Saturday 29 December 2007

The Voices of Morebath by Eamon Duffy

I got this as a Christmas present from my parents. Having skipped some of the tedious (to me) accounting bits, I'm now onto the Reformation proper.

Some of the text refers to how different Bishops interpreted the directives that they were given. Parallels with today? Some were on a damage limitation exercise when it came to 'images' and others took everything that had an image, including decorations around people's tombs and in the case of brass presumably melted it down. Hard to know when to stop when you get going on serious iconoclasm.

I must say, I do find pre-Reformation England attractive. Lots of attention given to decorating the Church, and different groups saw that statues had lamps burning in front of them, the Parish Council seems very democratic; rich and poor, men and women served. People kept a sheep that belonged to the Church as part of their flock. Obviously, as this book is based on Church accounts and the commentary that the Priest wrote on them, it is a bit heavy on the price of wax and what people left to the Parish, but reading between the lines it does tell of a world with a very different focus to our own and it does sound much kinder.

It must have been a bewildering time to live through, much like our own.

Today being the Feast of St Thomas a Becket, Fr S spoke about him a bit and whilst mentioning how his Shrine at Canterbury met a nasty end also said that our pre-Reformation Catholic Church (ie the big old Anglican one in the centre of the town right by the river,) had a statue or some such to St Thomas a Becket. You probably went past that Church on the way from London.

Monday 17 December 2007

Be careful what you wish for ....

If you've followed that link from Mulier Fortis, you've now reached an Official Catholic Blogging Backwater. (Not Bluewater, that's entirely different.)


Happy Christmas when it arrives.

Random Visits

Traffic is a mere trickle, unlike the A2 at present, so when I take a peek at site meter I have the luxury of seeing where people are and how they ended up here. All sorts of exciting countries. Hallo out there.

Sometimes people have googled such things as
Stockhausen's Mother - think of the shock when they then get lots of pics of BXVI!
Alexander 103
Bara brith
Mariss Jansons
Christmas cake

and most recently several times from America

Sending Christmas Cards to Grandma.

Well you have left it a bit late, but still time to get a really nice one, best hand-writing and all and even avoid what I have just done which is to send a Birthday Present guaranteed next day delivery - pricey but necessary in this case. My friend is suffering from familiy who are seeking to suspend prezzies and so forth. Part of the good bit of prezzies is precisely the fag you have to go to to get the thing chosen carefully, wrapped, parcelled and posted at just the right time, not the thing you send. That said I hope she likes the bubbles and chocs.

On the subject of visits here. I have no wish (and no hope) to be blog royalty, but I would like to get to 1000 by Christmas. It is my birthday after all...

Monday 10 December 2007

Christmas Examination/Meme

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

2. Real tree or artificial?
A teeny artificial one. Real would be good, but I live on my own so it seems a bit silly.

3. When do you put up the tree?
Beginning of Advent

4. When do you take the tree down?
As late as poss. Crib stays up for ages and ages.

5. Do you like eggnog?
Never had it. What is it? Seen it mentioned in films ....

6. Favourite gift received as a child?
My birthday is on Christmas Day, so I have received lots of prezzies on that day and don't really distinguish between them. (Apart from the fact they are all great.)

7. Do you have a Nativity scene?
2 cribs. One ACN from the Holy Land and one my Mum got me in Crakow which is very little, very colourful and is like a mini mid European Onion domed affair in bright colours.

8. Hardest person to buy for?
I just go for the direct approach and ask people what they would like. Menfolk tend to want tokens (yawn, but that's what they want, so that's what they get.) Womenfolk, well I know what they like and they are always appreciative, so no probs really. I like looking for things for people.

9. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
I'm with Fr Justin. Bit mean this whole prezzies are rubbish thing. There was a Christmas where my entire family bought me tights in many colours - including red and yellow. Think Joseph. Must have been some mid 80s fashion meets girly rite of passage. 17 pairs as I remember. Not rubbish exactly, just a little odd. I did wear them, maybe not the yellow ones. I don't really wear that colour.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Mail. See post below. No round robins. Fountain pen, ACN. Done. I like sending people things.

11. Favourite Christmas Movie?
I watched Brief Encounter with Grandma after Midnight Mass in the last few years. We went to bed at 3am? She thought it was the one where she throws herself under the train, but I reminded her that was Anna Karenina. Cheery, eh? She liked the clipped 40s accents, romance, though making the correct moral decision in the end, 'Darling, you've been away,' distant wistful looks etc and the Rach Piano Concerto. Perfect for that, can't quite be bothered to go to bed, not cooking Xmas Dinner later, early morning. Who says octogenarians have no go?

I like The Snowman. It looks beautiful and sounds beautiful.

13. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Chocs have been given to The Passage when I had a year 7 form. Even I can't eat 13 boxes.

14. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas?
Xmas Dinner, Xmas Pudding, Xmas Cake. Cold turkey and stuffing with oven chips following Xmas Day. Left overs are fun. I used to really like it when all the shops were shut and you were walled up with your family eating leftovers and playing with your prezzies, mixed in with lots of sweets. Few walks. James Bond film on Xmas Day. Deck chairs out becuase there weren't enough chairs. The lounge turned into a cinema. Kids at the front on the floor really watching seriously, Grandma generation in the third row, commenting on the Queen's outfit on the Speech, drinking tea and chatting through the car chases...but I digress.

15. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
Coloured, but I couldn't get too fussed. Not those blue ones you see in London. They look cold.

16. Favourite Christmas song?
The Shepherd's farewell from Berlioz L'Enface du Christ.

My Hod says that it's sentimental. Good.

I copied this from Fr Justin and seem to have deleted no 17.
Was that home or away?
As a child alternate years at home or at my Aunt and Uncle's about 20 miles away. Both exciting. About 13/14 people 6 kids, 5 in the parent generation and 2 or so in the grandparent generation. Total present fest for me especially and great fun. I'm not really fussed now about my birthday or presents (though they are nice off course,) but it was very exciting at the time.

18. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

19. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star.

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
We've got naughty in recent years. All after Midnight Mass, including the year we went to Westminster Cathedral. We arrived at 10.30 or so and my Dad said we'd just have a peek and decided immediately that it was time to take a seat as it was already 2/3s full rising to jam packed including all the side chapels and totally packed staning everywhere.

As a child, early, but with my parents as once as a very young child I whipped through them and didn't know who had given me what, which made thanking people difficult.

Where's the question about thank you letters? I hated them as a child, but like them now. I'm pleased I was made to do them, especially to Grand Aunts who we rarely saw, but who always sent tokens - 50p from Boots in one case. 50p was a lot in the 70s, but Boots didn't sell what it does now. I think I cashed that one in with my parents. I appreciate a lot more now the fag that they went to.

21. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
Magazines full of stuff to buy and I know I've gone on a lot about presents, but that was as a child and we didn't get stuff apart from birthday and Chrsitmas and they are the same for me.
What I seem to see is all about adults. It's not about how to make people welcome in your home. When did you last see something about catering for the elderly? Or, little jobs kids can do to help? How to help the person 'doing' Christmas. Sharing the load etc. You could make a really interesting feature on lots of different things families do. There's lots of good stuff out there that would be good to learn about.

Articles in newspapers about office parties, people getting drunk and behaving badly.

Drunks on trains.

People making comments about me not drinking much in London, when they know I have to travel home on my own. People making comments about me taking taxis late a night when they know I have to travel home on my own. As I point out occasionally, no-one will notice til I don't show up for work the next day, if anything does goes wrong. I don't feel worried about what I do. I have my system, it's worked so far, but it does depend on being sober. It doesn't depend on copying everone else.

End of moan.

22. Best thing about this time of year?
It's Christmas!

Few. Stop writing. Check you have filled in your Centre Number, Candidate Number and name. Hold up your script for an invigilator to collect.

Can I go now? Did I pass?

You too can take the Christmas test, if you are short of stuff to do. Let me know and I'll read it.

Sunday 9 December 2007

Advent Wreath 2

Was wondering when or indeed if the second candle would light. It's not on GMT, plainly. But it's lit now.

