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!)