Sunday 28 September 2008

The hungry caterpillers

... are eating my rocket. OK so it's bolted but it's still food.

In other gardening news, I am enquiring after an allotment 125 sq m for £25 per annum and all the digging you like.

The tenancy includes a clause saying no uncultivated blackberries! You can imagine people saying, 'No that's not a weed I'm growing blackberries.'

If I can get one right behind my house then I'm going for it. All I need is a pair of wire cutters to get in!

You couldn't make this up

Last week at about 6.45am, the Today prog on R4 had a piece on Abortion and the US election.
That went along the usual lines, apart from the bit where they had people saying the Rosary and saying the Fatima prayer which went, ' O my Jesus, save us from the fires of Hell,' then they turned the volume down to nothing so we didn't get the rest of it. Interestingly selective, but no surprises.

The next item in the programme however started with the headline, 'How could a parent murder their own children?' Shock horror tone and then the awful story of the man who murdered his children and then committed suicide.


Part of my master plan for new house is to turn one of the bedrooms into a music room. To this end the piano was moved upstairs yesterday. Always a ticky thing and a three man job, but it was accomplished with only one extra chip to the bannisters and the piano is now perched on a piece of hard board to spread the load on the century old floorboards.

I have heard the sound of a piano being dropped down stairs and it's not pretty. Then there was that piano that got dropped from a first or was it second floor window at the London College of Music when it was in Great Marlboro' St........ A Steinway I believe...

And what, pray tell, did Radio 3 choose to play to accompany this feat?
Why Beethoven's 'Tempest' Piano Sonata, of course.

Thursday 25 September 2008


Just popped by for half an hour and had a very good time, having had one of those days (yes one of THOSE), so that was most welcome. (I'm that woman semi slumped in a chair holding a half of lemonade!)

Met someone who had been in Lourdes last week with the Pope. (Never sure whether people want their names etc broadcast on the interweb, but very happy to meet you and hear all about it. )Pretty amazing by all accounts. Had to leave all too soon.

To capture the atmosphere a bit. Walked through the door and someone I had never met before, jumped up to offer me his seat and someone I had met before kindly bought me a drink. Everyone very friendly.

Miserable commenters on FrZs blog; you have it all wrong. Pity you didn't come and join the party.

Thanks to FrZ for organising the 'do.' My only regret, that I couldn't stay.

Sunday 21 September 2008

A Confession

My Mum does the selling of Catholic Papers and Mass Cards etc after one of the Masses at her Church and the perk of this onerous job - sales of The Universe plummet every time she goes on holiday - is that she gets to take the left over papers the following week to read.

Thus I find myself skim reading that mag that dare not be mentioned and I mean skim reading because one does not wish to dwell there.

Anyway having read a review of 'The Boy with striped PJs' which says the author didn't like 'La vita e bella' ( I rest my case. JPII did and Roberto is a genius and I seem to remember clambered over chairs to receive an Oscar.) and describes Louis Malle's 'Au revoir les enfants' as a story, that would be an AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL story, I skimmed through a reader survey.

It was most amusing.

After the questions about,'I find the @*$%^ ...'

too high brow for me 'guv
sigh back to The Universe
Huh? and
Could you explain that in words of one syllable, please?

'Which religious paper do you buy?'
Catholic Times
Catholic Herald
Church Times (you're in the wrong place .)
Church of England Newspaper (ditto)

Then the best ever laugh out loud question 6a if I remember correctly.
'If you buy the Catholic Herald, do you'
prefer the %$£"%$ to the Catholic Herald a lot
'bout the same
prefer the Herald
only buy the ^%$£^% to stop other people being led astray.

(Paraphrasing only slightly.)

Then you get about 3" to explain your answer.

On the rare occasion I write something a bit, well risque, I get lots of wacky comments, which I don't publish.

I'm only being a bit jokey here and was a bit worried about the long list of every article the carry, where you could say whether you found it great or deadly boring, so some people may be about to be rubbed out. Imagine, 85% of respondents say they skip your column. Time to be sent on gardening leave, (sounds good to me!)

If you need some serious venting, time to get a blog.