Don't know where Fr Ray gets all his photos, but here is one from yesterday, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception. (Not that either of you need reminding, but people google Christmas Cake and Stockhausen and end up briefly glimpsing this blog. Random visitors check out the clothes - where do you think Father Christmas got his gear from?)

Friday 7 December 2007

Stockhausen RIP

Karlheinz is no more.

One of my finals essays was, 'Melody in Boulez and Stockhausen.' I wrote on why integral serialism destroys everything we expect a melody to do and yes a sense of expectation is there in most music. All that octave shifting does make it hard to whistle, never mind the stuff with the dynamics. Makes early Webern sound positively Impressionist.

One of the essay titles I could have written during the course, (Western Art Music Post-1900 - known as late late, for you had to do pre-1540 or 1540-1700 and 1800-1910 or 1900-present. I did early early and late late, being an extreme kinda musician. Believe me, when Palestrina sounds modern, you know your perspective has been shifted, but I digress as usual, I need footnotes clearly,) was, 'Karlheinz, you cannot be Sirius.' Apparently, he believed that he came from the aforementioned planet.

Anyway, something I quite liked doing was reading the biographical bits about composers ( in this case it put off the moment when you had to listen to the stuff and get into the tone rows...)Stockhausen's Mother was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in the 1930s probably suffering from post-natal depression and was killed as part of the 'let's get rid of ill/disabled/old...people' policies of the time. Stockhausen was quite young at the end of the war (16?) and ended up working as a hospital orderly with very gravely injured soldiers. No wonder he wanted to come from another planet and his music was a little challenging... Also probably explains why he was all into electronic stuff and sine waves. All really pure, take nasty people out of music, lots of rigorous patterns, nothing down to chance, all predetermined. Trouble is if you do the intellectual bit first, you don't usually end up with good music. My school music teacher described spending a day as a student listening to his stuff and said he felt like throwing himself under a bus on the way home, so one to avoid if you are feeling delicate.

Interestingly, both Boulez and Stockhausen were taught by Messiaen who managed to write works of superabundant crazy happiness. We had Turangalila (1947?) blaring out this pm, because we might be taking the boys to hear it. Who was the Catholic? - Messiaen. Which modern composers write tunes and sound like they mean what they write? Gorecki, Part, MacMillan. Pattern?

People did seem to spend lots of time really getting sensitive to melody in the past. It was prized. On one of my many unpublished rants on liturgical music, for I keep not putting things up, I went on about how when people write hymns with words that do not follow a particular metrical pattern, the poor punter trying to sing has an element of uncertainty injected into the proceedings. (Don't even mention the pitches of the melody, nor the dismal harmony.)I noticed the difference reading the English translation of some Latin in my new Old Missal. It makes the sentiments have a feeling of strength, order, completeness, clarity, which is a good thing. Unless of course you want to communicate complexity, doubt, ambivalence etc.

Parting questions. How many Gs are there in last line of ,'Make me a channel of your peace.'

Does 'In bread we bring you Lord,' finish on an F or a C? Tonic or Dominant?

How many verses of 'On Eagles Wings' have an anacrusis? Why is it hard to come in on a C# against a G major triad? Aren't Augmented 4ths a bit dodgy? Didn't those clever monks 'invent' Bb to avoid the dreaded tritone?

No prizes alas.

Caption competition

Fr Ray has a brilliant picture for a caption competition.

Monday 3 December 2007


I played in a concert on Sat with the main orchestra that I play in outside work. We did Sibelius Karelia Suite, Elgar The Enigma Variations and Nielsen 4 'The Inextinguishable.' It went well and a fun time was had by all. It was however, 'a big blow,' or as my section principal tends, so quaintly to put it, 'a serious smack in the gob.' So much so that at the end of Enigma, he had a four bar (unscripted)rest before having to whizz up to a top A, so I had to blast a bit more so that the over all section dynamic remained fff. Fortunately, my mighty Alex 103, see pic, is good for cutting through, when needed. Mostly I aim for the noble, round Dennis Brain (of happy horn player memory) sound.

We played Nimrod on 9th July, 2 days after 7/7 at St Paul's Covent Garden. There was a chance they would cancel it, but it went ahead and afterwards there were plenty of people at the pub. We did have to have another tuba player. The usual one was on the train adjacent to the one that blew up at Edgeware Rd and didn't feel like coming out to play. The brass fixer offered to cab him in, but he wasn't up to it.

Anyway, this is a happy orchestra. I've played in it for about six years and the people are friendly and the conductor very good. He is a timpanist, so in the final rehearsal when all the percussionists come and the hired percussion too, (for the orch owns nothing,) we laugh at how long it is before he asks the timp player if he has any harder sticks. This time she (as it goes) had to get wooden ones out. He usually ends up telling them that they are hired, so they can hit them as hard as they like-and they do!

Nielsen 4 has two pairs of timps on either side of the orch and the last page of my part was rather like playing through surround sound thunder. The last note was rather exciting - drop down to mp whilst the timps did their bong bong ...I, V, I, V you know the sort of thing, then tutti cresc to well very loud on strings up bow.

Some of it sounds like Mahler. Long major chords with a bit of 4-3 type movement are just good. Nielsen seemed to have to keep disrupting his lyrical writing with rather more terse counterpoint and some discordant stuff which seemed a shame. I heard this once with the CBSO and felt the same.

My Mum was chuffed cos the horns got a stand after Karelia. Well we do play the tune at the beginning and we have to hand stop.

Sunday 2 December 2007

Advent Wreath

From the generous Curt Jester via Mulier Fortis.

Sorted. Lights another candle next Sun and everything.

Small things please small minds ....


Here already. Found my cribs and other attire yesterday and put them up. My new piano stool with capacious storage arrived on Fri, so the top of the piano is now clear for the first time in years. How long will that last?

Went to a marathon Mass and ended up next to a boy of 8/9 who was not sitting with his family for we were part of the choir. Anyway, rarely have I sat next to anyone so attentive in Mass of any age, so clearly fantastic parents. He had his own Missal, which was a bit kidified, but only to the extent that the print was slightly larger and things spaced out a bit more. I helped him a little to find the right First Sunday of Advent set of readings, but he was a real pro, pointing out every part of the Mass. Nice voice too. To use Grandma's word, 'edifying.'

Thursday 29 November 2007

Parking Ticket

Got home last night at midnight. Got up at 6am, left the house at 7am, got home at 6.30pm to find I have a parking ticket.

I live in a road where you have to park in a bay and have a residents' permit. This is to stop nasty commuters (like me) parking in my road (like I do). Nasty commuters don't park in the road.

Parking attendants who work for a private company sub contracted by the council check the road every day.

My car has not moved since Sunday night and so has been checked three times already this week. Today the sticky wallet (supplied by said company to whom I have to pay £20 per annum,) fell off the windscreen landing face down on the dash board. Just like toast, but no buttery, jammy residue.

The price of my dastardly, neglectful behaviour? A £100 fine, reduced to £50 if I pay in 14 days.

Let's just remind ourselves why we have the scheme? To stop non residents parking in the road. Or, is it to make money for a private company? Because most cars fined belong to residents who forget to move their car into a bay before 9am etc. Got home late, no spaces, park on a yellow line, maybe outside your home, have a lie in....£50. For they check every day except Sunday and that includes Bank Holidays.

There must be a better way.

I shall contest it, but I'm not hopeful. Technically, I am guilty of 'failure to clearly display a valid permit.' Shame on me.

Nothing compared to what will have happened to some people today, I know, but something that I could do without.

End of moan.

In other news, I went to Mass at Notre Dame de France in Leicester Square on Tuesday night and had to fight my way through the crowds greeting Nicole Kidman et al who were going to the premiere of the Philip Pullman film. Didn't see any celebs cos the throngs were too throngy and I was running late. Seemed vaguely funny at the time.

