Sunday, 31 December 2017


Happy New Year to all who happen on this blog and "May the force be with you".

Spock.  He of the memorable ears meant well and so do I, even  if my new years greeting is perhaps not the conventional one.

I had intended to let the new year make its entrance without my company but so noisy are the fireworks in this area there is no point in going to bed.

The first bangs and crashes began about 9.45pm and the volume is increasing by the minute.

It is now 10.25pm my eyes are heavy but at least I have the luxury of not having to get up in the morning until I choose, so loss of sleep now is of little consequence.

It has been for me as for many others a year of mixed fortunes, emotions and moods and I live in hope that 2018 will be better.

Normally I don't make resolutions but this year I have decided to seek out another social group besides the church ones to try to make some new friends before it is too late.

How that is to be accomplished I don't yet know, but it will happen, and when it does I will blog about it.

A Happy Healthy Good New Year to you all.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

!!!!!!!!!!! And a Merry Christmas to you too !!!!!!

 After a very heavy schedule of Christmas music resulting in a mere 3 hours sleep in 48 hours, I felt entitled to slump and do nothing for a day or two in comfort and warmth and without interruption.  The scammers had other ideas.

Yesterday (Boxing Day) I had a call purporting to be from the telephone preference company.  They began by asking if I had received many cold calls recently, I answered that I had, far too many.  They then said they would re-register me and could ensure that both local and overseas calls could be prevented.

Slightly bemused and still very tired I confirmed my name and address (which they had already quoted) but they then asked me to confirm when my bank debit card (name of bank correct) was due to expire.

At last my exhausted brain clicked into gear and I refused to confirm the date, which appeared to confuse them.

They then asked me for the 3 number figure on the back of my card.

Finally, brain at last firing on all cylinders, I said "There is no way i am giving you that information" and put the phone down.

This morning they rang me again at 10. am and again at 12 . 15.  This time I made no reply at all and having put the receiver down checked with 1471 that it was the same number who had called me previously.  It was.

Having checked on line i found that nearly 800 people had tried to find out who this caller is.

Just for the record, and in case you are the next one to be called the number is 01613540623.

Stay alert.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

The Joy of Singing

Last Sunday was our service of nine lessons and carols and I managed to sing almost all of it without too many croaks.

Anyone who sings or has sung will know very well the misery of losing the ability to sing due to a virus, be it cold, flu, throat infection, chest infection, and the huge relief of regaining control over wayward vocal chords.

It was the first time I've been able to sing since Remembrance Sunday, a lifetime!

One of the many lovely things we sang was "Oh little one sweet, oh little one mild, sung on this recording (courtesy of UTube) by The King's Singers.  Lovely, I think you'll agree.

We had a good turnout for the choir which makes ahuge difference in the quality of the sound, and have had an avalanche of compliments since.  Rather a nice feeling.

After this coming Friday's choir practice we have Sunday morning Eucharist, then Midnight Mass and finally Christmas morning's services to look forward to.

It is wonderful to have so much to look forward to which, without my membership of the choir would be a very different sort of Christmas.

Deo Gracias.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Not dreaming of a white Christmas

Feeling guilty about still being unable to sing I had half made up my mind yesterday to go to St. M's this morning and at least be at the service.

Waking at my usual time of 6.15am I was surprised by how very dark the bedroom was.

Letting up the blind I was staggered to find a thick heavy white blanket of snow on everything and a very dark sky.

Putting food out for the birds while I waited for the kettle to boil my feet (in slippers) were covered in snow about 2 inches thick  and it was snowing hard.

Every time I looked out over the next couple of hours the snow was heavier and thicker than before so with some relief I decided to stay put.

A neighbour from the top of the close cleared my drive mid-morning and I didn't even discover it until mid-day.  Just sheer hard labour and a silent departure.  It took me some time to track down by phone who the on-duty angel had been.

By 3.00pm it had stopped snowing but had managed to break off two huge branches of my yellow Buddliea .  I had to keep throwing stuff out for the birds (anything I could think of) as I couldn't get to the shed for bird-seed.

My computer was out of action all day and the TV kept going blank.  This is only early December,,
it doesn't bode well for the coming Winter.

I'm aware that many parts of the country habitually have far worse weather than we do but when we do get heavy snowfall it tends to cause serious problems in this over-populated neck of the woods.

Let's hope this was just a rem inder of what we once used to see every Winter and not a warning of what to expect.

