Thursday, 29 December 2016

Inanimate Objects Raising Their Heads Again

A familiar theme has returned to aggravate me this Christmas, that of the all too animate activities of supposedly inanimate objects.

I have blogged on this subject many times without ever being convinced by the comments of others, "pure coincidence", or "just bad timing" they say.

For some reason my household goods have ganged up on me again and are out to spoil my brief break from work.

A short while before Christmas my pull-cord bathroom light failed to work, so, thinking the bulb had gone I dragged the ten-ton step ladder upstairs and removed the bulb replacing it with a new one.

The bulb would not 'take' or 'attach' properly to the fitting so with the help of my cleaning lady I got hold of a good local electrician who came round had a look and told me the fitting was broken and needed replacing.  This he did, fitted the old bulb which was perfectly OK and he also tightened a link in the pull cord.

Wonderful I thought, so quick, so efficient and cheap too.  Glad it was done before Christmas.

On Christmas Eve my watch stopped.  Too late to get a battery, so no watch over Christmas.  A nuisance but not essential.

Later on Christmas Eve my ancient electric kettle started to leak.  Oh well, I thought, I have a replacement bought a while ago in the kitchen cupboard, when I have time I'll throw out the leaking one and start using the new one.

After the Christmas morning service (and about 3 hours sleep)  I got out the new kettle, put some water in it intending to boil and throw away the first lot of water.

Putting the kettle on its base I plugged it in and went to switch it on.  No switch!

For some reason when I had bought it 18 months ago I had simply thrown the box away and put the kettle into a cupboard thinking it would be handy to keep it in the kitchen for when the other one finally packed up.

How I had failed to notice it had no switch I don't know, but one thing was certain, no store was going to replace a kettle bought 18 months ago, or believe that I had not broken off the switch.

Yesterday I bought another kettle, this time I asked them to open the box and check nothing was missing before I would pay for it.

Now I have two kettles to throw away.

What next I wonder?

I am resolutely 'not noticing' that the water in the taps is running hot and I haven't put the water heater on..

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Church Choirs and Humour.

The clip alongside is the Carol we sang at St Mary's last Sunday morning.

An old well-established favourite of most choirs it has become (inevitably) known by most choristers as "Highly flavoured gravy".

For anyone left on the planet who doesn't 'get' it, this is a paraphrase of "Highly favoured lady" etc.

Equally awful is the schoolboy/girl version of "A Gaelic Blessing", known as "Garlic Dressing".

The list is long and tedious, the sense of humour involved pretty primary-school basic but, every now and then someone in a choir somewhere comes up with a new one which is gleefully seized upon and added to the repertoire.

We have, as I mentioned in an earlier post, been singing "The Jesus Child" by John Rutter and have had great difficulty fitting the words in to the music at the speed expected of us.

One line refers to "The kings from the Orient bringing gifts of Gold Myrh and Frankincense " This was causing one of my colleagues real problems and at the run-through before the service she suddenly blurted out "Mould fur and mankincense".  Total collapse  of whole choir.

Only those who have sung in a church choir will even begin to understand the amount of giggles this sort of puerile humour can evoke.  I can only think that long exposure to juvenile humour weakens the brain.

Roll on Midnight Mess.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Nocturnal Ramblings

I have been awake since 3.45 am and was quite determined not to get up this time.

Listening to the night noises and trying to identify them filled a lot of the time, until about a half hour ago when a scrabbling sound got me out of bed and opening the window.

In the front garden about 10 feet from my nose was a huge fox with a really big bushy tale.

He (or she) looked up at me and trotted off up toward the railway, in no hurry and not one jot bothered by my intrusion into his busy foraging.

What he could find to eat is a mystery - one I'd rather not investigate too closely - but he was clearly quite at home.

The very faded picture at the top is of the fox I saw a couple of years ago near my back door eating what I had thrown out for the birds.

Tonight's visitor was very much larger and I suppose I was lucky to see it, but it made me wonder just how many other creatures wander freely up and down our urban roads at night.

Oh well, time to get up (6.15).


Thursday, 8 December 2016

The first two Extra Christmas Services

This was the first of the two anthems we have sung in addition to the ordinary Sunday Eucharist ones.

The Stainer piece is very singable and we did well

The second one was John Rutter's "The Jesus Child"
This is more difficult to get right with unusual rhythms and difficulty (for some of us) managing to fit the words in.



                                                                                 I know this is a lazy way to blog but to be fair it does save a little energy and that must be a good thing surely.

Enjoy !

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The beginning of the annual big sing

I think the moggy on the left is meant to be laughing, but I suspect he is trying to sing with a sore throat.

On Friday I returned to choir practice after my 'bad cold' break thinking all would be well (vocally that is)

About half way through the rehearsal a bout of coughing put an end to my efforts and I simply listened to the alto part for the remainder of the time.

Sometimes people think I'm being a bit precious about avoiding those with coughs and colds, particularly during Lent and Advent.  But, anyone who knows just how much extra singing there is at these two periods in the church calendar will understand what I mean.

