at Norwich Arts Centre, where he said "so, you are here to watch a German man play with himself". Check it out here. More information here.

A lovely review of 'Why Study Geography?'

Image
I'm grateful to Thomas Larsen for this really wonderful review of my book, which was published in the US in the 'Geography Journal'. If you are quick, this link will take you to a free PDF download of the whole review - although it can be read on this page too. I am really delighted that Thomas has really 'got' what I was aiming at when writing the book. Check out Thomas' website as well for more of his work and reviews. The book is still available to purchase of course. Imagine reading it on a beach this summer. "Parkinson enters into a personal dialogue with the reader. Reading Why Study Geography? feels like receiving practical life advice from a veteran."

Crown Lands and Indigenous peoples

Image
One of the most exciting personal musical discoveries of the year has been Crown Lands . The duo are inspired by Rush and Led Zeppelin and other similar bands, and their name references the land which was illegally taken from the indigenous people as North America was colonised and they were marginalised in their own country, and worse... Cody Bowles is the drummer and vocalist in the band. He is half Mi'kmaq, an Indigenous tribe from Nova Scotia. The luxuriantly bearded Kevin Comeau plays guitar, bass and keyboards - including a double-necked Rickenbacker. They have produced a number of tracks which link back to their origins , and protest about the forced changes that took place for many as well as exploring the violence against indigenous people - continuing to this day with recent discoveries of unmarked bodies at former schools for indigenous children. They also explore the murder and disappearance of thousands of indigenous women and girls, which was the subject of a nat

The Culture Wheel

Image
  Worth exploring a little more... Consider how these areas build the culture of a place... 

The Lost Words - Blessing

Walk through the world with care, my love  And sing the things you see  Let new names take and root and thrive and grow

Losing cultural status

Image
A report on the possibility that the UK's cultural sites may lose their World Heritage listing. Liverpool Docks have already been delisted.

Debra Gwartney on Barry Lopez

Image
A Granta piece on the final days of Barry Lopez - the master - written by his wife Debra Gwartney. This is a heartbreaking and brave piece of writing.

Portorosso - Pixar's latest creation

Image
A lovely short film on Disney+ features the director Enrico Casarosa and colleagues from Pixar talking about how they immersed themselves in the villages of the Cinque Terre near Genoa while building the landscapes within which the action of Luca takes place, the hillside village and tower, the small islands and the waters of the bay. Pixar have always sent their animators to do detailed research to ensure that the textures and lighting is as accurate as possible, and then build their own versions which are full of the little details which only being there in person and capturing smells, textures, feeling and sounds of the villages, including the way that the buildings create shadows at certain times of day... It all builds into the final aesthetic of the film. Warning: Possible Spoiler Alerts in the reviews that follow. If you have seen the film you will have immediately appreciated the way that it captures the sense of place of the Italian locations. There are lots of little detai

The name's Parkinson

Image
The Telegraph have joined many other previous newspapers to once again resorted to the old trope relating to fashion and anyone wearing corduroy jackets... that means they dress like a geography teacher... This time, the person who is sartorially connected with us is James Bond, in scenes from the forthcoming Bond movie...

Grime and identity - a new resource

Grime acts as a catalyst for change, sparking healthy debate and often mobilising young people around social issues most pertinent to their lives today. In this sense, Grime has the ability to transcend age, gender, sexuality, race and political class, providing a much needed social commentary on highly charged topics. From the introduction to a new unit on Grime and Black British history. If you’re a #geographyteacher wanting to talk to students about @sterling7 and Black British identities ahead of the #EURO2020 final consider showing the video to Dave’s song ‘Black’. Read the article by @Parise_CM @GeogShanique and @dhillon113 https://t.co/Qjt5AkLR9Y — Decolonising Geography (@DecoloniseGeog) July 7, 2021

The French Dispatch

Image
Very much looking forward to the release of this film. Wes Anderson is a visual genius and the reviews from Cannes have been excellent.

Due North

I am privileged to have seen 'The Blue Nile' play live several times, and what an experience. From my first introduction to 'A Walk across the Rooftops' in 1987ish there are so many important songs the band produced. A new project: Quiet City by Blue Nile drummer Nigel Thomas features Paul Buchanan adding his distinctive vocals. Looking forward to  Heading Due North in a few week's time and looking forward to it....

