Monday 30 May 2011

The Italian Job

that's the film.

Top stuff.

My Dad had a number of minis; a minivan when he met my Mum and then a mini traveller complete with wood cladding. When I was two we went on holday to Switzerland via relatives in Paris. Equpped with my plastic animls that came free in cereal packets, I was able to strike out into the Alps and plant my lions and camels in the snow.

Speaking of the alps they are now pushing said minis out of the back of the coach.

Not long til the cliff hanger...

Minis; you always knew they would beat the Fiat police cars.

Pope Benedict XVI

on music.

leaving aside thoughts of monks in Solesmes kissing the bench in front or indeed the floor when they presumably made a mistake and other salutary thoughts on the Rule of St Benedict and the chanting of psalms, we surely can't expect the Pope to single handedly do everything for us?

I say when stuff needs to change there are 3 things to do.

Do it yourself.
Support the people who are doing it.
Pray for the people who have to effect the change.

Sunday 29 May 2011

Chant Tour Day 3

Back at the ranch for Mass I, Credo I and so on.

Chant Tour Day 2

The pics are here from the day's mastermind, Clare

PS If you ever sing there and your Mass starts on the hour, do leave lots of time before singing the Introit. The bell feels close to the organ loft and la-la-la BONG la-la-la BONG whilst being aurally interesting for the congregation, is distracting for the choir.

As you can imagine there are lots of BONGS at midday. More than 12.

PPS Great recusant history to explore with a chapel in the roof space and a priest hole. Proper stuff.

Blessed Francis Bell pray for us.

Saturday 28 May 2011

Chant Tour Day 1

Took the high speed train from London to Ramsgate. Blink and you are at Ebbsfleet. Blink again and Ashford etc.

Arrived early and sat atop the cliff reading the music. The never before sung together schola arrived and had a practice in the beautiful, beautiful church.

Parish choir did their thing in a most accomplished way with their very adept organist.

Thanks to zepherthingy for the lift home - quite a way.

And congratulations to Fr Holden on having the Mass in the amazingly beautiful, beautiful Pugin church.

The refreshments afterwards were really nice too and we were outside, which we do not take for granted in England.

And there we are. Gregorian chant, I've decided, is like being in an orchestra. You can just practise it and a very large amount of stuff is given, because that's the tradition folks. You just slot in. No conversation necessary with the priests because it's just the same as anywhere.

In an orch, you listen, watch, play, do the gig and then go to the pub.

Day 2 starts with getting to Brighton by 10. Time to make that happen.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Tide is turning?

1 Friday abstinence is coming back as a rule.

2 Methodists are finding somewhere other than Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral for their 'ordinations.' (Well done Countercultural father.)

3 We may get our holydays of obligation back.

Monday 23 May 2011

The Tablet - running scared.

Don't know anyone my age who reads it...the demograpic solution.

Still, nice they let us read them ripping into UE and priests in general and implying all sorts of nasty thing, all for free.

Just worked out that during my half-term I shall sing at 6 Latin Masses, in Ramsgate- St Augustine's, West Grinstead - LMS pilgrimage, Blackfen (Sunday), Blackfen (Ascension Day), Isle of Wight (OF) and Blackfen (Sunday again).

What are train journeys for other than sleeping, reading and learning chant?

Sunday 22 May 2011

Taking a hit

FrT is nearly at 3 000 000.


I hope one day to get to 100 000, which at at the present rate, will be ... a while.

Saturday 21 May 2011

Neither the time nor the place

though when R4 cut out as the 8pm news bulletin was about to start and I was just putting my chocolate meringues into the oven, one had to wonder.

No pips!

Friday 20 May 2011

Feeling marginally editorial

Pre-amble, boo hoo woman, opression etc. Try telling that to my great great great aunt, Mother Superior at 30 in mission places in Canada in the 1880s, later Mother Superior General of her order. Yup, really held back, thwarted, never did nothing or my Great great grandmother eldest of 13 children all of whom survived, the only one not to emigrate to the US and the first school mistress in her village, also in 1880. Her mother didn't have much to do running a household of 15, very marginal indeed. Who was cooking the dinners and keeping the fire going, or are such things too marginal? Have you ever met anyone who didn't like home-cooking?

That article says,

'While the post-Vatican II new-rite Mass emphasises the Eucharist as an activity shared by the whole community, the Mass named after the Council of Trent puts more weight on the separation of roles, with the priest active and the congregation passively watching.'

No priest, no Mass.

Passively watching ...and we all know the priest then stands with his back to us so we can't even watch properly passively.

Sunday, the day of rest.

I do wonder if the people who write this stuff don't have tiring jobs, demanding domestic lives, hobbies, a pet, someone ill in their family to be preoccupied about, anything....

May 20th 2011 and they are still peddling this?

Better not quote any more or I'll get in trouble.

