Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hazel Grove Festival

It's a week back now but I ought to report on my performances which I'd flagged up at the Hazel Grove Musical Festival. I played the Poulenc Sicilienne from the Suite Francaise, a bit of a trifle but good for settling me in - though it was on a different piano to the afternoon classes (and, I think, a rather poorer one). In the afternoon the Schubert Moment Musicale No 2 - got the best mark for this of the three - and I was pretty happy with it. For the open class I played two Mompou Cancion y Danza (nos 6 and 2) when fairly well, some raggedness and I think I was too aware of a possible gap between the pieces. Didn't get any placings but it was a good thing to work towards. If you follow this link - scroll down to Dec 15th 2009 and before, you'll find YouTube versions of the Schubert and Mompou and here is the Poulenc (none of them played by me!!) - and in this case played by a guitar duo with rather overactive camera work!


A brief advertisement for the session taking place next Saturday at St Michael's Macclesfield called 'Sustainability, what's the problem? Raising awareness about the way we live now.
Activities for everyone interested in thinking about the future of the planet from a Christian point of view'
  • 10:30-12:00 Watch the 'Age of Stupid'
  • 10:30-11:15 Bible Study
  • 11:15-12:00 Talk on the past, present and future of energy supply
  • 12:00-12:30 Refreshments and Discussion
All welcome!

Mutterings - 28 Feb

This week's free word associations from Unconscious mutterings are:
  1. Harm :: 's way
  2. If :: Else
  3. On my own :: solitude
  4. She said :: He said
  5. Illegal :: drugs
  6. Broke :: back
  7. It’s a :: wonderful life
  8. Chatting :: talking
  9. Cottage :: gîte
  10. Podcast :: amarok

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Headline Built on Sand

Off the BBC News website - I'm wondering if cement medals come after lead medals? But maybe some news agency perpetrates this at each Olympics?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

..turned gamekeeper

The Guardian has at last published the obituary of Edward Schillebeeckx who died on 23rd December last year (I think they were negotiating danger money with those who had to proof read his surname but that's an English perspective!). A gentle man who was, I guess, at odds with much of the Vatican power politics and got told off a number of times. I did enjoy these final words of the piece:
He may just have allowed himself a wry smile when he looked back on a 1968 declaration, published in Concilium, the still flourishing progressive theological journal that he helped to set up, which insisted that the Pope "cannot and must not supersede, hamper and impede the teaching task of theologians as scholars". His own name was there among the signatories, as was that of the then Father Ratzinger.
but go and read the piece yourself! It goes nicely with a quote I've treasured and used in an email signature for a number of years:
Conformity means death for any community. A loyal opposition is a necessity in any community.
Karol Wojtyla (1969)
Just a year later than the first quote (look at the link if you can't immediately identify the writer!)

Well, if you have to ask!

A helpful auto-complete suggestion from google, the third from the bottom isn't bad either.
Maybe I ought to add this translation aid.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Three months on

As it is now three months since the initial announcement of redundancies which led to my finding myself without work, maybe it is appropriate to outline where I am now, both as an item of news, and maybe publicity, for those who follow here and as a means of reflection.
The job came to an end at the end of December though I'd been on gardening leave since before Christmas. Since then I've done a small amount of contract work for another ex-employer. I'm now reviewing options and looking for the next career steps.
I'm looking for something which will utilise my talents acquired over more than 40 years mainly in the IT industry.
The experience has been mainly focussed in c++ and python with lots of numerical analysis involved with a user interface using Qt, developing on both Linux and Windows in parallel but with experience in managing the company networking infrastructure - email/samba/webservers hoping to find an employer which treats such support as rather more critical - the MD of my ex-company claimed that such things as networking and email weren't business critical(!).
My CV is on the web. Contact/ advice/job offers all welcomed!

French Dîner

Originally uploaded by rajmarshall
Last night was the annual dinner of the Club Franco-Britannique de Macclesfield - it took place at Bleasdales in Bollington and a large number braved the snow to enjoy a very good evening - the food was excellent and most tables managed to talk French for at least some of the evening! More photos are here on flickr.
Our next meeting is the 23rd March entitled:Café causant et gâteaux faits-maison - bring a poem!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

About to melt to death

Oxford Light has some lovely pictures of snowmen on the martyrs' memorial - there seem to be 10, is that the correct historical number - and if so did the builders realise? I'm only a heathen Cambridge graduate.
There's some nice pictures of the city on that blog, maybe I need a post enumerating a few city weblogs I have bookmarked?

