Vintage Animal Magic: ‘The Naughty Otter’ (c.1916)

Here’s something short and sweet to begin this new series of vintage film treats from the BFI National Archive. Regular readers will be aware that I have a fondness for river creatures (you can see my most recent encounter with such wildlife here), so when I came across this hundred year old snippet of film I just couldn’t resist.

The antics of this very cheeky little otter were filmed around about a century ago by Charles Urban, an American-born film-maker and producer. Despite being born on the other side of the Atlantic, Urban had an important influence on early British cinema generally – including producing some early examples of wildlife films, a genre which remains highly popular on British TV. We are still fascinated by otters too, although it is not often that we see one in the kind of environment that Urban found here!

For more from the BFI National Archive, visit their website or their excellent YouTube channel.

June Update

Hello my dear, patient readers.

My ankle. Stylish, no?

My ankle. Stylish, no?

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted for quite some time.

I apologise for this. Sometimes life just gets in the way – and sometimes, like this time, it’s a matter of having to battle the serious ill health that occasionally pops up and completely floors me, this time resulting in a change of medication which is currently knocking me out in a most interesting fashion.

And just to make matters worse, I now also have a broken ankle!

My ankle is still very painful and I’m on some rather spacey painkillers too (which is only adding to the fun…), but I have been looked after wonderfully by all the medical staff who have treated me so far (yay for the NHS!), and by my fabulous family and friends, both online and off.

It is frustrating to be pretty immobile and unable to do many of the things I take for granted (including writing), and I’ve turned into a bit of a Dalek when it comes to the stairs – but at least I have a cast-iron excuse to lie on the sofa and binge watch Euro 2016 when it starts later this week!

As a result of all this medical mayhem (ahem) I may not be able to post much over the next few months, but I have put together a selection of bits and pieces that I hope you will enjoy – including some more choice vintage selections from the BFI film archive to be going on with.

I was also thinking that it might be nice to have a few guest posts from a few cool and groovy people while I’m laid up. If you are interested in contributing something, please get in touch (you can leave a comment here or tweet me).

A new avian supermodel?

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“Aaaaand… hold that pose. Beautiful!”

While I was busily looking at blossom and daffodils on yesterday’s riverside walk, I was quite astonished to turn a corner on the towpath and encounter this heron. I’ve posted about herons before – but I’ve never managed to get so close to one in all my years of exploring the area. It really didn’t seem at all bothered by the many Sunday strollers milling around, and it let me get within a few feet of it to snatch these shots as it happily posed. Having consulted the bird guide on the RSPB website, I suspect this may be a juvenile bird, which might account for it showing off for us humans! A supermodel in the making, perhaps?

Watch out Kate Moss – there’s a new kid in town…

Thanks, Sir George: Naming blogs the Beatles way

This is why I owe the late Sir George Martin (and the Beatles) a small and personal debt of gratitude.

When I started this blog in the summer of 2009, one of the first things I needed to do was give it a name. My previous blog hadn’t been called anything, it was just an extension of my MySpace account (yeah, I know…), so it really wasn’t a subject that I’d ever given any serious thought to. I spent several afternoons scrolling through the hours and hours of music on my laptop, hoping to hit upon a song title or a lyric that would fit in with what I was trying to express with this smart new blog I was so excited about.

Eventually, I gave up in frustration and just let the music play (as a wise lady once sang) while I got on with my work. I admit that I wasn’t really paying attention by the time the Beatles’ Revolver began playing – my mind had wandered off elsewhere, as it is wont to do. It would be true to say that I’m not the world’s biggest Beatles fan full stop (in fact, my views on them could well be considered somewhat…. iconoclastic, perhaps), but I do love Revolver. It’s the perfect transitional album between the ‘pop’ Beatles and the ‘psychedelic’ Beatles, effortlessly picking up where Rubber Soul left off, and it is arguably some of George Martin’s finest work.

Suddenly, that lovely, upbeat almost Motown-style brass opening of ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ kicked into my headphones and Paul McCartney began to sing:

I was alone, I took a ride, I didn’t know what I would find there/Another road where maybe I could see another kind of mind there

I instantly sat bolt upright in my chair. That. Was. It. Another kind of mind – it was perfect. It was me. As someone of an imaginative bent who has also had experience of mental illness, I guess I’ve always felt like I do have another kind of mind. It just sounded right. Much later on, I discovered McCartney had written the song about his early experiences with cannabis, and that also amused me no end. It really was the perfect name for this blog then, and it still is today.