Saturday 24 November 2007

Christmas Cards

One of my mildly labour saving initiatives is to buy and address my Christmas cards early. The aim is that then all I have to do is to write a few a day at that crucial time, not too early or late and that everyone gets their card before Christmas. Must get the stamps sorted out next. I often get Irish cards between Xmas and New Year and I dare say they've had a few from me then too.

I just did it last weekend along with the Christmas cake. I don't do round robins because, well, not much of interest happens (Why do you blog then? Dunno Well this is all the mundane, but yet important and enjoyable stuff of life.) and different people are interested in different things, so I write a bit extra on the card to some people. 'July saw us (or me in my case,) in ...' If they were that bothered, they would have sent a post card. That said, two of my university friends who have 6 children do write a very funny letter, a paragraph each about each of the children's expliots. I like writing their card. Dear Rachel, Chris, Matthew, Sam, Isaac, Joel, Noah and Naomi. Bit of an OT theme there and Chris has his 5 a side football team.

Obviously, I'm not into the, 'I've made a donation to charity instead of giving you a card.' Sitting writing to people is important. It makes me think of everyone I should remember.

My favourite cards? (Both of you reading.) Aid to the Church in Need. Great charity, beautiful high quality cards, you can get Mass cards and rosaries from the Holy Land too and they arrive pretty quickly. Sorted.

Oh yes and I now only put the religious ones on the mantelpiece. It makes the room feel very Christmassy. Snowmen et al get put on the book shelves. It really works. That and the little ACN crib...

Who would have thought so much could be written about cards.

Monday 19 November 2007


Fr Tim has been to Durham. Lucky him. I was a member of Cathsoc there and spent three very happy years going to Mass at St Cuthbert's with the occasional trip to the Dun Cow - good stotties.

The very hard working PP Fr John James was also the Catholic Chaplain to the university and spent a great deal of time visiting students.

Cathsoc had a big programme of social events from toasties after Mass to various trips about the place, Lindisfarne being my favourite.

A couple of years after I graduated we had a Cathsoc reunion in a YHA barn near Barnard Castle. Twas chilly out (like -10C), but the folks who produced meals for 30 were there (don't know who they were, but the food was always fab,) and a fun time was had by all.

The NE has an amazing Catholic History - Bede, Cuthbert et al. St Cuthbert and Bede are both buried in the Cathedral, though they did 'loose' StC's body til the early 1800s (whoops) and to think monks were carrying it around Northumbria to escape the Vikings for a couple of centuries after his death.

Read Bill Bryson, now Chancellor of the university, he likes the city a lot.

Saturday 17 November 2007

Christmas Cake

Finally got around to making it. It's presently in the oven and the the house is filled with the fumes along with a loaf in the bread maker. Good combination. Cooking definitely innoculates against the nasty outside world.

I am coordinating a charity cook book at work as part of a little extra job I do and one teacher e mailed in his Xmas cake recipe. It included treacle and cocoa. Interesting. I put the zest of an orange and a lemon in instead of candied peel and forgo currants entirely in favour of sultanas and raisins. Oh and I soak the fruit in brandy before baking. Any variations that could be factored in? (Next year obviously...)

Wednesday 14 November 2007

Organ Tuning

We had the organ tuners in today. It seemed to be an all day job. They were still going, when I left at five.

This is a two men job. One is inside the case doing things to the pipes whilst the other is sitting at the console.

Last time I happened to go into the hall when they were at work. An exasperated voice came from within, 'I haven't got a clue where you are.'

Don't envy them the 4' shrill stops. It has trumpet stops too. Don't know how they get tuned.

I had to take 3 boys into the hall to get some double basses. They were just starting lessons, so I had to show them how to carry them and then we set off to meet their teacher. I held the door whilst they squeezed through. It looked very funny. Collective noun?


The big concert passed off without incident. We spent the day in a mixture of teaching and rehearsing with the usual dwelling on the bits that went wrong in rehearsal. My own being what happens if my little flautist, who tends not to watch, forgets to play one of his solos causing a chain reaction of missed entries to spread through the wind section..... what if the cellos rush and the double basses drag... I did end up saying the, 'if you do that tonight the music will fall apart and there won't be anything I can do about it.' Harsh perhaps, but true. I did say it rather than shout it, but that can be worse. One conductor I played under at the RCM did the 'I won't conduct the concert tonight if you play like that' routine so cooly, I found myself contemplating if the assistant conductor would be stepping in. Fortunately, as usual everyone was on top form. The boys do really want to do it right, but it would be foolish to assume that without maximum preparation and concentration that will be so. Lapses in concentration are no good when conducting.

I was lucky that the percussion teacher kept an eye on the timps and percussion, so the crashes, bongs and tings were well coordinated. Out of time timps are tough to conduct through.

So, having cleared up the debris and sorted out the music, it was straight back to teaching a 7/8 period day with break duty. In fact, having got home at 12.30am, I was in a rehearsal at 8.30am! I pointed this out to a bleary eyed member of my form as he struggled in at 9! Huh.

Sunday 11 November 2007


They had a sale of homemade jam in aid of Life at Church this weekend. It's very yummy, so I got some for myself and some marmalade for my Dad. They make stacks of it and it's very popular. So much so that as I was putting my purse back into my hand bag, an elderly gentleman picked up my just purchased damson jam and showed it admiringly to his wife and made to buy it, so I had to find another jar of the same price to replace it. (They have this clever system whereby because all the jars are different sizes, they all seem to cost slightly different prices. They have every size from tiny weeny ones up to 1lb jars.)

Last time I bought some I went to the Sunday night Mass and almost didn't get any - the man in front bought about six jars - clearly a toast for breakfast man. As I say it's very yummy.

My last damson jam found its way into one of the Victoria Sponges at Grandma's funeral.

Better go and do some work - the big concert is on Tues - feel the adrenalin rush.

Thursday 8 November 2007

Busy Busy

I have entered into one of those busy times when there are loads of school events, examination teaching, rehearsals and hundred of reports. Hence the lack of blogging. I'm sure everyone else is busy too. It's just like that in the run up to Christmas.

Plenty to worry about in one sense although as there's so much to do, no time to dwell too much, which for me is a good thing. Just have to get on and get it all done and fit baking a Christmas cake ...

Sunday 4 November 2007

Know Popery

Fr Ray has a timely post about Bonfire Night and the town of Lewes in East Sussex. Whilst working in Tunbridge Wells I had a housemate whose prospective father-in-law did Morris dancing at that towns 'celebrations.' I wasn't over enthusiastic.

It seems to tap into a very unpleasant side of Englishness, the sort of Cromwellian, iconoclastic, anti-authority, thuggish side. Burning an effigy of the Pope is not traditional, it was included in the 19thC. Catholic emancipation, Irish emigration, re-establishment of the hierarchy a problem anyone? Only in this country would we have to pretend it was all a quaint old tradition. I do believe that it is no longer shown on the telly. When other people burn flags etc, it is normally taken to be a bit serious after all, but not apparently in jolly old Lewes.

Other countries have fireworks for their national days, we have it for other reasons. England Catholic, what a thought. Better go and get my Roman Candles ready ....

Thursday 1 November 2007

All Saints Day

Happy Feast Day!

I went to the Vigil Mass at St Mary Moorfields in the City of London.

They did the Mozart Missa Solemnis K337 - unexpected and brill.

I don't often go there as it's a bit out of the way but it's always well worth the treck. Wish I could make it more often. Also has a very interesting history and feels very cosmopolitan. Excellent PP. People I chatted to said people were in the street on Ash Wed and they have loads of Masses on Holy Days.

They often have a little 'do' afterwards and it is so great to chat to people who are not competing with you and trying to put you down but build you up and agree with you. So often when I chat to people, I feel like handing them a tick sheet; yes your house, car and job are better than mine, you are married with kids and I'm not and you next holiday will probably be to a more exotic location than mine. Happy?

Ever feel people look a bit odd when you enthuse about what they are doing rather than trying to cap their story or when you ask them about what they are expert in? Funny old world, but at least there are little oasis.