Teaser Tuesday - 23 Feb

Teaser Tuesday

The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) 'teaser' sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title and author of the book that you’re getting your 'teaser' from .. that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
In the end they got a man called Carl with fierce, blue eyes and a mower and a scythe and he pretty well ruined everything, but for a while it hid whole other worlds to play in.
That first visit, after the rain stopped, the long grass was still drenched, we walked right down to the edge of the lake, my socks and shoes soaked through.
Emma Craigie's 'Chocolate Cake with Hitler' the story of the last few days of 12 year old Helga Goebbels life and her gradual realisation of the nightmare which was closing in. This is nearly un-putdownable for me - you know what's going to happen but like a car-crash you don't want to look away. At the moment it is strongly recommended - we shall see if I'm as positive after the second half of the book - my only reservation so far is the recurrence of events which should be amusing but in the context of Hitler's Berlin bunker really, really aren't. e.g.
I did a fantastic dying scene [acting out Snow White's death from poison]
I've only just spotted the Who's Who at the end of the book - very useful for keeping track of the various third reich personalities who flit in and out of Helga's dark vision.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mutterings - 21 Feb

This week's free word associations from Unconscious mutterings are:
  1. Teeth :: gnashing
  2. Sweeten :: sugar
  3. Demons :: in the night
  4. Pizza :: 4 seasons (snow?)
  5. Protector :: Lord (I think that's Cromwell's fault)
  6. Smooth :: Man ( my brother is a hairy man)
  7. Coat :: of many colours (stuck in Genesis)
  8. Pebbles :: Dash
  9. Pregnant :: moment
  10. Sing :: Melodie (Fr.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - 16 Feb

Teaser Tuesday

The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) 'teaser' sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title and author of the book that you’re getting your 'teaser' from .. that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
The fever that weakens your perception as it sharpens your imagination turns the sickroom into someplace new, both familiar and strange; monsters come grinning out of the patterns on the curtains and the carpet, and chairs, tables, bookcases, and wardrobes burst out of their normal shapes and become mountains and buildings and ships you can almost touch although they're far away. Through the long hours of the night you have the church clock for company and the rumble of the occasional passing car that throws its headlights across the walls and ceiling.
Ah yes the memory of childhood sicknesses - yet another re-read of the Reader by Bernhard Schlink a mediation on German wartime guilt - I'm following the Bibliophilic books challenge and this is the first!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lack of coulda

Didn't post a poem yesterday, so here's one:
It was not because the heavens
didn't shine upon the match
nor for want of indication
that he thought himself a catch.
He was able, he was stable
as a Harvard running back;
of the requisite credentials
there was surely not a lack.
Lack of coulda? Lack of shoulda?
Lack of spermicidal foam? No,
it was just for Lackawanna
that I didn't take him home.
Heather McHugh's Song for the Men of the Pennsylvania Hills.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Albion Quartet in Bollington

Went over to Bollington last night to here the Albion Quartet in a Mozart, Shostakovich and Mendelssohn programme. They played the Mozart Dissonance Quartet, I think there were some problems of intonation in the first movement (after the slow introduction!) but they settled down and gave a good rendering. I was mainly there for the Shostakovich which, I thought, was a deeply felt pretty confident performance. It is a very dark work written during the composer's last years when he suffered from various illnesses. There's a good outline of the work here - I particularly liked the 'it is Webern to the Twelfth's Berg', a challenging work for the young ensemble which they faced well, lots of solo work for the viola player and the dark final duet towards the end for cello and viola came over well. I last heard this work live back in 1973(?) at a performance in the Cambridge Guildhall, can't remember who played it but it was a well known group and an early performance of the work. It was good to hear it again live! I think I've only heard two Shostakovich quartets in live performance, there was another at the Cambridge concert (I guess the 12th) so to have heard 13 twice is lucky as I guess it isn't often performed.
In the second half (it appears the original plan was to play the Shostakovich last - I don't think it would have worked, it's too short and ends in a very depressed state so I'm glad they were switched!) they played the Mendelssohn Quartet No 1 - unfortunately I got distracted by something I'd forgotten to do which was going to cause a crisis on my return home - so I heard very little of it - it was though a worthwhile evening out.
Note the Albion Quartet's website appears to be broken, I'm putting the link there just in case it gets repaired!

Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

Bit of a departure for this blog but having cooked these late last night on noticing that I was down to provide breakfast at Church and had, until then, forgotten - the shops were then closed and I needed something home made and quickly! I got at least one request for the recipe, so here it is (it is supposed to make 5-6 dozen - though I got around 90!):
1 cup raisins
1 cup water
Simmer these over a low heat while continuing with the rest of the recipe. Eventually drain liquid making up, if necessary to 1/2 cup.
3/4 lb (330g) soft margarine
1.5 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence - cream these together, stir in raisin liquid.
2.5 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
0.5 tsp cloves (ground) - sift together, stir in and add 2 cups oats, 0.5 cup chopped nuts (I omitted these) and drained raisins.

Drop rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart on ungreased baking trays. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
This is my aged copy of a Scargill recipe - obviously you're meant to merge the two sets of ingredients before cooking! I used a (fan oven) temperature of 160 degrees C.
When I cooked them at Scargill, so 30 years ago, I seem to remember that they came out as rather doughy, but last night's were lovely and crisp!

