Thursday, December 23, 2010

Replacement required for Carol Singing tonight!

Why I'm not going to be there...

Message from Good Counsel...
Can you come and sing? Please let us know so that we know we have enough singers. The first hour is often very low on people so please get there as early as you can. Can't sing? Good collectors always needed too! Contact Conor to sign up: 020 7723 1740.
If you can play an instrument you are very welcome to attend too, please let Conor know.
We provide our own Carol Sheets - please don't bring your own because we need to be singing from the same hymn sheet.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The High Kings

I can't help it! I've got to go and do Jury Service tomorrow and I'm told there can be a lot of 'waiting about' - so I'm looking for things to load up on the iPod! That's my excuse anyway!

I'm not much of a reviewer I must say. If I like something, I have lots to say about it - if I don't I have very little to offer. So, if it appears on my blog at all, I probably love it! As with this little offering...

Anyway... I came across a fine group of Irish folk singers, The High Kings. They are upbeat and have great voices, and beautiful harmonies (see the second video below).

The four young men have a fine pedigree:

  • Finbarr Clancy, son of Bobby Clancy of the Clancy Brothers; 
  • Martin Furey, son of Finbar Furey of the Furey Brothers & Davey Arthur; 
  • Darren Holden, a prolific songwriter who was lead singer with Riverdance on broadway among many other things;
  • and Brian Dunphy, son of Sean Dunphy of Irish show-band fame.

If you like the Irish Pub Song (video above) you can download it for free from The High Kings website.

If that one isn't quite your cup of tea, try this more traditional one...

And if anyone who prefers dancemixes reads this blog, I suggest you try this one: 'Step It Out Mary' - another free download here.

I really enjoy their music...hope you do too!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Edwin Fawcett: "Stronghold"

And, while I'm on the subject of arts and music...."Stronghold" is Edwin Fawcett's latest album. It has the honour of being the very first album on my iPod Shuffle (which, though I've had it for a year and a half, has only just emerged from it's box!)

Edwin is the son of dear friends of mine, and I've loved his music for years. His brothers and sisters are all musical too, one or two study ballet, and some of them draw and sketch - they are all talented. One of them, Hermione, (also a songwriter) is featured, singing on this album.

And the album is just amazing. Edwin has put many of the Psalms to music, working with a gospel choir and others, and the result is both meditative and uplifting. It doesn't matter what your taste in music may be - the rhythms; the melodies; the harmonies; the music ... are all so compelling - there will definitely be something you like!

But don't take my word for it. You can listen here.

My personal favourite is track 11 'Stronghold' with 'Listen To My Cry' a strong second. The former originated as part of a musical Edwin created with Matilda Callaghan (a lovely girl, who died tragically at a very young age - you can find a little tribute to her here) back in 2004 I think, called "Rock of The Anointed" based on the story of David - which I was fortunate to go see - twice, at different venues. I may be wrong, but I think the beautiful track 'Have Mercy On Me' may have originated here too. I wait in hope for this musical to take it's place among the likes of "Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat" etc.. It has a job to do!

Most of us are fairly familiar with most Bible stories, but not everyone is aware of all the aspects of David's story - it is rich with passion, joy, love, praise, royalty, failure, evil, madness, witchcraft, ghosts, loss, regret, forgiveness, but most of all - faithfulness.

The cast of "Rock Of The Anointed"
(Photo Edwin Fawcett)   Used with permission.
So come on Edwin - get EWTN or the BBC (?!) to televise a production of this amazing musical. In the meantime, I will seek patience while listening to this great selection of your music. And what voices! You have some fine artists about you.

Edwin has just confirmed for me, that tracks 4, 7 and 11 on the album (I Love You Lord, Have Mercy On Me, and Stronghold) are from "Rock Of The Anointed".

Buy the CD from Edwin's site, or digitally on iTunes

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Wiz - a great night out, thanks to the talented staff and pupils of Hertswood School

"The Wiz"?  I never did see the movie - not sure how I missed it, but I did.

Being a firm fan of the Judy Garland "Wizard of Oz" I didn't expect to like anything much about "The Wiz" - but as my daughter was involved, and none of our extended family were available to go and see it, I resigned myself to it.  I brought my two sons (14 and 11) to The Ark community theatre on Friday night, and hoped for the best.
Adapearl and the Munchkins
(Photo Emma Smyth, used with permission.)

...And the best is what we got!

Firstly, it started quite promptly - not something you can usually rely on with school productions in my experience - so that was a good sign. There was Dorothy, busy with chores. This young lady was suitably sweet and kind, keeping a wide-eyed. slightly awed look about her through till the end. Aunty Em's first song was difficult to hear, but tuneful, so I reserved judgement. I was told later that it could be heard well enough in other parts of the theatre...

