There’s nothing quite like a bit of Wagner on a car journey….
There’s nothing quite like a bit of Wagner on a car journey….
There’s nothing quite like a bit of Wagner on a car journey….
The latest production of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell (William Tell) at the Royal Opera House met with boos as a scene involving a female character getting sexually attacked unfolded. Such was the audience reaction that Kasper Holten, director of opera issued a statement: ‘The production includes a scene which puts the spotlight on the brutal reality of women being abused during war time, and sexual violence being a tragic fact of war,’ Holten said. ‘The production intends to make it an uncomfortable scene, just as there are several upsetting and violent scenes in Rossini’s score. We are sorry if some people have found this distressing.’ This statement raises a few questions about the position in our culture of art in general and the Royal Opera House in particular.
This paternalistic and possibly arrogant attitude really appropriate with regards to art? The audience bought tickets for a night of entertainment. They got an eyeful, and also got preached at. Had they wanted to be upset, made uncomfortable and informed about the violence society imposes on its more vulnerable members, they could have curled up with a cup of tea and a report on female genital mutilation. They didn’t. They bought opera tickets. They went for entertainment. Therefore, they’d surely be within their rights to claim a refund under the Trade Descriptions Act.
Presumably art establishments want people to pay to come and see their wares rather than rely on government funding? The basic rule of business is that you need to give customers what they want. Naturally if they want a rape scene, they’re probably not the best kind of customers. The customers in question didn’t want it though. It was imposed on them by a company which thought it knew what their customers should have wanted. As soon as a company adopts this faulty attitude, it will either go bust, or be bailed out by the government. If it gets bailed out by the government, it just becomes a ministry for propaganda. We’re now in a situation where the audience wants entertainment and the company wants to educate them. That’s never going to work. (However, I do agree that the public has got exactly what it asked for with regards to television, which is another matter entirely.)
There is a certain insecurity in art circles with some who seem unable to bear the thought that art is beauty, and entertainment. It doesn’t save lives. It’s not essential to existence – it’s just a really, really good thing to have. They feel the need to use art as an opportunity to preach something or other. It’s OK that art is entertainment. Really it is. It’s good to be entertained. Unfortunately for the past 80 years or so, there’s been a definite movement to make things ugly. It’s got to the point where we can’t enjoy the vivid, melodic, and downright rollicking score of Rossini’s without having to have the rape thing as well. Why can’t things just be nice? We have enough trouble in the world already, why do we have to have it shoved down our throats when we’re trying to relax and get away from it for a bit?
Sensationalising instead of highlighting. There are lot of things about war that are rubbish – the pain, the death, the mutilation, the broken families, the lives forever changed. Loads of stuff. There is also a lot of boredom interspersed with moments of life-threatening action. Interestingly the production concentrated on the less common sexual abuse than the rather more common boredom. I wonder why that is?
I suspect anyone who has suffered sexual abuse, or knows anyone who has, recognises that involving such thing in an evening of entertainment is tasteless at best.
And here’s the thing. This production is not about raising the awareness of the plight of women. It’s purely to get publicity. Had the company honestly been concerned about a related aspect of the opera, a more effective thing (that wouldn’t have cost a bean) would have been to partner with an organisation that is involved in relieving the suffering of such victims, invite them to submit an article for print in their programme, and to invite donations from the punters. That would have been caring, sensitive, and productive. As it is, they got the publicity they wanted – and all publicity is apparently a good thing, so I suspect there are going to be more ticket sales for this production in that sector of our society that enjoys watching a jolly good rape. I’ll not be there.
Want your art back the way it should be? Too right.
I’ve just realised my morals are bendy. Hitting people is wrong. Clarkson hit someone, and in any other job it is highly likely that this would have led to instant dismissal – and yet…
I find myself rooting for Clarkson, partly because the BBC’s the BBC. But I’m clearly not as immune to ‘packaging’ as I thought. For example, the 50 Shades of Grey thing? That’s just domestic violence with pretty people. As long as the people are pretty and/or rich (preferably both) then the mainstream media – and therefore the collective conscience – is OK with it. I’m no feminist, but I was shocked that women would go to watch a film that is purely about glamorising abuse.