See below for the link.

Pro woman type things

It seems that when you buy that, which this week sports a free download on, 'The dangers of clericalism,' leaflets drop out. Note-to-self. Must read that clericalism thing lest anything dangerous befalls me. Time to hide behind my pink sofa Dr Who style.

Anyway, it seems that what is more than scary are the bits that drop out.

Not, look after woman and children by supporting, for example:-

The Sisters of the Gospel of life
God's precious infants
The good counsel network

to name but three, but other people to whom you would imagine a Catholic weekly would not sell advertising space. Since these people are meddling in other countries, particularly the developing world, you'd think an International Catholic weekly, would steer well clear.

PS On their 'about us' page the currenct editor describes the publication as

“progressive, but responsible Catholic thinking, a place where orthodoxy is at home but ideas are welcome.”

Now you'll excuse me after a week of er persuading sixth formers who all know so much better than me, what constitutes a successful A Level essay, but um, no.

progressive - never really sure what that means. Appealing to the Zeitgeist? Trying to be trendy?

responsible - how very adult.

Catholic thinking, I enjoyed meeting a PhD student the other week studying medieval sacred music from a perspective of faith and practice. A bit more, 'this what the Church says how do we do it in 2011?' would be gripping. Here are some interesting folks, copy them or support them. That sort of thing.

orthodoxy at home - I like the EF Mass and Gregorian Chant and they are never mentioned, not in a positive way anyway.
The liturgy page doesn't have helpful hints on teaching your choir Mass I,
'Stumbling blocks in the vidi aquam; getting the liquescence right in the alleliuas,' or 'Start learning the 24 verses of lauda sion now and you may just have them in the bag by Corpus Christi,' but hey, that's just me and my eccentric interest in the music of the universal church, clearly very much a minority sport, loads of olympic tickets left etc.

ideas - I have plenty. Won't be looking in there for any new ones either.

Say the rosary, buy a buggy.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Our Lady of Fatima

pray for us.

The post that was scheduled and then blogger went down.

Sunday 15 May 2011


Yesterday I was able to tick off two symphonies by Shostakovich, one of which I'd never played before. One of which hardly anyone has ever player before, the workers' cantata No2. I call it a cantata because it seemed to be in one movement with a lot of 'rah rah Lenin, up the workers,' singing in the second half. The chorus was singing in Russian, so I was guessing til I read the programme.

They sing a setting of 'To October,' by Aleksander Bezymensky, containing such sentiments as

The factory chimneys reached for the sky
Like arms, too weak to form fists.

Marvellous stuff. Or as I would see it lots of rests followed by the usual fff unison horn soli ending on repeated blasts of a top Bb and the concert was being recorded. Nice. The blasty bit upset the singers who were heard mumbling about, 'All I could hear was the horns...' And? All I could hear was horns 1 and 2 and the Eb clarinet and piccolo.

Then in the second half we did the fifth symphony again. Everyone knows it and it's a goody. It just is.

I can't find a fab recording on You tube because my favourite is with Mariss Jansons (my hero,) who does the accelerando in the last movement two bars early is not there. Here is a very fast performance of the last movement.

Over the last decade or so we have played nearly all of his 15 symphonies. Sometimes we have done two concerts in a year and some years none. We are due to run out in 2013, which is rather sad.

And after a surprisingly epic day of blogging, it's back to work and another shocking five day week. Where have all the Bank Holidays gone?

That Mass in Rome

photo from here.


I'm no expert, but there do seem to be quite a lot of priests there, for a conference.

Choir under the direction of a Cardinal.

In St Peter's Basilica.


A nice day

Thought I'd better re-balance things after the previous tale of woe and my terrible childhood.


Woe is me, etc.... :-)

The statue got crowned very well and everyone was in good spirits... even before the bar opened. We have our own pub crawl which starts with tea and biscuits in one hall and may include a choir practice (bottle of sherry in the cupboard, for special occasions,) and ends in the large hall (Fr Z's pub,) with other drinks. Quite a few visitors, who pop by from time to time including a couple and their very lovely baby son.

Apart from an interesting moment when all the electrics flickered off in the Credo and the organ cut out momentarily, all passed off well and I think we may just have got the hang of Mass I.

UPDATE If you like John McCormack and what's not to like, you will love this. Was he from Kerry? He surely rolls his rrrrr's like my relatives do.

Crowning Our Lady's statue

is happening today between the morning Masses.

In 1978, clad in my First Holy Communion dress which had already seen wear as my aunt's wedding dress and at my cousins' FHCs and must have Clark's white sandals that we all had, for in 1978, you had one pair of shoes per season, by a twist of fate that meant another girl couldn't make it, I was the one crowning the statue.

