Thursday, 27 October 2016

hercule poirot's christmas

On Monday 24th October I finished Hercule Poirot's Christmas. It was okay.

morris folk club - october

It was Morris Folk Club on Tuesday. It being half term, and my mother being down, we all went.

I sang April Morn and A Sailor's Life, which went fine.

April Morn from the Trio Threlfall's version. April Morn is one of the million variations on Early One Morning. Whenever I think of Early One Morning I think of Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do Ave Em; he sang it, and the association has stuck for ever.

A Sailor's Life from the Fairport Convention version. I did my best to avoid just doing an awful Sandy Denny impression, by singing it more simply; reducing the number of long notes and grace notes; I was worried it might be a bit bitty, with more space between the lines than I usually have (partly because of singing it more simply, partly because the Fairport version I know is like that, quite spread out, but Michelle particularly remarked on liking the space in it, which I will bear in mind).

I also sang The Wagoner's Lad in a duet with Tanja, from the Kossoy Sisters' version, which went rather well I thought. I do like singing harmony with others; the choir sang one of theirs, What Will We Do With The Baby-O, and Tanja sang/played at least one more at folk club, so I'd suggested that we could do one together, and that's what we went for.

Best of all, however, was persuading my mother to sing. I haven't heard her sing in public for many years. She sang Milleadh nam Bràithrean, beautifully of course, and to general acclaim. Proud son.

(Full setlist here, on this new page I've set up on the Morris choir's website to save all the setlists.)

Monday, 24 October 2016

girl on a plane

On Friday night I finished reading Girl On A Plane by Miriam Moss, a fictionalised account published in 2015 of her own experience of being on a hijacked plane in 1970, when she was fifteen. It was interesting as an account of the experience - though changed for dramatic, expository and other reasons - but not so much as a book in itself, though it was a quick and easy read.

Monday, 17 October 2016


On Monday 8th August we all went, with Lientjie, to see Allegro at the Southwark Playhouse. It was okay.

the woman in black; star trek into darkness

On Saturday 15th October Maisie and I started but abandoned The Woman In Black, and watched Star Trek Into Darkness - two DVDs we'd got from the library in a two for one, £1 for a week, rental (that afternoon, on the way home from Draughts, the board game cafe).

draughts - the board game cafe

On Saturday 15th October Maisie and I went to Draughts, the board game cafe in Hackney, 10.20-2.20, roughly, and had a very good time.

Friday, 14 October 2016


On Monday 1 August we all went in the evening, with Lientjie and Mary, to the Charing Cross Theatre to see Titanic. Well all enjoyed it, I think.

babes in arms

On Friday 29 July in the evening we all, with Hei Mun and Laura, went to see Babes In Arms at Ye Olde Rose And Crown in Walthamstow. It was nicely done, with a few folk we've seen before in off-West End musicals, both in All Star Productions in Ye Olde and also elsewhere (including Ruth Betteridge in the lead female role, who's pretty good). Nothing special to note about it, especially at this distance, just another good production from a pretty reliable production company.

the quarry

On Wednesday 17th August I finished The Quarry by Iain Banks. His last book, written while he was dying and published after his death. I don't think it will be remembered as one of his classics; I found it just okay.


On Thursday 28 July we went down by train to Brighton (direct from Elephant & Castle) for the day, including going to the Brighton Royal Pavilion. It was quick and easy and good fun, and not too expensive, with something for everyone, and I think we'll do that again.

the bourne identity

In the afternoon on Wednesday 27 July we all went to the Genesis cinema to watch Jason Bourne. We all liked it quite well. (Maisie hadn't seen any before, we'd seen the first two I think, but it didn't matter.) Mostly an assemblage of long and well-done chase/action/tension sequences (if somewhat far-fetched, especially the climactic one) which can be tedious if less well-done and less plot-driven and plot-driving. Nice to see one of these now and again, especially if it's a good one (not nice to see the tedious ones, like a lot of the superhero ones).

in the heights

On the evening of Monday 25 July we all went to the King's Cross Theatre to see In The Heights, the modern musical set in New York. We thought it was okay, but not as good everyone raving about it - and most of the rest of the very enthusiastic audience - thought. And it was too loud.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

the woman in black

On Thursday 21st July - as a kind of forerunner to our activity-filled family week off in London - Maisie and I went to see the matinee performance of The Woman In Black at the Fortune Theatre. It was pretty good.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

not to disturb

Yesterday I finished Not To Disturb, by Muriel Spark. I didn't like it much.