The problem? People don’t really think any more, and were happy to accept opinions as packaged by the media. And it’s the same with Mr Clarkson – I like him; I find it difficult not to like him with his cleverly un-clever humour – but I’ve realised I’ve developed a double standard right there. He’s funny and I like him, so I let him off the hook and am indignant that the BBC should sack him. The media reaction was entertaining with journalists not sure whether to root for their colleagues, or pour scorn on the BBC, I enjoyed that immensely.
Interestingly the BBC, socialist entity as it is, is now being held up as the very thing its journalists hate – the large corporation against which the little person must struggle. We’re now in the position that hitting people is wrong, unless of course you’re being punished for it by a large corporation, and then it’s OK.
Was it right that the BBC should sack him? Probably, but what a waste of grumpy, middle-aged, yet lovable talent. Now what will we do? For those of us who still have TVs, it’s going to be that ‘midwife programme’ or a poke in the eye.
For Mr Clarkson, it’s a question as to how much rebranding and positive PR is really necessary.
That’ll be a no to Celebrity Big Brother then?
You heard right. I think of all sorts of things when I’m crocheting away. I’d be happy to bet that serial killers take up a smaller percentage of the crochet community than the wider population.
I know what you’re thinking – crocheters are little wizened old ladies, right? Little wizened old ladies don’t kill people. (Actually that depends entirely on how weird your taste in films is.)
Stick with me – if the world leaders today would beat their spears into crochet hooks, we’d all be a bit better off. Crochet has an intensely relaxing effect and that Kim Jung Un could definitely do with calming down a bit. And let’s face it, most of us are so dosed up on coffee we wouldn’t be able to cope if we weren’t experiencing caffeine-induced cardiac arrhythmias. Crochet just makes the world a better place, time to think and just to be. Crochet is so mindless, you can do pretty much anything at the same time (except for driving – please not that) reading, checking emails, talking to people (in fact when talking to boring people, crochet is invaluable in keeping one awake). Perhaps taking time to relax can help a bit more than taking time to get your morning palpitations with Joe. Just imagine if you didn’t need to live faster, because you had a better handle on what mattered, and what life should be like.
I attribute the fact that I am still married to the Fox after 8 years, to crochet. He’s a lovely chap, but MY is he stressy! There is no way I wouldn’t catch that level of stress and run with it if I didn’t have some type of therapy. You can tell him; I don’t mind – he already knows. It’s that quasi-hypnotic repetitive movement – with crochet it’s so creative, but without crochet, it’s really just sitting in a corner and rocking. Surprisingly more social acceptable, but interestingly a lot less satisfying. I look forward to a time, many centuries from now when companies will not have ‘smoking shelters’ (those nasty little bus stops where you catch cancer) but rather ‘crochet breaks’: ‘You look stressed, Martin. How about you just pop out to finish off that sleeve?’ I can just see it now. Yeah, maybe not.
And those little wizened old ladies? Well I’d prepare to bet that they’re wizened because they’re over two hundred years old – and they’re still here because they’re so chilled out by crocheting. Someone should do a study on it. And call it ‘Live long and crochet’.
Make gloves, not war, darlings.
Since being privileged with having a greyhound in my life, I have learned that there is a difference between what we typically perceive to be cats and dogs, and what is actually the case, thanks to my greyhound Seón for the clarification. The correct classification (with sub-categories) is as follows:
|Cats||Dogs||Aliens||Sub-category – weird flying cat things|
|King Charles spaniel||Labrador|
|Miniature Schnauzer||Springer Spaniel|
|Shih Tzu||Great Dane|
|Bichon Frise||Border Collie|
|Any wussy designer crossbreed such as labradoodle||Staffie|
Hope that clears that up.
Sean’s been with us since March. He’s almost unrecognisable from the dog we picked up in Spring (partly because I have hoovered up most of his hair…)
I wished I’d made a note of the milestones he reached, from the first day.
Day 1 got us a junior level of stair mastery. Today we’re amazed at how quickly he’ll shoot to the top of the stairs and turn right (kind of like Zoolander, but more brown and white fur than ‘blue steel’! – Can’t seem to turn left though…) After two weeks we detected a slight twitch in the tail. After about 6 weeks we got a proper wag! Today not only do we get treated to a proper wag, but the tail is almost above horizontal and can smart a bit, if one stands in the wrong place!