Arctic Dreams - on the radio

Image
  I've spoken and blogged about this book many times, and you can now listen to extracts from it on Radio 4 as it has been selected, around 35 years after its first UK publication as the 'Book of the Week'. A heads-up that, to my delight, Barry Lopez's masterpiece Arctic Dreams (1986) will be Book of the Week on @BBCRadio4 this week, starting 09.45am today. The book––and the writer––that made me a writer. Barry passed away in December this year. https://t.co/Eo8vKQKIV0 — Robert Macfarlane (@RobGMacfarlane) June 21, 2021 Barry Lopez is someone whose work has been important to me throughout my career. Catch up with the episodes here. In Episode One of Arctic Dreams Barry Lopez reflects on his first encounters with the surprisingly varied and resilient inhabitants of the polar north and on modern man’s vexed relationship with this beguiling continent. In his breath-taking natural, social and cultural history of the Arctic, Lopez reveals the essential mystery and beauty o

"democratising laziness" - food delivery apps

Image
Interesting article in today's 'Guardian' magazine on the possible implications of an app called Weezy which is one of several used to facilitate the home delivery of groceries and other foodstuffs. The website describes Weezy as the 15 minute supermarket , and covers a small geographical area, particularly around London and places such as Brighton and Manchester. They don't deliver to rural Norfolk... The article considers whether this is another challenge to bricks and mortar shops, driven by perceived convenience. As the piece by Harry Wallop says, there is a growing range of these apps which have 'democratised laziness' and continued to grow the gig economy: "...with names that make them sound like Snow White’s other dwarves: Weezy, Jiffy, Dija, Zapp, Fancy, Getir and Gorillas are just some of them. All have bold, bright, branding; all hire young couriers riding e-bikes, bicycles or scooters; all promise to deliver essentials including food, drink, ca

Tour de France

Image
 ...in late June and early July, I will be sat on the settee for several weeks watching live coverage of this event: the highlight of my sporting year. Sadly, because of the earlier start this year, I will miss out on some of the all day sittings... The helicopter shots and landscapes they reveal show the varied landscapes of France, and I am looking forward to seeing the complexities of the tactics unfold over the weeks ahead.

Berlin - a city in sound

Image
Looking forward to the next album from Public Service Broadcasting, which is apparently inspired by the city of Berlin . Looking forward to hearing how the new music tells the story of this city. I had been due to visit in 2020, but COVID-19 put an end to that. It is named after a collection of stories by Alfred Döblin author of Berlin Alexanderplatz. Via Loudersound. It's their most ambitious undertaking yet and even includes vocals from Einstürzende Neubauten leader Blixa Bargeld. It brings the listener to Europe’s heart and de facto capital, the cultural and political metropolis that is the ‘Hauptstadt’ of the Federal Republic of Germany – Berlin. Walter Ruttmann’s radical Berlin tape-artwork Wochenende (or Weekend), which is sampled on three of Bright Magic’s tracks provides a key aural resource. Created in 1928, the piece collaged speech, field recordings and music into a sonic evocation of the city. I've always been excited by the work of the band's multi-instrumental

Tourism.... on its way back?

Image
  I am currently getting stuck into the new book by Marco d'Eramo , who has previously written about the development of Chicago.  The book is called 'The World in a Selfie' and explores the impact of the tourist industry, which is the biggest industry in the world by value when one considers all the jobs that it creates directly and indirectly. The first chapter also explores the impact of the pandemic, which was when people began to realise more than ever that tourism has an impact beyond any other industry in terms of employment and external influence on places. It also explores in some detail, as it says on the publishers' page: 'Why we are all tourists who hate tourists" The Financial Times featured an excellent piece by their travel editor Tim Robbins on May the 22nd. This referenced the book, with a quote: Are we ready for the return of mass tourism after a year of hiatus for the planet to recover? It seems that we are. The book is reviewed here  by Sop

Thought for the Day

“We had pierced the veneer of outside things. We had “suffered, starved, and triumphed, groveled down yet grasped at glory, grown bigger in the bigness of the whole.” We had seen God in his splendors, heard the text that Nature renders. We had reached the naked soul of man.” Sir Ernest Shackleton Today is the 105th anniversary of the day that Sir Ernest, along with Tom Crean and Frank Worsley arrived at the whaling station at Stromness on South Georgia, following the boat trip from Elephant Island and the crossing of thae mountains and glaciers of South Georgia itself...