The tornado was 'performed' by a group of dancers - a great whirligig of movement that caught the attention of the audience while the cleverly planned revolving centrepiece of the set was turned around to give us Oz. And from that moment on the whole thing really took off.

The munchkins in multicoloured wigs and costumes tumbled out (on their knees) on to the stage to greet Dorothy - one alone standing tall - adding a few laughs whenever he delivered a deep-voiced line, as all his fellow munchkins would shrug as if to say '...don't know how he happened...'!

The Good Witch Adapearl appeared on the scene, a character that threw her weight about a bit, and whose efforts at magic didn't quite meet the abilities she claimed.  She was a melodramatic busybody, easily distracted and very funny with a contagious smile - the children loved her.

So Dorothy received the slippers, and set off, meeting (my favourite character/performance of the whole thing - along with my daughter's of course :) ...) the Scarecrow. The Tin Man was great, and the Cowardly Lion was brilliantly portrayed - but I loved the Scarecrow. A female scarecrow. And the young actress was fantastic. Her part was funny anyway, but she really made that character come alive! I don't know if the younger audience would have agreed - as the Lion was pretty much a show stealer (with a fascinating tail that honestly seemed to have a life of its own!) - but her sarcasm, indignance, incredibility, blunt outspokenness, and fluctuating enthusiasm and resignation were so perfectly reflected in her tone, actions and expression - I loved her whole performance.
Eveline, Adapearl and Glinda
(Photo Emma Smyth, used with permission.)

The four main characters, gave several lively renditions of "Ease On Down The Road" between scenes - good choreography and first class entertainment.

There were lots of group or crowd scenes, and in every one all the participants were completely in character - and the dancers did a fine job as tornadoes, seductive poppies, and more.  The whole was very professionally done indeed.

The doorkeeper of the Emerald City was a nervous gentleman,  peeping out little doors, but hesitant to open the great gates.
Attired as a resident of such a Great City should be, grandly in white tails, but, in the end, easily tricked into letting our foursome into the city.

The Wicked Witch Eveline was powerful, mean, sulky, demanding, nasty, and cruel.  Beautifully performed, she struck terror into friend and foe alike. Surrounded, as the baddies always are, by incompetents, patience was not among her ... (virtues?) good points!  She commanded the stage admirably, and died a very cleverly staged death - melting, somehow, before our very eyes - never seen leaving the stage! Her assistant was played to perfection too - with a cowardly combination of fear in Eveline's presence, and cruelty in her absence.

The young Wiz amazed us with her vocal range singing first a very beautiful, very high-pitched song, and following it only moments later with another, at least a couple of octaves lower, both of which were belted out impressively!

Toward the end Glinda appeared. Called upon by Adapearl who jumped around excitedly giving her arrival a grand build-up.  Standing on a pedestal, stately and fairy-queen-like, in a long white dress - Glinda could never be mistaken for anyone ordinary, and glided, with a faraway look in her eyes, to the front of the stage.  Her two songs were beautifully delivered, and, having given poor Dorothy the message that she had it in her power to get home all along, away she floated, back to her pedestal.

She summoned Adapearl, who - initially engrossed in her 'wanga-wand', so as to give Glinda need to call her a second time in admonishment - jumped up beside her, her 'little-sister-trying-to-be-sophisticated' voice fading away backstage as she piped "How was the ride in?" to the already lost-in-her-own-world Glinda.

So Dorothy returned home safely, and so did we.  All of us loved it, for different reasons. I know my 11 year old was completely taken with the Lion, though he did - equally he claims - love his sister's performance as Glinda.

I should have known what to expect really.  A couple of years ago we went to see Hertswood's production of Bugsy Malone, and that was also a fantastic evening, with great performances from all involved.

Bravo Hertswood School and The Ark - and well done Miss Watkins, all the staff involved, the costumiers (many - maybe all - the costumes were designed and made from scratch), the stage-hands, the sound team and each and all players involved with The Wiz.  If I've left anyone out* - let me know. The whole production was well done, and everyone in it deserves credit.

I must make special mention of Mr Lilly who was the Director, and the driving force behind this production!

Who needs pricey West End productions, when Hertswood at The Ark provide such an excellent alternative.

*** Buy the DVD if/when it is produced!!***

How do bloggers do it...?

After the weighty and important matters of 'What the Pope said' and 'The Pope's vigil for all Nascent Life' I'm finding it really difficult to post anything about me and mine at all!  Though we've been run off our feet this weekend past, it seems (by way of comparison) like none of it carries any import whatsoever...

How do you bloggers do it??