Just back from a Parent's Evening, hence the Mass yesterday. Loads of musical events before the end of term; about two a week, so off to bed - next rehearsal 8am tomorrow morning! (No sympathy -I get paid to play music - poor me!)

Sunday 28 October 2007

Wild Wales

We had a very restful time. My parents are still there. Got to drive through Snowdonia with a beautiful sunset. Saw Portmeirion in brilliant sunshine and just enjoyed being there.

Tried to learn a bit more Welsh. The local chippy has a bilingual menu on the wall. Sglolian = Chips. Thus Sglolian bach and Sglolian fawr for small and big portions and in Tescos where the ailses are labelled in big Welsh and small English papur ty bach = little house paper or loo roll!

My parents are righly dead chuffed with their lovely static caravan and its beautiful location in woods.

Driving home on Fri and Sat was a little epic. Had to take a rustic detour outside Welshpool due to a car smash. Off into the single track, signless wilds. Managed to locate Shewsbury OK though and then on to my Aunt and Uncle's a bit further on.

Back to work the morrow.

No more mountains or bara brith for me!

Music Meme

Mac seems to think I should do this :-)

What song is in your head?
'Lord for tomorrow and its needs' cos I sang it this morning and for all sorts of reasons it was very apt for today.

What is the newest album in your collection?

Schumann Piano Quartet given to me by a colleague so that I may learn to play it more easily. Did Schumann occasionally 'forget' he was writing for violin, viola, cello and piano and not for two violins et al? I think that maybe he did. I need an E string in the last movement.

What is the top album on your wish list?

Stephen Isserlis's new recording of the Bach Cello Suites.

What is the most recent live music event you have attended?

Magic Flute at ENO

Not a music event, but hey great singing at Mass in Wales and an excellent organist. So good that when he got to the end of his improvisation, cum intro landing on a V7 chord and then went in to the hymn, I started singing, but that was infact the real intro, oops, too keen.

What is the top live music event on your wish list?

Maris Jansons and the RCO doing anything by Mahler or Dvorak or Brahms.
St Antony Variations are a favourite, but then so is Brahms 3, Brahms 4, Dvorak 8
If I had to Choose Mahler, 8 because I've never heard it live.
Mm now the clocks have gone back Bruckner 9 is great. Mulled wine and Bruckner, obviously.

Stuff synaesthesia, I think the links bewteen food and music have been too little explored.
Although a colleague and I did enjoy foxing a line of boys by having a conversation about colours and keys. He thought C major was yellow - a happy smiley key, whereas HoD who has perfect pitch, thought the whole idea was silly and then said C maj was magnolia and neutral.

But I digress.

I also am fond of early music, so some beautiful venue in Italy, with a great group doing Monteverdi ( anything I love it all.) I like Ex Cathedra quite a bit.

I also like the relentless play/ sing til you drop of Irish Trad music with all the dancing (clompy shoes particularly)and Welsh choirs. Oh and then there is Cerdd dant. So a day at the National Eisteddfod. Best singing I have ever heard was at the Eisteddfod in Bala. Can't beat it. Welsh being blest with pure vowels plus a harp. Need I say more...

Long list but hey this is a Catholic blog who says we have to hold back?

What are the top three albums currently in rotation at your house?
Mm have to confess I rarely sit down and listen to music, but I do have R3 on a lot.
On Sat when I was driving home, I was able to catch most of CD Review, which is my favourite radio programme. Andrew MacGregor is a top man.
Anyway, they 'did' their stuff on the Schubert C major Cello Quintet D9 hundred and very late. That is a real favourite. You just gotta listen to it, all 50 mins of it.

Does music you are practising count? OK. Bach Cello Suites for Viola and Horn.

And some madrigals I must get to grips with asap.

I notice that Mac has memed Fr Justin. I seem to think that he is a musician as is Fr Ray, so if they are not too busy, it would be good to know what they like.

Plus anyone else. We all have favourites. Let me know and I'll have a read.

Friday 19 October 2007

Half Term


Off to the land of my father tomorrow.

No Internet. No land line and intermittent mobile reception. Should be good for a rest.

Have fun merry readers.

Don't forget to vote for Fr Z and Fr Tim et al.

Do other people write blogs? All the top religious ones seem to be Catholic.

Thursday 18 October 2007

More on Music from Fr Zed, who writes in red.

Oh goody.

The Magic Flute

Yesterday, we took some of the sixth form to see The Magic Flute, aka, Die Zauberflote at ENO. Hard life, I know. I did get home at 12.15am and then get up at 6am to teach all day today....

I usually prefer things in the original language, but this being a Singspiel with spoken dialogue, it was very immediate and funny in English. I hadn't been there since it's all been refurbished and it's a beautiful theatre. The singing translation worked very well with Mozart's phrsaing and there was some fantastic singing particularly from Papageno and the three boys.

This is the third time I've seen Magic Flute and the whole masonry, enlightenment thing seemed very strong. Or maybe I just know slightly more. My first experience was my first term in secondary school at a Schools' Matinee at the ROH. In German of course. Didn't understand anything even faintly, but thought it was very exciting. I spent lots of these performances (for members of the choir and orch got first go at the tickets, so I went about once a term - lucky eh!) looking into the orchestra pit. Opera the total art form, something for everyone...

I'm not known for being a strident feminist. Having woman teachers back five generations, plus plenty of feisty women in the family and very kind men, doesn't give you much of an axe to grind. That said it did really bring out the apparent misogyny of masonry. Put women in their place etc. Not attractive, and of course the Queen of the Night is the baddie with her three side kicks.

Will have to read the libretto methinks and dust down some books. Half term beckons.

A great production and as it was the last night all the techie people came onto the stage for a bow. Needless to say, the orch were mostly packed up and gone when the conductor gestured down to them.

Sunday 14 October 2007

What Kind of Cross are You?

You are the San Damiano Cross: Rich in symbolism, this cross was first painted in the twelfth century gathering images from the Gospel of John. Christ is the central figure and is surrounded by the angles, the apostles and the Virgin Mary. The cross became well known because it was the cross in front of which St. Francis was praying when he received the call to rebuild the Church.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Saturday 13 October 2007

A blogger after my own heart

Check this out for some great BXVI pics.

Here's one to entice you over there.

Friday 5 October 2007

You paid attention during 100% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

That's clever cos I guessed one of the questions!

Thursday 4 October 2007

Liturgical Music

I removed my venting about music because the tenor (no pun intended) on Holy Smoke has now become very nasty and I have no wish to be part of that.

Monday 1 October 2007

An Award

First I get added to two blog rolls and memed and now an award.
Too much excitement. Thank you.
Now the bit shamelessly copied from Mac. Thank goodness for copy and paste.

'Anyway, what is a Mathete when it's at home?It seems to be a brand new award being passed out. It is the Mathetes Award, created by Dan King of Management by God to recognize those who take to heart the Great Commission and further God’s Kingdom by creating more disciples for Him. According to Dan, mathetes is the Greek word for "disciple".The rules for the award, as posted by its creator, are as follows: Winners of this award must pick five other "disciples" to pass it on to. As you pass it on, you are asked to mention and provide links for (1)the post Dan King of Management by God as the originator of the award, (2) the person that awarded it to you, and then (3) name and sites of the five that you believe are fulfilling the role of a disciple of Christ.'

This award is becoming more of a club, though. Not that I'm in any way, shape or form ungrateful. That would be against my alleged positiveness.
The hard bit is finding five people who have not already got this award and you read their blog.

Back in a mo when I've had a check.

Ask Sister Martha Mary because she's clear and fiesty.

Antagonistic Pots and Pans because she's spotty and interesting.
Cottage Blessings just because of the picture at the top. (The rest is great too mind.)
That leaves two. Um have to sort it out later.

Sunday 30 September 2007

Angels and gardening

Fr Ray has the text of the Homily the Holy Father gave at the episcopal ordinations yesterday, which if you are as ignorant as me (you probably aren't) is very instructive and soothing to read.

Somewhere else (that's helpful isn't it?) I read about Michelmass Daisies and the harvest.

