Friday, 4 May 2012


Something about transmigration of blogsouls encouraged me to fiddle with this again. Hopefully the technical things are now sorted out, just in case this ever gets resuscitated. Have noticed that several people have even been looking at these pages over the last couple of years. How odd!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

vignettes from the great clear out (6)

several people have helped us today SO much, I can't quite believe what they accomplished between them! Praise the Lord for Christian friends who willingly gave up their time and energy on this very hot day.

Two gardens readied for our departure (from pretty parlous states), cupboards emptied and cleaned, things taken to charity shops, shipping cartons constructed and a lawnmower cord severed by exciteable mowing!

Also came across a little note from when I was reading The Shack. On p.90 we come across God (Father) listening to funk. Which reminded me of The Mighty Boosh - a couple of stellar episodes about jazz, exploring our ignorant prejudices about it as well as mocking its producers and enthusiasts.

Wasn't quite so convinced by some of the theological speculations in The Shack, it has to be said. For example, Young suggests that "fathering" was most lacking when creation was broken and that's why God appears as "Father" (p.94). But don't the eternal relationships within the Trinity shed some light the other way - towards our meagre understanding of what father-son means? Of course, I mused, that formulation seems to leave "woman" out of the picture, which is not good. James Jordan's provocative thoughts on hair and glory may give us some pointers here... [PART 1] and [PART 2] of his "liturgical man / liturgical woman" essay, another collection of not-wholly-convincing speculations slightly more to my taste!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

UCCF is not dull

A very amusing tribute to theologian Wayne Grudem, in the style of Grease...

Some delightful book plugs inspired by various TV memes and bods buzzing around in 2008...

vignettes from the great clear out (5)

Versions 1 and 2 of a Film/TV Music quiz.

The earlier one is on faded old manuscript paper in my childish hand, and was performed by me and Ad on piano and euphonium at the Widcombe Baptist Church New Year's Eve party and talent show in 1992 (or maybe 1993). One of our finest collaborations. Completing Halo on the X-Box a couple of years ago is not far behind, especially given my incompetence at such games.

The later version was longer (32 themes!) and for piano solo, and was put on while people had some drinks and nibbles at our friends' wedding in December 2006 (or thereabouts). One team got 100%, which was impressive - and scary, because some of the themes were obscure and, I thought, only in my head... It is written in my slightly maturer hand without the use of musical notation, in the back of the old account book

Ahh, nostalgia, followed by disposal. Definitely the way to go...

last concert with Jane

...and the penultimate one in Cambridge for quite some time, if all goes according to plan with our shift eastwards. I was under the influence of man-flu, ibuprofen and paracetemol so my emotions were suppressed in the service of finger art, but it was still exhilarating and moving (for the performers, at least, though the audience seemed quite happy, too!) It was nice to end with Brahms 3, which has long been a goal, and very gracious of Jane to indulge me by learning my Fantasy in G minor, which has been performed once before, in Cricklade College, Andover, by another great violinist, Daphne Moody - also a pupil of Grinke in the 70s... small world! There were quite a few kids in the audience last Wednesday at the URC, and they all said they liked my piece the best - so take that, Mozart & Brahms.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Sonata No.18 in F major

Andante cantabile
Andante con variazione

Written in 1788, this was Mozart’s final violin sonata, though by no means his most dramatic. There is an almost serene gentleness to the outer movements, with touches of cheeky humour, and only the central Allegro (in sonata form) betrays any agitation. As was customary for the classical period, the piano takes centre stage and most of the good melodies.

Johannes Brahms
Sonata No.3 in D minor, Op.108

Un poco presto e con sentimento
Presto agitato

Brahms’ last violin sonata is a much darker, brooding work. Mystery, and a sense of circling round something unpleasant characterises the opening movement. There is tremendous stasis in the harmony—the whole development section is worked out over a dominant pedal, like an insistent drum beat, a menace that is only finally put to rest in the coda over a tonic pedal. The slow movement brings much needed warmth before an ambiguous scherzo and brutal finale.
In this last movements the composer completely upsets the pulse and the expected rhythms, pushing his idiom and his interpreters to their limits.

yours truly
Fantasy in G minor (1998)

This Fantasy is a teenage pastiche of all that I loved about romantic virtuoso music. Taking in Verdi’s Requiem, Grieg’s Piano Concerto and Peer Gynt Suite, James Bond and a Rachmaninov prelude (plus a few others) I weave together three themes—one martial, two reflective—in various minor keys, before the triumphant conclusion in the tonic major. There are a lot of notes—I apologise for that… what can I say? I was young and foolish.

Monday, 7 June 2010

vignettes from the great clear out (4)

My old account book from Downing days. Fiscal rectitude was drummed into me by the folks, and I kept (almost) comprehensive accounts up to the Christmas of my second undergraduate year. Weekly expenditure seems to have fluctuated somewhat: £231 in w/b 18th March 1999 down to £6.76 for October 18th-24th 1999 (though mostly around £70 p/w). Wonderful to see how I was sustained by gifts from Grandma and Auntie Celia, complaint to the railways that netted me various vouchers, and the odd psychology experiment.

I was quite pleased with owning several credit cards and being generally a liberal sort of chap, so there are numerous receipts from the Eraina Taverna and the Ghandi for hundreds of pounds, which I used to pay on behalf of whatever party I was with, and then recoup. If I'd have been smart I'd have charged a fee for that service of course!!