It was a bit different because it was part of an afternoon procession. The girl doing the crowning had what was essentially a blue velvet train to wear, with 6 other girls holding it down the side and a little boy had the crown on a velvet pillow. I seem to remember the statue as being plaster, so maybe it was from the school. It was on a bier anyway and the crown was quite small, wire with flowers entwined around it.

Typically, my memory is of the need to get it right, so I have to say that I was not even faintly excited about the train, the attendants or where I was in the procession. Sadly, this was probably because my memory of my First Holy Communion is of my parents being shouted at in front of me, my brother, (the other one wasn't born yet,)my aunt (godmother), one of my cousins and Grandma because we hadn't arrived at the school for the photo at the right time, by my teacher. (Teachers, when we get it wrong...) This was a mistake on my parents part because they just never ever put people out deliberately. I just remember my entire family standing rooted to the spot; answering back any authority figures being utterly unthinkable and what example would that give to the children etc. The fact that I was late sub for the crowning was probably the school trying to right this, though it's only recently that I put the events together. The two events both happened in May '78 for sure and the FHC was before the May procession.

Anyway, you had to ascend a step ladder and I was told not to worry because if I fell, Fr Koch would catch me. I remember looking down at the practice and deciding that he looked quite old (he died 2 years later,) and that he probably wouldn't be able to catch me, so I wasn't going to trip. It probably wasn't that high, but it was above the heads of adults, so 8' above the ground?

In true OLR Primary School fashion, for this may have been the trendy 70s but it was still the 1950s there, the crowning had to happen at, 'Oh Mary, we crown thee with blossom today...' played of course on the organ by Brenda, who is now in hospital.

Saturday 14 May 2011

Salve sancte parens

Had a chance to check out this Introit last night at Westminster Cathedral at the Mass in Thanksgiving for the Beatification of JPII.

Twas good.

Friday 13 May 2011



I wish I lived somewhere where pronouncements from Rome were greeted with enthusiasm. Still, I can make my own enthusiasm.

Over here on bara brith, the blog that's so inoffensive no-one reads it, we play the long game of supporting folks doing good things.

It's such a long game that I had never been to an EF Mass til I was 37 and I live in London where there are relatively lots. I'm one of those boring people who has always gone to Mass on Sunday, so it's not like I missed the notice about it because I wasn't there.

It's a long game, but I think it's that change is getting quicker.

PS The FSSP are looking for sponsorship for their cassock-wearing seminarians to go to WYD with Juventutem.

UPDATE Thanks for the stats spike, James - who clearly has a large number of nocturnal readers.

Ahead of the chippie

Seems that the fishy dinner of last Friday was in fact ahead of the curve.

Now can we have our holy days of obligation restored please?

Thursday 12 May 2011

Away matches

Gregorian chant; it's so portable and a great plus is you don't have to lug a wacking great instrument case around with you.

Despite being a member of the facebook group, 'no I don't wish I played the flute,' or whatever it's called, leaving the horn at home is a kinda liberating experience.

So all being well, I'm singing here and here.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Fish anyone

On Friday evening after doing battle with the Triplex, singing Vespers and before returning for Q&A and Compline, about 10 of us adjourned to a nearby pub.

When the waiter came to take the order, round the table it went:

Salmon en croute (for we were in a fairly flash bit of London.)
Salmon en croute
Salmon en croute
Salmon en croute
Salmon en croute
Fish and chips (rebel)
Salmon en croute
Salmon en croute
Vegetable tart

Monday 9 May 2011


is my favourite gardening month because everything looks new.

We have been enjoying very good weather recently too.

Just need a bit of time.

Sunday 8 May 2011

Dom Yves-Marie Day 3

But the best was yet to come.

Enter the folks who sing in your choir every week.

We got to sing Mass I and Credo I under Dom Yves-Marie, with the top chanters singing the propers, plus Sext, plus Vespers.

There were as many brilliant things as there were people; more actually.

As I had to miss a huge chunk in the middle, I witnessed the transformation of the sound quite starkly. Every single person was singing. Everyone sounded beautiful. The quality of unison was exceptional.

Think of the best experience you have had at Lourdes, WYD....that was how it was.

And then it was time for ice cream.

See photos here, from Clare.

Friday 6 May 2011

Dom Yves-Marie Day 2

Got to arrive earlier today and sing more.

A very good afternoon and evening.

More tomorrow.

All hail, Candy, Chanting Organiser Suprema!

Thursday 5 May 2011

Dom Yves-Marie Day 1

Hot foot from work to pizza (naturally...) to Compline.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Saturday 7th - lots of possibilities

1 First Communion Mass at 10.30, a Missa Cantata to boot, followed by Benediction.

2 THE CHANT EXTRAVAGANZA at St James's Spanish Place with maitre de choer, Abbaye S. Pierre, Solesmes, no less. Mass at 6pm, Choir under the direction of Dom Yves-Marie Lelievre OSB, Latin OF.