I dug up a 2x2m patch of my lawn over Easter and turned it into a vegtable patch. It's been moderately successful, given the weather, but I've really enjoyed doing it and as it's right outside the back door and easy to manage even when I've had a lot of concerts on a work. I used some tomatoes, courgettes and rosemary in a stew I made today. I also planted a few flowers between patches of different veg so it's more like a cottage/kitchen garden and it has looked attractive at various points in the season. (Bit raggy now.) My parents and Grandma have had beans, carrots, peas, and I've had lots of rocket (they don't like it.) The 5 parsnips that kindly germinated are in the ground awaiting a special occasion. Growing my own stuff has made me more restrained as you can't just get more if you eat it, though the patch has produced about as much as I've needed per day. Think Manna in the desert except you pop out before meal for a few toms, beans, herbs, a carrot (big treat) and if it's been at all sunny a courgette.

OK Eco evangelistation over. I'm doing it cos I like gardening and cooking and it tastes good and you can cook folks nice dinners. I'm a woman and looking after people is what we do.

Anyway, I'm sure that if I bought Joanna Bogle's book on Saints and Seasons I could fill in a few more gaps about how the agricultural year and seasons link into the liturgical year. (Yeah, or what got lost at the Reformation, Huh.)

So, I see that now is when things flake out in the garden and that this has of course been know for some time by people in the past. And who was it who sorted out agriculture in this fair isle? Monks.

Saturday 29 September 2007

Catholic Blogger Quiz

I've been thingied by Mac.

1. Do you attend the Traditional Latin Mass or the Novus Ordo?

The Novus Ordo because that's what there is in my parish. (Although it would just be called the Mass because we don't know about fancy stuff out here.) No silly stuff, though I fear that may be trickling in. The old parishoners who are really great people and have, for example, furnished the church very beautifully are dying out leaving some of the silly stuff. Bit out of step with the blogosphere and the HF. Though the PP is a top man, the silly stuff, such as it is, comes from parishoners.

We do have the Syro-Malabar Rite too though, thanks to some scheme whereby we get a different Indian Priest each year as the assistant priest. There are lots of Indian families in the parish who seem very serious and devout in Church. Good thing. Great priests too. I should go to that too sometime.

For TLM I could/should pop over to Blackfen on Sats (Yes Mac) and could get to the odd one in Central London during the week.

2. If you attend the TLM, how far do you drive to get there?

A couple of miles to Blackfen, a couple of tube stops from work to Brompton Oratory et al in London.

3. If you had to apply a Catholic label to yourself, what would it be?

One who blogs much and prays too little. (Is that a label?)

Glancing through my new Missal says a rubbbish one.

A friend of mine once said he didn't want to have any label, just an ordinary Catholic who goes to Mass on Sunday etc, but that seems to put you into an extreme category in England now.

If Catholic means universal, how can you then put a label. Surely, it should not be qualified otherwise we get into a Protestant, ' Are you a proper Catholic?' type situation which is not what we are about. What happened to the 'all in it together, everyone's very welcome' attitude?

There was a nasty article in the Catholic Herald last week about lapsed and shadow Catholics. What a corrosive concept shadow Catholic is. (Basically defined as there to get their kids into a Catholic School, whilst not believing it or even trying to believe it.) I know there are people who do that, or maybe it tips the balance for them to go to Mass (?) but I don't want that thought in my head when I shake someone's hand at Mass, thank you very much.

4. Are you a comment junkie?

I often write comments and then delete them.

I'm very opiniated and the rest of the world doesn't need that inflicted on them. (See above.)

5. Do you go back to read the comments on the blogs you’ve commented on?

Yes, because it's good to know how other people react and some people are very funny.

6. Have you ever left an anonymous comment on another blog?

Yes. Is that a bad thing? Shyness really.

7. Which blogroll would you most like to be on?

Mulier Fortis and Fr Justin because I am! Thank you!

8. Which blog is the first one you check?

Fr Tim is blog central, but I like the blog and links to the more girly blogs from Mac.
I like reading a mixture of news, spiritual stuff and family, cooking, kids, domestic things.

9. Have you met any other bloggers in person?

Mac, Fr Tim, Fr John Boyle, The Sisters of the Gospel of Life, Joanna Bogle (once), a couple of Fr Ray's parishoners.

10. What are you reading?

My new old Missal.

Bonus Question! Has your site been banned by Spirit of Vatican II?

The links from my blog, plus too many pictures of the Holy Father (smiling) and a Music Degree are probably enough to convict me! And I listen to Radio 3. Shockingly elitist!

Mac has already tagged everyone I read and it seems rude to raddomly tag people who don't know me in any sense. If you read this and want to have a go, then please consider yourself tagged. Let me know and I'll read it.

Friday 28 September 2007

St Vincent de Paul

Whilst whiling away yesterday afternoon on my sofa of sickness (not a pleasant image I grant you,) EWTN had a prog on ST V de P. My knowledge of him is hazy and the most startling fact was that he was captured by pirates and sold into slavery in Tunisia.

Then he and a companion made their way to Rome and things improved somewhat. Boring his life was not.

Fr Dwight has a proper run down on him.

New Missal

Or do I mean an old one or an Extraordinary one maybe.

Anyway, I decided to buy a 1962 Missal from Farnborough Abbey -more Fair Trade than Amazon and I bet you don't get a lovely Holy Pic of BXVI from them nor your book packaged by a monk.

I hope I haven't got the wrong one. Just checked on Southwell Books site where they have a very good table showing what's in each Missal, which ones have leather covers etc. A bit like the Which Report for Missals really.

Mm, well I thought I'd ordered the Baronius Press one -leather binding, text of the MP etc, but what has arrived is one published by Angelus Press. I was surprised it arrived as I thought it was being reprinted. Must have clicked the wrong thing.

Judging by the ticks, it's much the same but plasticy and the same price. Oh well.

Still stacks of stuff in it, prayers, explaining all the actions of the Mass and beautifully laid out. Yes, I know everyone else in the blog world has one and has been using it for years, but it's new to me. So much to learn. p.1867 says every church has its guardian angel. Didn't know that and my primary school at least was the land where time stood still. We even had a lesson on indulgences once from the Head who was covering for our normal teacher. Colouring in - no way we were learning the difference between partial and plenary!

In other news, I went back to work and had a very good day. Fridays are easy and my HoD is very upbeat as various plans of his are taking off. Good place to work. Only found a couple of consecutives and one unprepared 6/4 this afternoon when I was teaching harmony.

Thursday 27 September 2007

Jesus of Nazareth

Saw this on Dad with noisy kids blog and thought it was funny.

I paraphrase

Books I am reading, 'Jesus of Nazareth,' though the Pope doesn't follow the film exactly.

Canon B

My Mum has written to Grandma's retired PP Canon B. He married my parents (1967) and spoke at Grandpa's Requiem Mass (1975) so he knows Grandma well. He is now in his 80s and retired close by to her. Anyway, he has written to my Mum and to Grandma, along the lines of, 'I was thinking about you the other day MrsF and wondered how you are?' So hopefully that will also bring cheer to Grandma, who is now showing more interest in food and such like.

Good on Canon B. My Mum is 'thrilled,' according to my Dad.

Wednesday 26 September 2007

EWTN and other ramblings

Finding myself at home ill, I thought I'd watch a bit on-line.

I don't tune in too often and the 5 hour time difference can be a little strange.

I could get a taste for it though and it must be great if you are ill on a more permanent basis. (Watching EWTN that is, not being ill.)

It's so different from any UK TV and I like the globe thing with St Peter's in the middle. 'Bringing you the splendor of the truth.' It's all confident and upbeat.

When I happened upon the Papal Mass in Vienna, I really liked the commentator's occasional, 'and you join us here for the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time...' because let's face it we are rather starved of that sort of thing with the BBC. Ah, the special sneering tone, yawn.

