Saturday 25 December 2010

Nadolig Llawen

Friday 24 December 2010

With friends like that.....

7.48 HF on Thought for the Day. All is clear

8.10 a most unhelpful interview. All is obfuscated.

8.45 Poly Toynbee and Christina Odone, hand bags at dawn. All is hysterical.


PS The HF did us a great service 1) by saying what he did and 2) because The Guardian got Dawkins to listen to it. Ha ha. I'd link to the article, but it's too gross to inflict on people on Christmas Eve.

Sunday 19 December 2010

The elixir of Christmas

not a long lost opera by Donizetti, but ready roll marzipan.

Rolling the stuff out on a work top, lightly dusted with icing sugar, is my idea of sticky kitchen disaster zone.

Wednesday 15 December 2010


Rubbish that it is being shut and so soon. This is Northumbria for goodness sake, land of St Cuthbert etc. Have some pride. Once these places are sold and gone they ain't never coming back.

I was a student at Durham a long while back, ('89-'92, so there,)and one of my friends, who was studying Theology, was friendly with a couple of Ushaw students. I knew them in a round about kinda way and they came to her wedding a few years after we graduated.

Anyway, a post on Seraphic Singles reminded me of something that my 19 year old self baulked at all those years ago. This was quite a common experience for me because it seems that I was unknowingly living through strange times where quite a lot of things were not as they should have been.

It came up in conversation that students up to a certain year were allowed to have girlfriends. I should say that that neither of my friend's friends did. This jarred on lots of fronts. Very very bad for the seminarian and what the hell does that say about how you regard woman or how seriously you take marriage? So, if that sums up what was going on, no wonder it's closing.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Sunday 5 December 2010

A visitation

from St Nicholas, complete with red coat, hat and clogs and a prezzie.

Whatever next?

(via the front door, not the chimney - gas fire 'n' all...)

Sonically Challenged

by Morning Service on R4. The standards being exhibited right now suggest any parish, sorry, 'worshipping community,' in the country could make the mark musically. Someone's just swithtched the organ on and suddenly they are not singing flat anymore, well not quite as flat anyway.

Thursday 2 December 2010

Not all bad

because I got to sing The Snowman with Year 6. That's after I peeled them off the ceiling.

Year 11 are finishing their coursework with such witty titles as Coursework 2 - the musical. I'm not sure the moderator will go for that in quite the same way. They think it's funny that Sibelius has 'atonal key' as an option under key signatures. 'Shall we use the atonal key, Miss?'

Year 13 and I scribbled frantically as one of the English teachers basically gave us a lecture on Purcell, music at the time of the restoration and how if it hadn't been for ex-pat English composers in the 16thC JS Bach would not have happened. I think that's to overstate Dowland et al. But what would I, a Celtic hybrid, know of such things? The bell went at 4 and he exited stage left. Worth listening to just for his command of English.

Route planning

This week I have mostly been thinking along the lines of

walk train walk, unless no trains

in which case

bus bus tube walk

Tonight I did

walk train tube DLR train walk, due to adverse weather conditions and clocked up a personal best longest time of 2 hours 45 minutes to get home.

The train must have been extra long because we got off on a bit of the platform with virgin snow. That or there hadn't been too many people through during the day.

Two men were standing in front of me and one said to the other, 'You can go first.' The snow was up to the floor of the train. First bloke jumped and I was able to jump into his foot prints. Chivalry lives on in London commuters.

That said after three days of extreme communting, I'm tired of spending 2+ hours getting home. A few more inches and the service is suspended tomorrow?

Even Taliban Catholics get tired.

Monday 29 November 2010

Half way thro'

the Pope's new book.

I would have finished it, had I not spent Saturday mostly asleep.

Four Concerts and two other work things in 9 working days. That was a lot.

The CTS are fast. Published on Wed, arrived and went through the letter box on Thurs. Impressed.

Anyway, it seems fine to me. Interesting which bit Osservatore Romano chose to quote. I think that says more about their editors than the content of the book, but then I don't seem to have got to that bit yet.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Sunday 21 November 2010


Lavinia Byrne is on R4.

Saturday 20 November 2010


I shall not be going to the LMS Confirmations today, because after a heavy week and with another one to follow I need to re-aquaint myself with my home, (hoover, washing-machine, duster....).

But for those that do it's very exciting that some of the Papa Stronsay Redemptorists will be there and available afterwards in a cafe.

Meantime, the ordinariate is being erected very quickly and by next summer holidays there will be a few more churches we can go to for Mass - if I understand it all correctly.

Exciting times.

Friday 19 November 2010

John Smeaton

on Channel 4, which is good because the student tonight was advocating abortion up to birth.

Saturday 13 November 2010

Bara brith

reports the first known visitor to these parts from the Holy See. The little flag my sitemeter. Oh the excitement.

They (he?) didn't stay long, but who cares. :-)

Health and Safety alert

Stand well clear.

The thurible in action.

Friday 12 November 2010

Good Counsel Network Carol Singing

Yes, you've been wondering about this year's dates and locations too.

Here they are.

Gregorian Chant


70. As part of the enhancement of the word of God in the liturgy, attention should also be paid to the use of song at the times called for by the particular rite. Preference should be given to songs which are of clear biblical inspiration and which express, through the harmony of music and words, the beauty of God’s word. We would do well to make the most of those songs handed down to us by the Church’s tradition which respect this criterion. I think in particular of the importance of Gregorian chant.

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 30 September, the Memorial of Saint Jerome, in the year 2010, the sixth of my [or, more traditionally, 'our' ]Pontificate.

Gorecki RIP

Totus tuus

Tuesday 9 November 2010


One or two people out with those yellow and white flags here.

*cough* if you arrived here from Fr Tim, you should by rights visit Protect the Pope where I first saw it.


