Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Germ War fare

Today once again looking out of windows drowning in sheets of rain, wind rattling house and skies grey as far as I can see, I find myself wondering  why human beings don't hibernate like the more intelligent animals.

In fact, having once again been struck down by the annual  Advent  virus just over 10 days ago, I am only just now beginning to even think about life outside these four walls.

Every year about this time half the choir goes down with a bug and all the careful hard work that has gone into the Advent music is wasted as our poor musical director tries desperately to change listed music for simpler well known stuff which needs half the usual numbers to sound reasonable.

In addition to this, yesterday was the funeral/memorial service for the wife of our Sacristan and I really wanted so much to be there.  I have been told that there was a good turnout despite lowish numbers in the choir but that doesn't make me feel any less frustrated by my own incapacity.

Will we ever develop the ability to fight off virus infections or is this simply the way we are meant to be?

Brilliant scientists achieve incredible unbelievable break-throughs in so many areas of human achievement yet nobody so far has even begun to keep back the overwhelming tide of virus infections which lay the population low every year.

I wonder if we moved to another planet could we leave the bugs behind, or would we have even bigger stronger ones to contend with?

All I want for Christmas is a cure for the common cold.

...and a large whisky.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Brass Nerve

I know some of you will recall having seen this fine fellow before, but I felt he was due an airing again.

When I have a reading on the occasional Sunday he is what my A4 copy rests on.

The bible permanently on his mighty back is a vast and very heavy early 19th century copy of the King James.

Never used in our services sadly, but always open for visitors to examine on it's brass wings, the "Budgie" as he is affectionately known is the obvious resting place for this hefty tome.

The reason he is wearing this rather fetching bonnet is that I felt sorry for him some years ago when the church was beautifully decorated for Easter so I made him an Easter bonnet.

Our then rector graciously permitted him to wear his lacy cap for the whole service on Easter Day.

I photographed him from underneath which is why he looks more like Mother Goose than a dignified Eagle.

Nevertheless, I am sure I've caught the odd reproachful glance from his beady eye as if wondering why he has never since been given some headwear on 'gala' occasions.

Am currently trying to devise something suitable for this Christmas Day.

Ideas welcome.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Singing Like a Bird............A Crow!

This week we  had the Mayor's Remembrance Service at St Mary's.  That was on Thursday evening and was reasonably well sung.

On Friday evening we had our normal choir practice plus an extra half-hour's run-through for our annual Chiltern Brewery Christmas Shop opening.  About 10 carols - some of which we knew!

Today (Saturday) we woke to freezing fog followed later by torrential rain  and made our bleary-eyed way to the village where the brewery shop was waiting to greet us like old friends.

We did a h alf hour stint went home for lunch and returned for a repeat of the programme at 2 pm.

There were only 6 of us but we did our best with our lovely Chris on her keyboard.  The sound was....well ....different.

This afternoon we had each tried a tiny thimble sized drop of one or two of the fabulous range of drinks they sell and it had improved our approach to the music if not our voices so much that we had quite a few compliments from customers.

With two services tomorrow, one in church and one in the market square we will know what to do if the sound is not as good as it should be.

Strange that don't you think?

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Life resumes

I know it's only just October but already we are beginning to sign up for the choir performances  in which we intend to take part.

So far, we haven't had any inkling as to just what we will be singing but our 'boss' needs to  know what potential is available.

The long boring months of summer are soon to be replaced by anticipation and a degree of excitement, as well as a lot of hard work.

Since mine is a fairly solitary existence most of the summer, there is the feeling of being taken out of the cupboard, dusted down and prepared for use once more - and I love it, and welcome it.

It hasn't been quite as bad as this sounds but nevertheless I can't help feeling as though the 'stop' button has been replaced with 'go'.

This evening's choir practice was just October's music but by the end of the month we should have at least some idea of what this Christmas has in store for us.

We have inevitably lost a couple of our youngest members to University but hope to recruit some more soon.  Unfortunately the two who have just left are both really good musicians and will be greatly missed.

These days we make a really good sound and need to keep recruiting good new members to replace the inevitable fall-out each season.

Unlike a village church where the choir if any, will be relatively stable, St Mary's is an urban church and the population is constantly changing.

