Saturday, 20 September 2008

Autumn Smells

It does. You meander through the summer, rain or shine, mostly rain this year and then one day you go outside and you know the season has turned because the Goddess of the Autumn life death cycle has a very particular perfume.

Keats nearly captured it and placed its essence on a page. The mellow sun appeals far more then the harsh hard heat of a hot summer. (Unless I have a pool or the sea nearby or a trees or all 4 and a horse. If all these conditions are met with a good book, access to the radio - when I want it, then, then I will be very happy).

There isn't the fresh snap to the air of later yet, your breath may make streaks in the air, but they are gentle streaks that disperse willingly and gently.

But the smell is musty and piquant. The sound of foot on ground changes, as the decay starts to dance to a different tempo and the fruit swells and drops on the ground to be harvested by creatures making the most of the sugary harvest, drunk on their last days.

If I live to old age I wonder if Autumn will always be captured completely in one memory of repeated days.

Walking through the front door, school bag in one hand, violin case in another, coat slung round me somehow. I was resentful of their heavy companionship, hungry for milk and biscuits. I spect the door slammed, the 30 second early warming system for those within -not through temper just eagerness to get on. Drop the encumbrances I have just carted a couple of miles and gather speed as I walk down the corridor to the back of the house trying hard to ignore the presence of a silent and waiting piano.

Even if the breakfast room door is shut, I will know what activities are taking place. There will be damp warmth emanating from the kitchen. Steam and smells and the sounds of activity. Bubbling, water splashing, metal against pan, wooden spoon resting after testing for viscosity.

Depending on the produce it will be Chutney, or Jam, or Wine.. As I get into the kitchen I will be greeted by some acerbic but welcoming comment and maybe hear some light profanities and dark mutterings, probably, not aimed at me. The dog's wet nose will insist I stop and greet her, as she is welcoming me. A cat may deign to open an eye before receding into a snooze by the fire, punctuated by the occasional thoughtful flick of the tail.

A bonus might be all that and some baking too, so the spices used will give me a clue. Ever the Sorceress the mixtures may change depending on whim and availability, creativity unleashed through necessity.

Warmth with subtlety, sarcasm and strength, applies equally to Autumn and Jam , Wine and Chutney. And My Mother.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Lawn Mower ballet

This week, whilst sitting in a red room listening to a lively debate with 4 other people, I was unexpectedly the sole witness to a lawn mower ballet.

The Dancers were determined looking men with stubble, in bright orange clothing wearing the sort of earphones designed to be worn near Harrier JumpJets

The movements themselves were simple, smooth and strangely elegant. At speed they were completing a figure one after the other that was like an S on its side, with one following about 12 feet after the other, around the corner of the building.

In 2 minutes they had precisely cleared 2 lawns and then disappeared as swiftly as they arrived. And the over powering noise of the lawnmowers ceased. Efficiency with artistry.

You might think that it odd that I was the sole witness to this. Of course this might have been a hallucination on my part, and for one moment I did think of carting myself off to see a psychiatrist.

But then I realised of all the people in the room, the only other woman had her back completely to the scene.

Its a shame they missed it, it was surreal and surprisingly beautiful

Fate - Freedom, Buddha, Einstein, Mum

I love Radio 4. I mean it.

This isn't an emotion lightly held, I really love radio 4 ( 'cept Today which I can not abide. I don't want "ner ner ner, got you now! argument in my bedroom as I wake up)

I love it because it gives me so much STUFF to play with. I learn so much from it. Time in the car isn't wasted, its either think time, sing time, or listen to the Radio. If I tune in to Radio 4 there, I am highly likely to be given something to think about and take away something to learn, or enjoy, better still and usually, both.

On Radio 4 one morning this week, a debate about America and slavery and freedom, amongst other things delivered this quote from an African American

"You are free once you take responsibility for your fate. "

I loved that phrase. It made such sense to me (who has always had luxury of freedom of movement) Immediately I heard the last lines of a poem by Colonel Lovelace, introduced to me by Mother.

