Wednesday 29 February 2012

Try telling that to the midwives

Christians aren't persecuted in Britain.

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Home home home

Yay. It's been a long day, starting at very early o'clock, why even the seagulls were still in pyjamas when I left Brighton, going through a big teaching day and then a parents' evening. And now a meme. So this time, at the request of Annie Elizabeth. Come rope, come rack, because we are starting up a Robert Hugh Benson thing in Blackfen. Maybe it's time for a literary festival... For the parish that has everything... Only joking, Lenten mortification, listening to other people's ideas about how you could be spending all that free time you have. I happened to read the bit where they visit St Paul's after the side altars have been ripped out in the Starbucks next to St Paul's. Jane Eyre - Reader, I married him. Anna Karenina in memory or my Russian literature phase at university and the days when I spent days reading.


To St Mary Mags on their lovely Mass last night.

Monday 27 February 2012


I'm singing...

Friday 24 February 2012


I watched the film last night and enjoyed it a great deal. Thanks to Fr Ray for pointing it out. In the film, I was taken by the lady who shares the room with the main character. She steps in when others fall by the wayside and then gets sidelined several times. All the characters were engaging and as with all French films much was left unsaid and much was left for you to observe. I like that a lot. Those of a sensitive liturgical disposition will have to look away at various point and although the subtitles got the Catholic bits right for the most part, it was a bit weird they couldn't get Benediction right. Not on iPlayer much longer, so get over there. It was on BBC4.

Fridays of Lent

The Charles Bridge, Prague.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

An unborn child

Mentioned on R4 as a news headline. Very sadly in the context of the baby and mother being murdered.

Ash Wednesday

Tuesday 21 February 2012


Don't tell Delia, but having googled a recipe I added the flour (self-raising) to the eggy, milky, watery bit in the jug, without sifting and it was all ok. Nothing a hot frying pan and the application of lemon and sugar couldn't cope with.

Sunday 19 February 2012

The iPad

Well it was only a matter of time and I did get the liber app first.

Saturday 18 February 2012

Gregorian Chant Network Meeting

was a great day today.

Lots more people than two years ago and lots more chant being sung all over the place.  Last time felt like lots of people were just coming out of an ice age.  Now more of a feeling of being able to get on and do stuff (I hope) and a lot more laughter.

James MacMillan was great and managed to cover everything of note in his talk, whilst not dwelling on some of the more gory incidents of the recent history of sacred music in this country.

Clare and I were having a coffee in the cafe opposite The Oratory before the event started and saw him walk by, prompting me to remember just how good, 'Tu es Petrus, ' is.  I gestured the first couple of notes and the waitress came over, and in an Italian cafe too.  I wish my orchestras at work were as attentive.

Good to make contact with fellow chanters in Faversham and Canterbury.  Hope they can come to Blackfen sometime.  Maybe on a Feast Day.  Trouble with people who do stuff on Sundays is, we do stuff on Sundays and can't up sticks somewhere else.

It was very interesting to hear all about what's going on in B'ham from Fr Guy Nicholls.

After lunch we practised for Vespers and were pretty together, though you could hear the complete variety of interpretations of the quilisma, episema and dots in general, as well as just how long do you pause for half way through a psalm verse.  We did not dwell on such contentious isssues, after all we were all getting on famously. Just do what the do at St Cecilia's and you will have it right. (!) (The quilisma, don't let's get started on that one.)

Big Thanks to Joseph Shaw for getting everyone together and organsising it. He took lots of photos and so and Clare.

Bloggers to Blackfen

Have a great day.

I'm off to hear James MacMillan at the Oratory with my chant buddies.

A pre-Lent Trip to St Cecilia's

Clare has the full match report.

It's really rather overwhelming having the entire community in the parlour and we got to meet the Mother Abbess, without whose permission we would not be there at all of course. And yes, edging up to the grill so as to sing better with two sisters is, quite something.

I borrowed one of their music stands which was passed over the top of the grill.  Quite comic.

The good news is that Sr Bernadette is keen to fix up a post-Easter date to see us, before next Wed. (We're always a little worried that each session is the last one.)  I have handed over the list of free Saturdays.

We looked at some of the chant for Good Friday, which I'd like to get in, if possible.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Secularism and Sausages

Firstly, Paulinus has done all the work for us, so I don't expect to hear the Mozart Requiem being played when I visit the Ladies to powder my nose at Bluewater ever again, thank you.

As to the sausages, apparently there are more people in The Sausage Appreciation Society than there are in the NSS and when did you ever get to hear their leader doing the 8.10 slot on The Today Programme?  Quite. No unseemly demo when the Pope was in the UK either.  Being a son of Bavaria, I'm sure that he likes sausages and the society appreciate this.