Alas, I don't count as one of the alarming Catholic housewife bloggers, because I'm not married, don't have children and therefore by default, have to go out to work.

I'm at home today, because having successfully kept a cold at bay last week succumbed after a 14 hour day yesterday, which included a Parents' Evening and attending an outdoor Remembrance Service. It was blowing a gale and pouring with rain whilst we watched all the local dignatories planting their crosses. Made you wonder what living in a trench was like, is all I can say. Didn't do much for my cold. Still, I'm not complaining with so many people loosing their jobs or being worried about being made redundant.

On the housewife front I get to the odd bit and this week's subversive act of cookery will be to make a massive (massive for me that is, normal, just enough for hungry teenagers for her,) apple crumble for my friend who is organsing the Family Day at Blackfen on Saturday. Her big pirex dish and her apples, for this is Kent, meet my butter, flour, sugar and oven.

I'm just not sure that I need a special code of conduct to regulate the reporting of such actions beyond the usual standards of charity.

Monday 8 November 2010

Welcome to the Anglican 5

If the people in the press who are saying it'll be a trickle are as accurate about this as they were about the Papal Visit, things could be changing a great deal.

Never mind the breadth of Anglicanism, you can be part of group of people that takes in everyone. Really, everyone.

Sunday 7 November 2010

Do not adjust your sets

You have to hand it to the Spanish and to the Pope.

If you are going to do fewer trips abroad than JPII did when young, then you may as well pick out all the really fun Catholic bits. Beatify Newman, consecrate La Sagrada Familia, visit Santiago de Compostella. Not a bad Autumn. People might start thinking Catholicism is really quite attractive or something. Weird how all these beautiful buildings and other stuff keep cropping up. Is there a message in there?

The Holy Souls

My Primary School Headmaster once gave us a lesson on indulgences when our usual teacher was away for an afternoon. Not for him a bit of colouring in.

Every November he used to tell us to pray for the Holy Souls no-one ever prays for.

Sunday 31 October 2010

The leaning tower

As I was flying out of Pisa and had to get the train there on Thurs am, it seemed silly not to take a peek at the tower. I walked through Pisa, because Il campo where the tower, cathedral etc are situated is on the opposite side of the city to the train station. I didn't have a map so looked at the one outside the station. Keep walking and turn left at the end. So I ended up walking along a residential street and there was the tower at the end, which was very funny.

From the plane, by chance, I got a great view of Il campo and later the Alps.

Kindly sent to me...

Out at Leutgeb's market garden, the pumpkins have been harvested (all three) and carried round the corner where they are being turned into soup and probably fshioned into something as artistic as the above.

Friday 29 October 2010

How embarrassing

'In all their years of facilitating the commission of new music, Boosey and Hawkes had never dealt with such rudeness and shoddy behaviour.' James MacMillan

Take a look at their back catalogue and wonder at that statement.

I have some B&H scores and I know that they did not commisssion all that they publish, but my score collection contains, for example

Stravinsky The Rite of Spring
Bartok Concerto for Orchestra
Shostakovich Symphony No 5
Richard Strauss Four Last Songs

James MacMillan is a very well thought of composer. Do you think Welsh National Opera and the LSO commission work from iffy composers?

I got back from a few days in Florence yesterday. By the Duomo there is a shop staffed by kindly sisters and selling altar vessels, vestments and interesting for me, Christmas decorations. I popped in for a look and was somewhat taken aback. Outside, the Duomo and inside the shop, nice nuns selling really ugly stuff.

In. Florence.

It's rather the same with music only we try to make the congregation sing ugly stuff too. We laity are active in the world, out at work, running homes, bringing up children, being ill. We're busy and we're tired when we get to Mass. Then we get lumbered with another job, singing. Singing rubbish that is not part of the Mass for the most part. And people write books on why Catholics can't sing. We can, we just have taste and want to say our prayers please. But it does not end there, then the bossy people start lecturing us on why should be singing and telling us how we should be feeling. That's the laity perspective.

From the outside of the Church people look on and laugh. Professional musicians who specialise in Renaisance polyphony point and laugh at the mediocrity that throws away musical treasures. I'm a musician and I meet these people and they think the Catholic Church is rubbish with music. And we have all the best composers. There I've said it. I take great consolation in the fact that James MacMillan does the music at his Church in Glasgow. So there.

Despite losing a night's sleep, sitting in the rain for five hours and not having a practice, because we had to sing the aforementioned music on R4, I thought the MacMillan Mass was a great success at Cofton Park.

I don't know what qualifications 'trained liturgists' have but FRCO are good letters for organists.

I could write oh so much more, but it's doing that's important. Empirical research shows that folks can sing the plainsong ordinary and do it well. Where it's a new one I see a flash of sheets in my peripheral vision as people take a look and gradually get the hang of it. The things we sing every week, people do very well indeed. The point is it's the real deal, it's the tradition of the Church, it's what we are supposed to be doing. This stuff has been passed down the generations, sung by all the previous generations of your family and if it was good enough hundreds of years ago what makes us think we need to be doing something else?

Sunday 24 October 2010

NYT discovers Catholic blogs


Catholic Taliban strikes again.

Yes hot foot from 4 Missas Cantata (or whatever the correct anglicised plural should be, ) I had a cup of tea and an all important biscuit, played the piano a bit in a choir practice, drank a swift J2O in the club, whilst discussing such contraversial issues as how to get to work when there's a points failure, watched the St Anthony Publications DVD on The Papacy (v good, bought a copy to lend to people who were away,) cycled to my parents for a late lunch, sorted out some travel stuff and am now back at home. Phew hard work this Taleban stuff!

Newborough Beach, Anglesey

September 1st 2010.

The double peak in the distance is Snowdon.

Then we had lunch and then a swim in the Menai Straits.

Shh, don't tell anyone. My parents get exercised every time this place gets mentioned in a 'Best beaches in Britain, ' article. So the story is Wales is miserable cold and wet and the people all speak a weird language to annoy tourists.