Not looking forward to trying to get to St M's tomorrow but we'll see.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

So Sorry for Myself

Anyone who is looking for a cheerful post from me after my long absence had better not read this.

Sometimes life just ticks along fairly pleasantly with no serious hiccups and suddenly along comes a black patch.

Back in early October I had a problem with my left leg.  It kept giving way without any warning and I slipped on the stairs and made it a lot worse.

A couple of weeks later the leg was much better and I was out of the blue attacked by seemingly legions of insects and had bites on my arms, legs and on the front of my neck which itched like mad and when I scratched, turned to eczema.

This has still not completely disappeared but has taken second place to a nasty cough and throat/chest infection.  Not only can I not sing (and itis getting near to Advent) but I can only speak in a hoarse croak.

This morning shoppimg for food I somehow caught the little finger on the right hand and it turned right back on itself.  Hurt only a little at the time, though there was an ominous creak, but is now turning a nice shade of navy blue and is swollen to twice its natural size.

I am not sure whether it is broken or merely sprained but could really do without anyuthing else going wrong for the rest of the uear at least.

Yes I know worse things happen at sea (and everywhere else) but I have had enough.

All say Ahhhh

OK don't then.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Not a Happy Bunny

In the last couple of days all the followers have vanished from my blog.

I have tried all the things my limited computer skills will allow me to do with no success.

In the grand scheme of things this is not a major tragedy I know, but,
there is a sense of achievement in viewing my small gallery of followers, a sense of being part of a community which i greatly value.

Looking at the space where my gallery once existed is not an encouraging occupation.

I do not wish to point the finger of blame (I do really), but, I suspect the dreaded Google Follower Swallower has eaten them.

Any ideas (strictly for a lame-brain non-techie) as to how I can persuade Google to disgorge my friends?

Monday, 23 October 2017

The Blessing/Curse of easy communication

Unbelievable though it may seem i do not own a smartphone, nor do I want one.

There are few people I need to talk to by phone and when the need arises I use my landline (about three calls a month).

All the millions of other uses offered by increasingly 'clever' gadgets hold no interest for me.

This being so I receive far more phone calls than I want, especially cold calls from suppliers of just about everything in the world for which I have no use.

Perhaps I am a dinosaur, but if I am why do I need replacement double-glazing when what I have looks good cost a lot and will not be replaced in my lifetime.

Dinosaurs do not need their front gardens replaced with block paving, nor do they need to replace their non-existent cars with newer models.

And, And, And, they/we/I do not want my loft insulation replaced because it is no longer effective.  It is. 

What is the matter with the insane world of cold-calling that they do not understand the (no, not interested) and seem unable to process the idea that any individual - let alone one as ancient as I am - could possibly have a  mind of their own.

Three times this afternoon (once since I started this post), I have received calls telling me in no uncertain terms that my roof insulation needs to be updated.

Just to set the record straight, I have Googled the number from which they phoned only to find a stream of similar complaints.

Just where will it end.

Must I really remove the Jack-plug from the wall to put and end to them?

Nearly, not quite, desperate.!

Friday, 6 October 2017

Well Named Slippers

For the past few weeks i have been having problems with my left knee, pain and weakness being just two of the symptoms.

I have had a 'bad' knee for many years but have learned to live with it.

This morning however my leg gave way as I went downstairs with a load of washing and I fell banging my lower back and slipping all the way to the bottom of the stairs in my very slippery slippers.

The leg giving way has featured several times recently so against my normal practice I rang my local surgery and have an appointment to see a doctor this afternoon.

Obviously I can't just keep ignoring the problem, and while it has caused a few near collapses recently I was going to wait until i could see the Parkinson's doctor to  find out if it is related to the disease or something different.

While i am sure the slipperiness of my slippers contributed to the slide down the stairs, the original leg giving way thing  is what I am really worried about.

The pictured slippers are nothing like mine i would add.  Mine are normal, but unfortunately, normal slippers have very smooth soles.

Any suggestions?

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Same Old Same Old

Last night I watched (along with several million others world-wide) the last night of the Proms.

Having first watched the highlights of the last day of the England/West Indies Test Match, I was in a fairly jubilant state.

Still buzzing over the England win (and in particular the splendid performance of James Anderson, I was feeling more aware than usual of my Britishness.

About 10 minutes into the familiar formula of the "Last night of the Proms", I was suddenly rather sick of the whole flag-waving, balloon throwing, self-congratulatory spectacle.

