Saturday, December 20, 2008

Review of 2008

It's that time of year again when the TV, Radio and newspapers are full of their reviews of the activity and stories of the previous 12 months. Well I'm not going to be outdone! For your delectation (well, OK, it's actually totally for me as a cathartic exercise) here is how 2008 went for me. Not everything I'm going to mention has already been Blogged about, but some has.

Looking back at the review of 2007 I posted a year ago, I can see there have been some changes to my life in the past year. Almost exclusively these have been changes for the better.

The year 2007 ended with me having rejoined Glasgow Chamber Choir, and continuing to enjoy the experience. This coincided with me coming to the end of a difficult and sometimes turbulent relationship which had been going on for a bit over a year. I pride myself on being easy going and hopefully pretty calm much of the time, but my stress levels were through the roof for a significant chunk of the latter part of 2007. I didn't really Blog about this much at the time, it wouldn't have been right, but I can say now with the clarity of hindsight that this was a relationship I shouldn't have been in, and having been in it, it shouldn't have dragged on as long as it did. It did neither of us any good. And in fact it affected my friendship with other, better, friends too. Another pride I take is that I am still on good speaking terms with everyone (there are not all that many!) with whom I have had a significant relationship, whatever form that took, but this particular relationship having finished part way through the year and changed into a tentative, or possibly even tenuous, friendship, in January something happened which caused the other person to cut off all contact with me, despite my efforts to try to remain friends. I gave it a few weeks though, and after all calls had gone unanswered, including calls being rejected, I gave up and haven't thought about contacting her again. So another dark chapter passes!

The thing that happened in January was that I started a new relationship with RE, a member of Glasgow Chamber Choir. She had joined in September 2007 on the same evening I had rejoined, and over the next weeks and months we seemed to hit it off and seemed to enjoy one another's company, albeit always in a larger group, and so we eventually started dating. And we are still doing so, I'm very glad to say! It wouldn't be right for me to describe RE, or our relationship, or how I felt, or anything like that. So I won't. But she knows, I hope, and that's what matters.

In January, sadly, my gran died after a short illness but a long life. Needless to say I miss her. It was largely for her that I started tracing my family tree a few years ago (I currently have it traced back to the late 17th century in one of the strands) and since her death I haven't put any real effort into researching anything further. I fully intend getting back into it in the new year though.

Also in January I sat and passed my Institute of Advanced Motorists Advanced Driving test, adding that qualification to the Advanced Motorcycling one I passed the previous month. Since then I haven't felt the urge to become a Qualified Car Observer, but I persevered with the motorcycling training and in September 2008 I successfully passed the written and practical tests which make me a Qualified Motorcycle Observer, able to accompany and assist associates who are undertaking training to pass their own Advanced test. The season's finished just now of course, but I'm looking forward to carrying on with helping associates next year.

In March I spent a tremendously enjoyable long weekend in Marseilles with Glasgow Chamber Choir, where we sang in a couple of concerts (pretty stress free) and ate, drank and socialised a lot. I think part of the reason I enjoyed it was that it was my first trip abroad for ages, apart from the trip to Belgium in 2007 when I was in a plaster cast, and the first time away with RE. In fact up to that point our relationship was known only to a very small handful of people, but we had to come out the closet, so to speak, for the trip away so it was nice not to have to hide it from our friends any longer!

I've made my personal peace with St Mary's Cathedral. For a while I had no intention of ever going back, but I have and I'm very happy to have done so. My absence from the choir, and from the building generally, started with my achilles tendon injury when I couldn't walk or even stand without crutches, but it then developed into a wider problem connected with the relationship I was in. I should never have let that happen, but I did, but I'm glad to say that I'm back. I'm not singing in the choir full time at the moment, because they rehearse on the same evening as Glasgow Chamber Choir does, but I am for the moment one of the "occasional extra" singers drafted in when they need tenors. The other side of that coin is that if I see anything coming up on the music list which I'd like to sing, then I just contact FW, the director of music, and he's happy for me to come and join in, even if that means the choir has a boatload of tenors that evening! And in fact the choir is well blessed for tenors at the moment, there are I think about five of them, so I'm not really needed just now. But RE and I do attend Evensong most weeks, which is very enjoyable only not quite so enjoyable as actually singing in it!

This year, and I actually can't remember when it was apart from early summer or before, St Mary's Cathedral played host to a big Evensong service for the organist emeritus, Bernard Porter, who was celebrating a significant birthday. Lots of former choir members, including me, joined the current choir and made a spectacular sound. Some travelled from as far afield as the south of England, the north of Scotland, and New York to join the singing! And the socialising, funnily enough, was great!

In the summer, together with various friends including RE, I joined the newly formed Royal School of Church Music Scottish Voices choir. The initial meeting was a residential weekend at Strathallan School in Perthshire, which seemed to go well, not least because FW, from St Mary's Cathedral, is also the conductor of RSCM Scottish Voices. I should explain that the RSCM choir is not to be confused with Scottish Voices, which is a different choir. Apparently RSCM Scottish Voices is the equivalent of the RSCM Cathedral Singers in England, but they decided not to use that name in Scotland lest it offended Presbyterians and others who have no cathedrals! Political correctness strikes again! So they chose the name RSCM Scottish Voices instead, and presumably either didn't realise there is already a choir called Scottish Voices, or didn't care. Superb!

Anyway, next year's dates have recently been circulated, and it looks like it'll be a busy and enjoyable year.

In September my little cat Ernie fell ill, and after a short illness sadly died. I Blogged about that extensively at the time and have no intentions of reliving it here, since it was an intensely painful experience. I miss him greatly, as does Elmo, his wee pal.

One of the high spots of the year undoubtedly was my visit to San Diego, Califonia to visit my brother and his family. Made even better by RE joining me for the last few days when she was enroute back to Glasgow from New Zealand and made a stopover. I've Blogged a fair bit about the holiday, but I'm conscious that I still haven't told the full story yet and I owe this Blog the final installment, so I'll try to get to that as soon as possible!

I discovered in 2008, or it might have been late 2007, that my blood pressure had climbed alarmingly. It's now down to a better level, and I'm trying to get my act together to get to my local gym regularly in an effort to keep it down, lose a bit of weight, and get fit enough to do the things I want to do, which are many and varied! I've decided against taking up badminton again though, as I don't relish the idea of fucking up my achilles tendon again! Watch this space for details of my progress, if indeed I make any progress!

As ever, I make it my rule not to Blog about work. Suffice to say I'm still enjoying being in the particular department I'm in, doing the things I do, and tempting as it is to go looking for more money elsewhere, and it IS available, I'd rather stay where I am. For the moment anyway!

So, to sum up, 2008 has been a good year for me, not only on the relationship front but also as regards St Mary's Cathedral and trips abroad to sunny places. On the extreme down side, I lost both my gran and my faithful companion Ernie, but such is the way of life.

I've just re-read all of the above and realised it's a bit more of a random stream of consciousness than usual, so apologies for that. If I could be arsed I'd edit it into some better chronological, or at least logical, order, but I can't!

Anyway, Happy Christmas and a successful 2009 to you all, and I refuse to go down the political correctness route and use weasel words detracting from Christmas. If you are offended by my wishing you a Happy Christmas rather than Happy Holidays or similar, then perhaps you're reading the wrong Blog and I invite you never to darken my URL again!


  1. Here's wishing you a great Christmas, Lay Clerk, a most enjoyable Hogmanay - and no hangover in 2009 !

    (And, of course, all very best wishes for a very happy 2009 - in all senses of the word).

  2. Hope you had a great Christmas, and here's wishing you all the best for 2009.