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.

It's all in a state of mind, which brought to the fore another poem from my childhood and endless debates with my Mother, who introduced me early to the concept of the discipline of mind, and another poem the last verse of which is this:

Life battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man
But sooner or later, the man who wins
Is the fellow who thinks he can

Certain amount of audacity in that isn't there, a sense of belief without arrogance. Tricky balance.

So I'd had a happy for me, meander around my past and thoughts and beliefs I hold or don't or have learned, when literally as I came to a Stop at a give way junction some miles later my reverie was halted, with an astounding thought from the side.

You are free once you take responsibility for your fate

So going back to the quote I stopped listening to my thoughts and just mused on the phrase. I thought ( and still think) that I understood what the speaker meant. And yet for it to be meaningful in the way I was finding it meaningful, I had assumed a very specific definition of Fate. Not the definition that events are inevitable, but a wider definition.

So not this meaning:
destiny: an event (or a course of events) that will inevitably happen in the future

but something nearer to this,
"I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act. ( Buddha)

Or possibly beyond it somewhere.

If I hadn't already had a (believed) shared understanding of what Fate is, I could not have accepted the statement he made. How often do we assume a shared understanding, when there isn't one, because we use the same words. And how often is there a shared understanding, left unknown - because the descriptions are different.

This took me somewhere else which I couldn't quite grasp whilst navigating roundabouts and an angry driver. And then I arrived at the office.

Saved by work!

Thanks for the thinking, Mum.( and Radio 4)


Looking for alternative definitions of Fate this evening I happened upon this :

Concern for man and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations. ( Albert Einstein)

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Wave harvest

They both started out not really knowing where they were going but up for a challenge. Then it was fun but hard then it was hard but rewarding with some fun. The journey wasn't learning about the music.

"I wouldn't mind winning and I wouldn't have been able to say that before this. Its all right to say that I want to take it to the end and see where I can go"

"I've won anyway cos I've learned so much."

He wasn't robbed.

A delight for me was Maxim Vengerov replacing at short notice one of the other judges... Ha! big bonus. Given up playing now, he teaches and conducts. Shame, sublime.
About 12 years ago he was in an advert that was really only shown in cinemas. I forget what the product was, it might have been Coco from Chanel.

Anyway he was in the Waves on an amazing beach. playing a bit of Beethoven'sViolin Concerto as a serenade. Obviously this advert was made JUST for me.

Maxim also needed a few more greens as a child - just a little bit short.... perhaps I am picky

Another amusement was the Radetzki March. (audience conducting here too) This is ancestral whistling music for Ocelot calling and it works a treat every time - sustained rhythmic high notes.

They are compelled. Hard to whistle when laughing... worth the concentration to see their consternation, strong little wills.. Very Funny

Which is just as well, because tomorrow I may be pressed with my chin against my knees curled up tight in a localised black hole.

Oh well . It's worse than that its Physics Jim!

tra la la

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Waving and NOT (quite) drowning

Dancing down the aisle gleeful because he was conducting Opera!! He lost the violins, twice in similar phrasing but he caught them again. Obviously this was Goldie, my new hero. And he wasn't pleased with his performance, rightly.

Everyone tonight taking part was very serious about what they were doing. They were having fun in that "eeek this is scaring me" kind of way, being brave, by staying with it. This hasn't been about comfort zones, certainly not the last two weeks. Their comfort zones are about 4 valley's behind the mountain range they found themselves in and no time to worry about the height, BREATHING has become a technical skill.

The quality of the feedback in this programme has been a masterclass in it's own right. He knew what he did and was able to appraise it. The judges were straight, respectful, encouraging and wanting the best. The mentors were not fluffy either, if they thought more could be given they said so. They too were competitive on behalf of their person and supportive and real.

Right at the beginning the weak spot of the entire programme Clive Anderson, asked the two opera singers firstly what they wanted from a conductor, the response: sympathy, passion, flair, inspiration.

Goldie was saved by the orchestra as was Jane Asher...

OOOh next week...