Fr Ray (of happy and renewed bloggings) has a post about the positive influence of the Poles. Grandma has a Polish cleaner called Betty. I'm convinced she's biding time before becoming a brain surgeon. In the mean time however, she's so polite and respectful, cheery and hard working. And she's from Crakow, so Grandma's pic of JPII that she got in '79 when she went over to Ireland for the Papal Visit hopefully makes her feel a bit at home.

Sunday 23 September 2007

Yup more content shamelessly borrowed from other blogs.
This time it's American Papist.

Too good a pic to pass by.


Just copied this from a comment on The Cafeteria is Closed.

Always good to have those Papal facts to hand.

"From an article in The National Catholic Register (1/24/07):

In 1462 Pope Pius II declared slavery an “enormous crime” (magnum scelus).

In 1537 Pope Paul III forbade the enslavement of native people in the New World.

Pope Urban VIII forbade slavery again in 1639.

Pope Benedict XIV condemned slavery in 1741.

Pope Pius VII demanded the Congress of Vienna suppress the slave trade in 1815.

Pope Gregory XVI condemned the slave trade in 1839.

In the bull canonizing Jesuit St. Peter Claver in 1888, Pope Pius IX branded the slave trade summum nefas or “supreme villainy.”

Pope Leo XIII sent out the encyclical In Plurimism on the abolition of slavery in 1888 ordering Brazilian bishops to abolish slavery."

Yup, that's every century since the 15th.

Unrelated but interesting facts.
Pope Pius XII had 500 Jews staying at Castel Gandolfo during the war whom he was providing with kosher food. (Says so in the CTS Booklet on him.)

And, Castel Gandolfo is twinned with Chateauneuf du Pape. Cool eh! Good wine at their dinners hopefully.

My parents tend to get a bottle of the above mentioned plonk if a Priest comes for meal . Fr Torre was very partial to it and my Mum's Lasagne.

End of wittering. This isn't one of those clever series of statments that ends up where we started.

Wednesday 19 September 2007

Things to keep you Catholic

Just for Mac - she who reads this gubbins. (thank goodness someone does!)

The two for me are

1 The Sacraments. Where else can you go for the Blessed Sacrament and Absolution and that's only 2/7.

2 The teaching authority of the Church.

Everything else follows in no particular order


All the people I really admire

Music - too much to list.

Being made welcome like another member of the family in all sorts of occasions


Reading St Bede and seeing nothing much has changed.

Feeling more at home abroad than in England. (France, Italy, Austria, Poland)

Reading about St John Fisher and seeing nothing much as changed (alas).

Pope Benedict XVI (last but by no means least) What great books. Wish I'd read them ages ago. JPII was a great man, but I find his writing really hard work.

I read all those blogs describing the sometimes appalling things being done in this country and I've decided that on my blog I'm going to avoid the rent-a-rant. (Believe me FR Zs red I like alot. It's the teacher in me!)

The rest of the time apart from the prayers, I'm trying to support everything/ one, that or who are doing the good stuff. So, Aid to the Church in Need, SPUC, Sisters of the Gospel of Life etc big support. Certain 2nd collections, nothing. Petitions in Church for SPUC, raffle tickets for the primary school, jam in aid of Life etc I'm there. Basically, all the small 'boring' things that hold the Catholic infastructure together, I'm really trying to do. Some poor person standing at the door at the end of Mass needing some sort of support, that's me. Any other ideas? Bring them on. When the charity law gets changed so that contemplative orders loose money I'm adopting one - should probably do that now anyway.

The catalogue of things I don't do and opportunities missed is huge, btw.

Oh yes and I once left a CTS pamphlet about Pius XII on a train because Joanna Bogle suggested it. Only I'll have to get another one now because I'd like to re-read it!

OK Mac. Nuff ramblings. Bedtime for tired teachers. The sniffles are threatening and I need my voice and strength. First Orch String Sectional + Madrigals + teaching tomorrow. Night Night.

Sunday 16 September 2007

14th September

Yes, I had noticed on Friday that the big day had arrived. Vast hoards of visitors, that pop over here, usually having googled something unrelated to anything Catholic. Random Evangelisation.

The matter of work got in way of going over to Blackfen and some visiting familiy meant no trip to Brompton Oratory in the evening.

So I was very happy to read Fr Z's homiliy at the Mass.

I always think of him as Fr Zed, but Mac corrected me when I mentioned him, and said that he is of course Fr Zee.

(My mind wanders to Seasame Street at this point brought to you by Pope Benedict XVI the number 14 and the letter Zee. That isn't meant to sound disrepectful, btw.)

Anyway, being a mere serf in the blogosphere, I'm hoping that this is the beginning of better times. Lots of inspiring stuff to read at least. All those old plainsong books on musica sacra alone are worth some study. I lurve the ones with questions at the end of chapters. 'Is this an authentic or plagal mode?' etc. Great. ABRSM eat your heart out.

Parish BBQ

We have some of those Mission people in the parish at the mo and so had a BBQ to get everyone together. People have always been very kind to me here, so I hope others have found the same. (We've been told to be more friendly etc.) We all came with different food and as usual it all came together into a very enjoyable 'do.' Chatted to quite a few people I know by sight but have never exchanged more words than , 'Peace be with you' with. Start with the important stuff... The weather was really good, which is a real blessing after the dreadful summer, so we were all able to sit out in the huge garden and the children could all run around.

Fr S the PP had his Kerry flag up and green and orange bunting because they were in the All-Ireland Final today. Top stuff. He also had the Papal flag up at half mast when JPII died. All important occasions marked by flags over here.

Not entirely taken with the tenor of the Mission, but they are very sincere people ( and I don't think they are dodgy,) and it's not good not to support stuff. Sometimes it can seem as if things are hanging on by a thread in this country, so not good to knock what is going on.

In einem neuen Fenster

Mac is right (as usual.)

This is like when I bought 'Into Great Silence' from German Amazon and had to click Kaufen, etc to buy it. Mm wonder who I leant that to ... Not a film where language is much used as it goes.

An Equal Music

Am currently re-reading Vikram Seth's book, which is just brilliant in its description of playing in a string quartet. Aspects of the plot will cause disquiet to Catholic readers (plus the protagonist is miserable and self indulgent most of the time,) but if you can ignore them and focus in on the main character's relationship with his violin it's wonderful.

Wednesday 12 September 2007

More Papal Encouragement for Music

Just read this via Fr Zs blog about the Mass in Vienna on Sun and about the Pope's continued attitude to popular culture, young people and music.

Sounds great to me.

I went to Mass on Ash Wed at Westminster Cathedral and the huge congregation ( like it took 5 mins of queuing to get into the aisle to start queuing to receive the Ashes - this is England it's in the culture,) were perfectly at home with the Allegri Miserere. This is our music, our tradition. Bring on the beautiful stuff.

Monday 10 September 2007

100th Visitor

Up to 99 now so who will be the 100th?

Recent visitors have been from Cyprus and Japan, so which exotic location will be next?

Sunday 9 September 2007

The Holy Father In Vienna

Happened to switch on EWTN,via the web, hoping there might be some coverage and got the whole Papal Mass and Angelus from Vatican Television. Fantastic music of course, a Haydn Mass with full choir and orchestra. A huge crowd in the square outside too. Good commentary, said what needed to be said and then was silent for big chunks. Will definitely be tuning in again.

Saturday 8 September 2007

First week back

Well we all got the end of the first week. It is somewhat of a calm before the storm, because next week the teaching really cranks up and all the rehearsals get going.

There have been a few of those unexpected and yet urgent tasks that keep things interesting (uhm).

Ajorned to the pub on Friday, though I popped off pretty quickly as I had to collect some tickets from someone. The usual big turn out for the beginning of term. We have the advantage of being able to get there before the office workers, though often people mark a set of books and then go. (Yes, it's not all long holidays and finishing at 4!)

The weather, having taken a turn to the sunny side, has caused my tomatoes to ripen suddenly. Thus I shall be spending some time engaged in tomato based activities this weekend. They are beautifully sweet, so it seems a shame to cover them in balsamic vinegar and roast them, though that is a favourite. If the late courgettes could hurry up a bit, I could make ratatouille. Me crops are out of synch, you see.