From tomorrow we have two services every Sunday and a huge number of extra ones right up until Christmas Day, (the last one).

Much as I love both of these seasons the music is often strange to us, usually a lot more difficult than usual and with far less rehearsal time.

The service tomorrow evening is the Mayor's Carol Service and will have a huge attendance of local dignitaries as well as our own congregation, so we will need to be at our very best,

As the Advent season goes on so the amount of music grows until Christmas Day sees a pale-faced baggy-eyed choir, hopefully still singing like angels.

Or did I dream that?


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Mixed Feelings at Advent

This year Advent brings as much sadness as joy for me, and I suspect for many others.

World events and National events, political, financial and Acts of Nature have all played their part in turning the world on its head.

Added to this two of our small church family have suffered the loss of a spouse, and in one case the death of a lodger in really tragic circumstances.

This morning I read a blog from a regular visitor to my site who had not blogged for a few weeks, to discover that her husband had died suddenly two months ago.

She is a quiet reticent  blogger who writes (unlike me) when she has something worth saying, and is clearly in very deep distress.  It is at these times when I would like to be able to simply turn up on a real instead of a cyber doorstep and offer at the very least a hug and a shoulder.

On this occasion I can't even light a candle and offer prayers at St. M's for her since I am out of action due to a beast of a cold.

Obviously I have and will continue to pray for her (and those others I mentioned) at home but feel the need to go somewhere where the very stones are  steeped in the prayers of centuries.

Yet, under all the weight of sadness I can't help feeling the stirring of  (possibly quite unjustified) hope.

May the peace of Advent enter into the darkest of places this and every year.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Enough of the serious stuff - let's have some trivia


On the left are two roses which once graced my garden, top is "Twice in a blue moon", below is
"Just Joey".

Both were very beautiful and had gorgeous perfume, most of the reason I chose them.

All my ;life I have loved roses and started growing them as soon as we moved here and had a (tiny) garden of our own.

Driven by my passion for the wonderful perfume I added more and more roses to my collection, At one time having 28 roses altogether.

Sadly, since John's death and my subsequent neglect of the garden there has been a gradual loss of one after another of my most precious plants.

Some obviously needed pruning feeding and in dry spells watering which they didn't get.

Only the toughest have survived, despite my neglect to remind me of my duty of care to helpless and beautiful living things.

Inevitably I feel both guilt and real sadness at the loss of some of my lovely old friends.

This year, as those who are regular reader's of this blog will know, I have found a gardener, and very good he is too.  So there is hope that when the last of the weed jungle has been cleared, and some pruning and space-making has happened there may be the chance to plant some replacements for my lost treasures.

Each time he spends a couple of hours clearing some space I am mentally filling it with some new roses but it will actually be some time before this actually happens.  In the meantime I have my remaining survivors to add colour and fragrance to my days.

These are just two of the few I have left and lovely as they are cannot begin to fill the gap left by my lost ones.

Sorry about the strange format, my computer skills are not getting any better.

Half my photos seem to be hiding from me currently so have to make do with those prepared to show themselves.

That's quite enough drivel for now.  Back soon/

Thursday, 10 November 2016

What does it take to make a Christian?

The events in America in the past 24 hours have presented me with a dilemma of mammoth proportions.

Shock and disbelief have been quickly replaced with fear and revulsion.

Never an admirer of Hilary Clinton yet the worst I feel for her is a wary, cynical unconvinced acceptance that she would be better than this alternative.

So much bile, vitriol and verbal abuse has been the main feature of both campaigns that it has been increasingly difficult to see the wood for the trees (assuming there is any).

Nevertheless what I have read and heard of Donald Trump has contained no single shred of hope for America's huge mixed race population, no way forward for it's aspiring female young and a very real danger that sensitive delicate negotiations between Europe and America will be trampled underfoot in the power struggle.

Our Rector who is an American has remarked that we must, as Christians keep hope alive and pray that the hectoring rhetoric of the past weeks will be replaced with a more balanced and reasoned approach when the new President takes office.

I find this very hard to do.

When I was baptised (in the 1180's font pictured above) I was made to understand that the past was just that, and that this was the beginning of a new and better life.

Part of that better life was to be the way I behaved to others, not just those I met face-to-face, but all those who impacted on my life in any way.

This I strive to do - though it is very much a work in progress- but the  thing I find most difficult is to restrain my angry reactions and violent verbal criticism of those I perceive to be wrongdoers.

Never known for my tact and diplomacy and far too outspoken for my own good, biting my tongue has become a way of life, but, every now and then I feel the need to rant.

So utterly dismayed am I at the result of this election that I have to remain silent.

Once started I would never be able to finish.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

How long is enough?

This morning we were treated to a very long sermon.

How long is long enough, and how long is too long is a much discussed question in our church 'family'.