To revert to the frivolous and the mundane seems almost ridiculous.  Funny, I never felt like that about discussing devotions, liturgical feasts and so on, but really they are on another plane entirely - one which we try hard to bring into our day-to-day existence - so it doesn't seem quite so ridiculous to move on to what we had for breakfast... etc..

None the less... I can  review a first class show I was fortunate to see on Friday.  And shall now, in a separate post.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Everyone can participate in the Vigil for all Nascent Human Life this Saturday

The Pope has invited bishops and parishes - but also groups and associations - to take part in the Vigil for all Nascent Human Life.  So - I offer here a choice of ways to do it!
  • Attend the vigil at your parish;
  • Investigate whether your Bishop is presiding  at a Vigil (The details for Westminster Cathedral can be found below.)
  • Use the texts (those offered in Westminster, with Archbishop Nichols' address, can be found here) to participate privately from home;
  • The Pope's Vespers for the Start of Advent, followed by the Vigil for Nascent Human Life will be televised on EWTN at 16:00 - 17:30 this Saturday 27th November.
========Westminster Cathedral==============
Vigil for All Nascent Human Life (1st Sunday of Advent)
On Saturday, November 27th at St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate a Vigil for All Nascent Human Life coinciding with first vespers of the First Sunday of Advent. The Holy Father has invited all Diocesan Bishops to preside at similar celebrations.
Archbishop Nichols is presiding at a Vigil at Westminster Cathedral that evening.
The texts of that Vigil, together with a reflection from the Archbishop, are being circulated to parishes, for information.  There is no obligation on parishes to celebrate this Vigil, but some parishes may welcome the opportunity to do so. They are free to adapt the offered form of the Vigil if they wish.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What a palaver - the Pope said nothing wrong!

Whatever he says - the Pope is the Pope, and those of us who understand that might hold back on the criticism for a bit, remember God plays a part in all this, and wait and see.

Imho what is really bothering everyone is less about the Pope's words and intentions (which were completely acceptable) and more about the relationship between the Church and the World. We know that relationship is unsavoury and shouldn't be surprised at all the hoohah.

The Pope didn't even endorse the action in question (i.e. advising a prostitute to use a condom by way of lessening the consequences of his sin) - if we ignore the media and manipulative interpretations - he seems to have simply been dealing with worldly notions of 'good'.

It is a fact - in a secular circumstance - that such a prostitute may have no qualms about infecting others with a deadly disease - and with no moral background may be prompted - through humanity - to reduce the harm he causes in such a way. 

Both he, and all the secular 'care workers' the world over would see this as a 'step in the right direction' - more in the sense of his state of mind and motivation than any spiritual step. I can't see any difficulty in agreeing wholeheartedly with the Pope - that we can see why this could be so considered

I really don't see that he gave it any blessing or permission - only that he understands why it could be perceived as a good. And should that one small flawed step be the start of a more compassionate way of life - then other questions can be dealt with.

To my mind - this is a storm in a teacup. All this stuff about whether he was talking about the intention or the act; whether he was speaking on a personal basis or as pontiff - it's all completely irrelevant and a diversion. However he put it, (and I have read different versions!) all it boils down to is a compassion for desperate people who might do otherwise dreadful things in a hope of improving a diabolical situation. What on earth has that to do with doctrine or the Church teaching on faith and morals?

There are many Words of the Lord in the Bible that seem to say dreadful things - unconnected with His Love, Justice or Mercy. Without the teaching of the Church - we would all be doing what the media is doing now with the Pope's words.  But none of us ever say "What was He thinking - where were St Gabriel and His PR advisors...???"

Monday, November 22, 2010

UPDATE: Not exactly a scam - but not honest either - thank goodness!

So - fortunately - it is highly unlikely that the below mentioned couple will follow the dictates of an internet poll.  See one US source, and one UK source.  I think 'fraudster' is a bit misplaced - as they are in fact expecting the baby, gaining absolutely nothing from the poll exercise, and the wife has now been fired from her job.  It was meant to be a 'provocative' exercise, I would imagine - and they got what they bargained for. 
While the figures show how the anti-life forces work (pornographic and other awful websites were soliciting votes for abortion from their members with promises of crude pictures and so on) - I think it is good to remember that - taking the world as a whole - there is a quiet majority that differ with the loud mob.
Ah well.... a vote for life is never wasted.
Poll: Vote on whether this couple should give birth or have an abortion?
I know it's not a numbers game... And I can't imagine why a couple would want to poll total strangers to help them make this decision.  They claim it is sincere - I'm just hoping that, regardless of the outcome - the messages and comments they have recieved will help move them toward the right decision.
However please take a moment to click on the link - the poll is on the right of the page near top - the current results are:  38.68% in favour of giving birth / 61.32% in favour of abortion.
Thanks to Grace for sending me this information.

