1 EAGLETON NOTES: November 2020



Sunday 29 November 2020

Lewis Memories - 1

When we bought our first house on Lewis we moved in in February 1976. I had already been here for 3 months. I, and a colleague, had been boarding with Mrs Thompson (or was it Thomson) in Stornoway. Mrs Thompson appeared to know everyone on  Lewis and certainly was an excellent person to tutor my colleague and I in the ways of the Stornoway world that we might otherwise have missed out on. There didn't appear to be anyone nor anything that Mrs Thompson didn't know and we were the beneficiaries of that knowledge in the three months I lived there.

The first, and most important lesson, was that before any food or drink was taken at any time grace was said. Mr Thompson's graces could be very long. It was not unusual, therefore, for our evening supper cup of tea and Scotch pancakes to go cold whilst the grace was said. Mrs Thompson always quietly took our tea away and refilled the cups with a hot brew. However, occasionally, there would be a gap between the supper being laid before us and the grace being said. Occasionally without thinking my colleague or I would take a bite of the pancake. We would then have to sit there for a long time with this morsel in our mouth frightened to chew and unable to swallow. Those were the longest graces. 

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.