The sermon in question was good initially,  it started off very well indeed. but as most of us regard 15 minutes as ideal, 20 minutes acceptable if it is very good.  This one then went on to 25 and then to 30 minutes.

The main point had been made well (and early), it was then repeated at least three times during the following minutes, culminating in a series of meanderings off the original theme and by the  time it drew to a merciful close had half the congregation dozing and the other half tapping their feet.
 
I am already bracing myself for the barrage  of complaints, moans and groans which will inevitably (and justifiably) come my way tomorrow morning.

Since I am 'in situ' so to speak, it is assumed that I have a private line to the ears of the clergy.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Why is it that some, not all, clergy have no 'off' switch?

Monday, 24 October 2016

Pollyanna is alive and well

For those who read my blog regularly it will come as no surprise to hear that "Pollyanna" moments are rare as hens' teeth, in my world.

Today is an exception.

Early this morning a visitor to St. Mary's remarked that I was very lucky to work in such a wonderful old building.

This made me think for a second that it is all too easy to take for granted what a privilege it is to spend half my waking life in a Grade One listed building with many centuries of history as my daily 'wallpaper'.

Getting home to my nice warm clean house (courtesy of Sue who cleans for me once a week), and looking out of the rear window to see Nick the gardener back bent double, digging out yards of ground elder, I realised just how very fortunate I am.

Only a few months ago I was really despondent at the state of my poor neglected garden, aware that under the weeds brambles and ground-elder a lot of my treasured plants and shrubs were either already dead or dying from lack of attention and sunshine.

For some reason when densely planting my small plot I never once considered the possibility that I would one day grow too old to give it the care and hard work it would need.

Never one to cross my bridges before i come to them, it had been quite easy to put such thoughts into storage, only for them to suddenly emerge and threaten to engulf me.

Now at last there is light and air around my shrubs, bare soil where there was thick green weed cover, and best of  all, space to plant replacements for some of my lost treasures.

Nick has also climbed a ladder and replaced a bulb in my security light which has been absent for about 3 months.

I truly never thought I would be so grateful to other people for restoring my surroundings to their former order and beauty.

Sometimes there are compensations for being old.






Monday, 17 October 2016

Weary Night-time Blues

Once again staring with red-rimmed eyes at my computer when i ought to be examining the inside of my eyelids, sleep my elusive friend is staying out of reach.

The photograph of a full moon on a cloudy night was taken from my bedroom window about a year ago.

Why one corner has been 'eaten' is a mystery.

When my library book fails to hold my attention and sleep is impossible I often look out at the night sky to see whether it is doing anything interesting.

Tonight the cloud cover is thick and the darkness intense, nothing to photograph.

If I could clear my head of this morning's anthem (I mean yesterday morning's anthem) it might be possible to sleep, but Purcell's "Thou knowest Lord" is careering round on a loop.

It's a strange thing, but often a piece of music I only half know will present itself  note-for-note when I am trying to sleep, yet when I do sleep and wake again it is once more full of errors and missing 'bits'.

Insomnia is a common theme in my blogs, a part of my life which I should really take for granted since it has been going on for most of that life, yet I still feel cheated when someone talks about their usual 8 hours sleep a night.

It is of course perfectly possible to function normally on too little sleep (despite the black bags under the eyes) and many people manage on half the recommended amount, but it surely must have some long-term detrimental affect?

I remember as a child being told to "go to sleep", as though it were something one just 'did', like tying shoelaces or combing one's hair.

For some children the words seem to act like an on/off switch, but not for me.  Not then and not now.

All the tried and trusted remedies have over the years been found ineffective and I've run out of ideas of my own, so, if anyone knows a magic formula will they please attach it to the tail feathers of an owl and point it my way.

Sleep well lucky people.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Hibernation time draws near.

Nick the gardener has just left and just in time to avoid what looks like a storm.

He has made a huge difference to my jungle and not only have I got patches of bare soil for the first time in years, but I can see daylight where there has been impenetrable gloom for ages.

Sadly it is now plain that my years of neglect have cost me the loss of several old friends, roses in particular, but some shrubs too.

This has been a very  strange year weather-wise, with very heavy rain in June, followed by drought for most of the time since.

Some of that time has been very hot, some of it merely warm, and now fairly chilly, but with one common theme.  It has been very dry.

Every time the clouds billow up and the sky darkens, we wait with baited breath for the much needed and regularly forecast rain, in vain.  It never arrives.

Even now, the East wind strong and cold is blowing the rain clouds elsewhere and it looks as though we are going to lose out once more.

I haven't  yet planted the bulbs I bought a couple of weeks ago as the ground is too hard.

Situated as we are in the South East Midlands or North West Home Counties, or even South East England ( it depends on which TV weather programme you watch), we get hard to predict weather.

Since we appear to have no regular geographical location it is obvious that the weather has no idea how to find us.

Unfortunately this does not apply to the winds, particularly the cold ones.  They seem able to locate us with the greatest of ease.