Sausages are great things, nay life enhancing foodie items, especially when served in these ways

with mashed potato and gravy and some veg in a bowl-like plate, maybe with some red wine in a pub with an open fire when you've just come in from a walk in the freezing cold.  Yum.

with Xmas dinner, maybe in the form of pigs in blankets, or maybe just with the crunchy bacon which has been on the top of the turkey.

cold the next day with cold turkey, ham and chutney.  Mm leftovers, almost better than the real dinner.

in that sausage casserole in the Delia winter book with apple and cider and mash and veg.

at a BBQ in a nice fresh roll (cob, stottie, bara brith says, 'yay,' to regional variations, but not served in bara brith because fruit loaf and sausage is a culinary crime, dear readers.)

I was semi conscious during the Dawkin's incident on Tuesday. Something to do with getting home at 11pm on Monday from me trip.  I was awake enough to hear him stumble over the title of his text of choice.  How does this man get air-time?  How did he become a professor?  He seems like a right thickie to me.

Epiphany Chalk strikes again

 St Vitus Cathedral, Prague.

Memed x2

Thanks to Charlie J (Chasubles and Chalices) and Sandy ( A Catholic Comes Home) for the tag.  My laptop is now in terminal decline, so I excuse myself from all that linking stuff.

Three tomes for the Kindle.

Salt of the Earth by Joseph Ratzinger FrZ quotes from it recently. ( You won't get the sticker on the front which says, 'Now Pope Benedict XVI,' or the smugfest of having the copy without the sticker cos you'd read it before the papal election.)

Poor Banished Children by Fiorella de Maria

Saint Gianna Molla by Pietro Molla (her widower) & Elio Guerriero

All published by Ignatius Press and no I'm not on commission.

I need to upgrade my techno gagets but am unsure whether to go iPad, Kindle, new laptop...or even iPhone.  My HoD has the new all singing one and it looks good.

Then again, it could be argued that I should quit wasting time on the interweb and read those tomes eyeing me from the bookcase.  My laptop is on it's last legs, however.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

An unplanned visit to The Infant of Prague

On Sunday afternoon we were scheduled to go to the Museum of Music in the Lesser Town.

When we arrived at the entrance, a note on the door explained that the building was closed due to a burst pipe and a lack of heating.  Hey, we'd just spent the morning in Prague Castle and how anyone goes to Mass in St Vitus Cathedral I don't know. Lack of heating, we had to buy everyone hot chocolates just to avoid serious health probs. The boys were not happy when they all had to remove their hats on account of the cold. I was very happy mine was on, with a coat hood over the top.  Anyway, that was the morning.  As we'd approached the museum I noticed that all the shops had statues of The Infant of Prague in the windows, so opined that the church across the road must be the one.

We were with a guide that day and once she'd sorted out the museum closure she took us to the church. 

So, there we are.  A bonus.

Back from Prague

It was cold outside, about -10C.  More chilly than I am used to. 

We had a great time and my personal highlight was hearing the Czech Philharmonic in the Rudolfinum. Wonderful sound from a very happy orchestra, really at ease with its conductor. Great great hall too.

Arriving at the airport yesterday to get a coach back to school, I was thinking that it would be plain sailing from now on.  No-one had been really ill, got run over, lost, been misplaced on the Metro or got over tired, cold.... you have no idea.  We went to a folklore evening and had to cross a country road with no traffic on it at all.  Then a car came round a corner going at about 50mph with 6 boys in the middle of the road.  Miss Leutgeb shouts, they movepronto and no-one got run down.

And then we came home...

At airport arrivals...

I went with the non-EU passport holders to their queue, which I almost didn't do because having got them into the Czech Republic wasn't think getting them back into the UK would be a problem.  Chatted, whilst we queued, about this and that.  Got to the front of the queue, presented my passport and explained why I was there, boy 1 presents passport and goes to baggage reclaim, boy 2 (who isn't well and is running a temperature,)announces that he can't find his. We go through his pockets, because he can't actually be without it, he's just filled in a landing card on the plane after all.  He doesn't have it.  I get out out the photocopy of his passport and visa and the trip list on headed note paper, stamped with the school stamp and signed by HM, because after all I'm not his mother so could be some people trafficker/ child abductor type person, maybe there's a custody battle going on and the dad has the passport, who knows what the story could be.  The visa that I have a copy of is the one for Europe, not the one giving residency rights in the UK, this is getting better.  I check that the boy didn't go to the toilet when he got off the flight and leave it there.  We tell the nice border man the flight number and he disappears with my paperwork.  Boy is now telling me how his parents will kill him and how he's never lost anything before.  I point out that he is unwell and stuff happens when you are ill, besides which, his parents can't kill him, because we can't enter the UK.  Always there with the gallows humour, me. Phone colleague to explain.  He's waiting with everyone else and has our bags.  I'm already thinking that if this turns into a long night, they will have to go on the coach (Mummys and Daddys will be massing outside school,)and his parents will have to come or we will be taking a train back to where we need to be. Nice border man comes back and says that they've found it on the plane and I explain that the boy is ill.  Nice border man offers us a drink, tea or coffee or water. We go for water. Don't want to push our luck and anyway I can't wait for a kettle to boil, there are 27 people waiting for us at baggage reclaim, plus Mummys at school.  Passport arrives.  Boy calls nice border man sir lots of times and we exit.  Boy is most insistent that I don't tell his parents and I say I won't because, he didn't do it deliberately and no harm was done, there are no consequences from the the incident and anyway, he's ill. And just in case parents are now worrying about what teachers don't tell them, I would (and have) tell parents anything and everything relating to their child if they were in any sort of danger whatsoever or were ill or upset or had done anything really awful <- pupils take note.  I hope he tells them though, because though I was sympathetic and got it sorted, he was pretty shaken and it's a great shame not to have your parents' support when something quite scary happens.