My Dad used to come here as a child on a Sunday after church sometimes with his folks. Over the Menai Bridge and turn left. Beautiful sand and not much else. You have to drive through Forestry Commission land to get to the shore.

Wales; it's not always raining.

Dom Saulnier

in action on The Chant Cafe.

Great stuff.

Saturday 23 October 2010


Yup three days of the Forty Hours, or as was calculated in the pub at lunch-time 40 hours and 30 mins and everyone is smiling.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Things on the move

This blog often reads like leutgeb's expolits in happy-land, because I decided when I started writing it that I would focus on the positive and fortunately, for the most part, I have much that is positive to focus on.

Careful reading however will reveal certain people and topics that just don't get a mention. There was a whole group of people, for example, who did not look happy in amongst the thousands of photos of the Papal Visit. I just chose to ignore them, but you know who you are.

Fr Mildew's situation has made me wonder again about certain situations. In a classroom, I jump on any pupil who has got the wrong end of the stick because they have it wrong and because they might confuse other pupils in the class. The same is true, but the implications far worse for priests. In my parent's parish a supplying priest who must have been brought in at very short notice said that he did not preach off the cuff sermons because he might say something heretical (his choice of word,) and that's an attitude of care that you can respect and admire.

But in some situtations merely ignoring the unhelpful (my am I being mild...) and supporting the good does not go far enough. The boy stacking up the contents of his pencil case into some modern art creation, may just desist or the whole lot may crash onto the floor, distracting the whole class.


Monday 18 October 2010


It is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. BXVI

Update. Who ticked the funny box? No-one's going to lunch 'til the miscreant owns up.

Very sorry

to hear that Fr Mildew has been threatened with legal action, both civil and church.

I had best not say more, suffice to say, I hope that the matter is brought to an immediate and satisfactory end for both parties and for Catholic readers of the press.

Prayers during the 40 Hours for you Father.

Sunday 17 October 2010

Quarant'ore 21st-23rd October

It was rather nice when, following the High Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, Fr Tim said, 'and the next big thing is The Forty Hours.'

Last year it was hot on the heels of the St T of L relics. This saw me getting up at silly times and then eating huge breakfasts. Then I got a link from The Catholic Herald, making this blog look like the equivalent of a particularly gaudy statue you might see in Lourdes. Clearly I was born in the wrong age. I would have been fine in The Canterbury Tales. Anyway, I now have an association with Catholic devotions and feasting. Not sure that's an entirley a good thing, but this year I'm hoping to work in a whole pile of cycling into the proceedings.

Rosary Crusade

aka Rally, well you know what I mean.

Anyway, it was very good, of course. Can't beat a good procession with squillions of people and lots of singing ending up in one if not the most beautiful churches in London for Benediction.

Having nearly felled an unsuspecting priest (who took this photo which I've 'borrowed' off fb, *cough*,)when it slipped its perch on a buggy, I got to carry the banner above left for a bit. It was quite heavy and very tall, so I had to do battle to keep it perpendicular to the road when it got windy and not take out any fellow rosary prayees around me.

Anyway, we said the rosary and sang various Marian hymns on the way to the Oratory, via roads with embassies and v posh shops. I always find it somehow fantastical that people actually buy stuff in those shops, but this is Knightbridge/Belgravia and not Bluewater. Chanel, Gucci, Prada, they aren't real to me.

The Oratory was full in an every possible surface that could be sat on had a person on it kinda way. I sat on a kneeler in a side chapel, a positive luxury after Cofton Park!

After Benediction, a sermon and lots more hymns it was time to go. I had a chat with Dominic Mary, to whom I have never actually spoken in real life. Always good to put the sound of someone's voice to their blog and he of course knows lots of people in Blackfen, most of whom were there and some were even altar servers. Those guys certainly get around.

Then I was able to visit the new chapel to Blessed John Henry Newman and as a bonus bumped into he who the retired organist refers to as Cantataman. We like to think of him as a plainchant superhero. Gregorian propers, Litany of the Saints and Benediction and he could still sing more if asked, though he responds positively if offered a pint of Masterbrew in the club. This meant that I was able to check which Mass Ordinary it is next Thurs and Sat. IV as it goes.

Saturday 16 October 2010

Viva Venezuela

The Teresa Carreno Youth Orchestra were amazing and I am so glad we took some boys to hear them. An enormous orchestra, but cut down for softer passages and without doubling wind solos. Fantastic ensemble, the type you only get with a truly great professional orchestra and enormous energy for the entire performance. An instant standing ovation at the end and exceptionally for the RFH, where people start leaving the moment the applause begins, everyone stayed for the 30mins worth of cheering and encores. I'm still hearing it now. Always a good sign.

The tracksuit tops? We were in the front row of the choir stalls and I think six boys got one (inculding one I caught!), so off they went home in Venezuelan colours.

This a speech from the founder of El sistemo, the means by which 250 000 Venezuelan children receive music tuition, many of them from very poor backgrounds. One of there number is now music director of the LA Phil another a double bass player in the Berlin Phil (probably the best orchestra in the world.)

Could it work in the UK? Well there are schemes about the place, notably in Liverpool. Of course post war we had excellent music services, well supported county youth orchestras, county music awards for young musicians to attend conservatoire junior departments....lots of people from all sorts of backgrounds at music colleges and then into the music profession and then we had local managament of schools in the late 80s which meant that the delegated budgets to councils no longer had a sum to be spent only on music. So the people, the instruments, the culture of excellence of having to practise for years, working your way through different junior orchestras before you played for the county, got to go on tour, maybe play at a famous concert hall, all that got a lot more tricky. It means that 75% of students at the Royal Academy of Music are from the independent sector. It means playing expensive instruments like the bassoon, the horn is very tricky. Maybe you don't what those instruments are anyway.

