1 EAGLETON NOTES: August 2009



Monday, 31 August 2009

Dream It. Do It.

I have been wandering in and out of Jen's blog Jennifer Photography for some months now. It's an excellent blog but I am afraid of getting sucked into too many more blogs because I have only 18 hours a day available to me!! Yesterday Scriptor gave her a very well-deserved award for photographic excellence. That made me return to her blog primarily to make a comment but I wandered further.

I used to have reasonable tourist German from my many stays there but, although I could work out the words, I could not work out the meaning of the Goethe quote on Jen's blog. Today I decided to apply my mind to it. The translation programs didn't help me. The quote is: Was immer du tun kannst oder wovon du traeumst - fange es an. I have now worked out that it translates as: Whatever you can do or whatever you dream, begin it.

That's not usually my problem. I begin lots of things that I can do and lots of things that I dream of being able to do. My problem is finishing the projects once started.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Blogging Is Educational

Yesterday I posted I Said to Her.... on the blog Soaring Through the World in Pictures. It was supposed to be amusing. In the comments DawnTreader said...
Good fences make good neighbours... (Phrase popped to mind because it occurred in this week's "wordzzle" creative writing challenge that I'm partaking in...)
I have enough problems keeping up with the rest of the blogs and the Wordzzle challenge seemed a bit cerebrally challenging as well as time consuming so I haven't been following it. Doing a Scriptor I wondered where the saying came from because I was not sure that I understood nor agreed with it. The line is listed by the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations as a mid 17th century proverb, which was given a boost in the American consciousness due to its prominence in the metaphorical poem Mending Wall by the American poet Robert Frost.

The more times I read it the more I came to the conclusion that it was suggesting that, however close one was to a friend, there should always be an ultimate fence between two people. I really found this hard to agree with. Then I discovered that, whatever I thought, the overwhelming evidence was against me:

Quoting from The Twenty-First Katharine Briggs Memorial Lecture, November 2002:
People everywhere and at all times have seen the pros and cons of a fence marking property lines and keeping people from infringing on each other's space. Some of them are similar to the basic idea of the proverb "Good fences make good neighbours" that advocates some distance between neighbours: "There must be a fence between good neighbours" (Norwegian), "Between neighbours' gardens a fence is good" (German), "Build a fence even between intimate friends" (Japanese),"Love your neighbour, but do not throw down the dividing wall" (Indian [Hindi]), and "Love your neighbour, but put up a fence" (Russian). There is even the German proverb "A fence between makes love more keen". If only social and political walls could bring about love between the parties! As in the late medieval Latin proverb Bonum est erigere dumos cum vicinis ("It is good to erect hedges with the neighbours"), folk wisdom states again and again that some distance between neighbours might be a good idea for the sake of privacy.
Another case of 'Ah well....'

Another First at Tigh na Mara: Pied Wagtail

I shall have to be a lot quicker in future. Being a typical member of this Edwards family involves never having a camera more than a metre from your hand at any time. Well I was ok from that point of view and reached for the camera nice and calmly just a few seconds after I saw a Pied Wagtail walking round looking for insects outside the study door. Whilst Wagtails are not particularly uncommon on the Island I have never seen one at Tigh na Mara before. In fact I've not seen one this year anywhere on the Island come to think of it. This one was probably the lightest coloured Wagtail I've ever seen. Just as I focussed the camera and took the picture it flew off and all I got was a small blur of a wing feather. It came back later for a few seconds but I've not seen it today.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

A Call At Midnight

I've had a day of very mixed feelings today. I had a call from Wendy in New Zealand yesterday not long before midnight her time - not long before one in the afternoon my time. We usually chat for ages but this was a long call even by our standards. Wendy and Martin and the children had had friends round all evening and they had been asking when I was due home. They had just gone so Wendy decided to tell me there and then. She was in the garden in a tee shirt. I had the central heating on here! Anyway it made me feel so torn. I just wanted to be back with my New Zealand family. Of course I want to be here too with my UK family. I return on 22 October so I know that for the next 8 weeks I'll be in a state of anticipatory limbo again.

Dirty British Coaster. I Think Not.

