Tuesday 30 August 2011

Bookshop Blues

Thought I'd keep going with the letter B.

Anyway, was randomly looking round a bookshop on the way home from work (yes, it had to happen eventually even though it doesn't kick off til 9.15am next Monday,) vaguely thinking there might be a book my mother might like for her birthday and what do I find? So many books rambling vaguely about faith or rubbishing Christianity (Phillip Pullman).

There was thingie's book on the Popes. Skim read the 20thC, don't bother with that one. I could summarise Pius XII to the present better.

The final straw was a book something like Hitler's Henchman describing fleeing Nazis after the war. The cover had a (forged?) Red Cross pass set against a backdrop of St Peter's Square.

Reminds me of our car game. Put unlikely names with animals.

Boris the llama.
Augustine the kangaroo.
Felicity the hippo.
Gordon the peacock.

Now we must have a new game; books on historical events with unlikely dust jackets.

Monday 29 August 2011

Bloggers to Blackfen

All the details here.

Nice poster and a definition of people who use the new media, which by my calculations, includes anyone who has ever gone on-line. I'm sure we can show anyone else how by Oct 1st.

Of course mentioning the B word in certain company is always going to get a reation, as I unwittingly discovered here.

Having just arrived back from St Cecilia's, I'm pleased to go to something a little closer to home - beautiful and wonderful though the IOW certainly is.

Friday 26 August 2011

Laszlo Dobszay RIP

Clare and I heard him speak at The Oratory School about two years ago and very excellent he was too.

Thursday 25 August 2011

WYD 2011 on BBC Wales

1997 One of my brothers was in Paris and I phoned BBC News about their very rude item describing Blessed JPII visiting the grave of Prof Jerome Lejeune.

2000 I went to Rome and, on coming home, complained that BBC Radio News were pumping up a non-existent story about people wanting to have a meeting about child abuse with Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor. There were about 12 of them and he said, 'yes.' There were 6000 UK Pilgrims in Rome and we didn't get the same elevel of coverage. I pointed out that the Holy See broadcasts in English and perhaps they could borrow some commentary. I heard one passage of re-broadcast Vatican stuff when Pius XII was declared Venerable.

2011 WYD went..

It's hot.
It's raining.
It's costing lots.
There are protests.

Any Welsh pilgrims at all?

Thanks. I'll just read the sermons myself then.

Michael Voris in London

A Reluctant Sinner has done all the hard work here.

I was a little uncertain as to whether I'd make it and as to my views on him.

As it turned out he was a great deal more sympathetic and humorous in real life than I have seen him on his films. He explained the hard-hitting way in which he speaks as being a result of the fact that that was what got through to him in the end. I don't know too much about him, so can only write on the basis of what I heard last night.

To those who hesitate because he is a layman and this is the Catholic Church, I'm with you. Obviously, he is not speaking with the authority of the Church, but he has some interesting points to make and someone has to say something. Sometimes that comes easier from the laity, because in some ways we are freer to go places and express opinions than the clergy.

I wouldn't be about to make him some hero because I don't think that's what we are supposed to do, but as a means of, for example, attracting a large number of Catholics into one place for a meeting, he certainly did the job. Heavens, it's just good to be able to react the same as other people for a change.

I also think that he exhibits the phenomenon of the returned Catholic who is just a little bit annoyed that they didn't get the real deal when they were growing up and wants to put the situation right. A friend of mine once pointed out the damage that people do to themselves when they don't follow the teaching of the Church and how angry would you be if you discovered later on what you were not taught when you were growing up? (All of us stray to a greater or lesser extent, but at least inside the Church we have access to the remedies and hopefully manage to get back on track more easily and more quickly than those floundering outside.) I sometimes labour under the illusion that non-Catholics I meet are all having a great time. Surprise surprise they are not. Materially, the baubles may glitter, but as with a great meal, it's the company more than the food that make for the pleasure.

Every generation has its particular difficulties. For my parent's generation they went from schools populated by teaching orders and the old Mass to the collapse of those orders and the new Mass in about 20 years. (Maybe less.) How let down were they? My Grandfather's one soundbite on Vatican II was, 'John XXIII, a very silly man.' For people who never ever criticized the Church and he, the Headmaster of a Catholic primary school, that's quite a comment. Stashed on his bookcase, behind the arm chair I now have was a book of the documents of Vatican II, so we can deduce he was pretty interested.