Saturday 20 September 2008

A Sunny Saturday

Good things that happened today
1 Went to Low Mass at Blackfen.
Some people would give their eye teeth to do that and I only have to drive 2 miles.
2 Mowed lawn.
3 Weeded, cut back, planted and generally tidied up garden.
4 Put washing out to dry. Isn't it so much nicer when clothes are dried outside?
5 Cooked food for the next 3 days.
6 Baked some cakes.
7 Picked some blackberries and froze them to make a crumble for next week - French friends - apparently 'le crumble' is the thing.
8 Noted that tomatoes are actually going red after weeks of lingering greeness. Will take them over to my parents for lunch tomorrow yum.
9 Received e mail from friend with exciting sounding job that requires work on Sat ( and therefore is really pretty grim) saying that two of her tomatoes have ripened. Yes, all over SE England tomatoes are cheering that the sun is shining and are turing red.
10 Note that the football pitches are now marked out on the playing fields behind new house. I like backing onto allotments and playing fields. Last weekend I spied a lady digging behind my garden. I hope she grows lots of nice stuff and also on Sat am little boys are being put through their paces in football training.
11 Ate tea in garden and looked at the sky (as well as my plate!) Then it got chilly so I went in to turn chicken carcass into stock - yum.

OK, so pretty heavy on gardening and cooking, but I have to get all the farming housewife stuff done at the weekend, especially now the night are drawing in. Can't do weeding in the dark too easily. I have been know to bake cakes late at night in readiness for a family party, but that's another story.

Sunday 14 September 2008

Sibelius 5

No, not the software, the real thing.

Turned up for a repertoire day on this. Basically, we rehearse all morning have lunch and a chin wag and then play the thing and then go back to the pub.

This straightforward plan was changed slightly in that the conductor, who drive to Central London from Shropshire, got held up around King's X. He was 45 minutes late. In that time yours truly got to sight conduct two movements of the above Symphony. Since my preparation to perform the Horn 2 part did not extend beyond a bit of practice and did not see me rummage around for that 1980s CBSO cassette tape, which I could now only play in my car, that was interesting.

We read through it, as they say. I gained an appreciation of how good the front desk strings are. You just can't really hear them from the back and it was interesting to really hear who does what in the woodwind. Who watches, who doesn't, who is totally reliable, that sort of thing.

I couldn't do anything in any detail as I didn't know the music well enough, didn't know how long I had and it wasn't my shout anyway. Conductors are very territorial, so I scampered back to the back as soon as Mike materialised.

No complaints though.

Faith and Family Conference

All the details are here for 25th-26th October.

Great line up of speakers and so much care going in to organising it all.

A wonderful weekend in store.

Saturday 13 September 2008

News Flash

Flag of the Holy See spotted in the Arena at the Last Night of the Proms.

Right behind Sir Roger Norrington too, being waved by a man in clerical dress!

Anyone's friend?

That was the week that was

On Tuesday, the Head of Physics laid on wine at lunch for the staff as it was to be the last before those particles got whizzing in Geneva. He then started to explain what they were up to, but I had a date with 'Dance of the Tumblers' and Orchestra, so didn't hear all of it.

My attempts last year to make the final note of a piece exciting by putting a crescendo on to it has obviously been adopted by the trombone section as something to be done in every piece, which was fun, if unexpected. We need baffles for the poor violas. We managed to get from one end of the piece to the other without stopping and without too much of me singing missing parts, giving indications of what's important where and calling out Rehearsal letters as we went by, so we should make a good job of it by the concert. They are still on a high after the concert last Summer, so will have to make sure that I keep supplying good music for them to play.

After school, over tea in the Common Room, (that's for any Anglophile readers dropping by,) one of the History teachers said that he wouldn't be doing any marking that night as the world was going to end, to which the reply was, 'No change there then, X.'

We have new software to play with and so are spending free lessons, testing out squillions of samples and loops. Sequencing has never been so much fun.

On Friday I did my favourite rehearsal of the week, which is a little String Orchestra of some dazzlingly good musicians. Like they listen, jump when they get out and can cope with playing in 6/8 and 3/4 simultaneously. A great pleasure and a great start to the day.

Ended the week doing Bach Chorales and working through the only worked example in the book, which does have that Maths Textbook moment. You know, hence.... Meanwhile, the pupil was having a 4-3 suspension week, which was funny, so we can tick those off. He's as geeky as I am and enjoyed a quick look at the Grove article on Inessential harmony notes. Genius.

The department has been given a copy of the 1941 edition of The Oxford Companion to Music, which has some interesting entries on Mass Settings and Catholic Music in England. Methinks the lady doth protest too much on Puritan Music - no evidence that they didn't approve of music, apparently. Very down on the Mass settings of Mozart, Haydn, Schubert loves the Beethoven Missa Solemnis and Bach Mass in Bm. Oh yes, a funny definition of the Folk Mass, that I'll put up here.