I know people love the tradition , same music, same audience participation, huge laughs at small jokes, and the chance to cheer not only the performers but themselves also, but something about the rather smug "aren't we lucky to be British" flavour, set my teeth on edge.

It is true there are many things the Brits do well, and it is right to recognise that fact, but the hugely complacent and self satisfied blanket self-approval worries me.

Any type of nationalism worries me.

It is beginning to feel that this particular annual event has little to do with music and more to  do with self aggrandisement.

Am I just seeing what is not there?  or  is  it perhaps time we laid this out-dated piece of theatre to rest?

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Here Goes.........

A very brief message to anyone who might miss my blog for a few days.

This morning I have the first of my two cataract operations, this one is the left eye.

Not looking forward to it much but it has to be done so I suppose I was lucky to get a cancellation which brought my op forward by a few months.

The taxi will collect me at 7.00am (just an hour and a half) so  I had better go and get my shower now.

See you soon !

Tuesday, 22 August 2017


Our very varied and quite extreme weather this last few weeks has produced some significant changes in local gardens - not all good, and has encouraged visits from some rather unusual avian visitors.

Yesterday morning I saw a large shadow pass the window and rushed to see what it was,

It is at least 3 or 4 years since I took the picture on the left of a heron on a nearby roof.

This time he was much closer but although I took a photo I am still unable to download from my camera onto my lap-top so could not use it here.

I have had a hedgehog in full daylight and a pair of young Jays in the past month or so.

The heavy rain has turned normally smallish shrubs into almost trees, and has beaten all the roses into the ground.

The growth has been phenomenal but the damage to blooms has reduced everything to sodden brownish masses.

We have had thunder and lightning, hail storms and very strong winds, humid and airless days but not much sunshine.

A build-up of power or a power surge caused my main sitting room light to blow a few days ago.
For most people this is a non-event, for me it is a major problem.

Not happy on ladders or anything more than a foot off the ground I had to try to work out a strategy to change the bulb without breaking my neck.

Anyone watching my antics would have sent for the men in white coats as I tried first of all to climb onto the top of my two-step ladder, then, taking first one then a second dining chair built myself a little pulpit using the chair backs as hand holds.

After about 3 attempts I removed the old bulb and attempted to replace it with a new one.
To cut a long and tedius story short it took me about twenty minutes in all to succeed.  Such a small trivial thing yet i felt as though I had scaled the North face of the Eiger,

Whenever I can i try to do things myself rather than ask for help but oh my goodness age is creeping daily closer.

I can hardly bear the excitement!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Hard Won

Have just returned from my local polling station.

A local councillor has resigned and the vote is for a replacement.

As usual, the community centre/polling station was empty. no queue of eager voters champing at the bit as they waited for their opportunity to have their say.

One of the chaps outside commented that I always vote and seemed surprised at the fact.

I replied that the vote for women was hard won and should be valued.

Though I have often mentioned before that I was brought up on a diet of politics and was aware that women came by their right to vote after long fierce battles, I was not really sure of the date when we were 'permitted' that right.

My mother who was born in 1905 would have waited 23 years before she had that right.  Only women over 21 and who were house-holders being allowed to vote in 1918.

Just how many women that would have applied to in those days i cannot imagine, but it must have been precious few.

Living as I do in a county where the Tory vote is supreme, around 33,000 last time, and Labour only having about 17,000, I am aware that in a general election my left-wing vote would be wasted so i therefore vote with my heart and vote green.

A local election however, is a different kettle of fish entirely, and there is always a chance (slim I'll grant) but a chance, that 'my' candidate might win.

How then, could I not vote?

On the world stage local politics maybe small fry, but for all of us it is the little everyday thing which make up most of our lives.

Perhaps it would take the threat of the vote being tsken away to force people  to use it.

Despite the woeful state of political affairs in this country, I am thankful every day that I do not live in a country run by Donald Trump.

Monday, 7 August 2017


Parting from someone I see quite regularly, but who is a 'stage 4' cancer sufferer, I felt today, as i often do, at a loss to choose the right words.

This is a very stoical and inspirational person, not she would say, brave or heroic, (I would disagree), but simply resigned and accepting of what will eventually happen.

While never listing a catalogue of her woes, she is quite open and honest about her current status and answers even the most probing questions without flinching,

Anyone who didn't know what was wrong with her would get no clues from her conversation or her manner, yet everyday tasks must sometimes seem like climbing Everest to her.

I pray for her daily, and know that a number of others do the same, but when it comes to saying goodbye, every time I find myself wanting to say something uplifting rather than the usual, "take care, see you next week".

