Friday, August 15, 2014

Childrens books 15

Continuing the series of inappropriate kids books.  I can't remember where I obtained the image, it's been on my hard drive for years and I came across it when doing some tidying up.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Childrens books 14

Continuing the series of inappropriate kids books.  I can't remember where I obtained the image, it's been on my hard drive for years and I came across it when doing some tidying up.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Childrens books 13

Continuing the series of inappropriate kids books.  I can't remember where I obtained the image, it's been on my hard drive for years and I came across it when doing some tidying up.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Childrens books 12

Continuing the series of inappropriate kids books.  I can't remember where I obtained the image, it's been on my hard drive for years and I came across it when doing some tidying up.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Childrens books 11

Continuing the series of inappropriate kids books.  I can't remember where I obtained the image, it's been on my hard drive for years and I came across it when doing some tidying up.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Childrens books 10

Continuing the series of inappropriate kids books.  I can't remember where I obtained the image, it's been on my hard drive for years and I came across it when doing some tidying up.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Childrens books 9

Continuing the series of inappropriate kids books.  I can't remember where I obtained the image, it's been on my hard drive for years and I came across it when doing some tidying up.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Tenor vacancies

The following is from Frikki Walker, Director of Music at St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow:

Please could folks share and/or send this to anyone who might have an interest? Thanks.

The famous choir of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow has vacancies for TWO TENORS.

Requirements are: a good voice, some choral experience, a reasonable standard of musicianship and a sense of humour!

Coming up in the next few months is a week’s residency at Lincoln Cathedral, a Choir Concert, and the recording of a CD of music written for St Mary’s.

We are a voluntary choir currently comprising 20 choristers (boys and girls) and about 30 or so adults. We sing two services on Sundays and have a rehearsal on Thursday evenings. Music covers a huge range, from Medieval to present day, and we do regular broadcasts, concerts and recordings, all to a very high standard.

We are also a very sociable group, and there is much merriment and socialising to be had, too!

Recently we have had several young singers going on to study music at University, many gaining Choral Scholarships to Cambridge, Durham, Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow Universities, and others have gained places to Music College or Conservatoires.

You can read more about the choir and the cathedral on our web-site: www.thecathedral.org.uk

Anyone interested is asked to email the Director of Music, Frikki Walker on music AT thecathedral.org.uk

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Childrens books 8

Continuing the series of inappropriate kids books.  I can't remember where I obtained the image, it's been on my hard drive for years and I came across it when doing some tidying up.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Childrens books 7

Continuing the series of inappropriate kids books.  I can't remember where I obtained the image, it's been on my hard drive for years and I came across it when doing some tidying up.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Childrens books 6

Continuing the series of inappropriate kids books.  I can't remember where I obtained the image, it's been on my hard drive for years and I came across it when doing some tidying up.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Childrens books 5

Continuing the series of inappropriate kids books.  I can't remember where I obtained the image, it's been on my hard drive for years and I came across it when doing some tidying up.


Saturday, March 01, 2014

Childrens books 4

Continuing the series of inappropriate kids books.  I can't remember where I obtained the image, it's been on my hard drive for years and I came across it when doing some tidying up.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Childrens books 3

Number three in the series of kids books you might not have spotted before





I can't remember where I obtained the image, it's been on my hard drive for years and I came across it when doing some tidying up.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Childrens books 2

The second in a series of childrens books you might not find in your local bookstore!





I can't remember where I obtained the image, it's been on my hard drive for years and I came across it when doing some tidying up.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Childrens books 1

Number one in a short series of posts containing heart warming children's books you might not find in the shops ...


I can't remember where I obtained the image, it's been on my hard drive for years and I came across it when doing some tidying up.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Wedding day singing

I haven't been posting much here for a while and the last thing I wrote was in relation to singing at the funeral of friend and fellow cathedral choir member Alistair Fulton, so it's only right and proper that I should now mention that today finds the other end of the spectrum and I will be singing at the wedding of friends and fellow cathedral choir members Fraser Pearce and Jane Gibson!

All life is here.

Choir music today, and there is lots of it, will include pieces by Louis Vierne, Charles Wood, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Henry Walford Davies, Howard Goodall, and Eric Whitacre (and more but that's all I can remember).

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Alistair Fulton

I'll be singing at the funeral of my friend Alistair Fulton today, in the choir of St Mary's Cathedral where he also sang (standing right next to me for a reasonable chunk of that time).

