Saturday 31 January 2009


Yesterday my allotment was cleared by some gardeners, so today it being fine and sunny I spent an hour turning over the ground and getting all the roots out. This is going to take a long time. I was calculating this area per week... by Easter I will have done quite a bit, maybe half.

At the bottom of the plot are some trees and under the trees I found about 6 paving slabs which will make very useful stepping stones. They weigh a ton, so I moved one by rolling it along bit by bit.

On the other side of the site a whole family were digging away, well and and running around playing, which seems like a good way to spend Saturday afternoon. I had the glow of going swimming and the satisfaction of ooh 2 square metres dug over. (I am very slow, but as I'm digging alone can remain blissfully unaware of just how slow.)

Then as a treat I ordered seeds from The Reel Seed Company, who are all into seed saving and unusual varieties, so we shall see.

Sunday 25 January 2009

The Pope as a little boy

I really like this picture. Definitely in the 'take home for tea,' category or to be culturally sensitive the 'Kaffee und Kuchen' club, (Klub).

Friday 23 January 2009

Thursday 22 January 2009

An outing

I went on a little outing today to the RFH to hear a rehearsal of the Philharmonia. It was great, especially as they basically just ran the programme, so we heard all of tonight's concert.

Verdi Force of Destiny Overture
Tchaik First Piano Concerto
Prokofiev 5

Cool. Lots to entertain the pupils. We took boys who play in orchestras and a couple of pianists, so they know the how things work. Ie, you listen in silence. This is the first time we've done this and we wanted to be invited back.

The rehearsal began with an announcement from the stage management about clearing the platform as soon as they were done as the LPO were in in the afternoon - Hisses from the Philharmonia.

Such is the pressure on the hall, I guess the other rehearsals were all elsewhere. That's London for you. 5 Symphony Orchestras (for bara brith smiles on the BBCSO) and only two decent concert halls. That's excluding all the period bands and other more ad hoc line ups. We don't mention the time the RPO performed two gigs simultaneously...

The conductor was Italian and very flamboyant. Some great gestures, really huge. They orchestra seemed to like him, well he ended the rehearsal 45mins early.

As we were going a retired Music teacher came over for a chat. There were about 20 other people in the Hall who are Friends of the Orchestra. She's back tonight for the performance. Sounds like a great retirement plan.

Monday 19 January 2009


Paulinus helpfully points out that this programme on BBC1 involves 'pro-life extremists.' Those would be the ones who kidnap children for ransom. No, I've never met any either.

The Times TV Guide describes the ending as, 'profoundly nasty, tense in the extreme... You would be insane to miss it.'

OK so 9.15pm (hope all children are now in bed,) and twisted 'Pro-Life' doctor has just injected an unconscious 7 year old boy and presumably murdered him. Yup she's murdered him.

I would be insane not to switch off and e mail a complaint to the BBC.

Hope no children end up frightened of doctors after watching this, or taxi drivers, who might spike your fruit juice and that's after 15mins.

What a profound insult to all the Pro-Life Doctors in this country and all the other people who work for Pro-Life Organisations.

The Cardinal's Hat

Now we all know that St John Fisher was made a Cardinal just before being executed and Wikipedia fills in a few gaps for me. That's before he was executed by Henry 'I'm not a doctrinaire reformer, I just want a male heir and lots of land, so sign this oath and give me you monastery' VIII.

But what of the hat? Was it dispatched? Wiki says Henry (see above)VIII would not allow it into England, but did it get to a Channel port? News that St JF had been made a Cardinal must have reached London pronto, because that was the point. For who would execute a Cardinal?

Also, according to wiki, Henry VIII was in a hurry to avoid the Feast of St John the Baptist for an execution, because the population of London was not happy about what was happening.

A few years ago I saw the play 'Thomas More' by Shakespeare and friends, written several decades after the events, but not performed at the time, or maybe just not publically. It gave London a completely different atmosphere ( like a funny warm Catholic one rather than one where cyclists swear at you when you cross a road on a green light,) showed St Thomas More punning away in one of those 'plays within a play' and also how much St John Fisher was thought of.

The programme notes went on about prisoners of conscience etc and never mentioned that Sir Thomas More was canonised in 1935 or made Patron Saint of Politicians and Statesmen in 2000.