Sunday, 9 October 2016


Yesterday evening we all, with Margaret and Jack from church, went to St George's Bloomsbury to see the inaugural concert of a new female choir, Gloriana. They were very good, though I'd have liked it a little better if they'd had a wider range of pieces in their evening of short pieces, straying earlier than the nineteenth century. We went because Mary Reid was accompanying them on harp on one piece, and then also played a solo harp piece. I'd be happy to hear them again, though they weren't cheap. Favourite piece might have been a very recent and atmospheric piece called Northern Lights by Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds.

Friday, 7 October 2016

how the other half loves

On Thursday 18th August, while Maisie went to see Wicked with Susannah and Becky, Bethan and I went to see How The Other Half Loves, the Alan Ayckbourn play, at the Duke of York's in St Martin's Lane. It was okay. It was well written, interestingly structured and well performed (especially Nicholas le Prevost, Matthew Cottle and Gillian Wright). But I was never really at ease with comedy based on infidelity, and suspect I'm even less at ease with it now.

morley chamber choir at st john's waterloo

On Friday 1 July Maisie and I went to see Bethan in the Morley Chamber Choir at St John's Waterloo, doing Haydn's Te Deum and Mozart's Missa Brevis in F (and I think something else slipped in also, possibly by Handel, though it wasn't on the flier). Laura was there also.

They were good, of course; still pretty low on men. The Morley Choral Society also did a Vespers by Mozart, which was an interesting contrast; much bigger, and more of a community choir; less technically proficient, but seeming to be enjoying themselves and rightly pleased to be making a go of such a piece.


On Saturday 2nd July, in the afternoon, Maisie and I went to see Gobsmacked in the Udderbelly at the South Bank Centre (Bethan spent most of the day at a Brownies sports day). It was a Glee kind of thing - half a dozen singers - one of them a beat-boxer - singing pop songs together in harmony, in a very particular harmonic style. I enjoyed it, and was glad to have seen something like it, but I didn't feel the need to seek out more of it. It was quite samey, and quite mellow, in the same way that pop choirs also end up being, which always seems unnecessary and surprising. Why not take a range of approaches to harmony/arrangement, without even having to widen the range of songs being done (though there'd be no harm in that either).

juliet, naked

On Friday 27th May I finished Juliet, Naked, by Nick Hornby. I enjoyed it, though it was a familiar structure of obsessive chap neglecting and in danger of losing his long-suffering and far superior partner (although, being a fan of detective fiction and romantic comedy, I'm very much at ease with familiar structures). The copy I had had some annotations in it on the first few pages (mostly just marking the first mentions of characters' names), but nothing beyond the post-it note bookmark very near the start, which suggested the reader was meant to be studying it in some way (book group rather than academic, I guess) hadn't got very far with it.

Having dipped my toe into Wikipedia editing, I was amused to be struck by what appeared to be the inauthenticity of the fictional Wikipedia entries in the book, which contained much material which would have been edited or deletd as being too much 'point of view'.

First line: They had flown from England to Minneapolis to look at a toilet.
Last line: Dear God.
Dedication: For Amanda, with love and thanks

The cover design is interesting, in that one on level it's not very remarkable - it's a soft cartoonish illustration with soft lettering, all somewhat retro (and the photo I took of it is appropriately soft-focus), but incorporating bits of photos within the illustration - but then it struck me that it looked like the kind of cover you'd get on light fiction aimed at women (at first glance, at least, without the photo insert/collage effect), and I wondered if it was a conscious effort to make it look less like a 'book for men', more about relationships than a male obsession such as music or football. (And, of course, Nick Hornby writes well about both relationships and the obsessions of men.) On the other hand, reading in general is reckoned to be more of a female than a male pursuit, so you might think they would make it look more like a 'book for men' so that men would think it's okay to buy it. But then, also on that hand, perhaps more women buy fiction than men.


We went to Dubai for February half-term - flew out on Monday 15 February, flew back on Sunday 21st February - to visit friends. It was good to see them.