The Transfennica vessel MV Timca sailed past the house a few days ago. I wondered what sort of vessel she was. The Transfennica website tells me that she is a Trafexpress Class cargo vessel.
"Speed both at sea an in port, is an important feature of the new "Trafexpress"-class of vessels, which are suitable for short-sea as well as deep-sea traffic. These vessels are equipped with two medium speed main engines, with an output of 12,600 kW each. Designed to have the best manoeuvrability ever, the vessels are equipped with twin bow thrusters of 850 kW each and two high efficiency flap rudders. At 12,800 DWT the maximum speed is about 23 knots. The vessels are strengthened to Finnish/Swedish ice class 1A Super incorporating the typical Spliethoff icebreaking bow shape. Fin stabilizers ensure a safe passage in rough weather."
She is certainly the most beautiful cargo vessel I have ever seen. I wonder what John Masefield would make of it if he were writing “Cargoes” now.
Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amethysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.


Avoiding Dragons: Out of the Mouths of Babes

I have just read a post which tickled my sense of humour no end. If you are troubled by dragons or love children or don't like children but want to know why you should or just want a laugh then you just have to read Pauline's latest post at The Paddock about St George and The Dragon.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Arriving by Ferry in Stornoway

The MV Isle of Lewis sails into Stornoway on Tuesday evening bringing with her a visitor for me. A passenger from the ferry enters the ferry terminal (see Scriptor's blog for a picture) and sees the following:

There is art all round the walls:

Including (amongst many mosaics) one by John Reed

Spooky or What

I've had a friend whom I met in New Zealand but whose home is in Bishopbriggs near Glasgow staying with me this week. Hence my absence from Blogland. She left yesterday. So last night after doing odds and ends I decided, just before midnight, to relax for a while by watching an episode of West Wing on DVD. I was vaguely aware of voices but as I live alone I knew there should be no one else in the house. Yes I could definitely hear voices. So I looked outside. No voices. I listened. Voices. The problem was that they were quiet but they were definitely there. It took ages before I decided to do a tour of the rooms - after all I knew there was no one in them. It's not a large house - there are just nine rooms in total - and it's grown like topsy so it's quite an unusual layout. Anyway I eventually went into the main guest bedroom. There were the voices! Anna had presumably pushed a button on the alarm clock/radio at the side of the bed and it was chatting away to itself quite the thing. I laughed but was, I have to say, quite relieved. It had been a rather spooky experience.

The Culprit

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Stone Penguins

Today I took Anna to see the Butt of Lewis (the most Northerly point of Lewis), the Garenin Village Blackhouses, and the Standing Stones of Callanish. All of these are memorable works of man or nature and are worthy of a whole blog each. We also popped into the Morven Gallery for morning coffee and The Inn Between at North Shawbost for an excellent lunch. The weather was, generally speaking, very windy, cold and dull and wet with the very occasional burst of sun and frequent torrential rain. Not, on the whole, good weather for photography. So I decided, just so that I could turn this from a pure diary entry into something with a bit of fun attached, to show you something else that caught my eye on the road to Ness: painted stone penguins. Don't you just love a bit of rural fun?

Monday, 24 August 2009

My Sparrows

I wonder why that happens? The birds eat more when the sun shines. They have eaten a kilo of food in three hours this morning. When it rains it can take most of the day. I love the wild birds in the garden (except the Rock Pigeons and the Starlings because they make such a terrible mess of the roof) and feed them. As theye were beginning to become a tad expensive at 2 kilos of seed a day they are now limited to 1 kilo a day but there's plenty of natural food so they won't go hungry. What feeding them does seem to mean in that the sparrows in particular seem to have many broods each year and this year in August they are still producing young.

OK. I Surrender

OK. I'll say this and then I'll shut up about the weather. This was the forecast that just so cheered me up (not) last night with a visitor coming this evening:

This is the view across the valley at 0900 this morning. The sky is actually blue although the sun is so bright in the picture it's overexposed but there's not a cloud in the sky:

That's the difference between forecast and reality. It'll be interesting to see where the day goes. But for the moment I, for one, am a very happy bunny.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Another Point of View

My posting earlier in the day entitled Moan, Moan, Moan has provoked a serious response from across the valley. This is the view across the valley to Spesh's house this afternoon.

The comment came in the form of an email from Spesh:
Hey! I was going to comment on your blog re. the weather but decided that it would sound too much like telling you off - which is what I am going to do. I can't believe you said those moaney things about our weather here. We have had some perfectly lovely weeks - you have been away in Devon, on the Wirral or in Glasgow for most of the time you have been back in the U.K. AND if the weather has been that cold how come you have been in shorts for most of the time you have been back huh!? Have you forgotten all the times I have texted you from the beach whilst walking the dog and said that the weather is stunning?

