Francis's Christmas Newsletter 2018

 

Greetings

Welcome to Francisís twelfth electronic Christmas Newsletter. As usual, I donít buy cards, but make a charity donation.  

 
The Divine Companion
The Divine Companion
Plaque
Plaque presentation
RSCM workshop
RSCM workshop

West Gallery music

This year has seen the culmination of many months of effort in my self-published edition of Henry Playford's The Divine Companion. This is a seminal publisation of West Gallery music, being the first ever publication of church music intended for amateur choirs. I have included all the music in the first four editions of the work in modern versions. If you want a copy, it is available from Amazon Books .

The London Gallery Quire continues to go from strength to strength. In November we organised an open rehearsal, which has brought in several new members. Our band has been strengthened not only by that event, but by a professional serpentist joining us. (He also plays ophicleide and tuba.) He seems pleased to have found an ensemble which requires his services. At our annual Christmas concert at St. Georges's German Church in Aldgate, he, my assistant conductor and myself rendered a serpent trio as part of the performance.

In June we sang Evensong at a church in Bromley. Two senior members of the West Gallery Music Association were present, and I thought that they had just come to take part in the service. At the end, after we had sung our voluntary, they came and took my arms and marched me to the centre of the chancel. They then proceeded to flabberghast me by presenting me with a plaque, appointing me an Honorary Vice-President of the Association, in recognition of contributions that I have made to promoting our music. I had recently retired from the WGMA committee after many years' service, and this had been deemed the right moment to give me this honour. I am in exalted company!

On 20th May I gave a workshop followed by Evensong at St. Mary's Church, Wanstead, for members of the Royal School of Church Music. I hope that many of them took away a new interest in our music, which is highly suitable for local amateur church choirs.

River Arno, Pisa
River Arno, Pisa
Valve computer
Valve computer
Go in the bastion
Go in the bastion


The Game of Go

I continue to play go regularly, though advancing years seem to be sapping my playing strength, and also my willingness to travel to distant tournaments. I did however attend the European Go Congress in Pisa. Yes, I know there's a leaning tower there, though the nearby cathedral and baptistry are actually more attractive. That's where you find hoards of tourists. But the rest of the city is attractive in a different way. It wasn't crowded, and there is a pleasing uniformity of architecture, most 19th century I'd guess, with an absence of modern monstrosities. The Arno flows through the middle, on its way from Florence to the sea. Many of the back streets are deliberately narrow, as a protection from the sun.

And you needed some protection. The daytime temperature was in the high 30s, so that one felt disinclined to sightsee much until the evening. There were some non-touristy places of interest worth visiting. The one which stuck in my mind was the "Museum of Calculus". There was no mention of Newton or Leibnitz, but rather an exhibition of old computers and the calculating machines which they replaced. The dear old ZX81 revived some memories!

As for the tournament itself, it was well organised in the Pisa Congress Centre by the Italian Go Association. Attendance was high, not quite reaching four figures but on the way, and the Centre could not hold such large numbers. Some of us had to go and play in the undercroft of a nearby 15th century bastion; part of the city's defences. An odd experience, but at least it was cool and roomy.

The Wanstead Go Club went through a thin time last year, but a few new folks have appeared, and the club is in good heart.

River Eden
River Eden
View from train
View from train
Proud European
Proud European


Holiday

For our annual holiday together Judith and I visited friends in Edenhall, a small village in Cumbria, near Carlisle. It is named after the River Eden, and there are attractive walks nearby. It is also in striking distance of the Lake District, but far enough away not to be crowded with tourists.

Our most memorable excursion was to take the train from the nearby station at Langwathby, and travel most of the length of the famous Settle to Carlisle line. There are some wonderful views of the Yorkshire countryside, and we passed over the much photographed Ribblesdale viaduct.


Other activities

I have continued to give support to the Green Party. Our main concern this year as you may imagine has been Brexit, to which I and the rest of the party are wholeheartedly opposed. Judith and I have been on a couple of demos, where I bear my "Proud to be a Remoaner" placard.

We have also talked to our MP about Brexit at his invitation, following several letters from us. Iain Duncan Smith is a hard Brexiteer, but he was courteous, listened to us, and gave us some straight answers.

And this year I have taken up my study of the Japanese language once again. I did an online test for International House, where I was to attend weekly lessons. They put me in Level 3. After my first lesson I was moved up to Level 4. Whatever that means.


Family

Judith continues to support the French Quakers. Her main activity this year has been cataloguing and generally organising all their archives held at a centre in Paris. And she continues to be in demand as a leader for various Quaker courses.

Sam and Lizz have moved back to Wales. Sam parted company with his educational software firm in London, and now works in digital marketing for a travel company in Chepstow, where they now have their abode. This brings Sam back to the area where he has many friends. Lizz is making a success from writing fiction. A film company in Los Angeles is interested in filming one of her scenarios, which has entailed and expenses paid trip to that city for her.

Happy Christmas to you all!

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