The fact that it is also the County church of Buckinghamshire and a Grade 1 listed building leads to rather high expectations - not easy to meet.

At least the bats show their appreciation (at least I think that's what it means), by doing an occasional fly-past when we rehearse, accompanied by less welcome tokens of their 'approval'.

"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord", and if you can't, buy him/her some ear plugs.



Sunday, 11 August 2019

Anniversary

Today it is ten years since my husband John died.

Not all anniversaries are happy ones.

An ex neighbour, still a good friend is picking me up at 1.00 to take me to put flowers on his memorial stone and to clean up the blue granite so it sparkles again.

He loved blue, and his maternal grandfather came from Aberdeen, home of granite, so the stone was the best I could do.

As it is August, there is no choir for a month at St. M's and I do not sit in the congregation to take  part in a service where I can't sing.

This means no church until Sept.

Soe people find it odd that I choose to miss a whole month rather than attend what for me is not a 'proper' service.

It is after all the singing which is my personal approach to Christianity.

I miss the choir, I miss my other friends in the church and I miss John.

Mercifully Sarah my lovely ex-neighbour understands my skewed thinking and we will havbe a coffee and a good long catch-up chat after we have visited John.

Thank God for good neighbours, good friends and people who do not make judgements.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Quite a week

A week when temperatures in this dry neck of the woods have reached the sizzling level of 37 degrees.

After a few days of barely being able to move without being drenched in sweat, aware of smelling less than fragrant (even five minutes after a shower) and when trying and failing to cool my hot little house I am praying for rain and COOL.

How anyone can actually enjoy this sort of weather totally defeats me.

Add to that the acquisition of a new Prime Minister and cabinet with all that that implies and we have a page for the history books.

It has been a week for all the 'dark horses' to come galloping out of the shadows to joust for their places in the political circus.

The new ringmaster fills me with dread and fear for the future of this battered country.

Words have been spoken which might encourage hope in anyone less cynical than I, but, words are the easy part, what follows will decide our future position on the world stage as well as in our own country.

Boris and his Greek chorus have the unenviable task of seeing Brexit through to the end, with the risk of  leading us out of Europe without any form of agreement being reached.

It will be interesting (and terrifying) to see how the UK looks in November.


Saturday, 13 July 2019

Spoilt for choice

Justin case you thought I had stopped breathing (if you had noticed my absence that is), it is my diluted delight to inform you that my life has been so dull recently that it seemed ill-mannered to inflict the details on you.

Nevertheless, here I am again, still with nothing much to say but determined to say it anyway.

In this neck of the woods we have had no rain for so long that the gardens are crackling from their lack of moisture, added to  which the humidity is (for me anyway) frankly, Hell.

My gloom has been lifted by the amount of TV sport I have absorbed in the past couple of  weeks.

Never remotely interested in sport for the bulk of my 84 years, I have grown to love cricket, 6 nations rugby and Wimbledon more or less despite myself.

Having sung at a wedding at St. M's this morning I returned home in time to see the magnificent Womens' Final at Wimbledon, and tomorrow on my return from church I will have one eye on the Mens' Final and the other on the England/New Zealand World Cricket Final.

What on earth I will do on Monday I can't imagine.

Never has my "Old age" free TV licence seemed more valuable.

Sadly from next Summer I will have to pay for it.

Oh well, progress I suppose!

Will have to leave this non-report and go to water the garden.

Back again soonish (I'm afraid).

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Highly Recommended

Once again Prince Donald has opened his treasure chest of wisdom with some "advice" for the poor uninformed citizens of the UK.

"Boris" he trumpets, (pun intended), "would be a good choice for Prime Minister".

The sheer bloody impertinence of the man is breath-taking. 

Having established such a haven of peace, business acumen, successful inclusiveness on his own shores, he now feels he is in a good position to advise other, failing governments around the world on their best way forward.

Admiring, as I do, the excellent Mr Johnson, I can only hope that the recommendation and verbal support of this supreme orator will be sufficient to ensure that he never has the faintest chance of being voted into the top job.

Are we really not in such trouble already that we need 'help' from the Blond Buffoon to add to our political miseries?

I have some advice for you Donald.  Butt Out.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

........."On the other hand Lord"

Anyone who remembers "Fiddler on the roof " will recognise the title of this blog and the context.