PS If you are on a school trip I found out that you can take the whole party through the same channel at passports whatever nationality they are.  Learn something new everyday.

Saturday 11 February 2012

Our Lady of Lourdes

ora pro nobis.

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Gallows humour

On handing all the paperwork to the assistant headmaster for me trip.

He goes thro' it all.

'Ah, the staff death form.'  Cheery smile.

'Have a lovely time.'

'I won't phone you.'

Me 'I hope we don't phone you.'


Tuesday 7 February 2012

GB, GM 3

If you put the book down because it all got too gruesome, worth at least skipping to the end.  That's where all the sign of hope are.  Given that the tactics of the people who don't want priests, don't generate vocations, the dreadful wastage of vocations should come to an end.

In other news the Music Dept is now checking just how cold it is where we are going later on in the week. Base layers is all I'm saying.

Sunday 5 February 2012

Goodbye, Good men 2

Still reading in between going to Mass, singing a bit, eating and chatting and a trip to see, 'War Horse.'  A hard weekend indeed. 

Went out for lunch with my parents, one brother and sister-in-law and her parents. The pub had had quite a few cancellations which I think was quite good for us.  Good lunch and then we adjorned to the bar to see Wales beat Ireland, which cheered my Dad, who has had a bit of a week.  Actually, he's always cheery and not known at all for moaning on, but he looked a lot more cheery after Wales snatched victory right at the end and he got to see it in a pub.  Due to our dual heritage, for that match I can go either way. My Mum asked my brother which team he was supporting.  He looked a bit non-plussed in his red rubgy shirt.

Other brother spent two hours digging his car out of his estate to get to work....

Anyway, the book.

Really it's a wonder that there are any priests at all.

My years of feeling very out of place, having opposite reactions to everyone else and periodically getting very angry are a mere trifle compared to what some of the young men in the book have been through.

What I have witnessed is just the tip of the iceberg.

We lay people are a bit slow on the uptake.  When I was a student the Anglican Chaplain at another college enthusiastically expounded on Liberation Theology and said he thought that the Catholic Church would ordain woman in the next 10 years.  I remember thinking that wasn't going to happen ever.  I graduated 20 years ago next summer.

I went on a Cathsoc Retreat to Lindisfarne and when we met at the station, I wondered who the scruffy old bloke was.  There weren't any mature students in the Catholic Society and there were hardly any mature undergraduates at all at all in the university.  (Yes yes mature undergraduate, contradiction in terms etc.) He turned out to be the priest.  The Mass is too awful to describe.  Let's just say he wore someone's scarf as a stole, which given that Durham is a collegiate university was not a very unifying thing to do.  I thought it was stupid. I think now that I was so used to never feeling remotely engaged in anything Catholic that I accepted that it was me.  I kept trying, but I was rubbish at being a Catholic. Pity that carried on for another 20 years.  It wasn't all bad.  There were some good bits and to be fair, a number of missed opportunities on my part, but by and large, it was rubbish.  But then, I could have done what most other people did and stopped going to Mass.

Saturday 4 February 2012

Good-bye Good Men

Hello, well, let's just say the book explains a lot.

Because the culture of the seminary permeates Catholic life for the folks at the bottom of the food chain, the laity.

People who have ishoos with Church teaching seem to be in positions of authority in Catholic education.

People who leave the priesthood and religious life seem to get jobs as chaplains and teacher of RE in Catholic schools. As a teacher you have a captive audience in front of you.

From every perspective a disaster, particulaly if you are brought up with a world view that people in authority in the Catholic Church believe what it says on the tin and have other people's welfare at heart.  Then you end up with young men being rejected from the priesthood and believing that this must be right.  They got it wrong or worse there is something wrong with them.  What happened next to the man who returns from the seminary, in his words in disgrace, back to his family who cannot understand why in a time of a crisis in vocations, his has been rejected.  I wonder what he did with the rest of his life?