Now do a blog on the lovely weather we get here - think of sunrises, sunsets, calm blue waters in the bay!

Still love you though. Spesh xxxxxxx
That's me told then. Nothing changes.

The Ashes Are Coming Home!

I am not known for my great enthusiasm for sport - except, of course, croquet but whilst croquet is a popular sport in New Zealand, Australia, The USA, South Africa, England and Egypt it's not generally a mainstream sport so far as the media is concerned. I used to be quite an ardent cricket follower when my office overlooked the Lancashire County Cricket Club of which I was a member but I still have not been one of the most ardent of cricket followers in recent years.

However on 22 July I blogged about the hope of The Ashes returning to England. Well today England beat Australia by 197 runs on day 4 to win the series 2:1. We have The Ashes back!

England and New Zealand will be celebrating!

Moan, Moan, Moan

I've just finished an email to CJ. I don't think I'm one of the world's moaners but when I'd written it you wouldn't have known.

We in the UK were told by the weather forecasters that we were set for a barbecue summer. OK I know that I live on the edge of the world but it's still the UK and they didn't say that it would be a bbq summer except in North West Scotand's offshore Islands. To be fair and reasonable (another of my virtues - you gotta believe it) they can't be right all the time. and on the whole the UK's not had a good summer. But if I'd known that it was going to be so wet and cold and generally yuk I think I'd have emigrated. Or perhaps I'd just have been happy to accept it if I hadn't had my expectations raised. OK that's all nonsense. No one lives here with the expectation of sun and warmth but August with the central heating on and wearing a body warmer in the house. You gotta be joking. I like the heat!!!!

After all my US friends are all complaining on their blogs about the heat. My son, Gaz, is in a very hot Barcelona, friends who live in the Poitou-Charantes are sweltering, the South of England is baking in the heat, I'm watching the European Grand Prix in Valencia where it's nearly 40 deg centigrade and I've got the central heating on. Arghhhhh........

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Sorry For The Absence

I have had more than one reminder today that I have not blogged for several days. Many apologies. I'm quite behind in reading them as well. All that should be rectified tomorrow (Sunday) morning.

In the meantime I've been having a very busy time in many ways. One of those ways has been spring cleaning parts of the house.

I was quite amused therefore when I got an email from Jayne in Napier this evening about one of the Croquet Club members who is coming over to Glasgow in September. Why amused? Because Jayne always attaches a cartoon or something to the email. Today's was the one on the right. How appropriate was that?

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

On Banks, A Sadness of Life and Why Heather Would Be Pleased

I went into the Bank again this morning. I couldn't access one of my accounts on line. I like my Bank. Not because of what they do with my money nor because their shares have done well . Their interest rates are no better than elsewhere and, like a lot of other people over the last while, I had shares in the Bank (after all Banks are a safe bet - yea right) and lost money. OK whilst it was a sum not to be sneezed at it wasn't going to affect my life in the way that it has affected many lives. So why am I happy with my Bank?

Because they know who I am. And because I know who they are. Because I am a name. And because they are names. I have been going to that Bank for well over 30 years. Many of the staff in the Bank have been there for a good many of those years. We have a history. Histories (usually whether good or bad) give us a feeling of security. I usually come out of the Bank feeling happier than when I went in. That alone is almost a good reason for going into it.

I had a meeting with one of the advisers last week and I needed more help this morning so I just popped in. She (sorry She does have a name and I know that name but....) sorted the problem. Whilst doing so we chatted. Isn't that what life is about. It didn't cost the Bank a penny and it meant a happy customer. And that's what is so sad. The Bank's higher management couldn't care less.

So why have I said all this. Partly because if anyone from the Bank were ever to read this I'd like them to know how much they are appreciated. And partly because when I was chatting we discussed various things which arose out of things which happened. Firstly - and this is why Heather will be happy - on the desk in the Bank was a Reminder: Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46 v 10). Secondly because something arose which made me think of the sadness of some aspects of the life we lead.

Pauline from The Paddock recently posted a fabulous photograph. One that I would have given my eye teeth to have captured. Had I been anywhere with family children then that would have been fine. But had I just seen the opportunity I could not have risked taking the photograph. After all if I can't photograph a statue in a bus station then what hope is there if I want to photograph a person without their permission (or in this case a parent's permission). And by the time all the formalities have been attended to the spontaneity of the moment is lost.