Sometimes i am able to say 'bless you', but always feel slightly awkward doing so.

Two images always come to mind when wishing her well, one is the beautiful one of being sheltered under God's wing, the other - from the old Irish blessing - that of being held in the palm of God's hand.

For me, nothing could be more comforting yet I am not able to quote either of them.

Why I wonder is it so easy to write words but so difficult to utter them?

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Locked out

Google will not let me onto my own blog or accept my password am having to attempt this on my IPad   If it will let me publish this it may have to become my only way of contacting you all
I will try

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Time Out

August is a 'choir break' at St Mary's.  All the normal Sunday services take place but without the choir.

For the "Mice" this means a month off.  For the rest of us we may if we so wish take the time off but it is expected that we will attend as part of the congregation.

Many people are away on holiday so the few of us who do attend are supposed to add volume to the hymns.

No anthems are sung during this period but instead, our choir mistress asks us to sing some Taize during Communion.

For me as an alto this is far more stressful than the singing of an anthem since we are scattered about the congregation and expected to sing harmonies.

If you sing and have ever sung anything other than the tune (usually sopranos) then you will know just how awkward it is to sing a 'non-tune' surrounded by people who are all trying to sing an unfamiliar tune.

To say i am not looking forward to it is an understatement.

Those of us who do not take holidays and who feel guilt tripped into putting in an appearance every Sunday will reach September neither refreshed nor relaxed, but, in my case at least, relieved to be once again singing as part of the choir.

The things we  do to pass the time !

Friday, 14 July 2017

What happened to "Yes" and "No"?

Anyone who has read any of the 534 posts I have written over the past 6 years will be only too aware that I am (shall we say slightly) pedantic over grammar and the use of words.

Watching the 'politics' show this morning on TV I was once again reminded that the words yes and no appear to have vanished from the vocabulary of nearly all politicians.

Asked a straightforward question by an interviewer/interrogator to which the answer can only be "yes" or "no" it is amazing how many hoops they are prepared to jump through to avoid such a reply.

Adept at side-stepping and  avoiding at all costs the expected answer, they will take the scenic route using the opportunity to make a party propaganda speech illustrating just  how extensive their vocabulary is, yet somehow contriving to miss the point completely.

If only their political integrity matched their verbal dexterity what a country we would have.

End of rant.  (For today).

Monday, 3 July 2017

Just an average day in the life of a Rector

The man on the left is our current rector/vicar/priest.

The lady in the middle is not someone I recognise

The one on the right is Barbara, our town mayor (now replaced by her successor).

Their somewhat unusual (even for Aylesbury) garb, is part of the annual Roald Dahl Festival.  Which for some reason is this year known as the Wizz-fizzing festival.

Right at the back of the picture (above the Mayor's hat) you can just faintly see the spire of St Mary's.

It has been said (though I don't believe it), that the Anglican church is all set to adopt the headgear in this photo as a staple part of their clergy wear.

The lollipop is to replace the Bishops' croziers.

No-one can say that Aylesbury is behind the times where fashion is concerned.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Big Day at St Mary's

Yesterday we had the honour of hosting the ordination of no less than 12 Ordinands to the status of priest.

This was not only rather  unusual for the large numbers involved but also for the fact that it is usually the Cathedrals which house these services.

St Mary's is the county church of Buckinghamshire and is a very large building but the almost 500 people who were present yesterday packed it to the rafters.

We (the choir) arrived between about 10.15 and 10.30 am, to receive instructions on the 'choreography' of the event and to be ready outside the west door to lead in the procession.

The service began at 11,00 am and finished shortly after 1,00pm.  We then had a couple of hours to relax or feed ourselves before a wedding at 4,00pm.

By five pm I was back home with my feet up and drinking gallons of water.  My legs felt like lead and my feet were swollen and I was as hoarse as a crow, but otherwise it was a lovely day (if exhausting)

Needless to say this morning's service from 10 till 11,30 left everyone in need of a weekend to recover.

A strange but rather wonderful way to 'enjoy' a weekend.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

This Heat is Unbearable

Well that's one way of looking at it !!

That is more the way I feel.

Will it ever be possible to breath clean fresh air again, or even to bat an eyelash without drowning in sweat?

Normal service will be resumed .........................whenever.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Sunday, 4 June 2017

" "

This morning  my taxi driver asked me to pray for him.  This is not unusual, but this morning it seemed extra special

All the taxi drivers who take me to church on Sundays are Asian, mostly Muslim.