So yes, it's all possible. Where there's a will there's a way.

Look at the Chileans. A bit of esperanza...

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Rosary Rally

on Sat.

Great craic, especially if you enjoyed being in the crowds for the Papal Visit.

Get near the front to avoid the scrummage into Brompton Oratory. I have seen people practically running into the place. Awfully unseemly. :-)

Teresa Carreno Youth Orcheatra

Off to the RFH with pupils to see them tomorrow night. I was a bit dubious, youth orch an' all, especially as they are doing Tchaik 5 which is a) one of my favourite symphonies and b) has that horn solo in the second mvt which I heard mid 80s at the Proms with Alan Civil, so have expectations, shall we say.

Had a google yesterday, found them in rehearsal doing Shostakovich 10 and was mightily impressed. They are amazing.

Seems that they have impressed the crits already.

Waking up and smelling the coffee

Thought I'd get some Mystic Monk coffee with Christmas coming etc as well as for personal use. Ordered it on Sunday, I think, and it arrived today. FedEx is quick. Goodness knows what next door thought was in the box.

Friday 8 October 2010


Wed 6th was the third anniversary of my Grandmother's death and yesterday, the 7th, was my cousin's fortieth, so I went to a bit of a do in a pub. I'd somehow never put the two events together.

My cousin is a couple of months older than me and on my second birthday was heard to cry, 'I want it to be Ha Ba Richard.' He also broke my birthday present from my parents which was a toy drum kit, that I'd apparently really wanted. Always was into music. No chance of a replacement. Since then I have had no desire ever to play the drums and in fact it's one of the few things I can't play at all. I'm even fairly bad at putting drum parts into a sequencer. He meanwhile went on to play kit in his school swing band.

Years of counselling hoo.

Summorum Pontificum

and its poisonous fruits.

Someone commenting on Fr Ray's blog made reference to these obvious ramifications.

Er, I must have missed something.

Either you've never had the opportunity to go to an EF Mass, or did as a child and maybe always went to Low Mass cos you were little and the High Mass was late in the morning and with fasting from midnight etc etc, so when you say a Missa Cantata is this or that it's not really based on your experience, but what was said to you c1970- the present

or you stumbled into an EF Mass one Sunday and thought, 'This is the real thing,' and have been irrevocably changed for the better.

or you write articles about it for a 'Catholic' publication without ever actually attending an EF Mass, thus rendering your opinion null and void.

Thursday 7 October 2010

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Culling flutes

In between demonstrating clash cymbals to Year 6 (it hurt me more than it hurt them...)and writing UCAS references was Second Orchestra. It has now grown to

Give that these are smallish people, not given to counting accurately playing across a wide platform and making a mighty din, my arm waving, foot stamping etc is not actually enough to keep the show on the road. If next week's sectional don't whip the thing into shape, I'm going to have to form a wind ensemble to contain the extra tootling people. Because one thing is fo sure come the Autumn Concert, I can't shout rehearsal figures out as the music goes by...

Monday 4 October 2010


Last night I got an email thanking for services rendered in the Cofton Park great trek to the the Midlands (oo it was onerous...not,) and attached is a link to the Vatican photgraphers' record.

Squillions of photos of smiling people.
On and on and on.
So many happy happy people.

(Photo from Mac. I was standing to her right when she took it.)

Still here

Mac's visitation for a cup of tea last night reminded me of several animal related stories.

When my little brother was five we did a world tour of Ireland staying with loads of my Mum's relatives and on a farm in Co Kerry, he fell in love with some kittens. So when we got home my parents got a cat. Years later when my Dad had gone on a work trip to Hong Kong, the cat got injured in a late night scrap and the puncture wound got infected. The cat was in a very bad way, unable to lift its head. My Mum spoke to my Dad on the phone, who though a softy, is brutally practical in a crisis, especially if the crisis is animal rather than people related. He told her that if the cat died she should put it in a bin bag outside and he would deal with it when he got back. I like my Dad, he never shirks the type of jobs you'd rather leave to a man. I decided that it would be so awful for my Mum if the cat did die that this was just not going to happen, so I got the cat to lick milk off my fingers and by morning the mega antibiotic jab had taken effect and he was able to drag himself around. He made a complete recovery and lived to be very old.

Then there's the tin of kitikat following the cat down the lawn, but that's another story.... and the squirrels verses the pump action water pistols. I feel the RSPCA making a visit...

Sunday 3 October 2010

Busy Busy

Snuck home between Mass and Vespers yesterday, after having had a burger you understand, to get stuff done, only to be phoned up by friend round the corner who was cooking up autumnal soup, on the look out for stray veg. Her opening line, 'I was thinking it's a while since we visited your allotment.' 'It's a while since I visited my allotment,' I replied. Anyway spurred on, the last of the toms are being turned into chutney as I speak and now it's time to clear the tomato plants and do some garden clearance.

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Another day

another pile of stuff done.

I haven't forgotten last week, I'm just working all the time and today got held up by a signal failure. Sigh.

Big stuff tomorrow so will be back at the crack of dawn, but not in a Cofton Park kinda earlyness.

Did anyone else hear the bells of Westminster Abbey peeling when the HF left?

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Business as usual

It's Tuesday, so the BBC are now reporting on alleged corruption at the Vatican Bank.

Cue Roberto Calvi, Blackfriars Bridge.... and 'you can't run the Catholic Church on Hail Marys.' etc etc.

Monday 20 September 2010

Cofton Park in brief

We left at 12.30am from Blackfen whilst the altar servers dressed in DJs serenaded us with, 'God bless our Pope.' Just a regular Saturday night on Burnt Oak Lane.

Arrived at 4.30am having bumped into another dozen coaches in the services on the M40. Party time! Walking past houses one lady was looking out of the window in her dressing gown. What a sight.