Michael's Confirmation ... Traditional Rites ... and family prayer.

First of all a big thank you to Mulier Fortis for 'plugging' my blog. God bless her. We had a very interesting if brief chat after Michael's confirmation yesterday at Spanish Place. It was that kind of event - I saw lots of old friends and familiar faces - and was glad to meet new ones - each and all for a minute or two!

And here is my son shaking hands with Bishop Stack afterwards.  Photo courtesy of his sponsor the Ecumenical Diablogger himself! Michael really rose to the occasion, and I was very proud of him. When, later, my daughter was speaking to Fr Southwell, he asked if she had anyone in the family who was Confirmed. She said 'yes' - her younger brother, qualifying with - 'he was the one who didn't shake the Bishop's hand'. Fr Southwell remembered and said, most reassuringly 'He did kiss the Bishop's Ring though, which was far more important'!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I write like
Jane Austen
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

OK - I confess, every piece of writing I tried gave me a different result! I've chosen the one I like best - the others were Dan Brown, Arthur Clarke and David foster Wallace and Cory Doctorow - none of whom I've read although I may have crossed paths with an Arthur Clarke publication or two in my youth - and the last two I've never heard of.

I looked up David Foster Wallace (his name seemed significant, because David Foster RIP founder of the Catholic Summer School in Pangbourne, was a good friend of mine) and found I liked some of the things he had to say....

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Another Saturday ... another important event to miss. : (

My youngest (11) has come down with a mystery illness - a mouthful of ulcers - about 20 of them everywhere from his tongue right back to his tonsils! He's had only one or maybe two mouth ulcers in his life to date - so this is truly a mystery. He can't talk or eat, and the painkillers are not really helping.

Having seen a doctor, and administered the dreaded antibiotics, we've established there is no sinister cause. He is generally in the peak of health, and not prone to bugs or sickness at all, so this, out of the blue, is very strange.  After talking with other mums, I suspect it is stress; that he is 'run down', maybe due to the subconscious pressure of secondary school and its expectations of him. It's a fact that missed homework has consequences now, when only last year, I might never even have known if he failed to submit it. He certainly doesn't seem stressed or worried about anything at all - but the recession and my own stresses and dwindling income probably affects all of us. Something else to feel guilty about...

I have an interview on Monday - so anyone reading this yet - do pray please. It's not a job I really want - but I get so few interviews these days from all my applications - I'd be glad to get it!! My choices, skills and preferences play less and less a part in this job hunt.

In the meantime - I wanted to be a part of the 500 Crosses for Life Prayer Procession taking place as I write.  Three of my children will be there Thank God, and I know there will be a great turnout. But reparation for abortion, contraception, euthanasia and the generally anti-life culture is so desperately needed. So perhaps, I'll leave this little blog of mine for now, and go and add a Rosary to the efforts of those who actually turned up.

God bless,

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The cost of chaos...

So ... though I failed to get to Toward Advent yesterday, my eldest went along and represented us!
I do miss the chance to catch up with people I no longer meet with very often - but in honesty, the social pull was my sole reason to go - I am always penniless at this time of year, after paying various annual bills, sending money into schools for various trips/events, supporting the numerous pro-life events in October - and this year, having bought two full sets of new uniform, as my youngest started secondary school, and his brother moved to a new school in September.

None the less, we had a productive day, being engrossed in various essentials - one honing a 'Personal Statement' for university applications giving me drafts every so often to edit/comment on - and one doing the homework he 'forgot' over the half-term!  The youngest was engaged in playing games and providing jokes and entertainment at intervals - secure in the knowledge that I received a letter from his school last week proclaiming his great achievements during the first half of this term, and praising him for all his efforts and the huge progress he has made!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I am currently job-hunting - and finding it slow work incidentally. I have never had so few replies to applications! In the meantime I am earning little bits of commission from doing Jamie At Home parties (party sales of Jamie Oliver's Jme range of kitchen ware, scents and gardening accessories), and working on a plan to become a self-employed Virtual Assistant - taking on administrative work at home via the internet.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Little Saints and Great Feasts

God is Good!

I start this blog from a point of joyful exhaustion!
Despite my aching feet last night, I have to confess our All Saints Party yesterday (31st October 2010) was a great success - thanks to the participants! 12 families including mine, (over 50 attendees) packed into a classroom of St Teresa's School, for food, drinks, games and prizes - all scheduled around a Rosary, prayed together, for the Holy Souls. We had use of the grounds, where the apple-bobbing was stationed - but though many children played outside, it was cold and drizzly - so the indoor activities took over.