A Star Wars game in an envelope. I designed and made some sort of board game (back in 1996?) based on those rather fun novels by Timothy Zahn that are set in the years after Return of the Jedi. Some of the biro artwork is quite neat, though I say so myself, but I think it's value as a game is probably rather limited!

the heart of Romans 10

Last week at Hope, we heard a great sermon, passionately and warmly delivered, from Robin Whaley, who works for Eden Baptist. The text was Romans 10:5-15, part of our long series on Romans that should come to an end in August. RW took a 'trad' line on imputation of Christ's righteousness, which is perhaps a slight puzzle (search for "imputation" on David Field's old blog to see just a small amount of the theological musings it has generated...) and not actually in Romans 10 itself, so that didn't really distract from what was an excellent exhortation.

The question is, who can be saved? Relevant for believers and nonbelievers...

The simple answer is, you need to be "righteous", in a right standing with God

Two ways to get righteous - one that doesn't work (trying to clean yourself up and keep the law 100%) and one that does (verses 6-8). This is righteousness by faith, that is given by God.

This was always God's plan A, saving faith in Jesus. We don't, can't and never could do God a favour! (tragic illustrations of the Hindu holy man rolling across India, and Robin's own pre-Christian misconception of what would improve him) Instead, He draws near to us.

God does use people in His world, however, not least in sharing this good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The call to "preach" - see verses 14-15 - is not for a select few extroverts, but for all of us. Let's get passionate about it (alongside our other worthy passions).

This message is huge in importance (the Torah pointed to it; it is the centre of history), in scale (v.12 tells of a vast new community) and in power (able to bring sinners to God).

Meditate on it and get excited!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

vignettes from the great clear out (3)

Very neatly organised in swanky plastic wallets, the old notes from a Pilgrim Homes conference on elderly people in the church, whih a team from Rock went to a few years back. Brought back memories of a care home close to my heart, Bridgemead, in Bath, set up by Christians about 20 years ago - one was our family GP, another was a local businessman and chess player who was a good friend to me when I was in my teens. I used to go in and play the piano for Sunday afternoon church services, taking a stroll down leafy Cleveland Walk from our bungalow near Sydney Gardens. Now that my Mum works for another care home in Bath (doing a heroic job in a place where her employer simply does not put in the resources necessary) I have yet more reason to consider Bridgemead the only really decent place I have come across for elderly people who are not able to live on their own. Sounds like Pilgrim Homes have a tremendous reputation, too, though, so let's hope that more such places are opened.

An old L'Abri cassette catalogue - listing all sorts of interesting letures I shall not have time for! The ones of various bits of classical music looked partiularly interesting. Nevertheless, it went the way of all flesh... I am surprisingly cheerful about offloading all these old (and some new) bits and pieces, so praise the Lord for that. Hopefully a good sign that my treasure is in heaven.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

profitable insomia

Came across this fascinating link when thinking about musical opportunities in years ahead...

I particularly enjoyed what various peoples had to say about the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah: like a jet engine, "crying music" or “not steady.” This last group "wondered how a song with so many high and low pitches and loud and soft volumes could be considered fine art". Ouch.

Also managed to rip 18 more albums to the back-up drive. Don't want to take all 600 CDs to the othe side of the world when they can sit in the attic and something the size of a large filofax can do the business.

Which is not to say that doing without most of my sleep tonight will be pain free in the hours to come. Perhaps the possible collapse of the old laptop has been preying on my mind rather too much. There are a LOT of files on there (not backed up since about Christmas, alas) I would be very sad to lose! And almost all of our projects for the next 6 weeks will be up the creek... Back to praying not preying.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

vignettes from the great clear out (2)

Old music is getting the once-over at the moment. A few sad volumes have decayed so much (or are missing the solo parts) and have had to be junked, which feels very wrong. One simply shouldn't throw books away, especially not sheet music!

Came across some compositions by me. A work claiming to be the solo piano arrangement of the finale of a concerto in A major (entered into a "perform your own composition" class at the Mid-Somerset Festival in 1996?), which never actually existed in any other form except for several drafts of the first 20 bars of so full score. There are a great many drafts of the most recent classical piece I tried to compose - sometimes for clarinet, sometimes viola, sometimes euphonium, and with various attempts at writing out the piano part. A sad end to what could have become quite a nice pastiche work if on;y I'd had the time!

Also came across equivalent material from the 60s in the form of Gordon F's sketchbooks. More completed compositions than I managed - lots of short works for intermediate piano, and the drafts for his excellent Prelude & Fugue, which I've performed a few times.

Plus the copies of pieces I was asked to record for my sister to sing a few years back when she was well enough to be going to the Welsh College of Music and Drama for woodwind and voice on Saturdays. And a lovely handwritten note (her writing is a perfect feminine version of Ad's!)

If I didn't have man flu and thus no strength to spare I'd be bawling me eyes out at all these dusty home-made pieces of culture and history.

vignettes from the great clear-out (1)

Some old sheets of glossy local authority propaganda, on that back of which Nick had written out the chords for some jazz standards so that I could provide the lower part of some 4-hands jazz a few years ago when he visited us in TG. He does have a wonderfully florid hand!

Nostalgia at every turn, as our house has spilled its guts all over the floors.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Kirk on resurrection in Christianity Today

A splendid article I need to mull on later, and work out how to pass on all its good points when people ask me tricky questions, which happens from time to time!

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

maybe Orthodoxy is everything... ;-)

Searching online for David Thomas' discussion of the dating of Paul of Antioch's Letter to a Muslim Friend (as you do), I stumbled upon this blog, which opened a window onto modern Orthodox Christian experience.

Most interesting indeed, and one to return to when I have two-and-a-half hours spare (possibly in July) is this lecture by a real scholar, Roman Catholic professor Sidney Griffith. His breadth of learning and ability to synthesize and interpret the complexity of Middle Eastern Christian history in its fragmentary and repeatedly politicized context is outstanding. I've read most of his publications, and if I had time I'd read them all!