Singing in such a choir you get to attend more than your fair share of weddings and funerals, and even though you mostly don't know the happy couple or the deceased person (delete as applicable) they are usually emotional occasions so that's when, despite it being a choir of amateurs (in the true sense of that word), the professionalism kicks in and emotions are put to one side in order to get the job done. That job of course being to be a part of the team (clergy, servers, organist, conductor, choir, etc) who make the event happen and facilitate whatever spirituality or other feelings the people in the congregation are having. Whether the individual choir members feel that spirituality too is secondary, but discussion of that is for another time.

Much is made of the fact we sometimes sing on the radio ('Scotland's most broadcast choir' is the phrase regularly bandied around) but that stuff's just icing, today is the real thing.

Today will be difficult, but it will be done because Alistair was not only our friend, but he was one of us, and it'll be done because it's our job.



Sunday, December 30, 2012

Review of 2012

It occurs to me that I didn't post a review of 2011 a year ago. Perhaps at the time I was suffering from the trauma of my approaching 50th birthday, but no matter the reason for last year's aberration it's now time for a review of my 2012. I didn't post here much during the year so, although some of what I'm about to mention has already been aired publically, more trivia than usual might be new. That newness doesn't necessarily make it interesting, of course, and since this Blog is probably more designed as a vehicle for me to get things off my chest occasionally, this latest in my series of year reviews is a chance for me to sit, think, and remember what the preceding 12 months held for me, so I apologise if this post holds no interest and if that's the case please feel free to surf to somewhere else more interesting for the moment!

As ever what follows is a bit of a stream of consciousness, in no particular order other than as things occur to me while I type. And doubtless I'll have missed things which, if they involved you, I apologise for not mentioning. It doesn't mean they were any less enjoyable or important, it's just that my memory is a bit suspect sometimes!

Going back a bit beyond the 12 months, towards the end of 2011 I got my beloved motorcycle back on the road after a year and a half and my big plan, possibly THE big plan of 2012, was to do a grand tour of the UK on it, partly visiting friends around the country in the process, including (in absolutely no order of precedence, just roughly clockwise round the island) Elgin, Turriff, Morpeth, Newcastle upon Tyne, Ripon, York, Lincoln, Cambridge, London, Reading, Salisbury, Portsmouth, Wells, and the Lake District. So how many did I manage to visit? Well, just York if the truth be told, and that was only because I was singing in the Minster as a representative of RSCM Scottish Voices at a service there! Maybe next year I'll get round a few more of the others. That's not to say I wasn't using the bike, I did use it to to and from York, and managed to get private secure parking in the Minster Yard while I was there - it's not what you know it's who you know - and used it pretty much year round to and from work and for a few trips around Ayrshire and Argyll.

On the downside regarding the bike, last week I returned home very late from a day of socialising in Edinburgh at a friend's 50th birthday lunch/drinks followed by seeing The Hobbit (don't bother, it's shit!), and about 10 minutes after I got into the house, around 1am, having heard a bunch of drunks in the street as I got home, there was a loud bang outside which sounded exactly like an 1100cc BMW motorcycle hitting the deck. Yes, the drunken bastards had kicked my bike over, witnessed by a neighbour, and legged it. The offside mirror is trashed, and since that incorporates the indicator, it's a three figure sum to replace it, so for the moment the bike's been moved to work where it's parked in a secure compound out of danger's way, and I'll get it fixed in due course.

I've already mentioned my 50th birthday and posted about it at length - particularly my thoughts in the lead up to it - so all I'll say now is that I thoroughly enjoyed my party in February, attended as it was by about 100 friends. One thing I've been very slightly disappointed in, I have to confess, is that having invited former school friends, quite a few of whom attended and most of whom are the same age as me, the lack of reciprocal invitations was striking throughout the year. I commented on this in an unrelated email to most of them and one or two replied that they hadn't had 50th birthday parties, but ..........! Inviting people wasn't ever meant as a quid pro quo, but even so it would have been nice to get even one return invitation!

In January I found myself attending a seminar held at Vodafone's HQ in Berkshire, and was quite impressed at the building and particularly at Lewis Hamilton's Formula 1 car on display in the foyer (Vodafone being a main sponsor of the team). I'm going to the 2013 seminar in the same place so I'll see whether it's still there now that he's jumped ship.

Other trips away from home were to Cheltenham for a training course, staying at the Hotel du Vin across from Cheltenham Girls' College (and a very nice hotel it was too), the aforementioned trip to York, and a weekend in Altrincham at the wedding of friends, all of which were very enjoyable.

