Monthly Archives: November 2012


Our next concert is on Sunday, December 2nd at the Guildhall, Plymouth.  The programme comprises Elgar’s The Music Makers, Poulenc’s Gloria, and Parry’s Blest Pair of Sirens.

The Elgar is new to me.  As with a number of Elgar’s works, he has selected a weak text, but woven rich, complex, ever-changing music around it.  It benefits from our conductor’s relentless attention to detail, and I’ve much enjoyed rehearsing it.

The two shorter works are not totally new, though it’s also the first time I’ve performed in the Poulenc.  This mid-20th-century setting of the Gloria ranges from starkly beautiful to cheerfully playful and (in contrast to the subtlety of the Elgar) is always full of bright colours.  It too has been a pleasure to rehearse!

The characteristically-bombastic Parry is of course a lesser work than the others, but will nevertheless appeal to anyone who likes this kind of last-night-of-the-proms thing.

I’m happy to recommend this concert to readers within evening-out distance of Plymouth.  If you intend to come, note that tickets are cheaper in advance than on the door!

Giant Squash

Much of this autumn’s seasonal produce has been below average in both quantity and quality, possibly due to the weather.

But I’ve been given the most enormous squash from someone’s garden.  Got round to using it yesterday.   Taking the line of least resistance I thought I’d make a big cauldron of spicy pumpkin soup – a dish I know well.  But on chopping it up I find that unlike a big pumpkin, this vegetable is mostly good flesh, with relatively little of the stringy bits and seeds that need to be scraped out.  There’s too much flesh for my big cauldron! 😮   I made the soup with nearly three quarters of it (it contained so much moisture I hardly had to add any water at all), but what to do with the remainder – which is still the size of about two regular shop-bought seasonal squashes?  Can one make a veggie version of pumpkin pie?  Should I trawl the web for some other recipe?

Hmmm …

Picking a fight?

Is today’s Sir Humphrey a complete idiot, or are our politicians deliberately picking a fight with the Court of Human Rights?

I suspect the latter.  To pick such a fight may be no bad thing, but they’re going about it the wrong way.  Don’t just ignore the court on an issue that can painlessly be fixed.  Tackle it much earlier in the development of some dubious issue, and build alliances.  Maybe in the first instance do it by supporting some other government’s fight over a suitable issue.

The court says that a blanket ban on prisoners voting is a violation of their “human rights”.  Government sticks its fingers in its ears.  Hardly anyone wants to give prisoners the vote, and opinions divide, with a suspected majority supporting the government.

But wait a minute, this whole conflict is based on a misrepresentation.  The court hasn’t said “give prisoners the vote”, nor even “give some prisoners the vote”.  It’s just said “don’t operate a blanket ban”.  Even if our politicians are too dumb to see the obvious solution, it can’t have escaped Sir Humphrey – unless of course the meritocracy has vanished from his job and an idiot has been appointed on some politically-correct anti-elitist principle.

Why not just give the responsibility to sentencing judges?  Let the removal (or not) of the vote be a decision for the judge in every conviction (and not just those involving prison).  Keep the status quo as a default, so if a judge says nothing about the vote then the convict loses it while in prison but keeps it while in the community.  Surely that removes the blanket ban – thus satisfying the court – without making anything worse than it is, or even losing face!

Police Elections

Tomorrow is polling day, to elect police commissioners in England and Wales.

Having elected people in this role is new: this will be the first time we’ve done it.  And it’s been remarkably quiet, with little news coverage and even less campaigning.  One could be forgiven for ignoring it, or just not noticing it.

I will cast my vote.  What persuaded me to take the trouble to find out about my local candidates was seeing who is against the changes.  Specifically, former police chief Sir Ian Blair – who was The Liar’s chief henchman and spearheaded our rapid move towards a police state in the first decade of this century.  When Blair urged people not to vote, that was enough for me: by voting I express my opposition to the police state.

In the absence of more detailed information, I was able to inform myself a little about the candidates using the police elections website.  For some inexplicable reason we seem to have far more candidates here in Devon&Cornwall than anywhere else.  Although there’s an element of “say what they’ll want to hear” in their election material, there’s sufficient information to conclude that some candidates appear better than others.


Q: What’s the difference between Jimmy Savile and Lord McAlpine?
A: Lord McAlpine is alive to defend himself.

Probably not the only difference.  But had McAlpine not been alive, where would his name be now?

To recap the story as it stands today: McAlpine briefly stood accused of kiddy-fiddling, based apparently on the word of one unreliable witness (“victim”) given credence by a BBC programme.  The witness has now withdrawn the accusation on the basis of mistaken identity leaving no case against him, and the BBC with some serious egg on its face and a director general fallen on his sword.

The original accusation turns out to have been worse-than-flimsy: the police interviewed the “victim”, showed him a picture which he identified as his attacker, and then told him the picture was McAlpine?!!??!   How the **** did that turn into a story worth taking seriously?  The late, great Arthur Miller had the answer, and so do we if we call McAlpine’s accuser “Abigail”.  Though that too would be inaccurate: pointing the finger at one man is not the same as kicking off the whole witch-hunt, and that’s been happening for years (as witness the absurdity of the red tape binding any adult contact with children outside the family context).

As for Savile?  I have absolutely no idea: I never saw him or his TV programmes when he was alive, and I hadn’t even heard of his charity work until the whole kiddy-fiddling story suddenly filled the “news”.  Noone is defending him, and there are hundreds of accusers against him: doesn’t all that put his guilt beyond doubt?  It’s even been suggested his body might be dug up: a witch-hunt has turned into an exorcism!

The sceptic should at least question whether the case against him is proven.  And I can only conclude that the evidence falls short.  Most if not all of it is heavily tainted by compensation: if the powers-that-be had been interested in the truth, the very first thing they needed to do was rule out this expectation of personal financial advantage to his accusers!

And as to why noone is (so far as has been reported) defending him, Miller again has an answer: who wants to share Proctor’s fate?  In the thick of a witch-hunt, even the wronged McAlpine wouldn’t dare say a word against his accuser lest he be reviled as insensitive to a victim.  How much less then would anyone dare question a Savile-accuser’s compensationreward, let alone defend him?