Often they ask questions about the way Christian worship differs from Muslim.

From my limited knowledge I try to answer all their questions and ask a few of my own.

The one thing which becomes more and more apparent as we continue this travelling dialogue is that we have far more in common than different.

This morning we discussed our dismay and distress at what is currently happening in the name of religion.  Nothing could be further from the aims of all monotheist religions than the murderous practices we are are witnessing all over the world at present.

The reason I gave this piece no heading  is simply that like many others I am running out of words.

As I prayed for my taxi driver during the intercessions this morning I imagined all those hands joined in mutual prayer world-wide and felt a surge of strength and one-ness with those others.

As the Hippies in the 60's used to say in greeting "Love and Peace".

Sunday, 28 May 2017

A Drop In The Ocean

St Mary's has signed up to the 24 Hours of Prayer initiative, "Thy Kingdom Come".

A list has been drawn up of those willing to take part and we have each been asked to nominate a time and day to pray for one hour for five people.

I may have mentioned before that I find prayer difficult without the 'trappings' of a set liturgy, so this is going to be a very long 60 minutes.

We were told we could choose where we wanted to perform this duty, either walking, in the company of others, on our own at home - basically, where we liked.

After giving it some thought my decision was to do it at home between 7.00 am and 8.00 am tomorrow (29th) as this is a Bank Holiday and I am unlikely to be interrupted.

The view seems to be that a very large number of people praying over a set period will institute change.

Whether this will prove to be true I have no idea but it will at the very least effect some sort of change in those who pray.

If it does nothing else for me it will be a good exercise in self-discipline..

We shall see.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017


Yet another violent act of hatred leaves our world shocked and shaken.

What possesses one human being to unleash such a vicious cruel attack on other human beings, mostly young, going quietly about their everyday lives?

Even though we can hardly be unaware of the frequency of such murderous acts, yet still we hope that normal life is still there to be lived.

It is impossible for most of us to plumb the depraved depths of these assassins, yet still we strive to understand why.

Poor children.

Poor Manchester.

Poor world.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

A Lovely Afrernoon

I have just come back from a piano recital in St Mary's by Alexander Ardakov.

The programme consisted of Tchaikovsky Chopin and Rachmaninov

He  is a world acclaimed pianist and the playing was wonderful.

It's possible that I've never mentioned before that St Mary's superb accoustics attract musicians of all ages, styles and abilities.

Every Thursday lunchtime there is a concert of classical music, sometimes the performers are students, sometimes young professionals just making a name for themselves, and sometimes someone of world standing who is familiar with the famous St M's accoustic.

We also have a jazz concert three or four times a year which attracts well known artists from many quarters.

It is quite a long time since I went to one of the performances as a member of the audience and had forgotten what a pleasure and privilege it is to be able to enjoy music of such a  high standard in a 'mere' church.

The sun was shining outside but I was quite happy to be inside just absorbing the music.

Friday, 19 May 2017

My friend Crow

This is a Google Crow not mine but looks a little like him.

For a few months there has been a dip in the numbers of birds coming to my restaurant, due in part I think, to the long period of drought but since the long awaited rain arrived there is a sudden run on breakfasts.

All the usual characters have started to turn up as soon as it gets light and by the time I am up (6.15) there is quite a line-up along neighbouring rooftops.

I heard a Jay uttering its harsh cry yesterday, the first one this season and for the last two days my Crow is back.

Oddly for such a very large bird he seems to be quite timid and nervous of the much smaller birds.  They will happily eat without any sign of fear just a few feet from him, but, if any of them move towards him he hops sideways and gets ready to take off.

He watches me from the safety of a shed or garage roof but won't come down to eat until i am safely back in the house.

I love the robins and blue-tits, finches and sparrows but there is something special about Crow.

He has been coming to my garden for three years now and I am really pleased to see him looking glossy and healthy.

A friend in the church whose garden looks onto the churchyard is surprised that I find crows in any way attractive.  The churchyard has several resident ones and she regards them as pests.

While it is true that compared with blackbirds or thrushes or even the robins, the crow is somewhat lacking in musical virtuosity, they make up for it with character and personality.

Or maybe it's just that being a fairly solitary individual myself I have some fellow-feeling for my large black friend.

Sunday, 30 April 2017


This ancient recording (courtesy of You tube), is one i adored as a child/teenager.

I haven't felt much like blogging for a while, and see no point in writing even more uninteresting stuff for others to read than usual.