The terminally undecided main character was always weighing opinions in the balance unable to decide  between them.

That is the story of my life.

Never more so than at present, when having just given up one more of my regular weekly voluntary positions, I find myself wondering if I should have gritted my teeth and carried on.


But, no, there is a time when we have to make up our minds how much of the time we have left should be spent doing things which we no longer enjoy and some of which are becoming chores rather than a pleasure.

Now I am down to just two activities per week at St. M's.  Wednesday 'meet and greet' and Fri and Sunday choir member.

I suppose at the age of 84 I should be content with such a limited amount of activity, yet i find myself wondering what I can now find to fill the time I will have to spare.

Although I no longer do any real gardening and have someone once a fortnight to try to hold back the advancing army of weeds etc. I still potter a little and can never make up my mind whether to be pleased about rain (ruining my lovely tree peony, pictured above), but feeding and replenishing all the drought stricken other shrubs.

Likewise putting out yet more peanuts, bird seed and suet feed-balls for the birds, I detest seeing the evil little squirrels getting the lion's share and at the same time am glad that they at least are not a vanishing species.

Watching the antics of the worlds' politicians as well as our own home-grown ones, statement and counter  statement, arguement and counter argument claim and denials I feel as though there are no absolute certainties, no total truths, no one particular viewpoint which undeniably the right one.

It seems that the older I become, the less certain I am of anything, so that if I live to be truly ancient I will by then no nothing at all.

Is it time I fell off the twig?

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Reflections

The four days from Maundy Thursday to  Easter Sunday with hours and hours of singing seem like a distant memory already.

We sang some very difficult and lengthy pieces which took us out of our comfort zone.  The comments after each service were very complimentary and helped to compensate for the hard work.

The Saturday evening whjich included either 13 or 15 Confirmations by the Bishop (can't remember how many) was a particularly happy time.

Sometimes I forget just how old St Mary's is, but the traditional Easter and Christmas services bring the ancient stones to life in a way the normal Sunday ones never seem to and the excellent accoustics make the music even better.

This Saturday evening the weather was perfect and the sun poured through the glorious West window with its amazing colours in a way we seldom see.

We had six readings (mine was no 5), and six psalms as well as a sung eucharist.

Altogether a huge undertaking, but well worth the effort.

A lot of the time attendance at the normal services seems a bit routine, but the taking part in the really big ones (when they are well done), is pure joy.

It is nine years since I was baptised and confirmed and I have never had cause to regret the decision which caused me such a change of direction from my old life.

My life  is much more tranquil than ever before.  Deo Gracias.


Thursday, 11 April 2019

Protest Songs - Hat-tip to Jean at Tregear Vean

Reading one of my favourite blogs this morning I was reminded of my own history of singing on protest marches.

The photo on the left was on one of the Anti-bomb CND marches back in the late 50's or early 60's.

My neck and shoulders (face hidden by the poster ) are bottom left.  The singer/guitar player my youngest brother.

All  three of my brothers and a group of fellow singer/Socialists spent many summers, marching and singing anti-bomb, pro peace songs.

The Aldermaston March was the biggest of these events and always culminated in a rally in Trafalgar Square, where The Hiroshima Song and others would be relayed to the thousands in the crowds.

While very serious about the purpose of the protest, we nevertheless enjoyed the singing, and of  course it helped us to forget our aching legs and feet.

The marches were always lead by amixture of politicians, clergy, actors and writers and often the addresses over the public address system in the Square were of the finest calibre.

While it is true there were also hundreds of police present, both on the march and in the square, it was rare for any serious trouble to break out and mostly relations between "Us" and "Them" were fairly friendly.

I can't help wondering if today's youth could be persuaded away from their phones and gadgets long enough to register any interest at all in the issues of the day.

And if they could, what would they sing?

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Really Weird Scam

There have been so many reported scams in blogs I hesitate to add yet another, but this morning's effort was truly weird so I thought I'd better air it.

The phone rang, I picked up the receiver and there was an automated call, an American voice, female and , one I have heard before.

This time the speech went something like this: The reason for this call is that someone has taken out legal action against you, if you want to talk to your case oficer the number is...

That was when I realised what was  happening and I put the phone down.