I am not really complaining since, so far at least, we never seem to experience flooding, which is a great blessing, but, please Lord may we have some rain? (at night preferably).

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Seeing things as they are

Today was a mostly wet day
But, in one of the few bright spells I decided to go out and dig out a large bramble which has appeared in one of the few weed-free spaces.

Taking my sturdy two-pronged fork from the shed I started to dig around the base of the beast.  I dug and dug until I was about six inches down, still no sign of roots.  For about six or seven minutes (quite a long time for someone of my age to be digging bent over from the waist (don't ask).

I stopped when a voice said "Gooday Mate that's my hair your pulling".  Actually I had found the root.

As I tugged it out of the ground I suddenly noticed my horrible hands, gnarled and with distended veins, wrinkled and not at all how I mentally view my hands.

Obviously I am forced to look at my face every day when I attempt to make myself fit to be seen, but apart from ladling cream onto them I seldom look at my hands.  Really look I mean.

The hands at the top of this page are the way I think my hands look, the pair below are much nearer the truth.

Why, as well as all the other physical indignities which are inflicted on the aged do we have to acquire such hideous hands.?

Often I take pleasure in looking at the face of a friend or acquaintance who has aged well, but an unwary glance at their hands tells a different story.

Heaven forbid I should be accused of vanity but why can't nature leave us just a little something to be proud of?

Surely it is the job of veins to remain under the surface quietly getting on with their job not to sit in full view like so many tree roots for all to see.

Is nothing sacred?



Monday, 26 September 2016

A good day

Today was the first annual appointment with the Parkinsons consultant.

The hospital I have to attend is 17 miles away and the bus from Aylesbury runs only every two hours.

As I have to get into Aylesbury in the first place, this makes a 10.15 appointment virtually impossible.

Luckily for me, my kind friend the parish administrator took the day off to take me.

The consultant was very pleased with my progress thus far, though he did point out that eventual deterioration is inevitable, and saw no reason at present to change the prescribed medication.

Coming out of there into heavy rain (just a shower) I was more than ever grateful for my kind friend's
transport.

We decided that rather than go straight back we would stop on the way  at a large garden centre and have coffee (and cake), and when the rain stopped have a look around.

We had a lovely chat, a good walk round and I bought some tulips for planting.  The first thing I have bought for the garden since John died.

Since the gardener had been by the time I got back, I now have some weed free space to do some planting.  All I need now is the time, energy and right weather and God willing, I'll have something new and beautiful to look at in Spring.

This may seem a very ordinary mundane sort of morning to most of you but for me, it was a rare trip out of Aylesbury in good company and really a sort of mini holiday.

OH,and just for the record, this was my 500th post. :-)


Thursday, 22 September 2016

Bad Memory is one thing - this is just plain weird

I think my one remaining brain cell has put its light out.

This being a house-work day I did a large wash-load of tops and skirts this morning.

When washed I  split the load into two piles for drying and put the first lot in the dryer.

The second lot went into the dryer about three quarters of an hour later and I mentally noted I would need two ordinary  hangers and three skirt hangers, so got them ready.

Later as I carted them upstairs to hang them up I found I was one skirt short, so, thinking  I had dropped it on the way upstairs I retraced my steps...........No skirt!

I looked in the washing machine, then in the dryer, then examined every nook and cranny minutely, not a trace of it was there.

Over the next half hour I searched and puzzled and finally admitted defeat.

I have just reached into the airing cupboard for a towel and there on a hanger in the front of the row of clothes airing was the skirt.

I have absolutely no memory of putting it there and no idea how I could have done so without being conscious of doing so.

Over the years I have done some pretty strange things, some I've blogged about, the habit of leaving a slipper in one place and the other elsewhere etc., but this is truly absent-mindedness on a grand scale.

Please someone tell me I am not about to bid farewell to my last marble.


Monday, 12 September 2016

Church Church and more Church

Apologies for my absence from the blog scene.

There doesn't seem to have been time to breath in the past couple of weeks, but life is returning to its usual (I nearly said normal) pace again.

Apart from spending Sunday Monday Tuesday and Wednesday from 9.15 am to 12.00 noon in St M's. there is also choir practice on Friday evenings, and this last weekend a 50th birthday combined with Barn dance in the church.

Then the next morning the usual Sunday morning service, and in the afternoon the installation of the new Archdeacon.

This has involved learning quite a lot of music in a very short space of time, tiring but lovely.

All the events went very well and though I probably shouldn't say it, the singing was really very good indeed.

There were a lot of compliments from a number of people (the great and good of the County) and our own congregation too.

This really makes it all worthwhile.

There has been quite a lot of social activity in the close too and this Sunday evening we are going out for a meal and then to the cinema to see the latest Bridget Jones film.

This will kill two birds with one stone for me, as I love the Bridget Jones films and have not set foot in the cinema since about 1982.

It seems the older I get the busier I get.

Well that suits me very well.  It is great to have things to look forward to again.

Amazingly the weather appears to be co-operating in a most unusual way (touch wood).