I could go on but by now, dear reader, you are probably getting tired. And I have work to do. I'm glad I visited the Bank this morning.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

What Is It About Percussionists?

Many years ago when I was a wee slip of a youth in my late teens I started to go regularly to the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall to see the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. At that time there were two percussionists: John Ward (I hope that my memory is not letting me down) and Jean Webster. I was completely captivated by the musicians' skills and particularly, for some reason, by Jean Webster. What was really strange was that when I watched the Proms the other night one of the National Youth Orchestra's percussionists was remarkably like Jean Webster (though her hair was longer). Or was it just my imagination?

As an aside I wonder if Jean Webster was one of the longest serving percussionists with any orchestra in the UK? She retired as principal percussionist of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in the early 2000s so she must have been with them for about 40 years. That's quite a long time in any one's life.

The Proms

Vasily Petrenko

Stephen Hough

The Proms, more formally known as The BBC Proms, or The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts presented by the BBC, is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually since 1895, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in South Kensington, London. Henry Wood was the original conductor of the Proms. Proms is short for promenade concerts, a term which arose from the original practice of audience members promenading, or strolling, in some areas of the concert hall during the concert. Promming now refers to the use of the standing areas inside the hall (the arena and gallery) for which ticket prices are much lower than for the reserved seating.

On 8 August the National Youth Orchestra was performing under its principal conductor Vasily Petrenko. One of the pieces they performed was the first Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto with the Liverpool-born pianist Stephen Hough.

Passing By

All sorts of vessels pass up and down the Minch; some huge and some not so huge. This one, complete with its own helicopter, passed by a day or so ago. It had no name visible even through the spotterscope so I'm none the wiser as to what it is but I'd guess that it's a survey ship of some sort.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Super Trouper

The weather over the last week or so has been quite bizarre even by our standards but yesterday was quite surreal at times. The morning (this is mid morning) was dark and wet and quite unpleasant. Then quite without warning and for no more than 5 minutes the sun shone. But only on a little patch of sea out in the Minch. A sort of sun Super Trouper.

Stonechat and Rock Pipit

There has been a greater variety of birds in the garden over the last week. Or perhaps it's that I've been here to see them which just makes me think there are more. Anyway these two appeared yesterday. I think that the first two photos are of a Rock Pipit because it is much darker than the Meadow Pipits which I usually see in the garden.

Rock Pipit

Looking slightly bemused

This little fellow puzzled me for a while but I've decided that he is a very young Stonechat - unless anyone has other views?

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Radio Times

The Radio Times is an institution in the UK. It was started in 1923 to carry details of radio programmes. When BBC television started it carried details of those programmes too. Now it carries comprehensive details of radio and television programmes in the UK together with relevant magazine content.

For years it was my habit at breakfast to see what was on television that day and to mark any programmes I might want to watch or record. Of course I always marked programmes many of which I would never manage to watch nor record.

Since I've been living in two countries I've not generally bothered with the Radio Times (using the digital guides available on the TV) but last week I decided to treat myself. On one day I managed to find two programmes I wanted to watch. Not a great total really.

One of them was a Promenade Concert. I discovered that the BBC appear to be televising them all this season. Whoopee. I decided to watch. I had already watched one when I was at Gaz's in Glasgow but that was easy because I just paused the live TV if I was interrupted. Here I would have to record it or watch it live. I plumped for the latter taking Samantha into the living room and settling down for an evening with visual live music and emailing at the same time.

It was most enjoyable. I've not had the opportunity to do it again.

However I will post on the Promenade Concerts in general and that one in particular, later.

I Can't Believe It

It's after 1 o'clock in the morning. The blinds are drawn against the inky darkness outside. It's the middle of August in the Northern hemisphere. The wind is force 6 on the Beaufort Scale. The rain is beating against my bedroom window. The wind is roaring in the chimney as the flames of the red hot coals of the gas fire project their heat into the living room. I have (very unusually) a glass of fine Armagnac warming in my hand.

I can't believe that this is summer.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

I Can See 'Cos It's Gone Dark

I've had a very Good Day today. The despondency of yesterday had left when I rose this morning. It was no doubt helped by the fact that the sun was shining. I felt motivated and more like my usual self so when breakfast was over and Steve had left I got going.