I read a gardening column in a newspaper last week. Seasonal problems - gluts! Time for a tomato fiesta.

Radio 3 are now playing the Schumann Piano Quartet. Just checked out the first movement. Handy. Good to know which bits are important in my part in the grand scheme of things and which bits covered in flats are indeed in octaves with the violin. No escaping some work there then.

Wednesday 5 September 2007

Bara brith

Oh dear. The rather obscure title of this blog, is causing me to have visits from poor folk searching for bara brith.

I bought some in a new tea shop in Borough Market for my Dad and it was very good but quite stunningly expensive. I've also had it sent from a shop in Llanrwst - very nice and still fresh on arrival. Failing that, Delia Smith's latest how to cook series book 1 has a recipe for tea bread which involves soaking the fruit over night in sweet tea and my Dad 'thoroughly enjoyed' it, which is a very firm recommendation.

The real answer is of course go to Wales, which is where my parents are now, lucky things, enjoying fine weather in Snowdonia and having a bite to eat in a pub near Beddgelert.

Tuesday 4 September 2007

St Wilfrid on the train

I travel to work by train and this gives me the chance to read, think about the day ahead, pray and at the end of term snooze.

After a holiday in the North East, I am reading a Penguin book, The Age of Bede, which includes the life of St Wilfrid. We visited Hexham Abbey ( now a CofE Church, you know the back story,) where he is buried and I wish I read all this before I went there.

Amazingly for the 7th century, he visited Rome on a number of occasions, at least once to petition the Pope to get his diocese back after various baddies had forced him into exile. (They were up to John VI even then!) He enjoyed great success and peaceful times as well as being imprisoned. Whatever his circumstances, he just carried on. Wherever he was he sought to convert people and often healed them too.

I haven't got to the end yet, but it certainly puts my worries into perspective.

Also in this book is Bede's life of St Cuthbert. I was a student at Durham and they are both buried in the Cathedral there. Whose feast day is it today according to my calendar? St Cuthbert of whom I have become very fond.

It's a very engaging translation by a Catholic priest, so all the phrases used are very familiar. The chapters are very short too, making it ideal for reading and snoozing on the way to work and everything I have read so far suggests people who were full of energy and zeal.

Looking forward to the Voyage of St Brendan.

Sunday 2 September 2007

Sunday Lunch

Well they've gone now.

We got to sit in the garden, which given this summer, was a treat. My Mum opened her birthday prezzies and we generally flopped about.

Nothing fancy for lunch, just plain old roast chicken, apple crumble and a Victoria sponge, which they took away because they were too full to eat it! Lots of left overs, so cold crumble for breakfast tomorrow, a real delicacy, I recommend it!

The dishwasher is now on shift one of two. Better iron some clothes and yes Mac, practise the viola.

Last day of the holidays

It's finally arrived.

The plan. Walk to early Mass, get Travelcard on way home to avoid Monday queues at the station, cook Sunday lunch for family, enjoy having folks over for my Mum's birthday on Wednesday, final ironing, early night (with predictable sleeplessness,) up at 6am tomorrow for neew term. We'll see....

Saturday 1 September 2007

Oh Dear

Just heard 'Thought for the Day,' with the editor of the Tablet going on about conscience. Her final conclusion? That though Cardinal O'Brien has left Amnesty, other Catholics would decide to stay.

Not this one. I left when they started slagging the Church off in their magazine over the death penalty. We used to send Christmas Cards to political prisoners at my first school, mainly because the chaplain, who was the uncle of Bishop Michael Evans, was very into Amnesty. And, to think it was started by a Catholic.

PS If any clever blogger reads this and knows which collection funded that Caritas Book, if that's how it's done, then please let me know, so that I can give the money to another Catholic cause.

Thursday 30 August 2007

What do you call a viola player who ...

Been very busy since last blogging. Trying to avoid being struck off by Mac.

Did my tidying up at work on Tues and met the new member of the department, which was good. Home for cooking, mashed pots, stewed apples, veg and chisken risotto, all with 3 saucepans.

Yesterday, with food to Grandmas. She beat me on the word puzzle as often happens, taking our combined score up to average. We don't spend too long on it, that's my excuse at least. Must check today's paper for the answers we didn't get to the crossword. We had some great words that didn't fit.

Thence to the Proms to see the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orch and we all know who comes from Bavaria. I really like their conductor Mariss Jansons lots and lots. The Sibelius 2 in the second half was pretty great.

Today I went to a localish string shop in a cute Kent Village and bought a viola, case and bow. The whole outfit. It's new, Chinese and lovely. It was a relatively quick visit a mere 2 1/4 hours and I'm on cloud 9. I took my fiddle in too as it had a minor prob with one of the pegs.

I learnt lots too. They make violins there and showed me some wood they had bought to make a 'cello ( yes I am one of those people who believes that 'cello starts with an '.) I had to look carefully to see more than 4 planks of wood, but the two guys were oohing about what a beautiful instrument it would make. Really rhapsodising. My viola has a lovely flame at the back and they said every line is a winter in the life of the tree. It made me realise how much carving is involved for the front and back too, because the wood is quite thick. There's no rushing in the world of instruments. It's so different from noisy London.

The shop, like many music shops was stacked full of stuff. The two violas and three bows that I tried out were placed on top of boxes containing 4 , 1/4 size 'cellos. Nothing fell off thankfully. Had to be careful not to step back suddenly, kicking a case. Anyway, enough bowing room which is the main thing.

Turned out that the owner had some of the school violins in and knows the 'Cello Teacher. Anyway, due to circumstances, I was given a 10% discount enabling me to buy the more expensive instrument and bow. Lucky me!

So no viola jokes here please.

I already have blisters on the finger tips of my left hand and I have to learn the first mvt of the Schumann Piano Quartet. Ouch. And, you're only as good as your last concert, which was on the horn and was disappointing, sadly. Practice, the solution to most musical probs.

Did I say I liked Mariss Jansons? Meeting my Aunt to hear him again doing Beethoven 9 tonight. Just pleased that I'm not screaming the top As at the end. Being an alto has its compensations.

Back to work next week, so life will be less exciting, but I'll still be playing this gorgeous instrument.

My viola awaits.

Tuesday 28 August 2007

Hi ho hi ho, sigh

After an indecent length of time, it's off to work to do some tidying up, move into my new work space, order some music and plan some stuff. Next week, when we start back will be a whirlwind, so best to get sorted now.

Off for a swim first, methinks. Time it carefully and the pool is nearly empty at the end of the very early session.

Monday 27 August 2007

Down's Syndrome Carnival

Just read this very inspiring blog linking lots of Mums (Moms) with children who have Down's Syndrome. I'm certainly no expert here but thanks to a Priest when we were growing up, one of the Altar Servers had Down's Syndrome and I am very grateful to have been given that example as a child.

It also makes me worry what example I give as a teacher, but that as they say is another story.

Also a picture on that blog to a book about Prof Lejeune, published by Ignatius, looks like a goody. Have been re reading a biography of St Gianna Molla published by them which is excellent.

Visits from as far afield as Canada overnight. Hallo!

Sunday 26 August 2007

Fifth Symphony

Over the past few months I've happened upon Prokofiev 5 a couple of times. Once the week the Royal Festival Hall opened with the LPO and once for a morning on an orchestral course I was on the other week. In the British tradition of playing things on minimal rehearsal, we did 2.5 hours practice and then finished the morning playing it through. We did that with Brahms 4, Beethoven 3, RVW 2 and Sibelius 4, so this was not for the faint hearted. The afternoons were lighter - Stravinsky Piano Concerti and the like. But I digress.