Everything worked fine and it was easy getting in and to my relief the one disabled pilgrim with us both had transport to the site (a golf buggy!) and was set down very close to our pitch. We met up with friends and had in total about 16 children with us, who slept, played and kept us all in very good humour all day. The ground sheet was a great boon, especially as a number of folks had come more or less direct from Hyde Park.

The Mass was very prayerful is all I can say. The Pope is so concentrated on everything that he does, that he doesn't demand your attention because he isn't seeking it for himself. The Magnificat books were magnificent. Holy Communion was distributed so efficiently that we didn't have time to sing all the hymns so the choir sang the Elgar Ave verum after the Mass. Go Midland's composers!

We all got back to the bus early and arrived home very early. Our coach driver was excellent in every way and used to drive the Jumbalance - remeber that? - so you can see the measure of the man.

A great day and a great visit! I wish every weekend was like this.

And so to work.

Saturday 18 September 2010

The Blessed Sacrament on the BBC

for ages with no commentary. Not something that we see too often.

And now we move to sandwich-making as I get packed up for Cofton Park.

Passport, driving licence, the wrist band thingies....

In the crowd in Westminster

Morphed from teacher to pilgrim after my last lesson and legged it to Westminster. Had a thought to be on Millbank but already blocked off, so headed for the Abbey where I bumped into Mac. Chatted to people, texted my folks etc in the quiet crowd, that's apart from the singing. Lots of flags. Thought the police were more vigilant than I have ever seen, scanning the crowd.

After a mere two hours, the Holy Father passed by looking very serene and he was really very close. We were a bit down from the people with the baby who he blessed. My face is now fixed in a smile. Do ever do that? Wake up smiling?

Afterwards I bade farewell to Mac and headed down Victoria Street - if you don't know the geography, it's the road Westminster Abbey is on and Westminster Cathedral is down there on the left. The road was closed and so the whole street was filled with Catholics with flags, numerous religious and priests. Meantime the Neocatecuminate (spelling?) folks were walking towards the Abbey with their banners, guitars etc singing, which added to the atmosphere.

I was aiming to meet Clare, that's Fr Ray's maestra di cappella, at Victoria Station. She's in the choir at Hyde Park and had been rehearsing all day. We headed back to the Abbey to see if we could see the HF leaving and bumped into Fr Ray, Lawrence (great letter in the Guardian) and one of the LMS London Schola. Heard the bells ring out, which was very impressive. Didn't see the HF again, as I was much further back in the crowd and he got into a car with tinted windows.

We made our way back up Victoria Street, this time with about half a dozen of the Catholic Bishops, which was rather surreal. Had a drink in a pub with Papal colours flying and then something to eat.

The Protestant Truth Society were there with banners and were shouting out ditties such as, 'The Pope is the antichrist.' We just shouted, 'Viva il papa' a lot louder. Also the thing about wordy protestantism is that when you put lots of words on a placard they are illegible on TV. White and yellow, so much clearer. I wonder what it is like to turn up where there are a large number of happy Catholics who just ignore you and smile past you. The atmosphere was very happy and the shouts and counter shouts gave a certain panto feel. More than enough happiness to mop up any exercised prods. Still, at least they are very clear what thy think. Better than all this wishy washy undermining nonsense we are usually in for.

My act of charity for the day? A placard with, 'Where are the woman priests?' on it ended up under my trainers.

Thursday 16 September 2010


The Independent says 125 000 in the crowd today and.....20 protesters including Ian Paisley, well he has got a loud voice NO NO NO and the guy from the NSS, plus 18 more. So totally proportionate reporting for the last few months then.

20:125 000

Scotland the brave!

Thank God for the Scots setting the bar high for welcoming the Holy Father to the UK.

Great weather.

Top stuff.

(Secretly, I think the whingers wish they could join in. The thing is, they can.)

Viva il papa!

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Preparations continue

The indefatigable Josephine has been manufactuaring Holy See flags from a piece of white A4 and a yellow one with the Papal coat of arms printed on the white one. My parents live in a neighbouring parish and when I popped round earlier, they had one up in their porch. They are everywhere.

I've been phoning, emailing and texting fellow travellers who will be on the road to Cofton Park. The last discussion around pillows and blankets for a little girl. When I gave a few more names and said a 12 year old she knows was going, that changed the picture completely. 'X will look after her.' Big smiles.

The media meanwhile. What a joke.

It's so ridiculous that even people who aren't normally pro-Catholic are beginning to side with the Pope.

Anyway, I have more important things to think about. Anorak, torch, flask and emergency haribos for the journey home. (They may be for me rather than for the children on the coach!)

Monday 13 September 2010

Preparing for the Papal Visit #6

Getting some extra Zzzzs in before the great Cofton Park migration.

Sunday 12 September 2010

Saturday 11 September 2010

Phoning around

Had an interesting morning contacting the other parishes who are sharing a coach with us to B'ham. I know the person from my parent's parish and she regaled me with a story of two girls in her party when she was a pupil pilgrim in Rome who failed to get back on the coach when they were going to a Papal Audience and had still not returned to the convent they were staying by dinner time. Only at that point did the teacher nuns in charge get panicky and phone the police, who had the girls with them.

Oh for the days before mobile phones and risk assessments. Nowadays the nuns would get sacked following a bitter court case.

Meanwhile my Mum is going to Hyde Park and part ( a small part) of her b'day prezzie is some flapjack, to keep her going. She was laughing at the thought of putting up a gazebo and bringing a BBQ, whilst reading the list of banned objects. I'm sure she could fit them in her hand bag if she needed to.

Friday 10 September 2010

Free chant recording

here, if you buy the Sunday Torygraph.

Preparing for the Papal Visit #4

Is he nearly here yet?

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Preparing for the Papal Visit #3

Coming at it from all angles.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Preparing for the Papal Visit?