Saturday 17 January 2009


Further to my tetchy display on Fr Z's blog, (Mm, no defence.) I would like to take issue with the point that Henry VIII was not a doctrinaire reformer. So, he believed in the Catholic Faith, but disobeyed it and allowed the people who were doctrinaire reformers to take hold and warp this country ever since.

I wonder how much difference that makes to the people he martyred?

I may be being dragged on a hurdle to Tyburn, but phew the King is not a doctrinaire reformer. That would cheer me up as I put my head on the block, or in the case of the Carthusians head in a noose, before unspeakable things are done to me. Actually, I would have more pressing things to consider of an eternal nature, just then and it's quite a long way from Tower Hill to Tyburn.

The statue of Our Lady of Walsingham may have been taken, burnt and the ashes put in Thames at Chelsea, but the King still believes in Purgatory. (Hope I've got the right monarch there.)

The shrine of St Thomas a Beckett sacked, but phew the King isn't one of those nasty continental reformers.

The Dissolution of the Monasteries was a catastrophe on a spiritual, cultural, social, agricultural...and anything else you can think of level. Smash something so important to the fabric of the nation, but it's OK, because HVIII is doing it for the money, not because he hates all those people praying all the time.

I once visited Tintern Abbey with a screwed up atheist (don't ask) and he said, 'Why didn't people look after it and preserve it?' Well aside from the fact that the jolly National Trust wasn't around in the Tudor Period and the fashion for follies hadn't started, I had to point out that ruined buildings is the physical manifestation of smashing your religious culture. That and those whitewashed walls that Protestants glory in along with those quaint statues with no heads or limbs.

Dartford had the only Dominican Convent in England in 1535 and one of the nuns there was St John Fisher's half-sister. It now has the Priory Shopping Centre. When a Capuchin Missionary Priest came in the 19thC, he celebrated Mass in the upstairs room of what is now my hairdressers. He was often freezing cold and ill. People were horrible to him and the Baptismal Register shows how his hand-writing deteriorated over time.

That said, the Anglocentric world view was alive and well way back. St Cuthbert said on his deathbed that his folks were to keep away from people who would not celebrate Easter on the say day as the Pope. That sentiment still exists, the ' everything was lovely in the dreamy Celtic Church, 'til the nasty legalistic bossy Roman Church started to interfere....' Yeh, right.


On the subject of The Telegraph, which I quite like incidentally, I once asked my Mother why they (my parents) didn't buy it and she said, 'because it's anti-Irish, anti-Catholic and anti-teachers.' Almost a full house. Bingo! (You have to insult, women, musicians and the Welsh to get that. Lots of people get quite close.)

That's quite enough.

Leutgeb; it's not all music and cakes.

Brave Bus Driver

According to The Times today a Christian Bus Driver in Southampton has refused to drive a bus displaying the, 'There's probably no God,' ad.

A quote from the Humanist Association.

'I have difficulty understanding why people with particular religious beliefs find the expression of a different sort of belief to be offensive.'

Transport for London had difficulty understanding why I found a tube advert for the moring after pill which started, 'Immaculate Contraception?' offensive, so I e mailed the ASA as did over 100 other people. The ad was removed on 8th December 2005. The day I got my present job.

Which is not to say that what I did was anything compared to refusing to drive a bus, just that some people just don't understand. What happened to that old chesnut, 'I may disagree with you but I will defend to the death your right to say it' ? It has in words of Grandma RIP, ' it's all gone very quiet.'

Friday 16 January 2009

Reading on Trains

I was able to discuss at length today one of my favourite, 'making the most of the time available topics,' drum roll, Reading on the train.

I have a friend whose life support rucksack to work contains, 'my book and if I've nearly finished it, my next book.' My life support ruck sack contains also sun glasses, an umbrella (for this is England,) head ache pills, cold curing magic sachets and a whole pile of other stuff, often bits of music that need to be sung, played, conducted or analysed.

Anyway, we were having one of those days when you have to talk to your form individually and do targets 'n' stuff. One boy produced 'Jane Eyre' from his bag as he tried to convince me it is 700 pages long, 'not unless it's a large print version,' I thought, or it's got bonus tracks since I read it. We also discussed standing on public transport and reading, what to read, when to read, reading for pleasure and reading 'cos you have to.

