Thursday, 29 November 2007


Well, I've been dissipating my creative energies on Facebook, as everyone warned me I would. But like everyone else, I'm finding that the initial thrill wears off pretty quickly, and you're left constantly infuriated that Scrabulous only succeeds in loading once in twenty attempts.

So much I meant to write about... Most recent first. We went to see The Turn of the Screw at ENO. The balcony seats were smaller than I remembered, and I realised that the price of day seats has quadrupled since I started going -- weren't they £3 not very long ago? The opera was splendidly sung: Rebecca Evans as the governess was terrific, and the boy playing Miles (sorry not to remember his name) was astonishing. It was all rather gloomy -- dark sets, black clothes, lots of fretting, and things didn't (I don't suppose this counts as a spoiler) turn out well. But then there aren't that many cheerful operas.

But life has been hectic: I'm now back at work two days a week, and one of them in London. And this week Sasha has had a bronchial infection which led to an alarmingly high temperature and a lot of wheezing, plus a cough that woke all of us up through the night. Then there was last week's carol concert, which went really well -- even my debut as a conductor -- but was a huge amount of work. And photocopying (legal copies only - Company of Musicians policy!). So I am shattered. But it's good to be busy and doing stuff. I haven't had time to look at Facebook.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

That lovely weekend

My wonderful baby is sitting happily shoving a plastic toy around, and has been for the last hour or so. Some of that time was spent holding up lego bricks and cooing to them. That was so lovely I positively choked up. I'm so glad Sasha is self-reliant: it's a great gift, I think, to be happy in your own company.

A lovely birthday weekend. I went to Little Quavers with all three children -- the big kids have learned the songs from me: they can pretty much memorise anything on a single hearing. Actually, all the women at the groups seem to learn things with very little trouble: I suspect it's only classical musicians who get so used to the dots that they can't do without them. (Come to think of it, one of the many very impressive things about I Fagiolini is that they can sing huge pieces -- not just (just!!) Monteverdi madrigals but weird contemporary pieces -- from memory.) Anyway, we all walked back from Stapleford, which was just the right distance (though I'd forgotten to double the time to allow for dawdling, sniffing flowers, etc), to lunch with all the women from my NCT morning. Seven mothers and babies all stuffed into our living room, occasionally all crying at the same time. It was a riot. Luckily, A volunteered to make the spag bol as otherwise it would have been pretty hectic.

Close friends for dinner, and A made his famed pea and garlic soup, which I keep promising to post the recipe for here -- but I want to write about the Naming Day too. Then next day our Elgar workshop, with Berty. This had been a delight to fix, so for once I wasn't too grumpy. The music was a revelation: we went from opus 18 to opus 72, and covered a huge range of styles, from faux folk ballad (My love dwelt in a northern land) to fervent godliness (Go, song of mine) to a weird mock-Russian thing (Death on the hills). We all had the tunes on the brain for the next few days. Good stuff. Sunday was late breakfasts and pub lunches and a nice time with the kids.

Also got quite animated because I was asked if I'd like to organise an Advent and Christmas evening in the church. We decide we could do half-and-half Company of Musicians and Come and sing, with me directing the first and A the second, thus usefully dividing the childcare. I'm really enjoying putting a programme together. Partly because I don't seem to have sung at Christmas for a few years, and the music is so fab: Britten's Hymn to the Virgin, Howells' A Spotless Rose, Byrd's Laetentur coeli --- oooh, yummy yummy...