3 The inaugural meeting of the Guild of Catholic Bloggers (tea and coffee provided.)

4 FLI Conference in Westminster

I'm doing 2 with a 5 hour rehearsal of Shostakovich in the middle.

And now I must pick up my red pen ...

Tuesday 3 May 2011

I was glad

OK I admit that now and then I quite like a loud bit of Anglican Victoriana, or patrimony or whatever. :-)

Just remember who had to orchestrate Jerusalem - Elgar.

Monday 2 May 2011

Catholic blogging

In view of the blognics in Rome this week and London next Sat, none of which I will be at, I thought I'd whitter on a bit.

I read blogs and the news on EWTN for a long while before commenting and then starting a blog.

I now out myself slightly. This was me in October 2006 on Fr Ray Blake's blog. At that point I had never attended an EF Mass, so you will have to forgive the fact that I do not mention the Propers.

Which is to say, that blogs have given the opportunity for lots of people to articulate things that have been grating away, know that they are not alone and if have the opportunity, to do something about it. That has certainly been the case for me and I count myself very lucky indeed.

Blogs have given people who do not buy the line that the Church is in terminal decline in the West and let's just manage the shutdown neatly, the opportunity to see some of the green shoots and for people like me to give some little support to people who are really in the firing line. Who can get enthusiastic about a Church without priests and with very low Mass attendance. Why bother?

It was through blogging that I met Clare and other people involved in the fledgling renaissance in Catholic music. That has been truly fantastic and we are now a little schola, our first 'gig' being Fr Koch's Requiem Mass. She persuaded me to go to Solesmes in '09.

Having lived with the cognitive dissonance of having to play music that I know to be very poor quality, as well as I possibly could in the context of the Mass and then have people endlessly come up to me afterwards to tell me how rubbish they thought the music was, because people know at some level that it's all wrong, it's just they blame the wrong people, it has been revelatory to have everything actually come together. On Saturday, I got to try and sing some music well and on Sunday an elderly gentleman who I don't know, came up to me after Mass to thank me profusely for doing Mass I and Credo I. Of course it's not down to me what gets done, it's just that in the past the possibility did not exist. But I digress.

My blog is deliberately uncontroversial and you may not like that. I decided at the outset to present what is good and to try, as I have said to support people who are doing positive, good things, often at great cost to themselves. Other people do battle directly with the people who undermine the Church from within; yes, I have noticed what's going on. I'm here with my metaphorical watering-can tending a few shoots.

My blog is anonymous, though lots of people know who I am. I have done very little to publicise it and when I meet people and say that I go to Mass in Blackfen, everyone has of course read that blog. The conversation then moves onto other things and I forget to mention this. I don't want to be defined by my blog. It's all true what I write, but it is very partial. I have lots of things that are funny or interesting about my teaching for example, but I would identify things which on the internet just are not suitable to write about.

One of the reasons this blog is so partial is because I ruthlessly self censure and sometimes do not publish posts. I give a picture of everything in the garden being rosy. That's not always so and I am not not always quite as pleasant in real life as I appear here. It's just easier to edit your written words than it is to curb your spoken words or actions. Some people choose to write about their personal difficulties, often very movingly and I do not.

I like the fact that blogs are very different.
I like the fact that when JPII is beatified we put up pictures.
I like it when something big happens and people give their personal stories about the Papal Visit say.
Memes were quite fun at the time.
I LOVE funny satirical witty blogs like Paulinus and Seraphic in Scotland.
I love priestly blogs like Fr Tim, Fr Z and Fr Ray and yes I've met all of them. FrT is my PP after all.
I don't want to be bossed around or have a Code of Conduct. I'm a teacher and I get to behave in a very regulated way at work, thanks. Bells go off and I become legally responsible for piles of boys, that sort of thing. I ignore people who have no authority over me and take no responsibility for me. I am a single practising Catholic. I have years of experience of going my own way, really. I am much more stroppy that you can imagine, actually.
I'm happy to meet up in a pub or a restaurant and chat to other bloggers. That's fun.
I HATE meetings.
I really HATE meetings.
I'm very happy to sing at a bloggers' Mass.

I like the Catholic blogging adventure and am happy to be a bit part player in it.
I don't know what's going happen next and that's exciting, but thus far it's been a GOOD THING and for that I am happy.

Sunday 1 May 2011

Blessed John Paul II

pray for us.

x is to y

On old 11+ papers there used to be questions along the lines of

hand is to glove as

foot is to _____________ sock.

That sort of thing.

I have now topped an amazing 30k hits, whilst Fr Tim is approaching 3 million.

We'll round that up to a factor of a hundred.

The BBC were reporting 200 000 pilgrims in Rome at 8am today- 8am bulletin speaking of, '10s of thousands,' to EWTN's 2 million.

I suppose we should be grateful that the beeb is only out by a factor of 10, rather than a factor of 100.