Whereas initially Sean would flinch around flapping polythene, noisy cars and motorbikes, at the weekend he was able to go to the Balloon Fiesta and watch helicopters landing and taking off very close by. (Wasn’t massively keen on the Typhoon’s antics, though!)
Recently Sean’s been making some quite literal leaps and bounds. To start with, Sean seemed pretty ‘switched off’ with everything, didn’t know anything, and didn’t really do anything. He now is learning to understand English, and ‘walk’ usually prompts a response of leaping and making funny noises, shaking his head (‘You DON’T want to go for a walk?!) and almost-bows. These are becoming more pronounced every day. Sean was pretty passive in the beginning, quite happy to go for a long walk, but didn’t really get excited. Now he’s into everything – all must be sniffed, judged, and if necessary, weed on as well. As Sean would say ‘I like to leave things more fragrantly than I found them.’ Good one, Sean.
Greyhounds aren’t supposed to bark. Sean doesn’t know he’s a greyhound – so he doesn’t let that limit his vocal talents. We went to watch the Tour De France, and while staying with some very nice friends, he took woofing lessons from their beagle. Hmmm. Not sure that’s a good skill to have. He usually saves it for special occasions, like when he’s been on his own for a couple of hours and we’re a bit slow getting out of the car.
For the last few days he’s learned how to RIP THINGS UP. This is a favourite pastime. The toys we bought him when he arrived had been lying around his room forgotten until recently, and now they’re in the bin because there’s not much left of them. There’s also not much left of the recycling bin either, but that’s a different story. Sean’s favourite toy has always been the Kong ball because it has food in it. He’ll happily push it around until he’s got all the little biscuits out – and then promptly take the rest of the day off. This is more durable, and will not need replacing for a while.
During the hot weather Sean has enjoyed kicking back with an ice pop. He’s also started to strip off, and is shedding lots of hair EVERYWHERE. Although if the internet’s correct, that’s all fine, and he’s just losing his ‘kennel coat’. Whatever that is.
Sean loves food, and will do anything for it. He makes it quite clear that we are second-best to the kitchen. He learned to sit pretty quickly; and has also learned that if he sits and looks cute he’ll get unscheduled treats, and therefore tries it on most of the time. His favourite is dog-cheese. (That’s burger cheese that doesn’t unsettle his stomach – not cheese made out of dogs). He also likes a game of ‘bread hoop-la’. We through bits of bread and he tries (and frequently fails) to catch it in his mouth. We think he’s not so hot on this because he has a wonky eye (kind of like Jason Byrne’s ‘special eye’ – you might need to YouTube it!) and perhaps he doesn’t have depth of vision. Still, it entertains us, and as I explain to Sean several times a day – we have him to provide for us a steady stream of entertainment.
I can’t let Sean off the lead because when he’s not on the lead he goes completely deaf and can hear and understand no English. Like his name. That means we have to improvise. Sometimes when he’s excited, he’ll run up and down stairs. In athletics, that’s known as high intensity interval training (HIIT) – to everyone else, it’s getting puffed out in short bursts. We also go for a ‘nutter run’. That is, he decides he’s full of beans and need to run some off so we run with him on the lead. He looks OK, because he’s taking a leisurely canter; I look like a nutter because I’m trying to keep up.
When Sean’s not on the lead, his recognition of his name is excellent. As is his recognition of crackly bags – even if they’re upstairs. The fridge door opening provokes an immediate response and the jingling of collar tags can be heard in the distance as Sean comes to investigate. Sean has never been in the kitchen. He stands just outside; his special task is kitchen surveillance. This must be undertaken when ever any two-legs is in there. One never knows what might be the result. That is why as a wise dog, one must check.
Sean’s other role is court jester to the Foxy kingdom. This is why he is dressed up in a brown blanket to look like Yoda, or a black sock to look like Napoleon. With laundry, and a greyhound, the possibilities are endless.
Feel free to get your own! http://www.grwe.com have lots of dogs with huge personalities – and it’s a much more responsible thing to do than sourcing a puppy from a breeder.
Thanks to GRWE for allowing me to adopt this handsome chap:
Beautiful, isn’t he? This is what you get when you say ‘I’d like a nice shiny black greyhound, please.’ Yep, white with splotches! Still, he’s the most good-looking of our household, as most people who bump into us in the street seem to agree.