This afternoon I finished the ceiling I was putting up in the Study. The Study was built in 1995 and since then I have been looking at ways of reducing the glare on the computer screens. It was so bad this year that CJ abandoned the Study and set up his laptop in the kitchen which has the same views as the Study. I tried all sorts of things except the most obvious which was to put in a ceiling that didn't let the light - and therefore the glare - in. So by late afternoon I had a new ceiling:

The blinds on the windows are all sun reflective so when the sun shines brightly onto the Study I can prevent it from shining into the Study. So now it is darker (which is a relative term 'cos it's still a very light and airy room) and I can see better.

Too Many Things. Not Enough Time

Yesterday I had a Bad Day. One of those days when nothing goes to plan and I couldn't motivate myself to get out of the mire that I seemed to have fallen into up to my waist. You know the sort of day when there are so many things to do that you just don't know where to start. And when you do.....

Looking back it was, of course, all Small Stuff and I don't usually sweat that but just sometimes the logical side of the brain doesn't manage to conquer the emotional side.

You know the sort of thing I'm talking about going pear shaped. It was raining so I didn't do the washing (I had three loads waiting). The sun came out. I did the washing and put it on the line. It poured. I changed mattresses and put a new one on so had to get rid of the old one. It was a large mattress and a heavy one but I managed to get it into the back of The Nighthawk and off I went to the coup (dump/tip/refuse disposal/dechetterie - whatever) only to be told that they'd recently closed it to all but commercial traffic and I had to traipse off to the new one miles away. The chili con carné for dinner was too hot (Steve didn't think so fortunately) and the parsnip soup definitely lacked something (fortunately I had an alternative starter handy). I won't bore you with the rest but you'll have got the picture.

Fortunately a friend, Steve, came for dinner bringing an excellent wine which we finished before it could be ruined by the heat of the chili. We then watched Twelve Angry Men which is an excellently directed and acted film.

This morning Steve's still ensconced in the guest bedroom so I've had an hour or so before I have to be host again. This morning the sun is shining and my mood of lethargy has lifted.

And then I read Dawn Treader's posting Too Many Things at The Island of Voices . Yea. I am not alone!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Address Books

I have kept an address book ever since I was a teenager. I'm fairly sure that I still have every address book I've ever had including the latest in written format in the form of a Filofax. They live in my bureau:

Over the past five or perhaps more years my address book has been on the computer. This is great for some things and it's easily updated and with people having so many moves that's quite important. People also have email addresses and many phone numbers nowadays. I've had my principal UK mobile phone (cellphone) number for about 18 years (updated as the prefixes altered to allow more numbers to be used) but that is the exception rather than the norm. And, in fact I have more mobile numbers (2 in New Zealand and a French one which may now be defunct) two UK and one N Z landline numbers and a Skype number. The list is endless. The point is that keeping tabs on a computerised system is fairly easy and very easy to back up. One tends to run out of space in a conventional written address book.

But for all that there is something comfortable about a handwritten address book. So I decided to get myself a new one whilst I was in Glasgow. Now a nice roomy but fairly compact index book had to be easy to find. Er. Hadn't it? Not so easy as I thought. Address books are available by the thousand with pages all set out for names address etc. But they are useless in the context of modern life with its multitude of bits of information I've mentioned above. Eventually I found the perfect book. I wonder why they could not just have had ordinary plain white pages. Oh well. It'll be different to the others in my collection:

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Not Waving But Drowning

Something happened the other day (I can't remember what) and a friend said "He's not waving but drowning!" "Gosh", I said, "that's a new take on the crying wolf theme. He's not crying wolf this time. He really has a problem.". [The last few sentences reminded me of school when you were given an unpunctuated paragraph and you had to punctuate it so that it made sense.] Anyway, as usual I digress. My friend then went on to explain that she was quoting from a poem and then went on to recite it.

Now I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to poetry and having the memory of a goldfish (sorry if that's insulting to goldfish) I'm not a great one for reciting it either. I've always had a 'thing' about Keats poetry and I love Shakespeare but this poem really struck home. In particular the last two lines reminded me of myself until I was thrown a lifeline by a friend a few years ago. So I thought I'd share it:

Stevie Smith - Not Waving But Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Monday, 10 August 2009


A Haggis

On Saturday I blogged a post Never Stop Searching For Wonderland. Shabby Girl who writes the blog A Fish's Beach Wishes asked in a comment if I could tell her and hubby about Haggis. So here it is.