I continue to sing in Glasgow Chamber Choir, RSCM Scottish Voices and the choir of St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow (who, as I type this, were on BBC Radio 4 this morning singing Morning Worship), and although I didn't join GCC on their weekend trip to sing in Sweden one exceptionally enjoyable singing weekend was spent with the cathedral choir in Beverley Minster in Yorkshire. The music was good, the welcome we received was excellent, the town was lovely, the beer garden across the road was fun, and best of all I renewed a friendship with someone I hadn't seen for years who was unexpectedly there as an extra singer and I'm glad to say we've managed to keep in regular touch since then, largely by text message. In truth, the renewal of that friendship after so long was one of the high spots of my year!  As I get older I realise more and more that friends are exceptionally important parts of our lives, and I count myself lucky to have several very good ones. I won't name names, but you know who you are.

One thing that looked like it would come out of meeting Becca again was a potential reunion of The Marian Consort, the now defunct choir of which we were members back in the 1990's, and to that end I started to try to contact as many former members as I could to see if there was a desire to get together again, even for a one-off social/singing event.  Unfortunately the response amongst those I contacted, although largely positive, fell a bit short of the numbers I'd need to get a viable choir together to sing so I've sort of put it on the back burner for now and will try again soon.  Maybe it'll just be a social event rather than a singing one.

Another real high spot was me getting an iPad, and having had my home PC running virtually 24/7 for a number of years I now find it's only switched on about once a week at most as there's not all that much I can't do on the iPad.  The iPad impressed me as soon as I got it, and I've found no reason to change that opinion.

I've been doing some cycling in the past year, although not as much as I'd like to have done, but in November I bought a cycle carrier for the car so I can now go a bit further afield and find new paths to try so hopefully next year I'll do better.  This was always a plan that my friend Ruth and I had when we got our cycles around the same time as each other, so we've no excuse not to next year!

The reason I bought the carrier was to go on holiday for a week up to Torridon, in the north west Highlands of Scotland, with three friends, Ruth, Kirsty and Al, during which time we cycled, walked, ate, drank, laughed and generally had a good relaxing time.  Plans are already afoot to go back up there somewhere next year around September.

I don't intend breaking my habit of avoiding Blogging about work, and there's no particular reason for that self-imposed rule other than I think it isn't right to do so.  Suffice to say however that although I continue to love what I'm doing, where I'm doing it, and who I'm doing it for, in these financially tight times the organisation for whom I work is about to undertake a merger making a much bigger entity, and at the moment there's a definite air of uncertainty around since no one can be sure where, or indeed if, they'll be working a year from now.  I suspect I'll be safe, but one never knows.  In the meantime I continue to play the National Lottery Euromillions!

Although as I mentioned I still sing in the cathedral choir, in the past year or so I've felt an ongoing decrease in anything I get from services other than the music.  This has gone on to the extent that I now can't quite bring myself to say out loud the spoken parts of the service, although I am in fact thinking them in my head.  I continue to attend and sing at Choral Evensong in the hope that this is temporary, but I don't think I have any control over whether that does turn out to be the case.  I can't explain what's happened, I don't really know myself, and I can only wait and see, and hope that in the meantime my continued presence is accepted.

So, that's a very brief outline of my 2012.  Overall the year was neither particularly good nor outrageously bad, but on the whole it was fine for me with one or two stand out bits such as Torridon and Beverley.  I go into 2013, living here in the cold wet west of Scotland with my cat Elmo, with the twin intentions of keeping in contact with good friends, and trying to stay positive about life.

I wish you everything you'd wish for yourself in 2013 and beyond.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Christmas!

Thanks to Ruth for bringing the following to my attention just before Christmas last year with the suggestion that I might add it to my Blog.  Better late then never!

1) No known species of reindeer can fly. But there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.

2) There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn't (appear) to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total - 378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each.

3) Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical).

This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75-1/2 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc.

This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man- made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second - a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.

4) The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight.

On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that 'flying reindeer' (see point #1) could pull TEN TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine.

We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh - to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison - this is four times the weight of the liner Queen Elizabeth.

5) 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each.

In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second.

Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

In conclusion - If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Torridon update 1

Well the trip up here to Torridon on Saturday went well, taking around 5 hours, and when we arrived we enjoyed lovely chilli made by Al at home and brought with him. And some wine of course!

We failed to get the wood burning fire started, because we couldn't find the kindling we thought should be here, so it was a bit chilly in the evening although there are (expensive to run) electric storage heaters to fall back on.

Yesterday started REALLY wet, but we persevered and did a bit of a hill walk, spotting wild deer within 50 yards of us while we were in the middle of nowhere. They seemed as curious about us as we were of them, and they appeared to quickly realise the only shooting we we going to do was with cameras so we were no threat.  So about five hours in the hills was passed enjoyably, although I was more than a little knackered by the time I reached the car.