In my case, always at the end of an era me, I got a very old fashioned primary school, which matched up entirely with the home and parish and then a secondary school where I cannot remember being taught anything in RE in the first 3 years and believe me I am very nerdy and remember lots. I won't mention the 12 years I spent teaching in Catholic schools, wondering why my reactions always seemed to be wrong.

Anyway, it was great to meet a few more bloggers - Paul Priest - at last for example - a large group of Catholics converging on a pub is always a good thing.

PS I should have said well done to young Mr Smeaton for the organisation.

We can muse on such a crowd of Catholics listening to a rousing talk...in a Salvation Army Hall.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

les biscuits know no modernism

Earlier with mulier fortis, whilst chatting over a cup of tea and a biscuit, purchased on my recent trip to Normandy, I noticed that the manufacturers had not gone for the borg church to decorate their buttery offerings.

Biscuit manufacturers know it.

In the wacky world of liturgical music, the stuff we want to consign quietly to oblivion is not actually modernist. Modernism in music means atonal or serial, devoid of the attributes one usually associates with melody - like keeping the interest in one line, using repetition, memorable short motifs of pitch and rhythm, keeping to a smallish number of pitches (7 seems like a popular number), avoiding angular leaps, periodic phrasing, or indeed phrasing at all, that sort of thing. Thus, even if Webern had not been shot dead by a nervy GI in August 1945, it's unlikely that he would have contributed to the oeuvre that is the folk mass, especially since he edited the complete works of Isaac. Not too much vocal music on that one boxed set of CDs that is the complete works of Webern. Shame really because I could imagine a pointillist orchestral version of Colours of Day. Instead recorders. Sigh.

Instead Israeli Mass, Geordie Mass...

A while back there was a great article about the so-called folk music that we have been lumbered with in church in Sacred Music. Its genesis is a very short space of time when people were strumming acoustically in the late 50s and early 60s. Ethnomusicologists would find it hard to pinpoint where the folk came from. The main points from the article were that it's rubbish, the people who wrote it seem to have a hold on the publishers and a large proportion of them are now lapsed. Yes, so they don't have to hear it or sing it and get paid royalties. Proof indeed that that we do not live in a just world. And then to cap it all bullying types try to make you sing it.

Monday 15 August 2011

Sunday 14 August 2011

Looking at the sky

One of my many part-time hobbies is looking at the sky. The clouds have just parted to reveal a nearly full-moon, inky blue sky and dark clouds with illuminated edges, right here in SE London. Better than my favourite Queen of the Night (no need to go all coloratura on me,) backdrop from The Magic Flute. Amazing.

Yesterday we had beautiful pink clouds at sunset which changed colour as the time went on.

WYD 2011

Protect the Pope has the usual rehashed story about what a drain WYD will be on the Spanish economy ... yawn.

Over here at bara brith we* are into small, direct actions.

My contribution to Spain's problems?

Yesterday, I gave someone going to WYD some Euros to spend on ice creams.

*That's leutgeb, queen of bara brith.

Saturday 13 August 2011

The seal of confession

Some useful info here from Fr Tim.

I'm not a great one for wanting to know all the strictures binding on priests but I'm happy to know that this stuff has all been worked out and exists for the safety of penitents. Also, should some smarty pants decide to lay into me, I'll have a few more answers. Joking aside however, if the seal of confession is being attacked we should know quite how serious this is for priests and what sort of obbligations they are under.

Leaving aside the fact that an attack on the seal of confession is wrong, the idea of the change in the law in Ireland sounded completely unworkable, unless convicted paedophiles were to subsequently accuse a priest of not denouncing them to the state. 'I would only have committed (n-3) offenses had Fr X informed you immediately after I went to confession.' Shift the blame, why don't you. After all, in secular terms we are talking about a conversation between two people with no other witnesses. You saw someone walk into a confessional who was later convicted of a crime? Who knows what was said and why were you looking anyway?

Still just because something is wrong and ill-thought out does not mean that we are protected from it becoming law. The 1967 Abortion Act got onto the statute books as a private members bill (that's debated on a Friday with a pretty empty House of Commons,) and more than 10% of the population of the UK is now missing. James Preece had a link to this article in The New York Times, which, well, just read the whole thing and you'll see.