Have they signed up for tickets for Hyde Park or Cofton Park? Or are they with the laudable Irish tinkers, gathering in convey to converge on Crofton Park for a Papal Blessing?

Got your flags ready?

Someone has made some for us and put them at the back of the Church.

Personally, I think that a country where the present era is founded on a monarch with a poor record on the treatment of woman, where people burned the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham and tipped the ashes into the Thames at Chelsea, where a male heir is pursued at all cost is a tad more misogynistic than Catholicism.

Italy, Ireland, Malta all rather matriarchal societies?

Monday 6 September 2010

We are everywhere!

Over lunch at work, I was chatting to a friend and fellow Catholic - Uncle a Priest, comes from Liverpool, folks in Co Mayo, you know the score, along the lines of Birmingham or Hyde Park? and it turns out we are both going to Birmingham. Then we started to laugh about the departure times. Then it turned out that somone else on this table of six people, was looking for a ticket for Hyde Park.

Preparing for the Papal Visit #2

Come rain or shine, we'll be at the Papal Events.

Sunday 5 September 2010

Reading matter

I'd like to say I will be brandishing a copy of a book by BXVI on the train tomorrow, but actually I will be revising the Requiem Mass. Trains are the main places I learn music, especially orchestral scores.

However, on Tuesday I shall have to read something suitably Ratzingerish.

Saturday 4 September 2010

Bardsey Island / Ynys Enlli

Bardsey Island is situated at the end of the Lleyn Peninsula and was a pilgrimage site until oo, 1537, when the monastery was dissolved. First settled in 516AD by Irish monks, it is known as the Island of 20 000 Saints. Three Pilgrimages to Bardsey were said to equal one to Rome.

Ever since my Welsh/Anglican Grandmother muttered darkly about, 'Lot of Catholics down the Lleyn,' only for my generally silent Welsh-speaking and lapsed-Chapel-Grandfather (Taidy) to reply that the whole of Wales was once Catholic, I've always been a bit interested in the Lleyn.

Each town mysteriously boasts a Catholic Church. Given the sparse population, that's a feat in itself. Hey I saw fewer than a dozen cars between Beddgelert and Llangollen go my way on Friday. If only the same could have been said for the M25.

Anyway, as the weather was very fine indeed we decided to do the trip. The crossing is iffy, so you have to phone the day before to check that the boat is going. I could write a Maeve Binchy novel about the other people on the boat, suffice to say they were all very pleasant. The views from the boat are great as you can see the Lleyn and look back to Harlech and Snowdonia etc.

Once we arrived on Bardsey we were told the departure time and given a map, which was very Enid Blyton, like don't go on the east side of the mountain etc, (in case you slip off into the deep.) Virtually nothing remains of anything that looks like it might have been a monastery. It's a bit like Lindisfarne. You look at a bit of wall and then you look round at the newer buildings and wonder, 'Where did they get the stone from?' It must have taken a lot of effort to dissolve the monastery, given the tricky crossing, but then as it was a pilgrimage site I suppose they must have been keen to supress it.

There are some 19thC houses, a farm and some cottages where you can stay. The farm does tea and coffee, which we had and were entertained by the farm dogs. I hate dogs, but old farm dogs are funny and tried to play with us. We also saw seals which we'd never seen in the wild before which was really exciting. As for the rest it was very quiet indeed. Very very quiet. Almost as quiet as Trawsfynydd the previous afternoon, but the silence was broken by a boy on a bike. You could hear the chain clicking - hooligan!

Of course Bardsey on a beautifully sunny day is stunning, with beatiful views of the sea, the mainland, rocks, cliffs, seals. Quite what it's like when the rain is lashing down and you are cut off, is an entirely different matter.

Preparing for the Papal Visit #1

With thanks for the photos and captions to Josephine Treloar.

Pope Benedict among friends.

Friday 27 August 2010

But for Wales?

I don't believe St Thomas More actually said that, but if he did it just goes to show that heroic virtue can have its blind spots. (Typical anglocentric world view. Hah all the more mountains and beaches and Welsh lamb for us!)

Yes it's time for the land of song, mountains, Wales Today, S4C, weather permitting a trip to Bardsey Island and bara brith! Oh yes and St John Robert's family house near Trawsfynydd, so much more than a lake and a nuclear power station.

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Heartening Catholic Anecdote #6

After yesterday's story about a priest in NIreland who was allegedly involved in a bombing which killed 9 people in 1972, but who died in 1980, I thought it time for another positive story.

(To be clear, yes if you murder people you should be arrested, tried and if convicted, sentenced to life imprisonment.)

My parents had the Ghanaian Priest supplying in their parish over for lunch on Friday and apart from telling us about ploughing using oxen when he was a missionary in Nigeria he told us about what happens if twins or triplets are born in that tribe. (The tribe in question moved further and further inland to escape slave traders and ended up in a valley surrounded by mountains, toiling poor, rocky soil and were unknown to the outside world 'til about fifty years ago.) The people are very frightened by multiple births and think it is a bad omen. He didn't make it totally clear, but your survival chances are not great if you are a twin. He described being woken in the night because triplets had been born, rushing out with some parishioners to rescue the babies and taking them to a clinic as well as making sure the mother knew where they were. They all survived and judging by the way he was showing their height, are about 7/8. He was there for five years and he didn't say how many other babies he saved. Now he just teaches in a seminary, is the bursar there, teaches in two schools and is a chaplain to one. Oh and in the Summer supplies for a month in my parent's parish.

Sunday 22 August 2010

Plums Plums Plums

Later than last year they are ripe and so next week, I shall be making my year's supply of jam, that and cutting back the tall grass on me allotment.

The Allotment Police have swooped again and though the plot next to mine has been uncultivated all year, my meagre patch of weeds is infringing the terms of my tenancy, by causing a nuisance. How naughty! I just don't have the Protestant work ethic it seems.