Dinner last night was roast leg of lamb, roast potatoes, roast parsnip, carrots, gravy and mint sauce, cooked by yours truly, and the time spent in the kitchen sharing the space with both Ruth and Kirsty who were preparing cheesecake and chickpea curry in advance was well spent.  The roasties in particular were successful, as sometimes they can be a bit hit or miss when I make them, but the use of good quality goose fat helped.

All four of us were a bit tired after the day of exercise and the big meal, which was rounded off with Ruth's delicious cheesecake, so early nights were the order all round.

This morning the weather is pretty atrocious, as I think it is throughout Scotland, and we've enjoyed a cooked breakfast made by me, and we're currently siting in the living room of this delightful wee cottage, killing time until we feel up to going for a drive in the car to suss out the local (single track) roads and see where we might want to cycle at some point.

Oh, and we found the kindling yesterday so the fire Al started yesterday was still just about going this morning so we've kept it topped up and we're all toastie!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Torridon

It's early in the morning, but I'm awake and typing this Blog entry, just a quick one, in advance of heading to a part of the UK I really don't know, which is exciting.

I have a good working knowledge of much of mainland UK, having driven round it for work and on holidays over the years, but the big chunk that is the Highlands of Scotland has remained unsullied by my presence.  Until now.

At half nine this morning my wee Ford Fiesta, full of luggage and food, will have three cycles dangling off the newly bought carrier on the back window, and with friends I'll be heading north on a five and a half hour drive to Torridon, which is pretty much due west of Inverness on the coast.

Young Elmo will be well looked after for the next week in a Cattery recommended by friends and which to my surprise is actually run by two people I know, one of whom I used to work with and the other from whom I bought my current BMW R1100RT motorcycle about 7 years ago!

So I'll be setting the house alarm, and neighbours have been primed to keep an eye on the place, and we'll be doing a bit of light hillwalking, some cycling, some wine drinking and, most importantly, lots of relaxing.

I believe the cottage we've booked has WiFi, so there may be some posts here as we go along. Watch this space.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Requiem

At 7.30pm on Friday 2nd November in New Kilpatrick Parish Church, Bearsden, Glasgow, and again at 7.30pm on Saturday 3rd November in Old Saint Paul's Episcopal Church in Edinburgh, Glasgow Chamber Choir directed by Michael Bawtree will give a concert of British Cathedral classic repertoire, including Requiem by Herbert Howells, Give unto the Lord by Edward Elgar, and a Sequence for All Saints by Kenneth Leighton.

Come along to one, you won't regret it!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Arrrrr!

Arr, another year be over, and it be Talk Like a Pirate day again.  Arrrr!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Marian Consort revisited

In July the cathedral choir decamped south to sing the services in Beverley Minster for the weekend, and to my surprise and delight one of the small number of 'extras' singing was a friend I knew very well from the 1990s when we both sang in The Marian Consort although we'd since lost contact and the last time we met or spoke was probably 1996.

The Marian Consort was an ad hoc choir consisting of friends of the choirmaster who he'd met during his time at various churches around the UK, including Glasgow, Wells and Horsham amongst other places. Between 1991 and 1996 we gathered from far and wide and met for a week each year singing the daily services to a very high standard in the cathedrals of Wells (twice), Lincoln, Norwich, Edinburgh (Episcopal). and Winchester. The increasing workload in organising this annual treat combined with young children meant that it sadly didn't continue beyond our Winchester visit, and although contact between some remained there were some good friendships which seemed to have fallen by the wayside. Some of those friendships still haven't been reestablished as yet, but I'm glad to say one has because of that visit to Beverley!

Reminiscing fondly in the pub at Beverley I was genuinely surprised when Becca pointed out that it was over 20 years since the choir had burst onto an unsuspecting Wells Cathedral, and so the talk inevitably turned to a reunion, so we've been putting our heads together and consulting some others and we think we've come up with a list of most of those who sang at some point over the six years of the choir's existence.

And so yesterday I sent an email to 19 people, asking if they'd be interested in getting together again for a weekend, hopefully next year, to sing somewhere. And of course to socialise, because that was one of the great things about the Marian Consort, we sang to an astonishingly high standard for a choir that only met for a single week every year and although most of that was down to the skill of our choirmaster, part of the reason for it was that we very quickly turned a group of people who didn't know each other into a cohesive body simply because we socialised together and became real friends really quickly. Lots and lots of alcohol, that was the key! Those weeks were genuinely some of the best ones of my life.

Hopefully most of the initial 19 people I just contacted will be up for it, and hopefully they'll still be in contact with some of the other people I named in the email but for whom I don't have contact details, so we can continue to spread the word.

Watch this space.

Oh, and I know there's currently a UK choir called the Marian Consort, but it's unconnected.