Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.
“In a time then and now/In a place far and near/In a world of which old stories tell/A land cradled in light―/Sun by day, moon by night―/Is held safe under summer’s sweet spell”. This is Summerland, where The Song of the Silent Child is set. The eponymous Silent Child is despised in this land of perpetual happiness, and it isn’t until she meets Old Mother Love, the Crone/wise woman who is dying, that the Child learns who she is: “’You go by (more…)
When I was 6 or 7, my Dad returned from a trip to Germany bringing me the most wondrous packet of felt pens I’d ever seen. They were double-ended, with a fat end for colouring large areas and a pointy end for detail. Forget previously-desirable Platignum and Pentel: in early-70s Aberdeen, this was serious Blue Petering kit. This was love.
Soon after, I announced that I wanted to be an opera singer when I grew up. Opera singers came from Germany (of course), so this would be the way (more…)
A few years ago I was interviewed in a sort of rent-a-therapist slot on Radio Cumbria; they wanted someone in the biz to say something vaguely intelligent for a “dealing with difficult events” programme. Getting the phone call from some BBC gofer I’d thought it was a wind-up, but there I was, about an hour later, sitting in my study being invited to pronounce on a variety of things down the telephone—and live on air. Surreal. ‘Ah yes, (more…)
‘D’you fancy going to a theatre organ recital?’
Not the first thing I thought of, or even the fifteenth, when I asked Richard what he’d like to do on his birthday. Still, it was his birthday, so it was up to him. Besides, I thought, trying to open my mind just a teeny crack, it might be interesting. I didn’t actually know what a theatre organ was, really, and had I made the connection between those words and ‘Mighty Wurlitzer’ I might have got my mind ajar more quickly. As it was, I was thinking about Sale of the Century (“And tonight’s prizes include (more…)
Stripping off with a bunch of other people, variously familiar to me, in the chilly, cramped vestry of some hitherto-unknown church. Dressing for Saturday Night in modest, full-length black, then perching on a chair in an unheated church hall, eating squashed sandwiches. All the ingredients of a perfectly normal weekend for me.
I’ve been singing in choirs since I was about 7 (not continuously, obviously), and this has frequently involved doing gigs in (more…)