Any attacks on the sacraments and the priesthood are going to have far-reaching awful consequences.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Seeing the battlefields

Not in London, but in France.

Around a trip to a Baptism in Normandy, my parents and I visited the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme, Pegasus Bridge and some of the D-Day beaches.

We went to Thiepval because in an idle bit of googling for Grandma's relatives after she died I turned up some information on one of her uncles. It was not news as such; we knew one of her uncles was killed in WWI, but this confirmed it was Uncle Mick and not Uncle Tom (as argued by her sister or was it Grandma, I can't remember.) Anyway, in my ignorance, I thought we would find one of those crosses with his name on it. Thiepval, though, is for the 72 000 British soldiers, killed July-September 1916, who have no known grave. Thanks to the person who put up a list of names of men who enlisted in North Clare, we were able to find his name on the memorial and the fact that he was awarded the Military Medal.

At Pegasus Bridge, we walked across the new bridge, visited the museum and were served our drinks in the cafe - the first house liberated on D-Day, by Mme Gondree, herself. Incidentally, the sign with Pegasus on it was put up on 26th June 1944, the day my father was born.

We stayed in the town behind Juno Beach (lots of Canadian monuments,) went to Arramanches to see the remains of the Mulberry Harbour and then to Omaha Beach where the Americans have their memorial and cemetary containing the graves of 9 000 of their personnel. It's very beautiful, overlooking the sea and the Americans have an excellent museum. It was packed with people.

40 000 Allied Troops and 60 000 Germans died in the liberation of Normandy in addition to French civilian losses.

In between times, paramedic brother sent us texts about what he was up to - being ordered to wear his stab vest.... different times.

Thursday 4 August 2011

Kafka would have approved...

One of my favourite aspects of Radio 3 are the news bulletins. Everything happening out there in the world is very distant and really a distraction from music in general and R3 in particular.

Oodles ago a friend and I joked that a Prime Ministerial assassination would be reported as, 'The Rt Hon John Major [yes that long ago], the Prime Minister has been assassinated... Later on Radio 3 we continue our series of broadcasts of concerts given at this year's Edinburgh International Festival....'

Today, at the end of an item on the winding up of a government quango charged with winding up government quangos because it wasn't winding up government quangos after all, the continuity announcer said, 'Kafka would have approved.' Then it was back to the music.

Still, it's not all bad a live late night Prom tonight; The Tallis Scholars in an all Victoria programme.

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Loss and Gain

which when I read it 20 years ago as a student was by John Henry Newman and is now by Blessed John Henry Newman.

It's interesting second time round for its descriptions of the Catholic liturgy.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

David Norris out of Irish Presidential race


I'm surprised he's in the Irish Senate, but then, lots of things surprise me.


A celebratory video

My sink has been unblocked.

Back story. Lee the plumber unblocked it last Monday and last Sat, I got home at lunch-time to discover blue water all over the kitchen, because the washing-machine drains out via the sink.

Lee's friend came back today and it turns out it wasn't acres of coffee grinds as I had imagined, plus all those roasting tins of roast dinner fat *ahem*, but a blue plastic thing the man who installed the kitchen happened to introduce to the system.

Fortunately, Lee is a friend of my brother, so I'm on 'mates' rates.'

Time for a celebratory load of washing!

Doesn't take much to make me happy.

Monday 1 August 2011

On Holidays

Photo by Clare.

After a very enjoyable sing yesterday, it's holiday time til September.

Doing musical things is great, but it does take it out of you. One of the great things about the EF Mass is that because there is no chitchat or funny extra things that can happen, it is actually less distracting to play and sing at than many OF Masses I have been at, even though there is a lot more to do.

I am a very big fan of the fact that the texts to be sung are laid down and there's a book with all the music in. Skippy time. Happy as I am to select the music for my orchestras at work to play, I've never understood how random lay people can choose music for Mass. Why should you have to have my taste imposed on you? Weird. Add into the mix that I personally remember music primarily and not text and you see that I'm not the best person for the job. But then if you get someone who is very wordy to do it, I often find the music painful. Much better to have the music laid down and know that centuries of people before you have sung the same stuff. Clears the mind.

Anyway in another excellent development in the story of 'How Catholics reclaimed their musical tradition,' here is James MacMillan on the new Newman Institute of Liturgical Music. See the post on July 31st on the blog bit.

I have a spade...