Husband seems to have been quickly won over – he bought him a Roberts radio to listen to while he’s supposed to be asleep!
Then he had a bit of a think about it…
But we did get there eventually. Going down is always harder than going up.
And sometimes sticks a cheeky head up.
The mirror seemed a particular attraction. We’ve left the nose-prints on it!
Is it possible to get a large greyhound comfortably into the back of a smart car? Yes it is!
Huge HUGE thanks to GRWE; this is going to be lots of fun. xxxxxxx
PS: If your life isn’t complete without a greyhound (and no, it isn’t) get in touch with GRWE here: http://www.grwe.com/ or on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/GRWEGreyhoundRescue
He’s been doing the same high-level stressful job for as long as anyone can remember, and now he’s doing it for our children. Yes he gets the best part of a year off, but just how long can he keep going?
I don’t want to appear preachy, but be aware that with his current lifestyle and obligations, Santa is not going to go on forever. Don’t be surprised if one year, you have to deliver all those gifts yourself and pretend it was Santa.
Just look at the evidence:
With type 2 Diabetes and heart disease on the increase, it’s good to know what the risks the are and how you can protect yourself and your family from these and other health nasties. We even calculate your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular events and osteoporosis.
FoxFit takes the guesswork out of getting fit. It’s our unique programme geared towards getting people fitter, healthier, and helping people achieve the body they want. It’s a bit like the NHS HealthCheck but better because it’s run by qualified nurses and it’s more thorough. We’re not just interested in your weight, we’re interested in ALL of you. It’s this sort of MOT everyone should have – but it’s only available at Fox Cycling (the NHS HealthCheck is not nearly as comprehensive, nor is it part of an ongoing plan).
Click above link to read more.
I know we’re not supposed to, but it really is a lot quicker.
With so many good books to read, and so little time, and also so many shockingly bad books in print (and more of them every year), it’s a minefield out there. What’s a girl to do?
Because my autistic spectrum brain works so well with patterns and rules, I have formulated an absolutely fail-safe method of judging a book by its cover. See below:
Avoid books with:
Be exceedingly wary of books:
And there we have it. Order can be brought from chaos after all. That’s going to save me hours every year of reading naff books.
‘If anyone asks me, ‘What is the best safeguard against false doctrine?’ I answer in one word: ‘The Bible – the Bible regularly read, regularly prayed over, regularly studied.’ We must go back to the old prescription of our Master: ‘Search the Scriptures’ (John 5:39 AV). If we want a weapon to wield against the devious schemes of Satan, there is nothing like ‘the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God’. But to wield it successfully, we must read it habitually, diligently, intelligently and prayerfully. This is a point on which, I fear, many fail. In an age of hurry and frenzied activity, few read their Bibles as much as they should. More books perhaps are read than ever, but less of the one book which makes man wise to salvation. Roman Catholicism and liberal theology could never have made such havoc in the church if there had not been a most superficial knowledge of the Scriptures throughout the land. A Bible-reading congregation is the strength of a church.’
– J. C. Ryle, first bishop of Liverpool
Has anyone else noticed the chronic overuse of the word ‘exciting’? It’s generally used in conjunction with ‘new product’, and usually serves to leave me underwhelmed. What can possibly be exciting about a new type of duster? As long as it does its job efficiently and doesn’t cost a bomb I’m happy with that – but excited? Never!
So here we are product developers; if you and your advertising people really must use THAT word, then perhaps perk up your products a bit. General rule of thumb; if you can buy it in a pharmacy and it has ‘wings’ it’s probably not exciting, that is, unless when you open the box out pops a magic flying suit. THAT would be exciting. If it comes in a jar and is used to add to strips of chicken because you can’t be bothered to cook a proper meal on a week night, it’s not exciting. But if on opening the jar, Genghis Khan and his hungry hoardes pop round with their ponies, and you wonder if it might be ethical to ask them if they wouldn’t mind babysitting, THAT’s exciting.
Incidentally, the Croquet Club in Portishead have organised an open day this spring. And because they are likely less miseducated than most, they are inviting punters to try out their ‘intriguing’ sport. Hurrah! They recognise that sedentary can only ever be intriguing, not exciting (unless there’s a bust-up because someone’s cheating). You know what, it might be worth turning up just to thank them for not misusing THAT word.