As i said, a very weird one

My previous calls also automated and the same voice were some months ago and warned me that my internet connection was being cut in a few days' time.

Ialways ignore these calls but must admit to feeling slightly rattled by this one.

What on earth do they hope to gain?

The curious (OK nosy) side of me would quite like to know what would have happened had I been stupid enough to ring the number they gave me.

There appears to be no limit to list of tricks the wicked are happy to play on the unwary.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Tempus Fugit (or something)

Today is my 84th birthday.

I can't believe  it - until I look in a mirror.

Putting my birthday cards up on the shelves of a bookcase I was struck once again by their dimimishing numbers.

As more and more friends family and contemporaries fall off the twig I find myself looking nervously over my shoulder.

Many of we survivors say the same thing as we move closer together to  fill the gaps on the twig.

There are many good things about ageing in this day and age, unlike 100 years or so ago.  We have bus passes, free TV licences (at present), and are given priority when using emergency call-out services, but, the price is high.

Failing health is for many/most of us a major factor in our daily lives but for some of us, myuself included this is not the worst problem.

Maybe I am generalising but I have heard quite a few of my friends say that loss of confidence in dealing with everyday issues is becoming a barrier to living life as  it should be possible to  live it.

This morning my birthday gift from my household demons was to  be greeted with a flood in the garage.  It took a second or two to realise that my freezer had thawed and was continuing  to do so.

Spotting that the light on the plug was not on and that there was none on the freezer either I knew It was time for urgent action.

One of my neighbours was at home so I begged some time from him to clarify the problem.  He checked the plug and wall socket and told me the freezer was basically 'dead'. 

Removing around 100 pounds worth of food and putting it into black  sacks I realised that I do not really need a freezer at all.

I keep buying things and filling it up but seldom use anything from it and can, with care,  manage perfectly well without it.

Now the problem is going to  be disposing of the freezer. 

Oh the joys of being an ancient crone unable to drive and with limited muscle power.

Happy Birthday Ray.!.


Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Ash Wednesday


We (yes the choir of St Mary the Virgin) sang this beautiful anthem at this evening's Ashing Service.

Though I say it as shouldn't, we  did a pretty creditable job and the accolades are rolling in.

It is rare that we manage to do justice to a really difficult work, bujt this time we did.

I can go to bed happy for a change.

The version with this post is a good one but I think ours was almost as good.

A wonderful beginning to Lent.  Deo Gracias!

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

A Little Night Music

This clip from Utube of Beati Quorum Via by Stamford is how our anthem last Sunday should have sounded.

Needless to say, it did not.

Well (perhaps too well) rehearsed, it went smoothly at the Friday evening choir practise, but less so on the early Sunday morning run-through.  Possibly due to the numbers being halved.

This is a common and very irritating phenomena in our choir at St Mary's.

We get a splendid turnout and the balance of sound is pretty well perfect in rehearsal, then, on the day at least a half dozen or so fail to show.

With something as ambitious as this lovely piece every voice is essential to  the finished performance.

Getting everyone to accept this, is nearly impossible.

Those of us who are truly dedicated to the choir find it very frustrating but are quite powerless to change this attitude of the less dedicated.

From my own point of view a committment to the choir means attending every rehearsal and every service unless illness strikes.

The reason for this latest diatribe is that I went to bed with the music running round my brain on a loop, was just dropping off to sleep when a blood-curdling scream outside shattered the peace of the close.

After the 2nd and third shrieks it was obvious that the foxes were out on the railway embankment giving a recital.

Once all hope of sleep had vanished I thought I'd take my bad temper out in a blog post.

Well I have to vent my spleen somehow.

Oh and please do listen to this recording if you have time.  It really is rather lovely.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Insomniac's Corner

Yet another gritty-eyed night, bored, sleepless, too hot (radiators blazing). rain slashing at windows.

February!

British Gas maintenance annual checkup today appears to have made no difference whatever to the list of problems I presented the engineer.

Pipes banging radiators too hot to touch despite thermostat being set at 15 degrees.

Water in taps boiling despite switch turned off.

I give up.

As it is Winter and was very cold last week I suppose I should be glad to be warm, but there's warm and there's bloomin' 'ot!

A day spent doing nothing much but hang about waiting for the engineer is not a good way to use up energy and I find myself full of the stuff just when i  need it least.