Nothing is particularly wrong, but neither is it particularly right.

Interesting things seem to be happening to at least some of the people I know.

Not to me.

This is not a lament.

It is not a complaint.

I don't want 'my money back'

I just want something interesting to happen.

Can't be bothered to make up a tale or invent  a story or imagine something - anything.....

Please forgive my self-indulgence and I promise to do better soon.

Meanwhile, please play this recording.. Says it all really.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Joy in small things

Today was total relaxation day after the 4-day marathon that was Easter.

The singing was hard work but mostly good and occasionally excellent so worth all the effort.

More than 10 hours altogether it takes its toll vocally and with accompanying stiff joint from too much standing followed by sitting in uncushioned wooden choir stalls.

All the services were good in different ways and on Saturday the huge baptism and confirmation one with our Bishop who not only sings very well but also includes some very funny anecdotes in his homilies and sermons, helps to take the edge off the extreme length of this particular evening.

We had better-than-usual congregations for all four services which is quite heartening and makes it feel worth while.

Today I pottered.  A bit of this and a bit of that, nothing  strenuous and with time to observe the birds in this case starlings having a communal bath and emptying the bird-bath about a half dozen times.

Each time I refilled it and the last time I did so there was not a bird in sight only a very small squirrel sitting holding on to the edge of the bath with its little hands and drinking as though water were going out of fashion

Obviously I know they must drink but have never seen one doing so before.

My camera was, of course, upstairs and I was down.

The picture above is unrelated but I liked it.

Easter.  Done and dusted.  Back to (normal) tomorrow.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The First of the four is accomplished

This evening we had our Maundy service with foot-washing, the first of the big four services which lead us to Easter Day.

We started an hour's rehearsal of all the music for the whole of the services at followed by an hour and a half long Maundy thursday service.

Tonight we had some of the usual hymns, the anthem was "An upper room" to the tune of "O Waly Waly" and led the congregation into the lady chapel to the Taize "Watch with me".

A slightly lighter and easier selection than we have had in some previous years, but still a lot of singing.

Oh and I forgot to mention "Ubi caritas the plain-song version which we sang during the foot-washing.

Tomorrow from 10 00 am there is first of all the stations of the cross followed by various other events until the choir sings an assortment of pieces from about 1.30 until 2.00 pm when the Solemn Liturgy begins.

On Saturday we have our usual big service with the Bishop singing the Exultat followed by baptisms and confirmations and the return of the light.

On Sunday morning those of us who have survived the 3 previous services will present the usual Easter Day service which for the choir will finish with "The Hallelujah Chorus" from Messiah.

There is then an Easter Egg hunt in the churchyard for the children. (By which time, those of us who  value our lives will have fled) and tea or coffee for the brave/foolhardy few who remain.

I'm glad Easter only comes once a year.

Monday, 10 April 2017


This lovely Hosanna is the one we sang yesterday, Palm Sunday.

Since we have sung it in one or two previous years it didn't need too much polishing, and I think, we did it justice.

The same however, cannot be said for the rest of the service.  For me and for quite a few others, it was perhaps the least satisfying Palm Sunday ever.

Our current incumbent is a horse of quite a different colour from the previous one/ones.

By no means everyones' first choice in style and with it seems, little regard for the traditions of our particular church he dithers, changes things at the last moment, leaves others to organise and then steps in and alters things at the last second.

The result being a chaotic mish/mash of what has gone before and totally new ideas.

There is no way we can influence him or persuade him to simply follow what has gone before, nor is it our place to do so, but, these days I leave church on Sunday feeling ruffled and irritated and thoroughly bad-tempered.  This I'm sure is not the way to start the new week.

Either I need a magic wand or a personality replacement so that I can happily accept this wholly alien
approach to prayer.

Suggestions welcome.  (I think) !!

Saturday, 25 March 2017


This morning I saw a Reed Bunting in the garden.

Normally I get a flock of six or more throughout the Winter months, a nd by Spring they have vanished.

Not so this year.

Everyone keeps saying what a very mild Winter we have had, and, to an extent I agree, but  when we should have had ice an snow (Jan-Feb) we had very warm days with more sun than usual and plants, birds every type of wild-life started to make ready for a new season.

Since then we have had a number of setbacks, extremely cold and strong winds and lashing rain followed by sunny mild days and cold nights.

The 'Met Office' says the first day of Spring is 1st of March.  We who have been around a while, and are in 'touch' with our historical roots know better.

The 1st day of Spring coincides with the Spring equinox (21st of March).