This posting has an understandability warning: Many readers may not be able to understand the language. This is not restricted to friends in the United States but also those from areas of the UK outside certain regions of Scotland.

Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish made from sheep's pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal's stomach for approximately three hours. Despite the rather off-putting description haggis is actually delicious and, according to Larousse Gastronomique "Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour".

Commercial haggis is usually prepared in a casing rather than an actual stomach. Vegetarian haggis is also widely available and is generally the one I buy.

Although the haggis is generally though by Scots to be originally Scottish there is no evidence for that although it is referred to in the poem by William Dunbar entitled The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy dated around 1520:
Thy fowll front had, and he that Bartilmo flaid;
The gallowis gaipis eftir thy graceles gruntill,
As thow wald for ane haggeis, hungry gled.
The haggis was also immortalised by Robert Burns' poem Address to a Haggis in 1787 which is traditionally recited at least in part at Burns Suppers where haggis is traditionally served with "neeps and tatties" (Scots: swede, yellow turnip or rutabaga and potatoes, boiled and mashed separately) and a "dram" (i.e. a glass of Scotch whisky) as the main course.

However it is also often eaten with other accompaniments, or served with a whisky-based sauce. I use the vegetarian version to stuff mushrooms as a start to dinner.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

They Did It

I received a card from CJ, Jo and Richard yesterday. It was kinda cute and very appropriate.

The card was a reference (as if you couldn't have guessed) to my win in the Croquet tournament last week.

However I think that it should refer to the Royal Mail who managed to figure out to where it was supposed to be delivered.

As I am the only Edwards on the Island (as far as I and the Phone Book know) it should be easy enough to find me. Even easier if you have the postcode which one assumes was present before the letter arrived on the Island. But without my name and with only the tiniest other clue I think Royal Mail did rather well.


If you've read my profile on this blog you will know that I was once asked, as a way of finding out a bit about me, what the most recent CD was that I had bought. I said that I had at the same time just just purchased the complete piano sonatas of Mozart and Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler's 'Bat out of Hell'. The point being that my tastes in music are pretty catholic.

I suppose that I am like most people who love music in that I play the music to match my mood. By that I don't just mean happy music when I'm happy and sad music when I'm sad but more a music to match my emotion of the moment. So it may be Laura Brannigan at full volume (the advantage of living in a detached house) or Garth Brooks to remind me of driving along the Highway in the Californian sunshine or The Smashing Pumpkins when I think of Andy. Actually the latter are not really my scene but they were Andy's. However I'm more likely (especially on a Sunday morning) to play Grieg's piano music (Andy bought me his complete works) which is what I'm playing at the moment.

New songs are written constantly for pop and rock music and other modern genre.' 'Classical' music is, on the other hand, by its nature limited to an extent by historical output although there are modern composers to whom I can listen without being challenged too much. I'll give Stockhausen ("Just play as you feel") a miss thanks but Simeon ten Holt has produced fascinating piano music and there is always Nyman, Reich, Glass, Góreki, Pärt and Taverner to name but a few.

So what is the purpose of this posting? Well I have a pretty large collection of music of the major composers in the baroque to romantic eras and can be pretty confident of finding something to suit about any mood I may find myself in. My iTunes program which has much of my music on it (I use my CDs in Eagleton but my iPod in New Zealand) tells me that I have 13,716 tracks or 111 days continuous play available. However after constantly playing such music for the last 50 plus years I sometimes find that I'm a bit bored with some composers. Until recently that is. For a few years I have been getting an email each week from Presto Classical from whom I now usually buy my CDs whether in the UK or New Zealand. The newsletter contains an article each week on something happening in the music world. It's obviously designed to tempt the reader to buy something new; perhaps a newly recorded composer or a new artist bringing a fresh approach to the classics. It's excellent. Never, in the UK at least, has 'classical' music been more popular and more and more people are looking for something new. So many forgotten composers are being revisited and recorded. There is some dross amongst it. Most is pleasant and ordinary. But there are also absolute gems. I have been introduced to a whole new world of little known or little recorded composers. Long may it continue.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Never Stop Searching For Wonderland

So that's what I was doing with my head in the stream all those years ago (early 1960s) and I thought I was just having a drink.