Thursday, 28 April 2016
What a month. We have had unseasonable warmth, rain (in torrents), hail, sleet and snow, Frost and very cold winds, in fact a year's weather in a month.
Last Saturday we had a service for the Queen's 90th birthday at St. M's, with all the great and good of the county in attendance.
On Sunday afternoon we had the Annual Scouts Dedication Service and St George's Day combined.
Somehow we seem to have miraculously avoided the worst extremes of this crazy month and have avoided being either drowned, frozen or struck by lightning. Can't imagine quite how.
My theory is that we have had several centuries of St. George being in charge of things and now things have changed. The dragon is taking over the proceedings and the weird weather we are experiencing is him, flexing his muscles.
There are buds on my early roses, leaves and buds on my tree peony but the daffodils are still in bloom. That is, until Hector (that's the dragon) singes them with his hot breath.
This morning I watched a crow dipping some bread I'd thrown out in the ice-covered bird-bath before taking off with it. Perhaps if he had hung around for a while Hector might have toasted it for him.
At present, 10.58 pm it is pouring and the rain and wind are lashing the back of the house.
Who knows what we may get tomorrow.
Thank heaven it will be May on Sunday.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 11:00:00 pm
Thursday, 21 April 2016
It has therefore been quite a struggle since John's death to keep an eye on what is in the bank and what it is doing.
My one attempt to save over a set period and leave at the end of the set time with the original sum intact, plus, hopefully some interest, has now matured and I spent an hour and a half with a lovely helpful girl in my bank yesterday trying to look into the future.
We have finally sorted everything out to my satisfaction and with one further appointment made for a few weeks time, I left the bank feeling reasonably happy.
Since it was one of my St. Mary's mornings I made my way there after the meeting. Under my arm was the black leather folder with all the papers detailing what we had discussed.
After my morning stint I headed for Marks and Spencer to do some grocery shopping then down to the bus stop to get my bus home.
A few hours later I realised that I no longer had my folder.
This morning I phoned the Church, Marks and Spencer and the bank to try to recover my papers.
Thinking I may have left them on the bus I tried unsuccessfully to find a lost property number for the bus service I use. There is no number.
As I had to shop in town again this morning I talked to the bus driver who kindly rang round a few of his colleagues. Again no success.
My folder appears to have vanished and I am desperately trying to remember exactly what information is contained in the papers. I think (hope) there is no card or pin number and the bank seems to think it will not be possible for anyone to try to use them fraudulently.
I fear I am a bear of very little brain and what brain there is appears to be scrambled..
Posted by Ray Barnes at 9:00:00 pm
Thursday, 14 April 2016
So far in the past 24 hours I have had 4 phone calls from an organisation calling itself UK Lifestyle, or Lifestyle UK.
This is the same organisation which nearly drove me mad last year and I foolishly imagined they had given up.
All the callers are Asian, mostly but not all male, and they all begin with am I speaking with Mrs Barnez.
Followed by good morning/afternoon and how are you today Ma'am?
So far I have managed to refrain from telling them exactly how I am, but told the last one to stop phoning me.
Currently I am pretty stressed anyway, (domestic problems), and my blood-pressure is rapidly reaching boiling point. To say nothing of the fact that stress makes my PD tremors return despite medication
What on earth will it take to get rid of these awful invasive leech-like pests?
If I knew where to buy one I would buy a whistle and every time they call blow it deafeningly.
BT are totally uninterested and apparently unable to do anything to stop them.
I was about to go and have an brief rest (;possibly nap), but am so het up I feel like pulling the phone cable out of the wall and stamping on it.
I think I'll join a nunnery.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 2:33:00 pm
Sunday, 3 April 2016
Today is Low Sunday, a concept I find difficult to understand.
Apparently the choir is not required (de-choired), so we may have the day off.
In previous years I have attended church as part of the congregation on this day, but this year have decided to have a day away from St. M's
Despite the assurance of all those who know about these esoteric things that I am not expected to be there, I feel guilty.
It has stopped raining and the sun is out. I can have as lazy or active a day as I choose, yet there is this cloud of guilt hanging over me and I feel unable to relax. (Like the days when I played truant from school).
