Saturday, 17 March 2018

morris folk choir cd - second recording session

We had the second recording session for the Morris Folk Choir CD today - it had some trickier songs than last Saturday, but we worked hard, and it went well.

morris folk choir cd - first recording session

On Saturday 10th March we had the first recording session for the Morris 10th Anniversary CD. It went pretty well, I think.

Friday, 16 March 2018

romans by ff bruce

Yesterday - the day we finished studying Romans in house group - I finished the IVP Tyndale commentary by FF Bruce on Romans (old edition; I think he did a newer edition later). FF Bruce is solidly reliable; he may be the Bible commentator I've read most by.

lientjie's concert

On Saturday 10th March Bethan and I went to hear the London City Orchestra - Lientjie's orchestra - at the Regent Hall on Oxford Street. They played Mahler's Blumine, Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, Debussy's Petit Suite and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. It was pretty good.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

morris folk club - february

Tuesday 27th February was Morris Folk Club. It was the Crowdfunder launch for our 10th anniversary CD, and had a very good turn-out. The second time at Speakeasy on Dalston Lane for folk club, my first time; it's a basement room of its own - basement rooms aren't for everyone, but it's bigger and with much less noise from the bar (or any neighbouring kitchen) than The Stag's Head.

I sang Man of Constant Sorrow and Willie Taylor (the Voice Squad version). I taught the refrain in two parts to people, and that seemed to go okay, though I couldn't hear very well to what extent they were singing along, especially the harmony. A couple of folk said it suited my voice, and Michelle suggested I sing it again in a couple of months so that people will learn it more and sing along better. Willie Taylor also went okay, though I preferred the other - I went wrong in one verse because I sang the first line of a verse from a different version of the song, which threw me, but I knew where the verse had to get to, so I made it up through lines 2-4 - the rhyming and scansion disappeared, but I kept the story going, and people I mentioned it to afterwards said they hadn't noticed. There are now only four songs in my 'folk songs done at Sharp's not Morris' folder.

The full setlist is here.

two thoughts around the issue of abortion

Two thoughts (both generalisations, of course) have struck me recently in relation to the issue of abortion (which isn't something I try to spend a lot of time thinking about, and certainly not talking or writing about).

One is that there seems no objective reason why faith/religion should be such a clear factor to indicate what answer you're like to to make to the apparently straightforward scientific question of when life begins (or however that question is expressed).

The other is that I think it is counterintuitive but true that those arguing 'pro-life' in opposition to a 'cold, scientific view' use scientific arguments strongly while those arguing 'pro-choice' in opposition to a 'religious morality view' use moral arguments strongly.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018


It takes a certain skill to tell whether the unhealthy, unhelpful thing to do about the thing that's on your mind is to think about it more or think about it less. And a further skill to do the healthy thing once you've worked it out.

the deceitful heart

Things which are repelling and counter-cultural on first reading but which one so often finds to be true in real life, No 267: 'The heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure. Who can understand it?'


I enjoyed Alastair Campbell's diaries a lot, but the thing that will stay with me longest from them is Bill Clinton telling him the AA HALT acronym which I hadn't heard before - you are vulnerable to temptation when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired: be aware, and address.


Yesterday afternoon I mentally drafted a furiously scathing reply to a horrible work email I got several years ago. I didn't feel any the better for it.

Friday, 9 March 2018

presence, dear

When Ms Harry says 'It's really not cheating' after the line 'When we play at cards you use an extra deck' in (I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear, I always think 'No, Debbie, it really *is* cheating'.

I have just - after 40 years - realised that it's 'an extra sense'. Which makes more sense, and rhymes. As you were.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

calmness at work

Someone at work the other day said I appeared very calm. I have been misjudged in this way throughout my working life. Should I really deliberately make it more apparent when I'm stressed? What would be the point of that? I'm not consciously hiding it; I'm not making a special effort to look calm.

'Bottling things up' is not supposed to be good for you.

On the other hand, it's better to imagine punching that colleague in the face than actually doing it, to imagine making a career-ending speech at an all-staff meeting than actually doing it, to imagine moving your chair out of the way and taking a running jump through the glass window beside your desk than actually doing it. (I have a very active fantasy life.) So, you know, pros and cons.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

a funeral order of service

You know that feeling when you want to tear up a funeral order of service into smaller and smaller and smaller pieces because you want to delete this funeral from existence until its rightful time of appearance seventy or eighty years hence? That.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

anxiety dream, do you think?

'How are you feeling about the first recording session for your choir's CD on Saturday, Iain?'

Well, last night I dreamt I had for some reason been drafted in to play guitar in a three-man line up of Status Quo at an outdoor event (Francis Rossi was playing the drums). Afterwards Rick Parfitt told me (quite good-humouredly, to be fair) that it was the worst gig they had ever played.

Then when I went back to my tent I found it was surrounded by those pods from Alien, which came to life and killed me.

So, okay, I guess?

Monday, 5 March 2018

advice upon leaving home

When I went to university, I have a clear memory that literally the only specific piece of advice my parents gave me was, 'Don't get involved in student politics'. I don't know why. (My mother doesn't remember this.) I didn't.


'Bimonthly' is a hateful, completely useless word, since it means two quite different things and there is almost never a way to tell from the context which is meant, so it has to be explained, so you might as well have said 'twice a month' or 'every two months' in the first place.

cleave and cleavage

I've always liked the fact that 'to cleave' means both 'to divide/split' and 'to adhere/unite'. This is because the first 'cleave' derives from the Old English 'cleofan' and the second 'cleave' derives from the Old English 'clifian'.

I was surprised to learn from Saturday's Radio Times, however, that the most common current usage of 'cleavage' ('the hollow between a woman's breasts') was coined by the Production Code Administration to describe Margaret Lockwood's bosom in The Wicked Lady (1946). The 'shocked American censors' demanded reshoots before they would release the film.

oliver's army

Oliver's Army by Elvis Costello may be the only song routinely played on the radio in which someone white uses what I'm going to call the N word. 'All it takes is one itchy trigger: one more widow, one less white...' #notbeingabletomakeoutthewordsissometimesagoodthing

joan armatrading, and joy division

Picked up a secondhand Joan Armatrading Best Of the other day. (I'm less snobby about 'best of's than I used to be.) All familiar, but had forgotten - or hadn't noticed - how new wave Me Myself I and I'm Lucky sounded.

Sometimes you need the distance - and the space from the other music of the time surrounding it - to recognise things like that; the identifiability of an era or genre; the fact that something sounds more different from, or more like, other things than you thought. When I listened to them back to back after buying them recently, Unknown Pleasures and Closer sounded less different and more of their time than they had at the time.

dominic rowan

Writing up some of last year's theatregoing, I discover that I saw Dominic Rowan twice - as the timid gent in Stepping Out and the powerful, charismatic heel Lord Illingworth in A Woman Of No Importance. Quite the contrast! Very well played.