I know it is beginning to get dark earlier now but that is inevitable I suppose and won't slow me down anyway.

Every day I give thanks for my new life and friends in St' Mary's, I'm so very glad I took that first step 7 years ago.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Music hath charms............

Music in one form or another has accompanied every part of my life.

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.


Friday, 26 August 2016

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Seasons

This morning, for the very first time this season I heard it, the sound I blog about every year as Summer fades, the unmistakable Autumn song of a robin.

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.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Fully qualified Technophobe

Hello world.  I am still here.

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.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Fear

This is yet another old story re-visited.

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.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Mind your own business

Once again the unwanted and unwarrented nuisance calls have resumed.

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.

Grrrr!

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Alleluia My Lap-top is alive and well

Not that anyone would have noticed anyway but, my internet connection has mysteriously resumed active life.

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.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

"May"hem

What is she playing at?

Is it a deliberate mistake?

Is it proof she has a sense of humour?

Boris as Foreign Secretary, now I've heard everything.!

Not pointing out the obvious, plenty of other better qualified people than me to do that, but, Boris????

What's next, an invitation to Nigel to join the party and head the Diplomatic Service?

We have had many surprises/shocks in recent weeks but I had hoped we'd finished.

Not a blog, not really a comment on the improbable, just a dazed disbelief as the new list of Cabinet Members is unrolled.

Beam me up Scotty (or has that already happened?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

A day in the life of St Mary's Eagle

They call me "The budgie".  Rude innit?

Some of you may remember when that awful Ray woman made me this bonnet for Easter.

Thought it was funny.

(I did sneak a sly look in the mirror when they'd all gone home, thought I looked quite good)

Honest though, you'd never believe the things I've seen (and heard).

They lean on me to do their Sunday readings, idiots can't stand up by themselves.

They shout or whisper or croak, they mispronounce names, they pause in all the wrong places then climb down off the little step and leave sticky prints all over my nice clean shiny brass.

They ignore me when they have concerts in the church.  Lovely music, awful people.

The brats (sorry, dear little children) poke and prod me and cover me in finger-prints, think just cos I'm  brass I can't feel it.

Sometimes they have musicals or shows in the church, last week in was something called "Noye's Fludde",  Can't even spell it proper can they?

Never occurs to them I might like a part.  All those animals in the ark and not one single eagle to be seen, when the best looking eagle ever is standing there right in front of 'em.

I've been here a long time, longer than any of them but you don't see me on that old electoral roll of theirs.  Like I said.  Rude.

They never ask me to sing in their rotten old choir, not even an audition in all these years.

One thing though.

I'll still be here when they ain't.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Where are the dark horses?

Surely no-one who has witnessed the unedifying spectacle of the scramble for the glittering prize (poisoned chalice) of party leadership (both parties), can possibly be in any doubt that politics is a dirty game.

Undignified in the extreme not to say treacherous in some cases, it has been and still is a perfect example of all that is worst in British politics.

Nothing is as  it seems.  No-one is as they (formerly) appeared.  Who to trust?

I name no names.  We have surely had as much of that as we can take, but it seems to me that no single individual of any political complexion has come out of this debacle looking clean and promising.

What we need now is a dark horse, a secret runner, in short God.

Time to turn over the tables in the temples, throw out the wicked and the weird and allow space for a decent honest well-balanced human being to emerge from the shadows,

Someone who has brains, business acumen, debating skills and a clear view of our future in his/her sights.

But, back in the real world, since only the membership of the two main parties may vote for their choice of leader the rest of us are doomed to sit and wait with fear and apprehension and not a great deal of optimism, to see what our confused brothers and sisters deem suitable for our needs.

Yes OK so I'm playing devil's advocate but also praying for common-sense to prevail.

Let's hope choices are made soon and with at least a modicum of intelligence, and God help us all.


Friday, 24 June 2016

BLACK FRIDAY

All my worst fears are realised.

The flag-waving, jingoistic tub-thumping pseudo-patriotic posturing of the Leave brigade has defeated common sense.

Gullible ill-informed and easily swayed the mass of the British public has voted us out of the EU.

What am I afraid of?

Everything.

Perhaps my greatest fear is that this is the thin end of the wedge which will allow fascism (never very far below the surface) to begin its slow creep into the British psyche.

This after all is the way Nazi Germany began to gain its hold over the reasonable fair-minded part of the population.

All economic considerations aside, and there are many, the insidious racist verbal attacks on sections of our society which have been so evident during this campaign are just the tip of the ice-berg.

Where do we go from here?.

Who knows, but I am praying hard.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Nocturnal Wittering

Where does sleep go when you need it?

Why, after a more than averagely tiring day is it impossible to rest and relax.?

Who decides when we will sleep and when we will remain wakeful and uneasy?

What perverse and contrary part of our own brain refuses to shut down despite the hour?

Knowing that the morning will be taxing and that the need for sufficient sleep is more important than usual, merely puts more pressure on the weary would-be sleeper.