Mutterings - 14 Feb

This week's free word associations from Unconscious mutterings are:
  1. Suitcase :: Travel
  2. Exhaust :: -ed
  3. Olympics :: skiing
  4. Video :: youtube
  5. Cargo :: contraband
  6. Previously :: once upon a time
  7. Wild card :: * (that's just a bit geeky)
  8. Artificial :: insemination
  9. Gambling :: cards
  10. Exhibition :: Atrocity (J G Ballard)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Administration note

I've removed, for the moment, a couple of posts from this weblog. Not saying too much but the intention is to assist the safety of someone else. No I'm not going to say which posts they were!
Later (24th Feb 2010) - these posts have now been restored as there is nothing in them which is not available elsewhere on the internet and, to date, no request has been made to take down those other pages.

Friday, February 12, 2010

You probably need to be brave to watch!

No Silk Screen this week, and so..

as ever this blog is an advertising free zone.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Cat!

For those of you not following Simon's cat on facebook or twitter (shame!) the full episode, of which the first half was released before Christmas, of Snow Business is now available

Yesterday was the first day since Dec that I'd checked for an update to Part I - just slightly too soon.

A French Education

The wonder of google predicted searches!

You should probably look at the google superbowl ad - in related videos - if you're wondering what's going on.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - 9 Feb

Teaser Tuesday

The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) 'teaser' sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title and author of the book that you’re getting your 'teaser' from .. that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
It [an editorial in the Morning Post] criticised the rushed peremptory way the coroner had conducted the inquest, and demanded that the investigation into the child's death be taken over by 'the most experienced of detectives'. The article argued that the security of all the homes in England rested on uncovering the secrets of Road Hill House.
Kate Summerscale's retelling of an early English detective's involvement in an actual 1860 case of murder in Wiltshire - that link contains major spoilers! Ah, the book title is 'The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: or, the Murder at Road Hill House'
Later - should have mentioned that this is our book group's read for the month!

Monday, February 08, 2010


Just received the following helpful email from Amazon, in their let's spot a related product code:
Are you looking for something in our Groceries department? If so, you might be interested in these items.
In this message:
  • Astroglide Personal Lubricant, 5-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 2)
  • Astroglide Personal Lubricant, Sensual Strawberry, 5-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 2)
  • Astroglide Personal Lubricant Gel, 4-Ounce Tubes (Pack of 6)
  • Astroglide Glycerin & Paraben Free, 2.5-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 2)
  • Astroglide Warming Liquid Personal Lubricant, 5-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 2)
  • K-Y Sensual Silk Personal Lubricant, 4.5-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 2)

Well I suppose that Groceries is a fairly imprecise term?

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The latest congregational actions in Sydney

This is what happens when the hymn singing in a church in the Sydney diocese gets a little over excited.
epic fail pictures
see more Epic Fails
They should use projectors then they wouldn't have these problems. Seen at the Australian Open.
(If I'm not careful I'm going to turn into Unthinking Anglicans)

The Hour of the Biscuit

A stanza from Chase Twichell's poem

What does it mean,
“to let something go”?
It sounds like releasing a trout
or a bird with a healed wing,
but they can’t fly or swim
back to the life before.
Letting go is forgetting.
I know; I didn’t want to believe it, either.
But memory dies when it
lies down deep in the forest,
leaving no trail of crumbs.

Resonant words.

Mutterings - 7 Feb

This week's free word associations from Unconscious mutterings are:
  1. Humbled :: Bowed
  2. Buns :: Hot cross
  3. Snowstorm :: Whiteout
  4. Sweetheart :: Love
  5. Punch :: Judy
  6. Glass :: Menagerie
  7. Classical :: concert
  8. Heels :: Kitten
  9. Twitter :: or indeed if you want non-free - nothing like an extra bit of self publicity!!
  10. Husband :: Me

Saturday, February 06, 2010

An evening with the photograph album

On Wednesday we went to the Silk Screen to see Terence Davies' 'of time and the city' his affectionate hymn to Liverpool of days gone by. At one point there was film of New Brighton and I was reminded of a photo in my archives of me on the beach there in the 50's.

On the beach wearing a bow-tie??!!
Of the film, it was very self indulgent but wonderful nostalgia, insights into deprivation and community. Here's the trailer (there's another slightly different one also on youTube)

Wanted to link to this one though for the final Bernard Fallon shot.
The film tells of Davies' youth his (obviously failed in some sense) attempt to kick over the traces of his Catholic upbringing and his deep affection for place and memory.
I loved the cutting of the finale of the Mahler Resurrection Symphony into those last minutes, here's part of the text: (Mahler using Klopstock)
O believe,
You were not born for nothing!
Have not for nothing, lived, suffered!

What was created
Must perish,
What perished, rise again!
Cease from trembling!
Prepare yourself to live!

Davies prayer for his home city. He also quotes Eliot's Four Quartets hence the blog post title!
I was born and spent my first 10 years along the coast in the far more respectable Birkdale but the twinges of awoken memory were most welcome.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - 2 Feb

Teaser Tuesday

The rules are:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) 'teaser' sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title and author of the book that you’re getting your 'teaser' from .. that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
Another bite from Rose Tremain's 'The Road Home' - it's a long read, but very much worth it!
They heard slow feet shuffling forward, then Lev saw a large woman, with curly grey hair and eyes that were still almost beautiful in the colourless dough of her face, standing before them. Round her neck was an ancient string of pearls.