I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Five firsts (not all gold)

FIRST SEVENTY-EIGHT. Bing Crosby, Ghost Riders in The Sky, 1952, Why bought: Peer pressure. Abiding impression: The words
… their faces (soaked?) with sweat.
They’re riding hard to catch that herd,
But they ain’t caught it yet.
Sentimentality rating: Zero. Grossly over-played at the time.

FIRST LP (mono). Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Concertgebouw Orchestra, cond. Erich Kleiber, 1954. Why bought: Mentor’s instructions. Abiding impression: Still favourable; performance highly recommended by Gramophone (magazine) at the time. Sentimentality rating: Highish, would play it again if I still owned it but couldn’t be bothered to buy it as CD.

FIRST CD: Renaissance masterpieces: Allegri’s Miserere, Tallis’s Spem in Allium, Pro Cantione, cond. Brown, 1980s (?).Why bought: I wanted a CD and there wasn’t much choice. Abiding impression: Hardly any for these performances; the two works’ significance only became apparent twenty-five years later. At the time these works got lost in a welter of posh music buying, notably the two Brahms piano concerti. Sentimentality rating: Zero.

FIRST OPERA (live): Mozart’s Magic Flute, English National Opera, Palladium, London,  1974. Why did I go: It was time (finally) to step up to live opera. Abiding impression: Things could only get better than this. There had to be a more acceptable Tamina (the main tenor role) than this twenty-stone Sumo wrestler, balding but with a vestigial ten-hair ponytail, who sang without conviction. Sentimentality rating: Low, but at least it got me started.

FIRST REVELATION (live): Brahms Third Symphony, Cardiff Symphony Hall, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, cond. Herbert Blomstedt, 2008. Why did I go: I’d become a regular concert-goer. Abiding impression: That on rare occasions (See the late date!) you may hear a performance that somehow resembles the music’s first creation. Sentimentality rating: Stratospheric. A conviction that music is the greatest art. 


  1. I was introduced to the gramaphone via an HMV wind-up machine. Enrico Caruso was singing La Donna e mobile on one side and O sole mio on the other. I was 4 and a half. I was impressed by the volume and the way the gramaphone shook. I do not know whether tone deafness preceded this experience or resulted from it.

  2. Dear Lorenzo,
    How wonderful to hear from you and discover you in your new guise. It means a great deal to me that you remembered me and that I helped, in a small way, with the creation of your novel. I'm looking forward to reading it and will celebrate along with you, all the way here in Sydney, Australia.
    With my warmest regards,
    from my comment box to yours,


  3. Plutarch: I think I may have played Bing Crosby on my mother's wind-up before I went out and bought an electric; not quite a Dansette, but in that bracket. You mention tone-deafness from time to time and I've tended to regard this as an affectation. Yet, looking back. I can't ever remember hearing you sing (or hum or whistle). Conceivably this is because you believe it would be ungentlemanly to do so (Tietjens, in Parade's End, would never do so). I may bring my tuning fork with me to the Retreat; you may not be the best judge of your voice; for all you know there may be an unpolished Peter Schreier lurking there.

    Eleanor: How could I ever forget? The rest of the novel was hard work but those six hundred words dropped in like a little gem. To the point where I posted an unrefined version in Works Well and Lucy (ever an encourager and a critic (in the original sense)) said she would use Kylie if such a paragon existed.

    Women's hair doesn't figure in my second novel, Risen on Wings, but my third, Blest Redeemer (114,044 words written; target about 150,000) is much more ambitious and begins with a disquisition on a woman to some extent defined by her long, beautiful hair.

    Many thanks.

  4. The reason I do not hum or whistle let along sing in public is that much as I would like to I very rarely reach the right note. If I do it is by chance. With intensive tuitition I believe I could. It is not my ear in fact that is at fault but my coordination. I would love to be able to sing. Heidi tells me that I have a good voice, just that (she has heard me in the bath) I am usually a semi-tone out.
    Tone Deaf is a sort of confessional in this respect, and I am very glad of it.

  5. Plutarch: This raises an interesting point. Let's suppose you wanted to (and imagined you were doing so) sing the scale of C-major. You do not say whether your half tone is sharp or flat but let's assume it's the latter. It's then reasonable to assume that what emerges is the scale of B-flat major. Not a bad key signature; my trumpet is pitched in B-flat. But not what you wanted. All you need to do is imagine you're singing the scale of B-flat and it should emerge as C-major. Well, give or take; you may have to fiddle it. But musical articulacy is within your grasp. Better still, go out and buy yourself a chromatic child's xylophone (that's the one with the black notes as well) and a little wooden hammer, and practise in the bath. The xylophone is far less intrusive for neighbours than the undirected human voice.