Friday 20 August 2010

St Bernard

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Dr Qui?


halfway thro'


Monday 16 August 2010

Taken from The Guardian's CiF T shirt competition.
No link, 'cos some of them aren't all that pleasant.

Sunday 15 August 2010

Mahler 10

It's been a while since we had any orchestral music here and in light of the A Level results on Thurs and the Mahler centenary this year, time for my U6th soundtrack, Mahler 10. It's bit like Mahler 9, but without the happy ending, or beginning.

I particularly like the fact that you can take so many different contrapuntal threads through the work. That and the way he practically smashes tonality on the way. All hail Derycke Cooke who completed it in the 60s after Alma Mahler died.

Here with the Vienna Phil and Bernstein with groovy Viennavalve horns too.

Media descend on Blackfen for Papal Visit coundown.

Pope Benedict in Southwark team visited today - see link at the side. They are busy promoting the visit and clearly have a frenetic time ahead.

R4 had plenty of willing young interviewees after Mass and I'm looking forward to hearing them whenever the programme is broadcast.

As the organist, I'm now knackered.

To the Proms - nearly

Austrian friend and I attempted to get tickets for the English Baroque Soloists' Brandenburgs at Cadogan Hall yesterday, but were at least 70 people away from the Box Office when the stewards called time. We consoled ourselves with coffee in Peter Jones where others more lucky flaunted their programmes. You just don't need to see pics of John Elliot Gardener at that point.

Having sorted out the location of various places for this friend who is now on a singing course in London we went home and watched the evening Prom on the TV and the played Brandenburg 2 in the interval, so all was not lost. Strange lack of rit or pause at the end. Unclear whether that was intentional or whether the trumpet player was about to explode.

The Assumption

Wednesday 11 August 2010

To clarify

Seeing as I'm being quoted on little old lady daily Mass goers having more of a handle on Catholicism than the Tina Beattie's of this world, that's not because they may not be great intellectuals, because some of them will be, but because whilst other people are going off at tangents and fashioning the Faith to suit themselves, they are gettin on with doing it.

You can be a great Catholic and be
very clever
very stupid
very average
very athletic
very disabled
20/20 vision
completely blind
a virtuoso musician
tone deaf
come from any country
speak any language
be a Nobel Prize winner
be totally unknown etc.

All fine. We aren't all the same and that's as fine as fine can be.

Being slightly educated and trying to reason your way out of stuff that you find difficult or unpalatable, is not fine and history says won't end well.

CTS Magic

Picked up a copy of 'The Pope in Britain; Preparing for the Visit with Prayers & Devotions,' to day which contains this by St John Southworth.

St John Southworth's exhortation
We therefore are under obligation to be the light of the world by the modesty of our behavious, the fervour of our charity, the innocence of our lives, and the example of our virtues.

Thus shall we be able to raise the lowered prestige of the Catholic Church, and to build up again the ruins that others by their vices have caused. Other by their wickedness have branded the Catholic Faith with a mark of shame, we must strive with all our strength to cleanse it from its ignominy and to restore it to its pristine glory.

Sunday 8 August 2010

Saturday 7 August 2010

My Favourite Mass Ordinary

Mass IV

I like the accompaniments from 'Accompagnement du Kyriale Vatican' by Dom Desrocquettes of Solesmes and Henri Potiron from the Sacre Coeur, pub 1929 a lot too.

The introduction says don't be looking for parallel fifths (but it's what I do for a living!) and now and then they give you alternatives and they tell you that their versions are really just starting points for your own accompaniments, which is rather nice.

I'm still training myself not to see a quaver on its own at the beginning of a phrase as a weak beat.

Of course it's all backwards, because I should have grown up singing all this stuff and then progressed to playing it. Instead I often end up playing things first, though yesterday I did find an MP3 of the Gloria in the right key, put the lap top on top of the piano and had a go at accompanying some elderly French (judging by the pronunciation) Monks, which was helpful in getting into the ebb and flow of the music. They were singing in a big acoustic, so were luxuriating somewhat!

So there we are. Mine is IV, what's yours?

Rome Reports on the Treloars


Not the Treo-lars, though there were three of them and they do all sing...

Friday 6 August 2010


Just seen this on fb

The Papal Visit We have been contacted by the BBC looking for people willing to be interviewees. They would be people from the 5 BBC areas and would include young people total they are looking for 200 people, so if your interested in taking part contact. and we can tell you more...

The Transfiguration

Thursday 5 August 2010

A Training Video for Catholic Voices

I also saw Mgr Patrick Burke yesterday and was reminded of this tour de force performance on Newsnight.

A trip to Woldingham

Having read Mac's post the other day about James MacMillan, (and if you don't think he's one big composer, take a look at the list of performances of his works on the Boosey & Hawkes website. This guy gets 2nd, 3rd, 4th...performances of his music all over the world and The Confession of Isabel Gowdie is an A Level Set work for OCR) I thought that would be a talk I'd like to hear.

A couple of hours later the phone went and it was Friend-round-corner asking me if I wanted to go for the day with her and her family. Interesting, the turn of events sometimes and not one but two new Priests were giving First Blessings after the Mass.

Anyway, the talk was very interesting and it's always great to hear a composer talking about his work and then playing bits. On the way home I said to the boys in the car that that composer is writing the Mass for the Pope and they were very impressed. 'Woah,'they chorused.

'Gregorian Chant; the sound of Roman Catholicism.' That was well worth hearing.

Also thought provoking was the observation that when composers are studied their religious belief is ignored, or religated to a foible.

I shall be buying the Mass when it's published.

Oh, yes and claim to fame I even spoke to him and he has seen this blog.
Happy Feast of St Dominic!

PS The Gloria is through composed and I think we can safely assume does not include clapping. Hurrah, round of applause! :-)

St Dominic

Tuesday 3 August 2010


that this has had fewer than 3000 hits.