The 'Met Office' says tonight the clocks go forward one hour which is the beginning of British Summertime.

We know that Summer begins with the Summer Solstice (21st June) or thereabouts.  Quickly followed by Midsummer's Day!!!!!

No wonder the birds are confused.  So am I.  

I have just tried to do some cutting back of dead wood on some easy to reach shrubs, lured outdoors by the brilliant sunshine, only to give up after 10 minutes of battling a freezing and very strong wind.

My daffodils are lying face down in the garden waiting for the wind to go elsewhere when hopefully they will lift their frozen little faces up to the sun.

If this is global warming what on earth will happen 10 years hence?

Will the weather have changed beyond recognition, will Summertime even exist, or for that matter
will we?

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Time marches on

Tempus Fugit, or sometimes it does.  Other times it crawls.

A year older today, I am now 82!!!

This year I have felt all of those years but, bugs and viruses defeated (touch wood) am now starting to look outward rather than in.

Yesterday I received two lovely bouquets of flowers and my sitting room smells gorgeous.

Today, looking at the cards which have winged their way to me I felt a small but definite lift in spirits.

I had a long talk to middle brother on the phone yesterday and was reminded how much contact with loved ones counts when living alone.

In the 7 and a half years since John died I have come to value my three brothers in a way I never previously did.

Taking each other for granted is par for the course between siblings and it takes a sharp reminder such as the death of a spouse to make one realise that our personal landscapes complete with support team are not just a background to our lives.

My three brothers have of course some things in common but are also very individual and I value them all, each for their own slant on life.

Friends in church and in the Close all play their part in my single status life but the ties of blood are, inevitably, the closest.

One of my cards is from my oldest friend, ( since school days)  and that too is a very special link.

Watching the dreadful series of news programmes on TV covering the East Africa famine is heart-rending and the stuff of nightmares, yet it is the everyday reality of these poor  peoples' lives.

Helpless to do anything except pray and wait for the details of how to donate money to appear on our screenes, makes us all the more aware of the huge gulf between their lives and ours.

It seems the situation in Africa never improves despite years of aid from other countries and billions of pounds being poured into the bottomless pit of misery.

Clearly the root cause is not being tackled, but, what can we do at our level?

I fear this is one thing which time will not heal.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Ash Incense and St David

Tonight we had our imposition of ashes service.

We also had ( for me the unwelcome ) return of incense.

I love watching the ritual of the incense being swung but not quite so much when the sacristan swings it in the direction of the choir.

Enclosed as we are in the chancel the smoke stays with us for most of the service, whereas in the main body of the church it tends to drift up into the (very) high roof.

Trying to do justice to "Hide not thou thy face" with a throat and chest full of pungent incense is not easy.

By the time the black cross has been impressed on my forehead by the rector's heavy thumb and with lungs full of smoke my one desire is to get out into the cool damp air of the churchyard and breath clean air.

Since our organist was unable to play this evening our long-suffering choir-mistress had to play the piano to accompany our singing.  This meant that we had no-one to conduct and of course the sopranos lost her beautiful voice to swell their ranks.

Ash Wednesday being a fairly stylised service it was not possible to mention the fact that today was also St David's day, but as the piano accompanied our exit after the service I suddenly recognised a Welsh folk tune in the medley being played.  Our lovely Christine's nod to my patron saint.

Lent is well and truly started.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

My first ever Mattins

Last Sunday was my first attempt to take part in the morning service since the 8th January.

The Friday rehearsal was something of a shock.

We were told it was to be a Mattins rather than the usual Eucharist as there was no priest available to give Communion.

Unlike most of the other members of the choir I have no tradition of Christian worship and the Eucharist is the only service with whose music and liturgy I am familiar.

It is such a totally different piece of Anglican worship that I found myself stumbling to keep up (very good for the brain, if not for the ego) and was really rather glad when it came to an end - about 20 minutes earlier than our usual Sunday.

Talking to some of the congregation since then I found they were split into two distinct camps.  Those who are used to and happy to attend Mattins and those for whom the Eucharistic service is the only one they would choose to attend.

If this hopefully one-off Sunday has caused so much alarm and consternation i begin to see how some of the bigger divisions in the Protestant church have come about.

Never mind the differences between Baptist, Methodist Catholic and Anglican church, this is just one of the presumably many differences in just one branch of the Anglican church.

Religion is meant to unite people isn't it?

Roll on next week when Lent begins.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Who Stole the rest of the octave?

