Wednesday, 30 November 2011

To Strike or Not to Strike

I did, along with somewhere between 10,000 (police estimate) and 20,000 (union claim) others in Bristol.

However I confess to mixed feelings over the decision to strike and have realised that I am much happier demonstrating in support of others than I am of myself.  Government policy will affect my pension, although I'm unsure of the details, but while none of us wish to see a fall in our living standards, we do need to face up to the challenge of providing for the increasing number of retired people.  I'd like to see a serious debate on this question.

In the end I based my decision to strike on my frustration with the government's unwillingness to tackle the growing inequalities within our society and its apparent aim to undermine our public services.  I wish they had listened earlier and I hope they will have taken note today.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Counting the Days

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon wrapping small presents for our Advent calendar.

When both my daughters lived at home we had two calendars, a Divine chocolate one and another with embroidered pockets which took me several years to complete and of which I am inordinately proud.  Now that my older daughter is away at university they each have a Divine calendar and continue to share the other.  Last year my daughter opened her share of presents on her return but this year she has asked for them to be posted to her so that she can open them on the appropriate dates.  I'm going to enclose a CD of highlights from the Messiah, without which Advent would not be complete.

I'm fascinated by the variety of homemade Advent calendars.  Sue over at The Quince Tree has a very charming stained glass effect version while Magic Bean has designed one to be coloured in.  I've seen rows of knitted socks and heard about one where cryptic clues lead the child to a present hidden somewhere in the house.

Do you have one to share?

Sunday, 27 November 2011


Today is Advent Sunday but for me the Christmas season kicked off yesterday with the morning spent gift shopping and the afternoon singing/listening to the Messiah.

I was brought up in India, in a city called Pune, which boasted its own choral society.  My parents were both members and I spent many a happy hour sitting at the back of a dusty hall listening to them practice for performances of Judas Maccabeus, Elijah, the Creation and, of course, the Messiah.  My dad had a fine tenor voice and I can still hear his voice when I listen to one or other of the well known arias.

There were 600 singers gathered in the Colston Hall yesterday aftenoon, the majority of whom were regular choir members, but a minority of whom had never sung the Messiah before, and a few of whom were unable to read music.  Nevertheless, under the expert tuition of Adrian Partington, we tackled half a dozen of the choruses, some more familiar than the others, including the most famous of them all, the Hallelujah.

I've been a member of the Gasworks choir for the last three years.  We sing alcapella, so following a score was a novelty and took me back to school and unversity days.

After we'd sung for two hours we took a short break before returning to the hall to hear the Bristol Choral Society perform (from memory) a Mini Messiah to an audience of parents and children.  It's a tribute to the quality of the chorus and musicians and to Adrian Partington's witty and informative commentary that between them they managed to hold the childrens' attention for an hour.  There were the patter of little feet, the murmur of childish voices and the odd wail but it was heartening to witness children being introduced to one of the greatest works of choral music in much the same way as I was so many years ago.