Saturday, 27 August 2016
I sang as a very small child, and as a nervous teenager, and as an ambitious adult.
Recorded music, (on REAL records), CD's, tapes, on the radio and live in concert halls and opera houses has been the - I nearly said background - framework of my life.
For most of the time it has been a joy, a comfort, sometimes a thrilling experience, occasionally the road to deep sadness.
What some, probably most, people regard as music is something from which I retreat and while recognizing its place in the world will never have a place in my world.
Ask me the name of a recording artist, name a particular recording, enthuse about a well-known performer and we are speaking different languages.
Addicted to TV quiz shows from "pointless" to "University Challenge", I sail happily through questions on classical music from every period, but faced with popular music I sit in glum silence.
Very occasionally something will stir a flicker of memory and I will come up with the right answer while the contestants look bewildered. Thisis nothing to do with taste, merely that that particular tune song or artist was so popular in my youth that I unwillingly and unwittingly absorbed it into my semi-conscious.
Last evening I watched the 'proms' on BBC2 which consisted of a performance of Mozart works, including the "Requiem".
Despite loving nearly everything he wrote and having sung quite a lot of it, I have somehow never made the acquaintance of this work.
Obviously some bits were familiar but all in all it was strange to me - and I regret to say will remain so,
I know it was the last thing he wrote and that other hands completed the work after his death but that alone cannot account for the fact that it seems to me totally unlike anything else he wrote.
Perhaps it was the fact that the conductor had decided to sprinkle the chorus in amongst the orchestra, but it seemed fragmented and did not hold together as a performance for me.
Maybe my hearing and critical faculties are deteriorating, or maybe the heat and humidity of the last few weeks has got to me, but given a choice my first meeting with this work will be the last.
Or, maybe I am just a crotchety old woman looking for something else to complain about.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 10:47:00 am
Friday, 26 August 2016
Sunday, 21 August 2016
Early this year, not sure why but quite different from its Spring and Summer song
There is a melancholy echoing quality about this sound which tugs at the heartstrings.
It was early morning and my windows were open wide so it was not accompanied by a million other birds as it would be later in the day.
This has been a very strange season with extreme heat, sudden plunges to much lower temperatures and a petal-curling, leaf-drying drought.
This morning there was a light shower and it was then the robin sang.
Maybe it was only "good, there will be worms for breakfast", but it sounded like a saraband or other slow mournful tune.
Never a lover of hot weather I hope it will prove to be the signal for temperatures to drop a notch, for soft rain and light breezes to replace what we have had in recent weeks.
Rather a lot to pin on the solitary song of one small bird but it is a bookmark in the days of the year which I have come to rely on.
I am tired of the Olympics (splendid though they have been), fed up with noisy crowds yelling and cheering. More than a little sick of the smell of charring meat on a thousand barbeques.
Time for a change in the pace of life.
Time for Autumn.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 10:52:00 pm
Friday, 12 August 2016
For the past two days I have been unable to access my blog, emails or Google.
Having fiddled with all the weird and wonderful
icons on my screen and having been told I was online when clearly i was not, it has suddenly relented and allowed me access.
For someone like me with no computer skills whatever, no-one to turn to to ask for help and very little idea of what I am doing at the best of times, it seems like a small miracle when something I had almost given up on, miraculously starts to co-operate again.
When the good Lord gave out brains I was out of the room.
Yesterday was the seventh anniversary of John's death and having had a miserable lonely trudge to the cemetary with flowers and something to clean up the blue granite headstone, I was feeling in need of a good energetic blog session, only to find my machine once more refusing to co-operate.
It has been a very sombre time recently with the loss of a member of our drop-in community and other sad events, and the mood in the church has been at a different level from the normal reasonably cheerful one.
I try not to let these sort of happenings affect my own mood but combined with the fact that my closest friend/neighbour has moved out of the area it has not been easy this time.
There is no choir at St. M's in the month of August so there has not even been that distraction to look forward to and I can feel The Grinch getting nearer.
Roll on Autumn and a change of mood.
Yes of course I know this is only a blip. Normal (?) service will be resumed as soon as possible.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 4:26:00 pm
Monday, 8 August 2016
I have my bird seed delivered in large heavy sacks direct into my garage.
They then need to be moved to the shed to fill the plastic bins in which they live until the next refill.
This I do in small quantities at a time since I can't lift heavy weights.
Today I decided to move the remainder of one sack in one go as it was half empty. In the dim light of the garage I spotted a sudden movement in the sack just as i went to lift it. A mouse, I thought, so I'll just leave it for a while and go out again in an hour to see if it has been frightened away.
This has worked before.
Gingerly lifting the sack to the garage door I put it down by the door of the shed opened the door and went to lift it in.
Horror of horrors, clinging to the inside of the sack was an immense black spider. Transfixed with fear I pushed one edge of the sack towards the garden and stepped back-----nothing.
Peering into the sack from a safe distance I saw the monster quite near one edge, so amazed by my own superhuman courage I picked up the sack, marched to the edge of the garden and turned the sack on its side.
The beast slowly crawled out and crept into the greenery, whereupon I seized the sack, hurled its contents into the bin slammed the shed door shut, took the now empty sack into the garage and fled into the house, shaking.
For me a Dan Dare moment, for the rest of the world an exhibition of abject fear.
Gandhi was right, hatred is really fear.
If I hated spiders I'd kill them. I wouldn't dream of killing them, or indeed anything else, so what I feel is pure unadulterated fear.
Like all fears it is irrational, but knowing that makes no difference to the reaction.
There is a lesson there to be learned.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 4:58:00 pm
Thursday, 28 July 2016
This time the caller announces that he or she is speaking from a "Wellness" centre.
The word alone is enough to make my hackles rise, since, as far as I am aware there is no such word.
This is followed by "what do you do to keep well every day"?
The following rapid volley of questions about my life-style so annoyed me that I put the phone down.
Five minutes later it rang again and a different voice started the whole procedure again, this time I said "How is that your business?" and once again I put the phone down.
Is there to be no end to these intrusive, time-consuming pests? I really thought they had exhausted their repertoire, but clearly there is more to come.
At the age of 81 I really cannot see how my state of health, life-style, daily habits/hobbies could possibly be of any interest to anyone, but it seems I was wrong.
There really should be some way of identifying these vultures before picking up the receiver, the phone should flash red or a siren should sound. Failing that I'd like a button to press which would instantly strike them dumb before they had a chance to raise my blood pressure.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 11:10:00 pm
Thursday, 21 July 2016
For the past 8 days I have had no access to the 'net' except through my iPad and have been unable to Google anything, or blog.
Amazingly I found myself feeling as though I had quite a severe illness.
The hideously hot weather robs me of all but the smallest flicker of energy and every necessary activity is a chore, so not being able to communicate in my 'normal' way has been even more of a deprivation than it would have been in ordinary weather.
Not at all computer literate, not an IT competent person nor particularly patient, I have been unplugging cables and re-plugging them, pressing all the apparent help-lines on my screen and had finally decided that as today is not a working (church) day I would go and beg one of my hard-working neighbours for some advice.
Last thing last night I pressed a hitherto unused icon on my screen without any real hope, saw no apparent improvement and went to bed. This morning the magic had happened. The screen is now displaying all instead of just a few of my icons and virtual life has been restored.
Six or seven years ago if anyone had told me that a computer would play such an important part in my life I would have thought they were mad, but words cannot express my (still tentative) joy.
What very strange creatures we are.
It now remains to be seen whether this is a permanent improvement or not.
Hoping and praying.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 7:39:00 am