This is just about how much voice I have.

Back at work at St M's for about 10 days, but not yet back for any of the services, I feel as though I'm in limbo.

Every day I try to sing just one line of music and every day I manage five notes at best,

A hoarse squeak is the nearest I can get to singing and I'm beginning to get fed up.

From my last experience of a really bad chest infection I know better than to try to sing properly when the equipment has failed..

Last time was when I was in my early fifties and singing with the London Philharmonic Chorus.  A bout of bronchitis stopped me from singing for 24 years.

These days the best i can aspire to is the choir of St. Mary's, and is a very average sort of alto with a limited range, but, not to be able to sing at all is horrible.

There is still a bit of a cough and energy levels are low but by now I had expected to be able to make at least some sort of recognizable sound.

Perhaps it's time to try the WD40.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Careful Dining

I really don't know whether to applaud Theresa May for her courage as she prepares to meet Donald Trump, or to deplore her seeming readiness to sup with Beelzebub.

So much is at stake both politically, financially and morally that only  the most considered and careful debate should be contemplated.

Every time this man opens his mouth he alienates yet another huge swathe of the population, both at home and abroad.

Each comment appears to confirm our worst fears as to his style of leadership,  His is not the language of diplomacy.  It shows no evidence of judicious and measured examination of the problems America is facing on the home front.

His manner is that of the school bully with the added incentive of seemingly limitless power.

Whatever the outcome of this first meeting of the new president with a foreign head of state I fear the lady will require a very long spoon.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Not Being Well Enough to Blog About Not Being Well

 I'll bet you're thinking "thank goodness she's going to spare us the details of her latest disaster", Not a chance.

After almost a week in bed sweating, coughing and only getting up to make drinks and other essentials I feel someone somewhere should be made aware of my suffering.

Never one to suffer in silence I feel it is only fair to spread my misery as far as possible (though, not my virus, even I am not that bad).

As I became more and more poorly I informed all those who had to know and took to my bed.

Usually two  days in bed is sufficient to see off the worst part of a cold or flu attack, this beast however is something else.

On Sunday night the pain in my upper back was so severe that I broke my golden rule, gave in and took two Paracetamol Extra tablets and within ten minutes the pain was gone and I was asleep.

Waking 3 hours later I was saturated from neck to ankle, nightie, bedlinen and all and so hot I was glad to get out of bed and walk around.  Looking out of the window I found I had double vision, very strange to see my neighbours' houses with two frames around their doors and windows.

As I had been giddy for a day or two I wasn't really sure how much was the virus and how much due to the tablets.

I may have said before that I never take tablets or medication for anything unless I am forced to do so, with the result that when I do give in (about once in two  years) and take what other people routinely take for every headache, I have quite spectacular results.

Late this evening as my aching back was still causing a problem I took another two, they worked on the backache but unfortunately didn't send me to sleep, so here i am, soaked again with sweat but pain free and joyfully sharing my woes with anyone silly enough to read them.


Sleep well,

Back soon.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Starting my new working year with my usual elegance and grace

This morning was my first morning back after the Christmas break, so I got up at my usual time of 6.10 am (ish).

Following normal procedure I went downstairs in my nightie dressing gown and slippers, set out the breakfast stuff, put the water heater and the kettle on and opened the back door.

An icy blast greeted me (temperature -5 degrees) and it was pitch black.

Stepping out onto the outside doormat my foot slid on ice and I fell on my back with my knees twisted and one foot under me.

My naked legs were out in the icy cold my upper body on the kitchen floor, such an elegant pose.

I yelled blue murder - fortunately far too early for anyone else to be up and knew that I had hurt my right foot but also that it was not broken.  (I have injured myself often enough to know when something is broken) and tried to get up.

This at my age is no longer a simple matter.  Rolling over onto my knees I clung to the nearest bit of 'white goods', the tumble-dryer, and hauled myself upright.

Shaking and uttering gentile expressions like "Oh my, what a silly thing to do" or something similar I went back inside made my tea and then stepped outside again, headed for the shed and put out bird-seed etc.

Realising that I was going to have a very big bruise and a lump on my ankle I then had a long hot shower.

Before leaving for St Mary's (I was on SPACE duty ) I realised that sometimes one actually needs to take a look around before taking an action, or even try to notice the thick frost on the ground, or even to remember that yes I was once 18 but that was 63 years ago.

January is clearly off to its usual 'flying' start.

Does anyone know the phone number of a good patient angel, or even a body guard?