Friday 31 August 2012

Popping in

So, did that yesterday.

Not sure why really as I had a pretty good clear out at the end of last term, wrote the letter to new boys inviting them into my orchestras, sorted out the music, booked the concert venue for later on in term and that was that.

Still found some pieces of paper to chuck, connected myself to the new wifi and typed up some A level notes, emptied my pigeon hole, made a mental list of what I'll need to do next week and left.

Today, I celebrate the last weekday holiday day, by having my fence replaced. As a special treat the especially hideous overgrown box hedge tree thing is being removed, roots and all. It's going now. I fear the pumpkin may be a casualty. Fencer steps backwards, crunch. Fencer drags branch of hideous shrub through pumpkin. Ah well.

Hopefully scary George the elderly guy on the end who 'protects' the alley round the back will not 'have words' with the fencers. I did consider going round to let him know last night, but that does imply I need his permission to use MY RIGHT OF WAY. Four years of friendly waves may be about to end. Or maybe he's still having his breakfast.

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Wednesday 29 August 2012

Pumpkin update

The big one.

The little one.

Now having to mow the lawn round the plant as it rampages in a southerly direction across the garden.

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Location:Le jardin

Tuesday 28 August 2012

La Rentrée

A friend put this on Facebook.

I'm celebrating the first day back with a trip to see athletics in the evening. It's all track stuff and being the Paralympics has the added interest that presumably the events will have different types of athletes - blind, wheelchair and so on. I love watching athletics. May have to have a McDonalds too.

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Location:A shop

Monday 27 August 2012

Brick walls

Tomorrow, first thing, I have to get through one of these on behalf of some members of my family.
The first of many, so better get used to it now.

UPDATE. Job done, by 9.05 am.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Five years of blogging

Bara brith celebrates by making tomato sauce from home grown tomatoes.

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Tuesday 21 August 2012

Saying no

So, you've at work chatting over lunch about this and that and someone gets onto have you read that book. That's the one with the boring colour, which assails you when you walk into bookshops and is read openly on trains.

If you are me, you say 'no' in as light a way as possible in such a fashion that it's clearly a matter far from your thoughts, you are not going into details as to why and the conversation is going to change topic immediately. Or something.

Others may take a more robust approach.

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Location:Out in the world

Saturday 18 August 2012

Vegetable Matter

After a rubbish growing season, the weather has gone summery big time.

The pumpkin plant given to me by another parishioner - we have a a bit of a thing going with jam and plants n stuff - has finally got going and is surging across the garden. Pumpkins need to get a move on now.

The beans have beans on them.

And most amazingly, the tomatoes are finally beginning to turn red. By this stage I should be eating tomatoes from the garden with my lunch each day and squirrelling away pasta sauce into the freezer. It may yet happen.

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Location:Le jardin

Late MacMillan Review

Got posted further down.

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Location:Prenteg, Gwynedd

Friday 17 August 2012

The silly season

The Olympics have provided such bountiful fodder for the MSM that there's not been much need for silly season stories.

That is. Until now.

The other day, the editor of that which I usually avoid mentioning had an article in The Guardian. It was about vatileaks and how they ( the Vatican, clerics, men in cassocks, whatever,) are all out of touch etc etc and how awful it was that Mr Butler was held in custody for 50 days. Solitary confinement was how it was described and how they had contacted Amnesty, who weren't interested. A pertinent comment underneath asked if they we suggesting that the Holy See arrest a whole pile of people to keep him company. Be fearful of a visit to the Vatican Museums. one minute looking at amazing art, next thing you are in a secret ( because Vatican and secret are synonymous, ) dungeon, staring up at a tiny window, wondering if Galileo was ever a guest here. You know the sort of thing.

Late yesterday one of the twitterati wondered if there was a way of saving The Dandy and dispensing with that other one.

I suggested swapping The whatsit in Westminster Cathedral for The Dandy.

Desparate Dan would not try to shop the Holy See to Amnesty and expect to be sold in Churches and Cathedrals along with his pies.

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Tuesday 14 August 2012

Snowdon ahead

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Location:Pentrefoelas, the highest point on the A5


It's the pointy mountain.

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Location:Prenteg, Gwynedd

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Prom 33 BBCPO and MacMillan's Credo World Premiere

I wrote a whole great big post about this concert which was on August 7th and it disappeared between my iPad and some wifi I was hooked up to in Snowdonia. That's why the mountain rescue people say don't navigate using a smart phone. Only I can't get RAF Valley out to get my post back.

This is sort of how it went...

Yesterday night it was off into town to meet old school friend for the Proms. Veterans of all day queuing, we now buy tickets in advance and sit in seats and stuff. We don't rush to the bar in the interval; she brought chocs with her. Mind you the RAH has the worst catering of any venue I go to in London and always has. Years ago I cryptically suggested to my Austrian friend that she picked up any refreshments she fancied at S Ken station; she said she was fine. We arrive at the RAH and she's wondering about coffee and cake. You'll be lucky.

But I digress because the Proms is not about remembering concerts past or marvelling at how we queued for 8 hours to hear the CBSO and Rattle do Mahler 7 in about 1988. Nor is it about studying the Season Ticket Holders' queue wondering what going to a concert every night for weeks is like and whether they aren't just a little bonkers. Raspberry trouser alert, etc.

No, first it was to the RCM Concert Hall for the pre-concert talk, chat thingy. I have to make another digression here because I was a Junior at the College and so the Concert Hall holds another whole raft of memories. It's all posh now and they've taken loads of the pictures away. Where is Sir Adrian Boult with all the blurry violin bows in front of him? Where is RVW, a great expanse of grey suit? And the chairs are comfy and just like primary school, it's small. But lots of great concerts to remember.