God be in my head, and in my understanding
God be in m eyes, and in my looking
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking
God be in my heart, and in my thinking
God be at my end, and at my departing.
– Sixteenth century Sarum Primer
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
I am yours and you are mine. I give you all I have and all I am today and forever. Your perfect will be done in my life.
Create in me a clean heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Cleanse me of anything unwholesome preventing me getting closer to you. Search me and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts, and see if there is any sin within me. Help me to repent of it and turn to you fully.
Give me the mind of Messiah, his love, care and wisdom. Fill me once again with your Holy Spirit. Show me, tell me what you would like me to pray for today. Let my heart be broken by the things that are breaking your heart – tell me what to pray for and how.
Please continue to protect, develop and bless our marriage. Develop in us an insatiable hunger for a closer relationship with you. Give us a daily baptism of your love, joy, peace, faith, strength, mercy, kindness, patience, goodness, gentleness, self-control, and righteousness.
Bless our little church and unify us. Help us spread the gospel and let our church grow with new believers. Open the eyes of those who don’t know you and reveal yourself to them. Let today be a day when multitudes turn to you. Keep our family in good health and help them turn to you, developing a close relationship with you.
Let me leave your presence hungrier for you than when I entered it. Let me always be grateful for your abundant blessings, but desperately hungry for more of you. Set my heart on fire with passion and unquenchable hunger for you.
I cannot say ‘our’ if I live only for myself.
I cannot say ‘Father’ if I do not endeavour each day to act like his child.
I cannot say ‘in heaven’ if I’m laying up no treasure there.
I cannot say ‘hallowed by your name’ if I am not striving for holiness.
I cannot say ‘your kingdom come’ if I am not doing all in my power to hasten that wonderful event.
I cannot say ‘your will be done’ if I am disobedient to his word.
I cannot say ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ if I’ll not serve him here and now.
I cannot say ‘give us today our daily bread’ if I am dishonest or seeking things using subterfuge.
I cannot say ‘forgive us our debts’ if I harbour a grudge against anyone.
I cannot say ‘lead us not into temptation’ if I deliberately place myself in its path.
I cannot say ‘deliver us from evil’ if I do not put on the whole armour of God.
I cannot say ‘yours is the Kingdom’ if I do not give the King the loyalty due him from a faithful subject.
I cannot atttribute to him ‘the power’ if I fear what men may do.
I cannot ascribe to him ‘the glory’ if I’m seeking honour only for myself.
And I cannot say ‘forever’ if the horizon my life is bounded completely by time.
– taken from The Calling by Brother Andrew.
|1. Prophetic||Listen to God’s prophetic Word for today.||Lord, cause me to hear your prophetic Word for my life today. And lead me to the places and people who need to receive that Word – even at the risk of being thought a fool.|
|2. Planning||Plan to do today what Scripture says.||Lord, help me to accept your prophetic Word today and plan my life based on it. Allow me to take the initiative in advancing you kingdom, and keep that initiative even in enemy territory.|
|3. Prayer||Become persistent in prayer.||Lord, as I plan my life of service to you, I pray for the working out of your will in my situation and I pray against every evil force that opposes your will.|
|4. Preparation||Prepare to live as a Christian full time.||Lord, make me the proper tool in your hand. Cause me to grow in my relationship with you so that when opportunities arise to reap your harvest, I will be completely prepared.|
|5. Penetration||Penetrate every devil-inspired boundary or barrier.||Lord, help me to do something for your today that I have never done before.|
|6. Presence||Maximise your opportunities by being present.||Lord, show me how I can bring your presence to the places it is needed most, simply by being there myself.|
|7. Profile||Establish your profile as a Christian.||Lord, help me to live in such a way that your presence in my life is seen by others. Make me to be a blessing to someone today.|
|Permanence||Become part of a permanent presence wherever you are.||Lord, you have called me for a purpose. Wherever you lead me, help me to stay there and serve you faithfully.|
|9. Proclamation||Use your platform to proclaim God’s message.||Lord, thank you that even though I’m in the midst of a spiritual battle, the victory is already yours. Help me to proclaim that victory today.|
|10. Power||Allow God’s power to flow through you into a needy world.||Lord, help me to surrender to your power and your greater purpose for my life.|
Taken from ‘The Calling’ by Brother Andrew, 1996.
Your left lung is around 10% smaller than your right lung.