Worrying about sleeplessness is absolutely pointless, as is deliberately attempting to relax, so, what to do?

Watching television is boring enough during daylight hours so not even worth considering.

Reading only makes the mind more active (well, mine anyway)

Please don't say hot milky drink.  Ugh!

Suspect phoning one of my brothers might lead to excommunication (at the least).

Phoning anyone at all not a good idea.

Listening to the silence is unrewarding and a little unnerving.

Talking to myself is unproductive since I have nothing of value to say.

Don't want to go on a spider hunt (might find one)!!

Thinking about Thursday's vote is not going to help anything.

Mentally wandering down the highways and byways of my past is a daunting process since, as we age memories become hazy, fact merging with fiction and however full our memory libraries may be the retrieval system is unreliable.

This is the Summer Solstice and I am a Celt.

Could it be as simple as that?

Nah.!


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Stay in or Leave?

Despite the fact that I know how I am going to vote I am still, against all my basic instincts, listening to arguments on both sides.

Somewhere hidden deep inside of my mind is a glimmer of hope that I may even now hear something which will convince me, one way or the other.

Given the calibre of the argument so far that is a vain hope.

Among the lies, half-truths, wild flights of fancy and scare mongering there is occasionally a grain of half visible truth.

There are real concerns as well as blind prejudices, crude racialism, fear-driven attacks, so far only verbal, but the heat is growing.

I do not own a crystal ball, have no secret information which is unavailable to the rest of the country, and have never claimed to be any kind of expert on political problems, but...............

There is just one thing which convinces me that staying in Europe makes better sense than leaving and that is the calibre of people who are espousing the 'leave' campaign.

If nothing else could make my mind up once and for all it is seeing  'Barmy Boris' and 'Foolish Farage' leading the opposition.


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Out of Action

OK so the picture might be exaggerating slightly, but this is day five of a really nasty cold/virus/lurgy which has kept me in bed for 3 and a half days, and wanting to be in bed the remainder of the time.

Usual very sore throat, streaming nose, sneezing and coughing coupled with bouts of giddiness.  Sweating profusely at the slightest exertion (or none at all) and total loss of appetite.

One kind neighbour bought my oranges, squash and grapes so I didn't have to even think of going out, another put out and replaced my bins for me on collection day, so there was no need to make any gestures toward 'normal activities'

Obviously, having missed church on Sunday, and my favourite anthem "Drop drop slow tears" I also am losing out on the suddenly wonderful weather after a really cold grey week.

This, in case you hadn't noticed is a  bout of self-indulgent self-pity of the first order.

Having got it off my chest (so to speak), I should feel guilty but relieved.

I don't.

If I were a baby I'd throw my rattle out of the pram.

If I were a toddler I'd stamp and scream.

But I'm just a miserable, whinging old woman, sweating and whining.

And Blogging

Thursday, 26 May 2016

They're Back

Planet Arachnia is sending out missionaries again.

I suppose 'they' could have been lurking here in dark corners for a while but I suspect this is a new team sent to raise hair on necks.

A couple of days ago reaching for the hand towel in the kitchen I just managed in time to spot a large thick-legged member of the species squatting in all its ghastly leggy blackness waiting for my unsuspecting fingers, with an evil glint in its eye.

Opening the back door I shook the towel out into the garden and saw it scuttle off at speed.

The usual feeling of panic subsided slowly and I gradually lowered my guard and began to move around the house more naturally again.

Then last evening/night I was about to go to bed when I saw a suspicious movement against the skirting board of the office.

Reaching for the waste-paper bin I grabbed my long-handled feather duster and advanced on the enemy which suddenly shot behind the bookcase.  With a "damn you stay there" I poked at the edge of the bookcase, to no avail.

It appears to have vanished - but - I know better.    It is just waiting for me to drop my guard again and out it will come

What instinct is it that prompts these horrible creatures to choose the worst possible moment to 'drop' in?  How do they know we are just relaxing and ready for bed, or settling comfortably to read and how much does it amuse them to know the fear and agitation they  cause in cowardly hearts like mine?

This is only the beginning of the season.   HELP.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Time to take it easy

What a lovely idea.

The prospect of taking life at a slower pace is a very appealing one, but not the same in practice as in prospect.

For the past (almost) seven years I have been trying to fill my every  waking minute with activities.

The alternative seemed to be  to sit and examine my navel or stare at the walls and try to discover the meaning of life.  So, I sought activity, busyness, occupation to the extent that I now find myself longing for a day off.

This is a "normal" week.  Sunday  leave the house at 9.00 am for St Mary's,  Back home usually about 12.00 noon.  Monday Tuesday and Wednesday leave the house at 9.00 back about 1.30pm
Thursday shop or do household chores , Friday am same as Thursday but choir practice from 7 to 8.30 ish (out of the house at 6.30 back at 9.00pm
Saturday unless there are activities at St Mary's or in the Close household chores, paper-work etc.