Anyway, the talk thingy was a lady from R3, James MacMillan and Andrew Carwood. AC went for what passes as the typical establishment view of the English Reformation as it affected music. That is into the vernacular, a lot more syllabic and a tendency not to go too overboard. Edward VI, got a mention even though he wasn't King of Scotland. Cranmer got a positive mention though Cardinal Pole didn't share AC's view of him, cf Chapter 8 of Duffy's latest book where Pole grapples with how to sort out the Archdiocese of Canterbury post Cranmer and what authority and apostolic succession mean when you have heretics about.

When we got to the bit about the place of sacred music and scared words in the secular concert hall. JM ran through a list of the greats of 20thC music who just happened to be believers. Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Messiaen as a trio surely make you think you'd like to join the club.

The questions from the audience (all directed at JM) were interesting. On the subject of the Credo, one person mused on how often it actually gets sung. 'Every Sunday, except in August,' I thought. Which is all very smug except that the reason for that is that it has to be so. In the EF, it just doesn't matter whether you maybe feel a bit lazy this week, it's happening. Feeling a bit tired on Corpus Christ? Lauda Sion will still have 24 verses and at a Requiem Mass you will sing the Gradual, Tract and Sequence one after the other. Another reason it doesn't get sung in the OF so much is because the naughty naughty practice of making the Gloria fit our wonderful secular verse-refrain template has never really taken off with the Credo. The only vernacular Credo that I know that does this also has a tune that sounds like Jingle Bells, not that such considerations are always sufficient to render a piece languishing unsung in the hymn book.

Then it was off to the concert. The MacMillan Credo has quite a small scoring of double woodwind, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timps and Strings, plus SATB chorus. Only having two horns and two trumpets means no super oomph brass and just timps, no novelty percussive effects. The chorus were never overwhelmed by a thunderous orchestra; it was all just right. The lack of vocal soloists threw the emphasis onto the words rather than who was singing them. Other things to like - a rather lovely moment for 3 solo violas, lots of scrunchy chords, a Credo III quote, three (?) quotes of the beginning of 'Tu es Petrus' at various choice moments in the text - nice one - and the overall effect was great - full of energy and discovering the text anew or in today's world just meeting the text.

I'd link to some reviews, but the three I read I son't agree with. The one in The Guardian received feedback from lots of people in the RAH who enjoyed the concert lots, thanks. A point that kept coming up was that there were too many contrasting sections, but that is inherent in the text. Some of it is quite poetic, some narrative about the life of Christ, some a list. If a composer is to react to each part of the text and have some time to do it what do you do? Go melismatic or repeat the text. Have the text treated one way by the chorus and another in the orchestra simultaneously. Also I think that with new works it takes a few performances for the piece to bed down for the performers and for the listeners. As world premières go, I found it very exciting. So there.

Bruckner 6 from the second half has been added to my need to know better symphonies list.

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Sunday 5 August 2012

The Church is young

The Church is alive and staring into a bucket.

After the FHC Mass yesterday we went to the hall for lunch and at one point looked out into Fr Tim's garden to see a whole pile of little boys looking intently at the bottom of a bucket.

At a tiny frog.

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Location:Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen

Saturday 4 August 2012


According to FrZ there are 467 places in the world at present where the EF Mass is celebrated weekly, on a Sunday at a family friendly time, that is between 9am and noon.
That's not very many, given the 1 billion plus Catholics alive on the planet just now.
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Location:Chez moi

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Getting stuff done

This is quite boring unless you delight in working through lots of jobs you never quite have time for.

So, week 4 of the holidays and it is time to draw up a list and set about doing stuff. I've already done lots of gardening, so now it's the house. During the summer I take time to look at the everyday things and chuck out, give away, tidy up, deep cleanse, hoover behind, mend and replace everyday stuff. If I were in the business of inventing paraliturgies I'd now weave that prospect into 20 minutes of your life you'll never get back, instead...

I replaced my annoying work keyring given to me by one of my brothers which used to have a 'World's best teacher' fob thingy, til it fell off leaving a pointy screw, which periodically hurts me. Was is trying to say something? Very probably. I now have a London 2012 one, no sharp edges. I also bought a matchbox London cab with archery design down the side for my nephew... Well Auntie Leutgeb hasn't indulged in a pressie recently and he did have his nappy changed at the MCC last Sat, so only right that this be commemorated. But I digress.

Those piles of coppers wasting a little draw in my pine dresser? Taken to a supermarket and converted into a few things I needed. 1kg of porridge oats. Oh excitement.

Favourite necklace that broke? Taken to jewellers and fixed.

Eyes? Tested.

Teacher's Planner? Ordered 2012-3 copy. Though year 20 of my teaching life may be the last one with a paper planner. 2013-4 perhaps iPad only. There isn't yet an App that does what I want. New one filled with next term's school events, concerts, rehearsals and Masses. November looks mad comme d'habitude.

Various presents? Bought and wrapped.

Wonky gears on bike? Bike taken to cycle shop for tlc. Poor thing spends weekdays in term time outside the station in all weathers.

Meantime. Used up a bag of risotto rice and a small tin of kidney beans for three night's of tea, (alongside some more compelling ingredients.)Time to use up stuff in the kitchen. Would love to use the jam sugar up, but that would need some fruit to turn into jam and next door's plum tree has two plums overhanging into my garden this year. Frost and wind took the blossom. Not the Garden of Eden it is sometimes in the summer, when I pop out to pick delicious fruit à point and turn it into jars of golden jam. Maybe next year.
More sorting out and tidying action tomorrow.
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Guild meeting and blognic

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Location:Brompton Oratory