Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Fellow allotmenteers

The fine weather has bought out my allotment neighbours who are all very friendly and like me digging up swathes of couch grass. A number have recently taken on plots, so there is a certian pioneer spirit. Several have said how brave I am to take on the plot. But I had to have one close to the house and this was all that was going.
As a diversion, my Dad and I set fire to the great pile of stuff in the middle of the plot. He likes a bit of excitement whereas I like to play it safe with fire. What you can't see in the pic above are the 9 feet high dry brambles to the right. Needless to say, I made him chuck water over them when the flames started to get a bit high. Behind the brambles is a fence and someone's shed....
Meantime Rowan Williams on R4, has just spoken about throwing blame around in an endless paintballing riot. Skeptisism = asking tough questions. Beautiful vocal quality, very poetic. What's he on about?

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Annunciation

From digging to Mass, at Blackfen. The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate (lots of them,)were in fine voice and the army of altar servers were out in force again.

Then to the Hall for a cup of tea and a table of goodies where Fr Tim's 'fellow cold-hearted, spirit-quenching agents of global horror,' were seen to be chatting to each other, playing pool and generally enjoy each other's company. They come in all sizes from very young to very old.

I like the way the Feast of the Annunciation is exacly 9 months before Christmas Day. It makes me smile.

Hoe down

Having dug up a big pile of roots I'm now going back over the ground to dig up all the stuff I missed first time which now has green shoots of recovery spouting. OK if they are economic, not good around potatoes.

I now have a hoe. Hopefully, the wind and rain will hold off long enough this pm for me to try it out. Meantime, I have transplanted some tomato seedlings into yummy tomato compost, (not that I've tried it, you understand,) potted on the broad beans that didn't fit on the allotment and are in reserve and invested in some tiny strawberry plug plants. It's all go.

An e mail from the PCC

They are investigating my (our, everyone's) complaint re the Cartoon featuring to Pope.
I will be very surprised if they find against The Times.
Maybe some slapped wrists behind closed doors.

Then again, that awful morning after pill ad got pulled in 2005 and only 130ish people complained to the ASA about it.

The date it was pulled 8th Dec?
The ad started, 'Immaculate Contraception.'

I remember the day well because it was the day I got my present job.

So, the question really is, on which Feast Day should the Editor of The Times get sent the judgement against the cartoon from the PCC?

Sunday, 22 March 2009

A Georg Ratzinger Mass setting

Thanks to Catholic Church Conservation for this link.

I've only listened to the Kyrie, but I think it easily makes it into the ' good, honest music' category.

One entry on my to do list is to buy some Rheinberger Motets conducted by him with the Regensburg Choir. I went on a singing course in a Monastery in Normandy once where we sang a motet at Vespers every day plus some Masses. (Byrd 4 part ) Rheinberger was in the repertoire and the English (Anglican) participants kept complaining about the sentimentality. 'Oh no, not the Rheinberger.' I like it a lot. But then my favourite Christmas ditty is Berlioz The shepherd's farewell. It's not just British newspapers that I don't get on with.

The community sang very beautifully and were very gracious and hospitable. They had several very elderly Priests and the younger ones would have to steady them by the arm in and out of the Church. They really gave the sense that it was not only a pleasure to be helping but that they would happily have spent all day walking incredibly slowly if that's what was needed.

I know that if you spend time really listening to other people so as to fit musically with them it has an effect on how you treat them generally. But then you knew that anyway. It says so at the bottom of this page. Monsignor Ratzinger's brother said so.

Laetare Sunday

The new vestments are very beautiful indeed.

This is the first time I have ever been at Mass where new vestments are being used.

Thence, at speed, home to cook lunch for everyone, which my Mother enjoyed. We even sat in the garden before lunch. My brothers were on good form and Brother 2's fiancee brought a starter, allowing extra time to cook everything else.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

The Pope in Cameroon

Fr Z has an article by John Allen what's actually been happening.

Friday, 20 March 2009

In season and out

I've read a few comments on people's blog along the lines of 'Lent is not going great for me,' (and I'd certainly include myself in that,) but I bet you haven't had a disgusting cartoon picturing your visage in The Times? I thought not. A Saturday treat for me was to buy The Times, no more. I've had enough of Ruth Gledhill too. It's not just the format that's gone tabloid.

Who says the Pope has to avoid 'difficult' topics anyway? He's not a politician trying to get on with everyone to get re-elected. He's the Pope.

Thursday, 19 March 2009


Mm interesting discussion on Bach and Brahms, both good guys in my book. ( Light the blue touch paper and stand well back.) The Matthew Passion has so many beautiful arias, that I turn a blind eye to the Lutheran-ness of it all and put it down to being 'a bit German.' The first time I heard the opening chorus was one of those electric moments. Just to muddy the waters further there is that very contrpuntal bit in the German Requiem which has more than a hint of Bach. Can't remember which movement, sorry. Not to mention the last movement of the First Piano Concerto. Arnie (Schoenberg ) wrote an essay, 'Brahms the Classicist,' where he goes on about it, I think

But when all is said and done, Beethoven is best and he was a viola player as was Mozart.

One word Fidelio. I don't care if the story is not all that in its detail, the music is exquisite and for the beginning of Act II alone he gets my vote. All those overtures to choose from too. The basic premise of the story; woman rescues husband from prison, shows the sort of man Beethoven was. You don't get that in Wagner.