But, wonder of wonders I now have a cleaner who does 2 hours every Monday, and from the 26th May I will have a gardener for a couple of hours,

The huge relief I feel at finally getting some help is perhaps a reflection of the build-up of stress I have been experiencing as my house became gradually grubbier and my garden turned into a weedy jungle.

Despite my bravado and apparent "I don't care what it looks like" attitude, I have been feeling slowly more and more aware that having someone in for coffee or a chat was beginning to feel embarrassing
as the general scruffiness of my surroundings grew daily worse.

Hopefully in a few weeks I will once again feel happy to have unexpected visitors and who knows may even be proud of the garden again.

First steps taken.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Quality or Quantity?

Yesterday, or rather evening, we at St. M's celebrated Ascension Day.

Services on a weekday evening are generally poorly attended, but I think it's the first one we've ever held in the Chancel.

On one side sat the congregation and the servers, and on the other the 'choir', or the seven of us who had turned up.

The organist sat at the keyboard and the Rector on the Altar steps.

fifteen of us in all.

While some of us were muttering sadly that it was hardly worth turning up, our lovely choir-mistress/musical director remarked quietly that it was not a concert but an act of worship.

Viewed in that light it was a lovely intimate and very personal little service and we all left at the end feeling lighter-hearted than we were on arrival.

The fact that the anthem was one I didn't like, and the fact that I had the 2nd reading had made me a bit nervous and uneasy, so the short but good sermon and the close atmosphere had a mood-changing affect which I very seldom experience.

Sometimes the 'message' gets lost in a big busy well attended service where quantity rules.

This time we had quality, and very good it was too.

Deo Gracias.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Oh to be in England now that April's there

I think that's how the ridiculous poem goes.

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.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

A Head Like A Sieve.

I have never been good with money matters, do not understand how most investment systems work, and am deeply afraid of losing the little money I have.

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.

Panic !!!

This morning I phoned the Church, Marks and Spencer and the bank to try to recover my papers.

No joy.

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.

Here's hoping.

I fear I am a bear of very little brain and what brain there is appears to be scrambled..

Thursday, 14 April 2016

NUISANCE CALLS AND STRESS!!!!!!

This is how I feel.  

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.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Low Sunday

What a very strange feeling.

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.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

HAPPY EASTER

The fourth Easter Service  is done and dusted

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.

Deo Gracias

Friday, 25 March 2016

Two down and two to go

This is what we sang today Good Friday.

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.

Deo Gracias.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

It's THAT Week Again

This morning at St M's we processed in from the icy air in the Churchyard having had our palm crosses blessed, teeth chattering and shivering in our choir robes we sang "Glory Laud and Honour".

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:-)

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Miserable Petty Post-Birthday Moan

Yesterday I hit the unbelievable age of 81.

No, I know there is nothing remarkable about that, but it doesn't feel real to me.  Yet.

Never having made much of a fuss about birthdays per se, I was amazed and a bit overwhelmed by the huge celebration my dear neighbours made of my 80th.

I hope I managed to show how pleased and happy I was last year but also hope I made it fairly plain that a repeat would not be so welcome.

Having said that, I love receiving cards whether birthday or Christmas cards and really value the time and effort people make to choose something appealing.  So, this in mind I was a little perturbed when no cards arrived early (usually oneor two come a day or so early) and then went off to work at St. M's knowing that the postman would not arrive on the day itself until mid afternoon.

I had a card and a planted terra cota pot  of violet and white Polyanthus from my friend the Parish Administrator, and a beautiful bouquet of pink and white lilies and roses from a neighbour.  The postman came and I picked up a pile of catalogues, advertising and charity appeals from the mat.
Not one single card and to  make matters worse today's post has just been delivered unusually early and again not a card to be seen.

In the scheme of things this is totally unimportant I know, but neither my family nor John's appear to have remembered the day.

One brother did ring yesterday and when I said a bit forlornly that no-one seemed to have sent me a card this year he said he had posted one to me a week ago.

So now I'm not just feeling neglected but actually mad at the thought that somewhere there is a compulsive card pincher sitting on a pile of cards addressed to me.............Or maybe not.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Divided by a common language

I had to blink and look again, but no it wasn't a two-tailed jackdaw.

Having just come back from town laden with heavy bags I took a taxi, this time, one of the former Black Cabs.

I say former, because most if not all of the ones in this town have done their service elsewhere and are living out their last years in towns across the UK. far from where they started.

On the glass dividing the driver from me was  the printed legend "Fares outwith Ayr Town must be paid for in advance".

Now how's that for a mind-boggler?

Not only is Ayr many hundreds of miles from Aylesbury but is actually in another country.

But that was not what caught my eye, it was the word (is it a word?) outwith.

It is so odd, so un-English and will not be found in either the Oxford or any other dictionary yet is in fairly common use among our Scottish bretheren (and sisteren).

Most people are aware that Wales has its own language, but fewer are familiar  with the 'almost' English spoken in various parts of the British Isles.