So - it's the 19th of May

Image
 It's the anniversary of the release of this - I believe the phrase is 'absolute banger'.... I saw the tour that accompanied this album when it was first released - I saw a couple of the concerts, with the swooping lights and amazing musicians that Peter took on the road with this album. A powerful experience, ending with arm raised for 'Biko'. Twenty five years later, I was in Glasgow at the Hydro to see the return of the album played in full with the same musicians. I wonder whether the music of today will have the same longevity with students of today. Will they have the same lengthy connections with music as we had, with reduced access and different formats to access it. Second image copyright: Alan Parkinson, shared under CC license

Happy Birthday Maestro

Image
Today is the 68th birthday of Mike Oldfield.  A constant in my life since 1973 when I first heard 'Tubular Bells'. Spinning my favourite of his albums 'Ommadawn' and probably more to come. Read about its creation here. Image copyright: David Bailey.

OFQUAL - exams and fieldwork

Image
As this piece in the TES reports, OFQUAL are proposing to remove the mandatory requirement for fieldwork for geography and related subjects. We have just started doing fieldwork again at my school, with trips to Cambridge and the Norfolk Coast carried out, or taking place last week and this week. If you have an opinion on this, OFQUAL are running a consultation on the issue, which started yesterday and runs through to the 28th of May. As the consultation page says: This consultation focuses on the subjects for which preparation and work for non-exam assessment and fieldwork activities will be taking place this term for students who will be taking their exams in 2022. It covers non-exam assessments in dance, design and technology, drama (and theatre), film studies, food preparation and nutrition, media studies, music, music technology, and physical education fieldwork activities in geography, geology and environmental science assessment of speaking skills in GCSE modern foreign language

Alive

Image
"Veer off the track Take the path That leads beyond the map I'm a travelling man Each day I walk the byways of this life..." A track by the band 'Big Big Train'. And there they are playing their instruments for real in an excellent live performance. I miss that feeling when the bass pedals can be felt in your stomach at a gig...

Thought for the Day

There will be times on this journey All you'll see is darkness But out there somewhere Daylight finds you If you keep believing So don't run Don't hide It will be alright You'll see Trust me

A chance to work with me...

Image
Following the interviews for the Senior school Head of Geography post at the school where I work before Easter, we now have an opening for a Teacher of Geography  at King's Ely. Come and take a look at the information .  A virtual tour of the school can be accessed here. Closing date for applications is the 20th of April.

Scotland and Music and Sense of Place

Image
"Try and find those things that make us Scottish. They are not necessarily Tartan, but are no less colourful. They are in the sound of the kick drum, the bass line, the distortion, the punk guitar, the break-beat. Try and see the old ways in new surroundings. The folk tune of long ago can be heard above the constant traffic of urban life: hear it in the roughness of the fiddle, hear it in the sweetness of the chanter. They are just as valid now as any of our technology, nae, they are more valid than any of it. Hardland calls from the depths of a hard-beat urban underground, but it does so through the heart and beauty of a high land." Martyn Bennett

I approve of this tweet....

 Given the situation in the Suez Canal... Need to move that ship? I know a guy. pic.twitter.com/QHMXG8gcSR — Julien Devereux (@jndevereux) March 25, 2021

The Terror

Image
I've just finished watching the 10 episodes of 'The Terror'. It's a gothic horror style series, which is based on the expedition involving two ships: the 'Erebus' and 'Terror' to find the NW Passage. This much is factual, as is the disappearance of the men and their ships. Three were found buried on Beechey Island, and the two ships have also recently been discovered, with 'Erebus' also being the subject of a book written by Michael Palin. The trailer is here. It's worth watching. It's a little overlong and could have been slimmed back a lot. It's very dark in terms of not seeing what's going on very clearly at times, but also quite gory and unsettling. There are some terrific performances, particularly from Jared Harris, Paul Ready and Adam Nagaitis. The scenery is a little polystyrene at times rather than ice, but there are some excellent scenes, including a carnival on the ice, and some later scenes in the fog... the creature s

Crown Lands

Image
Loving this... 

Wind

Image
A Pixar Sparks short which was shared recently by Ben King. It has themes of migration , and the sacrifices of one generation to help the next generation to succeed. One can read other meanings into this, and there are quite a few reviews and comments already on the various feeds where it has been shared. It is also being shared because of the representation of Asian characters and cultural references which means that it would be suitable for those wanting to discuss decolonising the curriculum, something which I have created a range of blogs about, and will continue to do so as part of the process of educating myself, along with the work being done by and within the GA to reexamine previous work and approaches. In the meantime, enjoy the film... I will be showing this as part of my summer term planning to rejig quite a few things.  I'm alway tinkering and keen to insert new ideas.