He's not the only one trying to read improving books and good for him. I decided that rather than make excuses and never get round to 'War and Peace,' this was the year. Jan 16th and I'm on page 70 and the print is much smaller than 'Jane Eyre.' I promised to show him just how small the words are next week. Why it's so long, it's two books, which I think I bought 20 years ago as a student. Shame on me....

I first started commuting the Autumn after the present Pope was elected and I read his chatty books. You know, the ones that are basically book length interviews as well as his memoirs. Since then, I've lasped into a certain amount of free sheet reading which is such a waste of their paper and my time, as well as snoozing and generally vacantly looking out of the window, which in the pitch dark is pretty uninspiring. I spend 5 hours on trains a week.

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Lots of listening

Music Scholarship time again and a couple of days of listening to candidates which is very interesting, but very tiring as we obviously have to take lots of notes, so that when it comes to decision time we don't start mixing folks up.

One interesting thing is that they often choose pieces from exam syllabuses and seem to alight on the same pieces. I heard one Grade VI Piano piece once last night at a school concert and twice today along with a Grade VII Violin piece last night and today. It provides a comedy page turn for the accompanist, big crescendo...whip page over and then play huge spread D major chord. Who type set that we wonder? Most unusual as publishers must have people who check for this sort of thing.

In between we still do all the usual rehearsals which has meant a very musical few days.

Sunday 11 January 2009

An Award

Thank you Mac. How exciting and I hardly write anything.

Now, my limited experience of awards is that by the time I get it, there's no-one left to award it to ,so better get going.....

* Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass the award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

* Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author and the name of the blog from whom he/she has received the Award.

* Each Superior Scribbler must display the award on his/her blog, and link to this post, which explains the award.

* Each Blogger who wins the Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List (scroll down). That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives this prestigious honour!

* Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Got all of that? So, lucky bloggers.

Jacky a blog follower and tireless Family Campaigner. CES take note.

* a blog follower ( 'cos Leutgeb needs all the friends she can get in this little visited corner of Blogdom) and now private blogger.

Right, well I think I've done all of that. Quite labour intensive, all in all.

Tuesday 6 January 2009

My great good fortune

over the last four consecutive days has enabled me to go to Mass each day and in the Extraordinary Form too.

Tonight, there was an army of altar servers, several of the small, cute, take home for tea variety holding torches. Hand bag sized in fact... but I digress.

Sunday 4 January 2009

Live Chastely

Bloggers! Don't forget to put this on your blog...

To Quote Paul VI

"Venerable brothers, beloved sons, all men of good will, great indeed is the work of education, of progress and of charity to which We now summon all of you." ... "On this great work, on all of you and especially on married couples, We implore from the God of all holiness and pity an abundance of heavenly grace as a pledge of which We gladly bestow Our apostolic blessing."

Mass Intentions

My Grandmother had a Mass said for my Grandfather every year on or around his anniversary for over thirty years. No-one would every forget that it was 29th December.

Now that she too has died it falls to the rest of us to get our act together. Fortuntely, this is not at all difficult in my Parish, so I filled in the form, requesting the dates and yesterday remembered to check the list in the Church for the whole of 2009. And what do you know? There were the Masses. Grandma RIP, moved in fact to the nearest Sunday which is great because I will be able to go ( and a TLM to boot ) and Grandpa RIP on 29th Dec. My Mum was very pleased when I told her that I had requested them too.

Saturday 3 January 2009

I bet you are all wondering

what my allotment is like? No? Well it's covered in grass mostly, which is in turn covered in frost. As a prelude to many Saturday afternoons there and finding that I am finally getting better from that bug, I thought I'd better pop over. Otherwise there is a risk of not getting down to it and that will not be a good thing. As the weather is beautifully bright, but very chilly, I though a visit is in order. Next time I want to go it may be pouring with rain after all.

Under the grass, the ground looks quite good. I think a gardener is going to turn the soil over for me and then I'm going to have to go through it all and take out all the roots. The plan is to do this by March (dream on...) so that I can then start planting stuff. We'll see. It's only a five minute walk. As the crow flies you could do it in thirty seconds, but there's a fence in the way.