Anyway, P5 is on Radio 3 now direct from the Royal Albert Hall in London, tonight's Henry Wood Promenade Concert as they say and I think I'm going to have to get a recording of it. I went on this course with a colleague from work and he was raving about it whilst I was being a bit sniffy. I think he was definitely right and I was suffering from sitting at the back hearing a totally unbalanced account of the symphony as is the lot of the horn section. That was also true of the LPO performance as we sat behind the horns and percussion. Great sound but the woodwind were rendered inaudible. Also, although being so close to the clash cymblas that you can be one with them counting bars rest and see the things vibrating is exciting, they are loud even from behind. Sitting in front of them as I frequently do is worthy of a separate post and can cause tinnitus ( I kid you not.)

Wow it's just finished and I must say the BBC Symphony Orchestra have gone way up in my mind. Prokofiev 5, now on that list of works I should know but don't enough. An amazing fizz to the end of a symphony. Sounds like a clockwork mechanism. Our performance had Peter Donoghue (= quite famous pianist,) so just as we were flagging he came in and seemed to be ramping up the tempo at the end for extra excitement. It's got lyrical melodies too and magnificant orchestration. Better than Shostakovich in that respect at least.


Over at Mulier Fortis champagne corks are popping and this time it's not the Motu Proprio. 40 000 visitors. Oooo. Here, at the as yet select, nay sparsly populated (the mid Wales of the Blogosphere - Machynlleth on a wet Tuesday afternoon,) Bara Brith, we are approaching double figures! As the Irish side of the family say, 'You're very welcome.'

Mac suggested we google Bara brith yesterday and we got several exciting references to the yummy stuff and one to my blog. It was a bit like my surname, one of those very common Welsh ones. Occasionally, Friends Reunited email suggesting I research other people with my surname. Er, but 10-15% of people in North Wales have my surname. Are we really all one big family or is it just that when birth certificates were introduced, surnames were invented and people took their father's name? Probably a mixture of the two.

Saturday 25 August 2007


Mulier fortis has just popped over for a training session and now I can do links!

INSECT= a corruption of INSET = Inservice training for teachers = day off for pupils.

St John Fisher's Half-sister Lived in my Parish

Thanks to people in this parish who research things and write books, a book about the history of Catholicism in this part of the world was published. Then in June we were given prayer cards with some prayers from St John Fisher, written in the Tower of London.

Also, in that little pamphlet was a brief summing up of his sister's life. Sr Elizabeth White was a nun in the only of monastery of Dominican sisters in England at that time. There also lived in that monastery the sisters of two of the Carthusians, Bl William Exmew and Bl Sebastian Newdigate, who were executed days before St John Fisher was beheaded. The monastery was dissolved by Henry VIII and though the community returned under Queen Mary, were forced to leave by Queen Elizabeth's Visitors in 1559, ending their days in exile in the Low Countries. We now have the Priory Shopping Centre in the town. I don't know if it's the same site.

I like to think that St John Fisher must have visited his half sister, especially as we are in the Diocese of Rochester and as I live just off the old London Road must have passed by.

By coincidence, my parents live in one of the many St John Fisher Parishes and in 1985, the 50th anniversary of the first Mass in that town since the Reformation, they organised a trip for the Youth Club to visit his cell in the Tower of London. I also went with my Mum to see St John Fisher's Calendar, which lists all his actions as Bishop. It was on loan from Kent to East Sussex and was in Lewes of all places. Looking back it is amazing that we didn't have to wear gloves to handle the folios. She wanted to find a reference to their parish. Unfortunately, although she can read Latin fine, the hand-writing was illegible past reading the dates. Still a priviledge that we saw it.


Very handy isn't it? Just occasionally they send quite a useful e mail advert, but today...

Hello, Miss Leutgeb, We've noticed that customers who have purchased or rated "The Early Horn: A Practical Guide (Cambridge Handbooks to the Historical Performance of Music)" by John Humphries have also purchased "Learn to Play - the Flute (Learn to Play)" by F Cappelli. For this reason, you migh...

Mm don't know quite what I'd do with a flute book. Give it away? Not going to help me with me horn playing for sure. More than one person bought both these books? In the world of Venn diagrams that is surely a teeny intersection. Horn Intersection Flute = I'm getting my microscope out.

I like the way it tells that the Cardinal Ratzinger books that you haven't got round to buying (mainly because you've read the easy ones and only the proper theology ones are left, but you've got them in your trolley just in case,) are now 3p more or less than last time. Bit like the stock exchange only on a micro scale as above.

In other developments Mulier Fortis has read this and put a link on her blog. Wow. Can't link to hers as I haven't read the instructions on that yet, uhm. I would agree whole heartedly that reading lots of blogs from Catholics who are trying their best is what Grandma would term 'edifying.'

Better go to my parents now to water a bonsai tree they are looking after for a friend whilst she's on holiday only they are too, so it falls to me. I think it looks scary. Maybe it's scenery for a new film. An arborial extra. I could put it off til tomorrow only Summer has arrived in SE England. Yes, people are outside in tee shirts folks, so maybe it won't last and I cannot be the one who killed it. Oh no.

Friday 24 August 2007

Tidying Up

After procrastinating for some considerable time I have got going on serious tidying. I had a new book case delivered yesterday from John Lewis (favourite shop) and was amazed to discover that though it be self assembly it just put itself up. No screw driver needed! Fantastic.

I also went through a huge pile of bills, bank statements etc, found I couldn' find my insurance cert for the car, phoned up and got a new one sent. This may all sound totally trifling ( and is) but I have found that once I go back to school on 3rd Sept, such activities cease. Thus, looking around my home I see that virtually all decorating and furniture purchase has taken place during the summer hols.

I see that Mulier Fortis is already having the 'August Dream,' poor thing. I fear I shall not be far behind. It is hard with all the talk of exam results in the news. I'm trying my best not to think about it all and fill bin bags instead!

Off to take a chicken out of the oven for Grandma's lunch tomorrow. Done the afore mentioned mashed pots and stewed apples, just some carrots left to do.

Wednesday 22 August 2007


Something I like reading on other people's blogs are their everyday anecdotes. So here's one of mine.

I went to an Adult Education College in Central London in the Spring to play in an orchestra and whilst sitting in the canteen having a bite to eat (yes every post really does include a reference to food,) I overheard a conversation between a retired lady and a man in his thirties. They were both attending an Italian Course. He was explaining how he was going to move to either Guildford or Italy for work in the Autumn and if he went to Italy would need Italian. 'What one earth does he do for a living? Why doesn't he know where he's going? How weird, etc, ' thought I.

Of course he was going to try his vocation as a Priest. The lady then said that her son was training to be an Anglican Vicar of the part-time variety. The young man asked her if he had had to give up work to do this. 'Oh no,' she said, 'he's married with three children.' At which the young man's face fell. The conversation continued with the lady talking about herself and family.

I wish I had said something along the lines of 'Wow, fantastic, good for you, aren't we laity lucky etc,' but didn't. However, I was listening in to other people's conversation whilst ostensibly reading the paper and this is England. A few 'Hail Marys' went in his direction, but I remained an undercover Catholic.

So it's been great recently that there seems to be more publicity as to who our seminarians are and that hopefully the terminally slow like me will be able to show our appreciation a bit more.

Mashed Potato

Isn't it just great?

To explain. My Grandma is 90 and alas no longer goes out on her own. My Mum goes over a couple of times a week taking lunch and my Aunt does the other days. When my Mum has been away during the school hols, I'm the 'supply' cover.

Grandma's favourite foods at the moment are meat, green veggies and mashed potato followed by stewed apples and custard. Note apples must be warm and custard cold. So, I've been cooking quite a lot of pots and stewing lots of apples. As my parents are going away tomorrow, I'm off to see Grandma on Sat and next Wed. Already have nice pots and apples from the farm shop. As she likes 'proper' food we can dispense with all that nasty semi-skimmed stuff (hurray!) and get whole milk. Last time I got 'traditional' milk. In a carton but with the 'top of the milk' intact. That plus lots of butter and tasty spuds = fantastic mashed pots and a happy Grandma.

After lunch, Grandma does the washing-up and then we do the crossword in the newspaper plus one of the word puzzles. Words are checked against the 1967 Edition of the Oxford Concise Dictionary and often found wanting! Woe to the Editors of Times 2!