Tomorrow at St. M's I will be pale-faced and baggy-eyed as a result. 

Why is it that when you are hoping to climb into smooth sheets and sink into blissful oblivion the said sheets appear to have been covered in grit and pillows filled with lumps of clay?

Apart from the intermittant rain the only sound from outside is the occasional doleful wail from a cat complaining about being shut out.

Have just walked up and down the stairs 3 times just to see if my feet still work, unlike my brain they do.

Think I'll read,  Night!  No, Morning!

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Experiment

Last week I had a phone call on my landline.  It was an automated call and the voice was American and female.

It told me that as from 2nd February my internet was  being cut off.

The call then cut off.

I did what I usually do about such calls and completely ignored it.

A couple of days ago a message was flashed up on my lap-top screen telling me my Google Account was to be closed down. this also disappeared before completion.

Last night I was told (lap-top again) that as from tomorrow (now today) my Google account would no longer be valid.  No more information was offered.

This time I switched off the computer unplugging it completely and went to bed.

Today having switched everything back on the only thing which appears to have happened is that my gmail account is not operating.  (It is, however, working on my Ipad).

If this blog is published I will assume the whole thing is yet another mindless prank.

If anyone knows more about this please enlighten me.





Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Satirical Post

Today is the great decider day (yet another), when we will hear which, if any of the options before the PM will be accepted.

The noble (sometimes) institution known as the House of Commons will pour forth another deluge of wise words meant to clarify the horrible mess known as Brexit.

Said institution henceforth referred to as "The Gas Works", will yet again try to bamboozle the bewildered voting populace with their own versions (and there are many), of our current situation and offer their own solutions .

Meanwhile the Prime Minister is trying still in the face of almost total opposition to batter her way through the fog and get her motion accepted.

Like most of the country I am sick to death of the subject and am rapidly losing my grip on what the original aims of Brexit were.

How we must appear to the bemused gaze of the other EU members i can only  shudder to imagine, and while it is good to be able to provide some light entertainment for their amusement the joke must be wearing thin.

No deal looks increasingly likely, and where that will leave us is up that famous creek without a paddle.

Occasional rumbles from elder statesmen have produced nothing of value and we seem to be further back than we were after the stay/leave vote.

By the way, I voted to remain.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Time for Change

A new year is traditionally the chance to make a clean sweep of all the things you don't like about your life, change for the better what you can, and find ways of dealing with those you cannot change.

Such a lofty and noble plan, so what is stopping us?

Sometimes outside forces, sometimes our tendency to cling to old habits or as in my case, simple inertia.

It has been linked by some people to depression, and there is some truth in that, but also the basic nature of the individual plays a big part in just how much energy we are prepared to spend on trying to rethink our way of life.

Laziness has always been a big part of my nature, and at one time was merely mental inertia but these days includes a disinclination to make myself do anything I don't really want to do.

This I justify by saying "I am too old" or "I am not as fit as I was", when in truth what I should say is "I can't be bothered, it would take too much effort".

Spending as I do, all of the Christmas and New Year break on my own gives me much more time than usual to dream up reasons for not doing things, while the usually bad weather (though not this year) is the perfect excuse for not moving a muscle except when absolutely necessary.

I make a big list of all the jobs which I should do in this long break from routine and start by crossing off each one as I complete it, feeling smug and self-satisfied with each tick.

Then instead of lurking in the shadows, in comes inertia sidling round the door, whispering "Leave that one till tomorrow", or "Wait a day or two to do that you may feel more energetic".

Inevitably when I return to my routine Monmday morning in St Mary's (7th Jan this year) I will get caught up in the usual energy draining activities and think, "You idiot why didn't you do so and so while you had that long break, now you'll have to find time to fit it in in a busy week".

Somehow however, it does get done during the 'normal' week and takes very little effort while affording huge satisfaction that it is at last done.

When the rain in mid January is lashing down and the garden is fast becoming a lake, I think "Just look at all that old bird-seed you meant to sweep up while it was dry, now it is turning to porridge".

So this year I am going to lock the door on prevarication and "Gird up my Lions" and jujst get on with it.  Or at least that is my intention.

A very happy healthy New year to all.  Keep moving.