On Music at Mass

Fr Tim has lots of interesting things to say on Music in both forms of the Mass.

My worst musical experiences have all taken place when 'doing the music' at Mass in the Ordinary Form.
(Rant alert, move on now....)

Firstly, you have to choose the music, which given how the Readings etc are all laid down is most strange and frankly, I am not hardwired to do. Some hymns are written by Protestants. Some of the music contains gross errors. I find myself trying to imagine what the Priest and Congregation will want to sing, which is a recipe for a headache. If I wonder what should actually happen, I often think no music would be best as it's usually just a distraction.

Having cast yourself adrift thus, there is then no musical gold standard to aim for. Contrast this with being an orchestral horn player where I sit in a preordained seat, know according to which part I am playing who I tune to and who I follow in matters of ensemble - dynamics, articulation, tone colour, phrasing, style etc. Unless I am the principal player, I do not speak, all questions to the Conductor going via Horn I. How rigid? No, just the most efficient way of getting up to 110 musicians playing with the greatest degree of unity.

Meanwhile in the Ordinary Form of the Mass, what does constitute musical success? The Mass Ordinary seems to take a back seat to hymns that are not actually the Proper texts of the day. The Gloria is turned into a verse chorus form even though we know that text repetition is used with great care in the Mass and the Creed usually not set because it is too long. Maybe that's why the plainsong settings are usually on the syllabic rather than the melsimatic end of the text setting spectrum.

Instruments or not? I have been made to play the piano at school Masses in a Church because the 'children/young people don't like the organ.' The trouble with electric pianos that don't have additional amplification is that you can't hear them and the bass is very wimpy. Then you usually have to sit in some place where you are in the way. I'm very happy to take a back seat, but if you are leading musically, you have to be able to do it musically.

Then you get out your singometer and notice that often many people are not singing and it doesn't matter where they are, what's being sung....they are not singing. They do not want to sing. So having dummed the music down so that we can all sing in unison (plainsong , yes I know, I'm taking about metrical Protestant style hymns here), we are not in fact all singing. Rather than blame musicians, as usually happens because I am playing too fast/slow, too many/few verses, too loud/soft, too traditional/too modern or any other criticism, I've heard most- organ/piano/guitars/ unaccompanied, forgot that one, maybe we should be bothered about whether people are able to pray at Mass rather than being worried about whether everyone needs to sing. Sometimes I wonder whether all the criticism landed on me is really because people know it shouldn't really be like this, only it has not been made at all clear what things should be like. Sometimes the congregation gets a talking to along the lines of,' it will be so much better for you if we all sing.' Maybe it will be so much better for them if they are left in peace to say their prayers. I used to sing Communion Hymns quite loudly in a support the organist way, now I often don't sing them at all, because if you are the poor soul sitting in front of me whilst I sing con belto, I am probably preventing you concentrating. 'Cheers Leutgeb, I get to go to Mass once a week and when I want to pray for my sick relatives etc, I have you intruding on my prayers....'

Thus, having cast ourselves adrift into our strange sea of musical relativism, there is nothing to aim for except 'my favourite hymn.' As a musical metaphor for conversion of heart, it's not very potent.

Having ranted on, I should say that things do seem to be on the turn. Hurray!

The Extraordinary Form lays down what you sing where. Ideally you sing the Propers properly, if not you sing them to psalm tones, but at lest you know exactly what you have to do and whether you are doing it right. All you have to do is practise.

2009, the year of Mass Propers, Plainsong and silence.

Musicians doing their thing in folk groups, choirs, orchestras whatever you like but not necessarily inflicting it on people at Mass. It's just too precious for us all to have to do a 'turn' then.

Friday 2 January 2009

A prayer by St John Fisher

Good Lord, set in thy Church
strong and mightly pillars
that may suffer and endure great labours,
which also shall not fear persecution,
neither death,
but always suffer with a good will,
slanders, shame and all kinds of torments,
for the glory and praise of thy holy Name.

By this manner, good Lord,
the truth of thy Gospel
shall be preached throughout the world.

Therefor, merciful Lord,
exercise thy mercy,
show it indeed upon thy Church.