Monday, 16 November 2020


Long ago I was once asked, in the days of Blog memes (remember them?), what the most recent CD was that I had bought. I said that I had at the same time just just purchased the complete piano sonatas of Mozart and Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler's 'Bat out of Hell'. The point being that my tastes in music are pretty catholic.

I suppose that I am like most people who love music in that I play music to match my mood. By that I don't just mean happy music when I'm happy and sad music when I'm sad but more a music to match my emotion of the moment. So it may be Laura Brannigan at full volume - emotional times (the advantage of living in a detached house) or Garth Brooks to remind me of driving along the Highway in the Californian sunshine or The Smashing Pumpkins when I think of Andy. Actually the latter are not really my scene but they were Andy's. However I'm more likely (especially on a Sunday morning) to play Grieg's piano music (Andy bought me his complete works) .

New songs are written constantly for pop and rock music and other modern genre.' 'Classical' music is, on the other hand, by its nature limited to an extent by historical output although there are modern composers to whom I can listen without being challenged too much. I'll give Stockhausen ("Just play as you feel") a miss thanks but Simeon ten Holt has produced fascinating piano music and there is always Nyman, Reich, Glass, Góreki, Pärt and Taverner to name but a few. In recent years there is a huge amount of music by female composers being 'discovered' and played.

So what is the purpose of this posting? Well I have a pretty large collection of music of the major composers in the baroque to romantic eras and can be pretty confident of finding something to suit about any mood I may find myself in. 

My Apple Music program tells me that I have 17,651 tracks available. That's a lot of CDs. However after constantly playing such music for the last 50 plus years I sometimes find that I'm a bit bored with some composers. 

Alleluia!  Never before has so much new 'classical' music become available and never before has it become so easy to explore it and listen to it. I listen to various BBC Radio 3 programmes which constantly bring new works and 'new' composers to my attention.

I was thinking yesterday though just how my (our?) listening habits have changed: 
  • 78rpm records
  • 33 rpm records
  • cassettes
  • CDs
  • iPods
  • Music streaming services
I haven't played a CD for ages and my music is always available to me via Apple Music and the various gadgets available to stream it, whether I'm walking in the Castle Grounds or working in the Polycarb or sitting writing this post.

How do you listen to your music now and have you  abandoned your 'old' physical storage and gone digital? 

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Thankful Thursday - 10 years on

Ten years ago today I posted the following on A Hebridean in New Zealand: 

It was never my intention to make this a weekly blog posting but during this week I have learned of several people who have had news that they will be less than thankful to have received.   Two involve news that I can well understand having had similar news given to me.  So the first thing I am grateful for today is the twelve years and a few weeks I have had since I was first given that news.  I sincerely hope that those people will be writing a similar post in twelve years.  In fact in one case I have already agreed the place for lunch this time twelve years hence.

During that 12 years so many things have happened: some good, some not so good, some mindblowingly wonderful and some heartwrenchinly bad.   They have given me the outlook on life that I have and have taught me to live life for the moment.  So that is the second thing for which I am grateful today.

And I'm thankful that I was persuaded to visit New Zealand and circumstances have allowed me the privilege of seeing Milford Sound (West Coast, South Island, New Zealand) and on a fine day and with a good friend, Steve.

We never know what the next day will bring.

Saturday, 31 October 2020


Call me a party-pooper if you wish but I have always detested participating in Guising or Trick or Treat (depending on where one was brought up) and other Halloween shenanigans.

The only thing I can ever recall getting involved in at Halloween, and enjoying, was as a child in Liverpool where we called it Duck Apple Night and had a tradition of ducking or bobbing for apples as well as trying to eat apples suspended from a line across the room suspended between the picture rails. Somewhere I have a photo which I had hoped to use of my family dookin' apples (they were brought up in Scotland) but it hasn't been digitised and I can't find it. However we used to host a party of our friends and their children in our barn with a firework display added:

Years ago the following appeared in, I think, the Liverpool Echo:

I'm recalling bygone traditions
That never cost the earth
Do you remember duck apple night?
What a gear family night!
Apples bobbing up and down
In an enormous enamel bowl
A silver tanner embedded in a bruised apple
The winner takes all
Snap apple was next on the agenda
A line of string rigged up
By my ever-resourceful mam
Rosy apples strategically places
Some high, some low, our hands tied securely
Behind our backs, quite a difficult task.
Laughs galore as well as crafty cheating
By the older siblings of course
How sad our old-fashioned traditions
Have been sabotaged, duck apple night
Has been Americanised, trick or treat, 
Halloween, witches and broomsticks

Author unknown (to me). 

Having said all that, when I was in Canada in 2005 visiting a friend from my teenage years I happened to arrive at the time when they were getting the pumpkins ready. Pumpkins like I had never seen before. (It was just before my New Zealand life). I carved my first, and only, pumpkin.

My friend (who died last year) and her daughter.

Monday, 26 October 2020

It's Not Edgy Enough

Kay recently posted on being positive. In the post she used the term 'Pollyanna' with the words "but I hesitated because there is always someone who will take me for a "Pollyanna" with my head in the sand and not fully comprehending the problems of the world.".  I stood up for Pollyanna and Kay said that she thought that people thought it "not edgy enough" for the modern world.

Ten years ago on Thankful Thursday on A Hebridean in New Zealand I wrote about the best-selling novel Pollyanna by written in 1913 by Eleanor H. Porter"

Pollyanna's philosophy of life centres on what she calls "The Glad Game", an optimistic attitude she learned from her father. The game consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation. It originated in an incident one Christmas when Pollyanna, who was hoping for a doll in the missionary barrel, found only a pair of crutches inside. Making the game up on the spot, Pollyanna's father taught her to look at the good side of things—in this case, to be glad about the crutches because "we don't need 'em!"  Of course it didn't end there.

I've noticed, too, that the term 'Pollyanna' has been used a lot recently about Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. (Whom I happen to admire as a person with humanity who can also act decisively with an iron ruthlessness).  The references have not appeared entirely complimentary. 

In this day and age a good positive outlook is no bad thing because the world and its news is centred on negativity. Not just with Covid-19 but with politics in general in many countries. Okay, there are a lot of positive initiatives but even then organisations like Extinction Rebellion concentrate on a negative way of putting over what is supposed to be a positive message.

So I'm very sad that we feel it necessary to be 'edgy' to get our message across.