Slow movement of the Emperor Piano Concerto.
Slow movement of the Ninth Symphony, which I foolishly once conducted in a conducting class. Never choose that movement. So there I was in a very slow 12/8, thinking how stupid I was and that this music should not be touched by me. When I got to the end the leader of the orchestra, who was a retired pro and had just returned from a stay as an in-patient in a psychiatric hospital and therefore a sensitive type, said that I had great feeling for the music, which is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me about my musicianship.
The Seventh Symphony and

The Eroica. The best.

Tovey said the odd numbered symphonies were better than the even ones and he was right.

And now after another Parents' Evening, for I aim to speak to anyone in London with a child of secondary age, to sleep.

Draw on sweet night, etc.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Roger Scruton on Beauty

Saw this in The Times today, didn't read it at all properly and thought I should have a look again. He wrote some interesting stuff on music in his 'Aesthetics' book. At least he knows some music.

It certainly seems to be true that without Christianity (Bach was a Lutheran OK, my one concession to ecumenism, if only he'd lived in Bavaria...) people cannot create beautiful music.

Tomorrow, I will be playing in a performance of a mishmash of religious, historical and cultural allusions bound together by repetitive, trite sub minimalist motifs. Trash.

I want Beethoven 9, The Missa Solemnis (and people say he was a weird Catholic, go listen to the Benedictus Violin solo,) or even the Brahms German Requiem (a miserable agnostic Lutheran.)

At least the viola part is easy. One movement I swear I play the same 16 bars five times and it's not even fast. So from the, 'Do I need to worry about this and do some practice?' perspective it's top stuff. As a piece of music, it's really making me angry.

To bed.
NB Viola jokes in the com box will be dealt with swiftly and ruthlessly.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Thursday, 12 March 2009

The Pope

History alone says it's never the people who think they know better than him who win out in the end.

What point we have reached when it is necessary for him to write such a letter? Well a pretty poor point.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Nocturnal Radio

Now and then I wake up in the wee small hours and in an effort to get back to sleep, I sometimes put the radio on.

Thus at 3.30am on Sat I was was vaguely aware of a programme on the World Service about silence. It was presented by Peter Stanford. Alas I switched on to , '... said Fr (Br?) Cyril from Parkminster.' Then it was on to Fr Extrovert from London, describing his two years in the Benedictine Novitiate, who seemed to conclude that it was all rather cold and austere, because it wasn't for him. Seemed a bit odd to suggest that living a monastic life is negative on the basis that it's not your vocation. I wonder how many Benedictines there have been down the ages? Quite a few, plus all the other Orders, plus lots of other folks before. Aside from the praying, what about the horticulture, scholarship, music, art, education, care for the sick etc fitted in to a day whilst devoting all that time to their Offices? That's an awful lot of good stuff contributed to the world. By the same token, the Olympics should be cancelled, because I'm rubbish at sport.

Then the point was made that although Our Lord spent 40 days in the desert, He didn't stay there, though they did concede that He did seek lonely places at various points. The Church seems to have worked out that there are lots of different vocations and we all have different things to do work wise and some people should be in enclosed religious orders. We are all different after all and lots of people need a lifetime ( some of us slow learners longer,) to get good at one thing never mind trying to do everything.

Then they moved eastwards and were all positive suddenly. No dissenting Buddhists. Do they hide them away? The slightly snidey unenthusiastic ones have to do the washing up or something when the radio people arrive?

Fell asleep and woke up for 'Farming Today' or 'On your Farm,' and am now an expert on battery farming.

Sunflower update. They are germinating. Tallest 1cm. Feel worried, feel very worried.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Exciting News

1. The Tract passed off without incident this morning and the organist was happy. Went to bed at 1am having been to a work do in the line of duty last night. Got up and sang it twice before going to Mass. Stupidly, I forgot to take it on the train yesterday. I leant on Friday that having an LU in your handbag is very 'now.' Having a few folded sheets of Rossini Propers is a pale imitation of this, but you have to start somewhere.

2. I dug up a little lizard yesterday. It was a bit sleepy but was released back into the wild unharmed. Unfortunately, the children from the plot next door had gone home, (bramble traumas - jumper piercing prickles and much wailing,) so they didn't get to see it. I didn't know we had them in these parts, but then we do have a flock of parrots that squark about the place, so who knows, what I'll dig up next. I'm neglecting to tell you all about the two red ant nests. Red ant village more like.

3. My dishwasher is working again, proving that all things come to those who wait. After having tried to wash a peanut butter jar in it, it got blocked up, so I put some of that 'put your gloves on and don protective clothing' noxious gloop down the drain bit and waited. A month! Today I pressed the on button and the angry red lights did not flash. It's running empty at the moment to flush out the bleach, salt, rinse aid and washing tablet that have been festering away. How green.

Why am I washing peanut butter jars? For my jam.

I will be washing them by hand in future. I just thought I'd chance it and then had to bail out the bottom of the machine and remove the gloopy peanut butter and the paper label. Nice.

Bed time. Dreams of shiny mugs, sparkling glasses and cute lizards.

Happy St David's Day

from Bara Brith to all with connections to the land of my Father.