My taxi driver this morning was Asian and our rector at St M's is American and neither of these I am sure would have known what to make of this strange variation of our language.

Personally I love the rich embellishment of basic English by the addition of local dialect words and as a lover of language anyway find it fascinating that there are so many ways to say something,

If language is solely a means of communication then perhaps there  is less room for such words and phrases but if we see its wider uses for example poetry, it is perhaps time we threw away standard dictionaries and began to include English as it is spoken.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Dragons Leeks and Daffodils - It Must Be St David's Day

Two of my dragons, on the left Ivan Llewellyn Pendragon and on the right Rhodri.

I know I have shown them before but they deserve another airing, and what better day than St David's Day.

Had I the skill to draw what my imagination sees you would have a dragon with a bunch of leeks in one hand/claw and a daffodil between his teeth.  Sadly, it must remain just an idea.

Why is it that this day brings out all my latent frivolous Welshness (is there such a word?  there is now).

Born in Wales of Welsh parents, and having been briefly evacuated - for six months only - back to Wales from Birmingham, I have never since then actually lived there, but somewhere under the ancient layers of Britishness beats a Celtic heart.

Manifesting itself only on such occasions as the televised "Six nations rugby" when a sudden yell of "come on Wales, get on with it" followed by a groan or a roar might be heard echoing round the Close, it is not a part of my everyday life.

The fact that I sing is perhaps a symptom of Welshness, since all the Welsh sing.

That is not the same thing as saying all the Welsh Can sing.  Just that singing is second nature to those afflicted by the bug.

All my family and most of the aunts and uncles could and did sing so maybe it's something in the water.

Suffice to say that after a week of very cold dry weather, the saint has ushered in the new month with gales and rain so we are under no illusions about the advent of March.

Happy (belated) St David's Day to all
keep dry:-)

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

The Sound of Music

A friend recently emailed me to find out it I was OK as I had not blogged for a while and that is how she keeps in touch.

I replied that I was not feeling my brightest and best and would come up for air some time soon.

Those who read my trivia will know that when the mood is not right I tend to retreat into my shell.

Additionally this is a busy time musically and the weather has been imposing its own restrictions on my activities.

Last Wednesday we had the Imposition of Ashes service in the evening and on Saturday a shared music workshop with a local choir which then lead to a shared Evensong.

Since both of these events included a lot of extra music there has been little time for anything else.

We sang "Salvatore Mundi", The "Magnificat" and some Tallis as well as sung psalms etc.

Musically it was lovely, socially too, but it was a lot of work and was followed by the usual Sunday Eucharist with a totally different lot of music so energy levels were not at their best.

Just to lighten the mood the hitherto relentlessly wet weather suddenly turned bright and sunny and bitterly cold.

Feeding the birds this morning, everything white with frost, the normally nervous creatures were just sitting waiting for me to throw out a few scoops of seed so they could descend like tiny football shaped vultures.

Tomorrow there is the threat of snow - hopefully just a threat - and then rain and wind to follow.  I just love February!

I know February is, mercifully, a short month, but it is not one I care for and indeed I'm seriously thinking of hibernating this November until about April and just giving the whole thing a bypass.

Skimming through this load of drivel I now know why I haven't blogged for a while.

Sorry about that will try to do better.  (SOON)


Saturday, 16 January 2016

The Triumph of Hope over Experience

Yesterday I had my long (3 months) awaited appointment with the PD nurse.

Those of you who read my post on October 5th last year will know that the initial shock of the diagnosis was just a knee-jerk reaction and I fairly quickly decided not to go down the 'worst scenario' route.

Initially this was easy to do while I awaited the phone-call/letter from the PD nurse who, I was told, would be able to answer my questions.

Having first read the notes on Parkinson's provided by my GP I made a list of the main concerns I had.

As the weeks went by and my medication proved very effective in controlling the tremors (to the point where there were none - at least to my eyes), I became more concerned about long-term prospects.  Some of which had been high-lighted by the literature given me by the GP.

My consultation with the nurse yesterday was really worth the effort of first finding the obscure address of the place, and secondly the rather long walk to get there.  Only about a mile as the crow flies, but I ain't no crow!

She was friendly easy to talk to and very very reassuring.

Having put me through a series of physical tests she pronounced my symptoms 'minimal' and in essence convinced me that my current way of life and activity is likely to prove beneficial and is more than adequate to maintain a good level of health.

Confessing that my two greatest fears were the possible loss of my voice and the possibility of developing dementia. I asked her if continuing to sing would cause any escalation of the disease,
She assured me that on the contrary, the more I sang the less likely I was to suffer the loss of
throat muscle power.

Dementia as I think I said in my earlier post, is something which affects 50% of Parkinson's sufferers, but as both she and a friend pointed out, it also means that 50% of patients do not develop it.

Despite the freezing weather this morning I feel more up-beat and hopeful than for a very long time.

It was worth opening Pandora's box.