So, thank you George Martin – without your genius, the Beatles might never have made Revolver, and this Another Kind Of Mind would have been very different (and probably nowhere near as much fun)…

Weird Reading: The Diagram Prize is back…

Yes, my annual excuse to giggle at silly book titles has returned. The Diagram Prize is my favourite literary award for that very reason – it’s not about the usual up-their-own-backsides critics pontificating over the actual writing; this is voted for by the public and it’s all about the book titles, the odder the better. 2016 marks the 38th year of the prize, which is run, as ever, by The Bookseller.

Here are this year’s decidedly odd nominees:

Behind the Binoculars: Interviews with Acclaimed Birdwatchers by Mark Avery and Keith Betton (Pelagic Publishing)

Paper Folding with Children by Alice Hornecke and translated by Anna Cardwell (Floris Books)

Reading from Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus by Jonathan Allan (Zed Books)

Reading the Liver: Papyrological Texts on Ancient Greek Extispicy by William Furley and Victor Gysembergh (Mohr Siebeck)

Soviet Bus Stops by Christopher Herwig (Fuel)

Too Naked for the Nazis by Alan Stafford (Fantom Films)

Transvestite Vampire Biker Nuns from Outer Space: A Consideration of Cult Film by Mark Kirwan-Hayhoe (MKH Imprint)

For more information on each title (I’m rather fascinated by the mere idea of a book on Soviet bus stops, although I bet the winner will be something about bottoms!) visit The Bookseller‘s website here – and you can vote for your favourite here.

You’ve got until 23.59 on 15th March 2016 to vote for your choice of the oddest book title of the year, and I’ll update this post as soon as the results are announced.

UPDATE 18/03/16: And the winner is…. Too Naked For The Nazis! More on the result here.

Blue skies…

Blue skies....

Walking home from a hospital appointment yesterday, I was struck by these trees in a local neighbourhood park. Almost leaning into the wintery blue skies as if reaching for the hazy sunlight, it’s just possible to see a hint of new growth on their bare branches.

Maybe spring is on its way in London…

And Ziggy Played Guitar: Farewell David Bowie

Bowie album coversFrankly, I’m in shock. It’s been a horrible year or so for music fans, with so many greats leaving us – but this was so unexpected, especially as a brand new David Bowie album, Blackstar, was only released a couple of days ago. Now it seems like that the album was his way of saying goodbye, a last gift for his fans.

As an 80s kid, I was always drawn to Bowie’s striking appearance and the music he was making at the time (plus there was Labyrinth, and the lovely intro he did for The Snowman). But it wasn’t until I was older that I began to explore his 70s output, and it immediately struck a chord with me. Here was a man whose music and image told people like me that it didn’t matter that we felt like freaks and weirdos, that we felt different to the rest of the world – in fact, it was a good thing and we should nurture and treasure our differences, our weirdness. He was uncompromisingly himself (whoever that was at any given time) and we should be too.

And that was a message I, and so many others, needed to hear.

For all the immediate, visual theatricality of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane and all the rest, Bowie was real, and that’s why he had such an impact. If it had only been the front, the image, I doubt he would have become as iconic as he did. Instead, he had the image, AND the passion, the commitment and oh! so very much the music. And it’s the music which secures his immortality, beyond question or debate. So, it is with his music that I pay tribute today.

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Another Kind Of Mind: 2015 Annual Report

Time for another annual tradition. A big thanks to the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys, who have prepared a 2015 annual report for Another Kind Of Mind (now go and have a nice cup of tea, stats helper monkeys!)…

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 8,000 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy New Year 2016!

A Happy New Year!

Remember those grumpy-looking Victorian kittens from my Christmas Day post? Well, they’re back and they’ve brought some friends, who all appear to have been at the sherry over the festive season (it’s the only possible explanation). No idea where the one in the middle got the banjo from, though…

They, and I, would like to wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year (and the rest of 2016) – and to thank you for all your support for Another Kind Of Mind in 2015; it is, as always, very much appreciated.

Now I shall leave you in peace to nurse your hangovers!

Click on the image for more information and source details.

If you’re still feeling festive, there’s plenty of seasonal reading to be found here.