Friday 5 September 2008

A meme from Roses and Jessamine

"Where were you and what were you doing at...?"

1. JFK's Assassination 22/11/1963

Well, my Mum should have had her U6th Parents' Evening that night, but it got cancelled and she ended up at Bangor, then University College North Wales, or Coleg Prifysgol Gogledd Cymru, reading French and Latin, where she met my Dad and where they are now at a 60s reunion on her birthday.

The rest as they say, is History, which is what my Dad was studying and already at Bangor.


On holiday after my first year at University. Possibly about to go to France.

3. Margaret Thatcher's Resignation 22/11/1990

A student and since I never watched TV in College; 1 Tv for 220 people, it was a bit crowded, heard it all on R4 and remember the coverage going to LW as the 'Archers' started after the 7pm News.

The First Gulf War also happened entirely on Radio for me and that too was broken for the 'Archers.'

4. Princess Diana's Death 31/8/97

On holiday in Graz, Austria. The friend I was staying with came in and said that Diana was dead. I thought, 'Don't be ridiculous and get me some BBC News.' Listened to Blue Danube Radio which had bulletins in English, French and German each giving slightly different details.

Went to Mass in Graz Cathedral where my friend was in the Choir. The Priest was very stunned. Being close to the Slovenian border, they were very interested in her work to do with land mines.

Returned to the UK a few days later to see black edged pictures of her at Vienna Airport. Went out on the Sat afternoon of her funeral to buy the Times for Austrian friend with my Dad to totally empty streets.

5. Attack on Twin Towers 9/11/2001

Teaching. Someone said a plane had crashed. I thought ,'Tragic accident and didn't someone crash into the Empire State Building during WW2?' Then the second one and we knew it was not an accident. A couple of years later a pupil said she'd been in my room when the Headmaster had announced it over the tannoy.

6. Election of Cardinal Ratzinger to the Papacy 19/4/2005

At a Parents' Evening (a Leitmotif, no?) A boy gave me a cup of tea and said that Cardinal Ratzinger had been elected. Exchanged broad smiles with the HoY whose Parents' Evening it was. He wanted to stop the Parents' Evening for a prayer, but our superiors were less keen, so I went and wrote the fact onto the notice board in the entrance hall.

Went home and watched lots of news. Stayed up for Newsnight and saw that discussion with Paxman, Fr Burke and Christina Odone. That one! Noticed that Sky ( who called the Pope the Holy Father, when commentating on his visit to the US. Don't get that on the beeb,) and 1152 News Direct, a commercial London radio station, where so much warmer in their coverage. Like you, the listener might just be a Catholic.

Next morning, bought a paper to cut the picture out to pin on my white board. A family in Fr Tim's Parish had organised to say the Rosary every morining of the Conclave in the Church, so went to that. Had some breakfast that they had very kindly provided and then off to work.

Sent the Pope an e mail.

Only after his election did I read any of his books.

Monday 1 September 2008

La Rentree

(How do you do accents on this thing?)

This work business, it's quite tiring. All morning listening to that stuff that has to be said at the start of every academic year.

The rest of the day staring at a computer screen learning to use a new sequencing package. Some laugh out loud samples, a rather lovely Celtic Harp, so I strummed a bit and pretended I was in Wales and a comedy moment when younger colleague froze my screen and wrote me a message - 'Leutgeb stop reading.' I was only looking at my timetable!


Every now and then, mostly when enjoying the luxury of a holiday, (ah the sweet memory,) I decide things. Usually very mundane things, go swimming more, eat apples, actually be a bit sociable, that sort of thing.

One of the things I do, along with the rest of the Catholic world is sign up to stuff. You know, visiting Missionary needs lots of people to sign up, raffle tickets, that sort of thing. Ie I just try and support the people in the firing line.

This Summer has not seen a massive signing up sess, but I did subscribe to the Transalpine folk's publication. Should be a goody. They need new readers, I need to read good stuff, bingo.

Five days ago I clicked a few buttons, via Musica Sacra and joined the CMAA and the Journal arrived today! Now that's what I call efficient! I mean the Atlantic is quite big. Catholic and Music in one place and it's not too heavy. Perfect for the train. Time to get educated and fill in lots of gaps.