Monday, 28 May 2012

Kylie and Me

Last night I was watching "The Voice" (I'm still persevering even though they seem to want to turn perfectly good singers into shouty singers - what was Will thinking making the gorgeously toned Tyler sing Bohemian Rhapsody?) when the lovely Kylie Minogue appeared.

As I watched her sing and dance, looking about 20, I said to husband:

"Can you believe she's the same age as me?"

"And she's had cancer" he replied.

Not helpful.

Then she had a word with Holly and the camera showed her close up.

"It's okay," said hubby, "You can tell now, she's got lots of wrinkles"

Still not helpful.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Time for a Reality Check?

The weather was fabulous this weekend so hubby announced that we would have a barbecue.  Just the three of us, in the garden, enjoying the sunshine.

I bought some salad stuff and for a treat, some half price Ben & Jerry's ice cream.  He suggested going to our famous local butcher for some food.  I said to get us some sausages and if they've any nice kebabs, get three of those.  So yesterday morning he set off on his bike to go to Taylor's.

When he came back he presented me with a receipt for £65.


The air was blue.  

How could 6 sausages and 3 kebabs cost £65?

That's the cost of a week's food shopping!

Turns out he's having a barbecue on Wednesday for his sixth form class and he'd bought them each two of Taylor's best 100% British beef burgers and four, yes four, of Taylor's bespoke British pork and apricot and pork and chestnut sausages. 

He's spent more on five sixth formers than I spend on my family in a week!!

I pointed out that he could have gone to Iceland and bought Birds Eye burgers and Wall's sausages and the sixth formers wouldn't know the difference.

Sometimes I think he lives on another planet.

We'll be on chickpeas and butterbeans for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Mumbling Maestro

On Saturday we were conducted by the composer Karl Jenkins.  To say he was not the most communicative of conductors would probably be an understatement.  He didn't really say very much in rehearsal and he certainly didn't raise his voice to enable us to hear him. 

As I was on the front row of the choir, I tried desperately to listen to his instructions to the Leader of the Orchestra to hear where he wanted us to sing from or if he wanted to repeat a section, and then I let other singers know what I thought he'd said.

At one point during the rehearsal, Emily, on my right, leaned over to me and said:

"I can't place his accent.  Is he Dutch?"

I replied:

"No, he's Welsh, but I understand your mistake"

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Peacemakers UK Premiere


Last night we, The Manchester Chorale, had the good fortune to sing the UK premiere of Karl Jenkins' new work, "The Peacemakers" at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester.

It was a mammoth sing!

We only had four rehearsals before yesterday's performance (all without the orchestra) which isn't a great amount for a 75 minute work which is almost entirely choral (only the intermezzo was without voices) so it was a tough job, but we rose to the challenge.  Karl Jenkins himself conducted the concert and I think we managed to do what he wanted; he seemed happy enough.

During rehearsals it took me some time to understand and warm to the work, but I think that was because I was singing sections out of order, without orchestration and without knowing the context of the individual movements within the work itself.

Having finally sung it in its entirety I now understand it ....

...... and I love it.

(Of course, it helps that it was very well received and there was a standing ovation from a packed Bridgewater Hall!)

The work is a mixture of texts from peacemakers such as Ghandi, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Albert Schweitzer, St Francis and Mother Teresa set to unmistakably Jenkins' music.   One minute you are hearing the rhythms of Soweto, the next the monastic chants of Tibet and then the infectious timing of a Celtic song.  Jenkins' trademark rhythms, harmonies and ethnic percussion are quite evident and enhance the text to perfection.

Karl Jenkins has written another accessible work for our time.

Now that the UK premiere has taken place, it is to be performed around the country with different orchestras and choirs, so catch it if you can.

In the meantime, here's a little introduction to .....

... The Peacemakers

Monday, 7 May 2012

Next stop, Badminton!

Daughter loves horseriding.  It's her favourite thing in the whole wide world.  She's been having lessons every week for about two years now and it's very slow progress, but today she took part in her first ever horseriding competition.  She did a dressage test. 

 How smart did she look?

She managed to do the round without going wrong and in full control of the horse:

And when the results were announced she received the "Special" Rosette for her class:

Not only that, she phoned Chris Evans on Friday to tell him she was going to do it and she'll be telling him about it on his Radio 2 Breakfast Show tomorrow!

I don't know which event is the more exciting!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Take your eye off the ball......

This week I had a bit of reality call.  As a Working Mum I try very hard to make sure that "mum" is the job that gets priority.  However, you take your eye off the ball for one minute and it hits you in the face.

I try hard to make sure that daughter eats healthily, gets enough sleep, goes to choir and Brownies, has swimming lessons and piano lessons.  I help her with her homework, her music theory, her Brownie badges.  I play games and puzzles with her, we do crafty stuff and I teach her life skills like cooking, sewing and cleaning.  I also take her horseriding, which she absolutely loves. I read her a bedtime story every night and I listen to her read, especially her own stories. The list is endless.  Trying to be a good mum is an exhausting and relentless job.

However, I failed to ensure enough fresh air and exercise over these last few rain sodden weeks.  Dancing to Just Dance 3 on the Wii doesn't seem to have been a good enough substitute for the playing out, cycling and walking that daughter usually does. 

Here's what happened:

This week at school they had to practise for their first "proper" athletic sports day next month.  On Wednesday daughter was timed running the 400m.  I say "running", it turned out she walked half of it.

I was horrified.

My daughter is the lazy one who walks 400m instead of running.

I was distraught thinking that I had failed in my duty.

Husband was furious and shouted at her.

I told him not to shout, but to do something about it.

So yesterday morning hubby asked her to run round the block with him (about 800m) to start getting her fitter.

She beat him!

Turns out she just doesn't like running, she can do it perfectly well, but other kids walked the 400m so she did!

She is her mother's daughter.
(If Helen is reading this, she'll know what I  mean, we walked a lot of 1500m and cross country runs together at school!)

Panic over.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Walk like an Egyptian

You know how I hate those "Please have your child dressed as a crocodile/persian princess/tax collector on Friday" letters we get from school?  Well, this year I thought I'd get ahead of the game.

Every year the Year 3s in my daughter's school have an Egyptian Day when they have to go to school dressed as an Egyptian.  In anticaption of this I purchased an Egyptian outfit from Amazon, we decided we'd plait her hair the night before so it was wrinkly like Cleopatra and I bought blue eyeshadow and black eyeliner to paint her eyes.  All sorted!

Then, last week daughter brought home the term calendar.

No Egyptian Day!

I sent her in to school to find out what was going on.

She came home the next day and said:

"Because it's the Olympics we're not having Egyptian Day this year, we're having Greek Day instead."


Any ideas how to change an Egyptian costume into a Greek one?