It seems to me that guilt is built into the fabric of humankind in case we should decide we might like to enjoy ourselves.
In the 17th Century the Pilgrim Fathers were depicted as miserable, long-faced, psalm-singing, bible-quoting zealots whose belief in God was a sober and fearful thing. They didn't last long (not in this country anyway) but perhaps they left us with this legacy of guilt.
Original sin is a Roman Catholic concept but where did permanent guilt come from?
Please feel free to ignore my melancholic mumblings but if you have any thoughts on the subject I'd like to hear them.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 10:23:00 am
Sunday, 27 March 2016
Time to look back and reflect (having consumed a quantity of chocolate first) on the four busiest day's of the year.
Last evening we had the Easter Vigil with Bishop Alan performing Baptisms and Confirmations.
The Easter Fire was lit inside rather than as usual in the Churchyard, since it was pouring and blowing a gale. The saltpeter fire was a small flame compared with most year's blazing bonfires but was quite adequate for the lighting of the Paschal Candle.
Because the weather was so bad the church was very dark indeed, too dark to see our order of service booklets so it was with some relief that we reached the stage of lighting all the candles held by individuals before we had to sing.
The music was very good and the choir sang extremely well so the 2 and a half hour-long Service was well supported.
The Bishop's sermon was, as it always is, a good one with plenty of anecdotes as illustrations. He also has a habit of leaving at least one piece of wisdom which tends to stick in the mind. This time, talking about none of us being perfect he remarked that "every Saint has a past, and every Sinner a future".
We finished the third service with sore throats but lifted spirits.
This morning, day four, we had a very happy service with a lot of singing once more and this time, since it was once more pouring outside, the rector informed the congregation that the annual Easter Egg hunt normally in the churchyard would this time, be held inside the church since "the Lord rains outside".
We finished the service after the final blessing, when everyone thought that was it, by singing (very well, I must say), Hosanna Filio David. As the choir processed out it was to loud applause.
Unusual, but very welcome, since the choir was by then 'on it's knees' with exhaustion rather than devotion.
A very good Easter.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 4:38:00 pm
Friday, 25 March 2016
For me the combination of beautifully written very atmospheric music and the truly terrible (in the real sense) words of this piece, are absolute perfection.
We had an open day at St. Mary's as we did last year, with two half-hour performances of carefully chosen music from the choir among the many things of interest.
This was followed by the Solemn Good Friday service where we sang Solus ad Victimam so well that the hairs on the back of my head stood on end.
All the Easter music is my favourite part of the choir's work throughout the year, even Christmas coming second in my estimation.
We have a very skillfully and carefully created labyrinth marked out on the church floor with footprints marking the stations of the cross.
There was also this year a cross set out with tea lights on the floor of the chancel just below the alter, people were offered the chance to light one or more of them while offering silent prayer and by the time we started the service all the candles were lit making a blazing cross at the alter. Very effective.
There was a 'last supper' table set out traditionally and many other ways to attract people who dropped in.
Last night's Maundy Thursday service was lovely, today's even better.
Two more to go.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 5:16:00 pm
Sunday, 20 March 2016
Then followed the usual narrative version of the Gospel read (in some cases ) well but taking its usual lengthy chunk of time.
We had a longish sermon followed by very long intercessions and, by the time we reached the anthem were flagging somewhat.
This year it was the beautiful Hosanna Filio David by the 16th Century Spanish composer Tomas Luis de Victoria.
We have struggled to make this sound as good as it should, occasionally singing it very well but more often rather less well - this morning was one of the latter.
It is difficult to explain why this quite common phenomenon occurs, when to all intents and purposes we know it well and were not even on this occasion too severely depleted in numbers.
Something odd seems to happen to polyphonic music where the time is all-important, a sort of fracture leading to different timing in unexpected places. The conductor is beating the normal beat, the choir parts all appear to be correct and yet, suddenly there is this strange lack of harmony.
Perhaps somebody somewhere is throwing the proverbial spanner in the works in case we become too complacent.
I hope this does'nt auger badly for the remainder of the Easter music. One can only hope:-)
Posted by Ray Barnes at 3:33:00 pm