Thursday 2 February 2012

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Preparing for Candlemas

I like piggy backing on Clare's posts. 

Here's one about someone we met at St Cecilia's, friend of Candy (she knows everyone, really, everyone,) and what she is up to tomorrow.

Here in Blackfen we have been practising Mass IX and my pencil notes from yesteryear are still holding good.  Schola buddies will be elsewhere doing their thing. It's tricky actually to sing together when primarily we sing in our parishes.

Rubricwise, Jonathan (MC) manages to make his response to my questions seem as though the question is both new and interesting.

I should say that my knowledge and interest in things rubrical extends only as far as what to sing when. It doesn't interest me why or how it may have been different in the past I like the absence of chattiness in the EF.

And now we are going to receive a candle, blah blah, what are they up to in Husborne Crawley again?  Tealight Day? Bring your own bean bag.*
Ditch stuff like this and into the vacuum comes paraliturgical garbage which shows how my mindset of, 'Tell me what music to do when,' is only suited to the traditional liturgy.  Let's just stick to the real thing.  Anything else is pointless.

One of the first sung EF Masses that I went to was Candlemas and I remember Jonathan gesturing with his sleeve in a general way to the congregation that it was now candle time.  No words.  Reason #765876 why I like this a lot.  Lay people are silent.  Priests have to follow the book.  Phew.

*OOdles of time ago I went on a staff retreat.  Drove miles.  Arrived.  Parked.  A bloke was walking across the carpark (a place where you may encounter.. PEOPLE.)  I asked him where we should go.  This being a Catholic type place I was expecting to have to say very little and that someone would instantly beam at me, tell me what to do and put the kettle on, probably in one seamless action.  Instead he looked affronted that I had deigned to approach him said, 'I'm on a silent retreat.'  Tip.  AVOID THE CARPARK.

The weekened was awful.  I still have no recollection as to why I went in the first place.  Truly dreadful.  Another 48 hours that I'll never get back. Can't remember too much else about it and I shalln't be trying. The dodgy shopping list was I fear complete.

Tea lights
bean bags
circle time ( I NEVER say anything in such circumstances.  You could sit me in a circle for days and I would remain mute. Then I'd probably explode and then you'd say I have anger ishoos.  If only you'd shared with us, leutgeb. Runs away.)
bits of material swirled around a bit with stuff that should be on a nature table arranged in a way that says NOTHING and looks less attractive than if it had been done by the under 5s.
People asking prying questions and people telling everyone their private stuff.  My name's leutgeb and you can mind your own business and I have friends and family and don't necessarily need to know everyone's business.  I'm a teacher and I have to know stuff I don't even want to know about people, so I don't inadvertently say something that could upset someone or if a pupil collapses I know which medical condition it probably is and can react accordingly or if they freak out I know why.  Really, I can take only so much.
lay people bossing me around. Byeee.
ex-nuns bossing me around.  (Anger management again.)  You want the respect that I would given to a nun, without being one.
priests who aren't called Father who look like scruffy blokes, you are supposed to wear black OK -  easy - you aren't more approachable, because I don't actually want your opinion, I want to know what the Church's mind is and by looking scruffy you look incompetent.  Sometimes I don't even know you are a priest.  I once went into a church with someone, this scruff bag man in his 50s appears who looked a bit miffed at me. How was I supposed to know you were the parish priest?  Give us a clue.  You looked like you were there to do some DIY, change a few light bulbs or something. Wear the right clothes.  It's depressing looking a shambles.
Nuns who aren't called Sister and look frumpy, because if you don't have at least a uniform, how do you decide what clothes to wear, you are supposed to have given up all that stuff lay woman do after all, but you are always very bossy and humourless and boring and give me chapter and verse on whatever useless book you are reading, whilst saying something rude about the Pope.  You hate authority whilst expecting to tell me what to do like we are in some fascist dictatorship.  Great.
dreadful music.  Dilemma.  Sing to support or remain mute and have to listen to someone say, 'As St Augustine said, 'he who sings, prays twice.' ' I can't claim to speak for the great man of Hippo, but I think we all know, he didn't mean, 'Colours of day.'  Colours of day, dawn into the mind.. was the lyricist on LSD or something?  Please.
Lay people going on and on, see above.

A silent retreat sound like a good plan.
Monastics don't talk much.

And after that trip down memory lane, resting on the tetrachord of Colours of Day, I can sleep easy in my bed, safe in the knowledge, that what I have to sing tomorrow is all in one book. 

Busy day today.  Two orchestra rehearsals, 6 hours of scholarship auditions and then a meeting about the trip I'm running next week. Tomorrow another 6 hours of audtions.