World Book Day

Image
But of course... these are some of the books you could be reading today :)

300 000 page views

A nice milestone reached for this blog. Thanks for coming along and reading.

Life in a Day 2020

Image
  Check out the trailer for the new Ridley Scott film which tells the story of the world on one day in 2020... A true quotidian documentary, pieced together from thousands of user-submitted video clips. The full film can be viewed here - it apparently has mature themes.

Time of Light

Image
  In faith and in hope at the end of the day Our love will endure ‘till we return to clay Raise up your spirits my dearest of friends And peaceful your heart in the light of this life One of the last bands I saw live before the advent of COVID-19 was Altan. This beautiful new song is by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, and available from Bandcamp. It is called 'Time of Light' and looks ahead to a hopeful future during these dark times. Musicians need our support more than ever with the cancellation of live concerts and the Brexit omnishambles which has added barriers to their options for touring outside of the UK.  See and purchase the song on Bandcamp. Ré an tSolais by Mairéad Nï Mhaonaigh

Townscaper

Image
I first came across this game in July 2020 when it was on early access on Steam, and sadly not available for iOS. I coveted it. It's created by Oscar Stålberg. I downloaded it a couple of months ago, and have finally had a few hours to get to play with it, and it's excellent and very calming. I shall probably be posting numerous screenshots in different locations over the next few days. There's a GUIDE here , although you can start playing immediately by choosing a colour, scrolling around the existing town and then clicking in different directions. I love watching the seagulls circling and settling on the rooves as well. Here's the description on Steam. It currently costs £4.79 Build quaint island towns with curvy streets. Build small hamlets, soaring cathedrals, canal networks, or sky cities on stilts. Block by block. No goal. No real gameplay. Just plenty of building and plenty of beauty. That's it. Townscaper is an experimental passion project. More of a toy tha

Biko

Image
“You can blow out a candle, but you can't blow out a fire. Once the flames begin to catch, the wind will blow it higher.”  Peter Gabriel, Biko I've been fortunate enough to have heard this song performed live about 8 times over the last 30 odd years. This new version has been released to raise funds for an important charity, and also celebrate Gabriel's 71st birthday, and features a range of world musicians. It also keeps alive the memory of Steve Biko and others in similar situations.

Cultural Geography of the Fens

Image
 Thanks to Steve Brace of the RGS-IBG for letting me know about this new addition to the Caught by the River website. It's a short film which has been made by Rowan Jaines as part of her work on the Cultural Geography of the Fens. It focuses on the Cambridgeshire Fens , through which I travel on a normal work day and have done for the last eight years. This video essay is part of a four-year research project exploring the cultural geography of the Fen region in the East of England.  The film is made up of a bricolage of clips of the Fen region, scavenged from the internet and put together in a piecemeal fashion so that the images on screen both intensify and disrupt the linear arc of the narration.  This is a film that aims to show the Fens as haunted by both the past and those things that have not yet come to be.

Classic....

Image
A classic Sunday film...  as are all Powell and Pressburger films.

GA Conference Teachmeet 2021

Image
  Once again, we are not able to be in person at a GA Conference, so aspects of the conference cannot be done face to face. There are many highlights of any GA conference, and the Teachmeet has become established as one of them: taking place at the end of the first full day and a chance to extend the day and have a beer with friends while listening to ten or more colleagues sharing ideas from their classrooms. You can sign up to either present or lurk here. To get a flavour for the atmosphere at a Teachmeet, you can still watch 2019's version here.  Thanks to Rich Allaway of Geography all the Way for live streaming the event. This year, we are particularly interested in new and diverse voices and storytellers, who have never presented before and are ready to step up and share an idea. There should also be a link to the conference theme of Compassionate Geographies.

For the Teachers

Image
Thanks Dave

Bye Trump...

Image
Four years of fomenting hatred and division, ending with the invasion of the Capitol have come to an end.  "We will lead, not with the example of our power, but with the power of our example." Image: New York, taken in April 2019 - I hope to be back some day...

Neil Peart remembered - one year on

Image
One year since the death of Neil Peart was announced. Here he is during 'Tom Sawyer'... Spatial thinking from the Professor.