Time to change that methinks. Seen it on lots of other blogs, including two yesterday.

Monday 2 August 2010

Saturday 31 July 2010

Friday 30 July 2010

Now that's a bit more like it

Thanks to Stuart for this and to the FSSP.

Thursday 29 July 2010

Twenty Five Pounds

Today's Papal Visit Controversy is that folks will have to pay to go to one of the events.

When I travel I pay my own fares.

National Express London-Birmingham return on the Sunday, arriving at 9.50am, so probably cutting it a bit fine, is £17.50 for an adult. I would have to pay £7.60 for a travelcard to get o Victoria Coach station, plus something in Brum to get me to Crofton Park.

By Train, you would have to drive to Euston to get the first train out of London, or take the last train into Town on the Saturday night and then sleep on the station, not generally recommended. The single fare is £44.80. So the return is probably £45.50, arriving Birminham New Street at 10.30am, so a bit late. Then you've got to get to Crofton Park.

That's just one example. SE London is not the furthest point in England or Wales from Birmingham. You can do Newcastle-Brum, Newquay-Brum and see if the travelling is easier on a Sunday. Conversely, presumably if you live in Brum £25 will exceed the notional costs of getting to the Mass.

Just as the universal postal service subsidises some letters, so some pilgrims will be subisidising others and in more ways than one, since no doubt people for whom the cost is prohibitive will pay nothing, which is only right.

£25, not much a story really.

Before the readers of The Independent get too irrate, I'll just say that I'm really happy to pay three times towards this visit, as a tax payer, in that collection and the money asked for to go to Birmingham.

Happy. Happy. Happy. :-)

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Monday 26 July 2010

St Anne

Sunday 25 July 2010

St James

One of the things ( and there are quite a few, as it goes,) that I like about the EF Mass is that sometimes on a Sunday, it's a big Feast and even when it's not those Saints who might have had their day, don't get forgotten.

And it is good to be able to think about the folks who have actually done the pilgrimage to Compostella on the actual day.

Saturday 24 July 2010

Nearly There

Our intrepid trio are expecting to reach Rome today.

Thursday 22 July 2010

Protect the Pope

I had a little look at Protest the Pope this morning. Not pleasant.

I had to jump into a conversation on Tuesday, which was about to go down the, '20 million, why all the money? Pope ha, ha.' line before that happened and declare myself, after which point everyone else brought themselves back from the brink.

Protect the Pope looks really good.

St Mary Magdalen

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Team via Romea update

After a ding dong with a lamp post (ouch and after 890 miles) Gregory is recooperating with the Friars of the Immaculate in Florence before heading, by train, on to Rome.

Anna Marie and Joseph continue on two wheels.

Read about it here.

They've nearly got to £3k too.

Still time to donate....

Monday 19 July 2010

Allotment News

Now it's the Summer hols, those would be those secret ones teachers have, it's time for the allotment diet game. This is where you can eat whatever you like in the veg/fruit dept as long a you have grown it yourself, but you are allowed to buy bananas as they are not native to Kent (yet - who says global warming, if it exists is all bad?)

At present, it could be renamed the 'if you don't go round and water your allotment, you are going to be hungry' diet game. Courgettes, if not watered, turn yellow and then drop off the plant. Not very appetising!

Hopefully, my beans will have grown enough by next Sunday that I will be able to have them for lunch with my parents. That will mean pots, beans, courgettes and onions and bananas!

No I don't get bored because the pleasure of eating stuff I have grown from seed outweighs the number of courgettes I have to eat. I could happily live on ratatouille! Yum.

A prayer meme

from Mac.

I think this is going to get a bit repetitive.
1 The Hail Mary
2 The Our Father
3 The Prayer in my Missal for when you've just been to Confession and the O salutaris hostia.

Doing this quickly before everyone else has already had a go.

I tag
Patricius, Patricius, Ben Trovato, Seraphic goes to Scotland and anyone else who fancies a go.

St Vincent de Paul

Saturday 17 July 2010

St John Roberts

born Trawsfynydd
martyred Tyburn 1610

In between he studied at Oxford, went to Douai, Paris, Compostella, became a Benedictine, founded Downside and I have lost count of how many times he came to England before being banished, ministered to plague victims before being arrested after offering Mass, refused to sign on the dotted line and was martyred. A man of tremendous energy.

A bit of a 'do' this pm at Westminster Cathedral.

We saw the man who does the Bidding Prayers in Pothmadog, who is either a Headmaster or just has the presence of one. Last time we went there they went BP1 Pope Benedict. BP2 'that this country may return to the Faith' etc.

The winner of the 2009 National Eisteddfod U12 Cerdd Dant sang a poem about St JR. We sat right by where she was singing and it was worth going just to hear her voice.

Various other Welsh glitterati were there and Rowan Williams spoke.

Anglicansism to me seems to start by saying what I'm thinking, tell me it's too naive/simplistic, then tie me up in knots and finish proposing that we be joyous, whilst sounding unconvinced and disapointed.

I'm just not hard-wired that way.

And the rest shall be glossed over.

The singing was mighty and bilingual. The sound was undimmed whether it be singing through the medium of English or Welsh.

As I hesitated over whether this 'y' was i, u or ee, others were singing with gusto and in SATB, for the music was printed in our booklets. The Welsh; bilingual and able to read music.

PS My Greatgrandmother had a greengrocer's shop in Traws, so this is local. Not just a lake and a Magnox Nuclear Reactor, y'know.

Friday 16 July 2010

A Meme

Apparently, that mag we don't read, some of us because our PP doesn't have it at the back of the Church and you can't even read it on-line for free, that one, is running a series on, 'What would you say to the Pope, if you had a Private Audience with him?'

I'll kick off.

Nothing. I'd just listen and hope I didn't do anything too stupid.

Any better ideas?

Wednesday 14 July 2010