I has a sofa!

Wednesday, 25 July 2007 19:41
strange_complex: (Chrestomanci slacking in style)
Those were a busy few days, then. My ever-generous parents have been here since Sunday morning, lending their driving and DIY skills to another round of house-sorting-out. Since they arrived, we have done all this! )

In the middle of it all, [livejournal.com profile] kernowgirl visited, with husband R and friend G, who had always wanted to live in one of these houses. They were given the obligatory tour of the house, sat on the new sofa, and met Cheeky (whose real name I now know to be Dexter - and am going to ignore because 'Cheeky' is better). It probably all seemed somewhat chaotic to the three of them, but it is less chaotic each day, and I think will be looking quite passable by the time my house-warming party comes round.

*satisfied sigh*

strange_complex: (Me as a child)
It's funny how your behaviour changes with your environment. I have Spider Solitaire on my own computer at home, but never play it, thinking it dull and boring. When I'm at my parents' house, though (as now), I hardly seem capable of going to bed without first playing, and winning (playing alone will not do) a game of it. It is just part of my bedtime ritual in the room where I sleep when I'm here.

And it leads me off on strange trains of thought like this:

When I was young, and playing games of Sevens Patience (now more usually Americanised to 'Solitaire') on the carpet, I very quickly developed marked value judgements about the various suits in the pack. These were based mainly on the division between red and black, but even within each colour, one of the suits appeared to me to be distinctly superior to the other. One colour I related to, and thought strong, good and worthy of victory. The other, I saw as alien, weak, unreliable and generally best avoided.

The pictures on the cards did help to forge these judgements, as did a knowledge of things like Alice in Wonderland and the nursery rhyme about the Jack of Hearts. So it's likely that more than the 50% of the population whom probability alone would suggest might share them actually do. But let's see, shall we?

[Poll #885480]

Things unblogged

Friday, 19 May 2006 11:33
strange_complex: (Darth blogging)
Gosh. I would appear to have some free time. Nominally, I'm at Warwick doing essay returns. But since I only have 11 people to see today, as opposed to the fearsome 35 I got through yesterday, there are a lot of gaps in the day when I can do other things. And I've actually run out of minor administrative tasks to perform, so that means I can write on LJ - yay!

What I'm going to do here is give quick accounts of some of the things I would have blogged over the last couple of months, if I'd had the time to do so. They probably won't get the same level of detail as they'd have had if I'd written them up at the time. But at least this way they won't be completely forgotten.

18th March - celebratory meal at Gee's )

30th March - Robin Blaze at the Wigmore Hall )

1st April - 'Springtime Baroque' concert at the Sheldonian )

24th April - QI recording )

8th May - Rik Mayall in 'The New Statesman' )

Well, that was a great relief! I feel a lot less weighed down by a back-log now, and more able to get on with posting about things day to day. There are still some Big Posts I need to make about things like my new job, and my book and so on. But this has definitely been a good start.
strange_complex: (Handel)
I spent the weekend up in Brum with the parentals, partly for the sake of some general family time, but mainly to take part in a 'Sing Along with the CBSO' event on Sunday. I've attended one of these before, singing the Messiah two years ago: then, as now, accompanied by my uncle (a fellow tenor) and an unrelated aunt (alto). We all agreed that both experiences were excellent.

It's partly the scale of these things that makes them. I think about 1000 singers turned up for the Messiah. This weekend, I was one of 1400 singing Vivaldi's Gloria and Fauré's Requiem: including some 250 tenors, and a healthy proportion of ladies amongst them. Of course, as part of the singing masses, you never quite get the chance to catch what the overall sound is like for an observer. But I was reliably informed by my watching mother, father and other aunt that it was quite an experience.

Being accompanied by a professional orchestra [CBSO = City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra], and a damn good one at that, is also a real plus, as were the soloists involved - three very promising-sounding students from various music schools. But the greatest credit of all goes to Simon Halsey, the City of Birmingham Chorus director, whose friendly patois, obvious enthusiasm and ability to communicate directly and clearly with people at all levels of musical experience had all 1400 of us rapt with attention and eager to do our very best for him.

I still think Fauré's Requiem is a poor showing compared to Vivaldi's Gloria - I tried my best to like it, but had only got to the point of grudgingly admitting that it was OK by the end of the evening. Mind you, it has to be said that the tenors got more tunes out of Fauré than they did Vivaldi, even if they weren't such good tunes. So I enjoyed singing both, and especially enjoyed discovering how well I could get away with turning up not having practised the Fauré at all, and relying entirely on sight-reading and having listened to the tape a few times. I'd have been sunk without people who knew what they were doing around me, but since I did have them, it was All Right.

I also used the opportunity to reclaim about 1/3 of the possessions I'd put into storage before going to Belfast, which were kindly driven down to Oxford by my Dad at the end of the weekend, along with me and a new bookcase to put them in. Mainly I concentrated on books and videos this time, since I knew they could go in the bookcase. But I've also reclaimed piles of old photographs, and my two beloved framed Piranesi sketches of Roman column bases, capitals and sculptural fragments. These, it turns out, are the things I've missed most. Books and videos are great, but ultimately ephemeral, especially once you've read or watched them once. But the photos are unique, while the Piranesi sketches just add a verneer of class and sophistication to my flat which has been somewhat lacking since I moved back here. Perhaps they will help me to get that book finished, eh?
strange_complex: (Wicker Man sunset)
1. Human parents (mine)

Their visit over the weekend went very well, and essentially consisted of us doing the things I'd said we were going to do in this post.

The play )

Our drive around NE Antrim )

Sunday )

2. Blackbird parents (also, obviously, my personal property)

The other big news of the moment is that my blackbirds' chicks have hatched! I discovered this on Sunday, when I took my parents into my office on the way to the pub to show them the nest (knowing that, as bird-fanciers, they'd be interested). At first, we thought the female was still incubating, but then the male arrived with some worms, and she got up off the nest to reveal three healthy little chicks, with their beaks gaping open for their dinner. Since I could never see more than three eggs in the nest (although the viewing angle means that there might have been a fourth one hidden by the nest edge), I'm taking this to mean that all of the eggs have probably hatched successfully.

What happens next )

I'm normally not that bothered about birds, but as both Carrick-a-Rede and the excitement of my front-row seat at the blackbird nesting process have demonstrated, I can get interested when they're either underlining the beauty of a natural setting, or close enough to me that I can get personally involved with them.

Regular Blackbird Bulletins will continue as there is more news, and anyone in Belfast is welcome to pop round to my office and have a look at them if they're interested.

Imminent parents

Friday, 20 May 2005 14:21
strange_complex: (Default)
Within an hour, my parents should be arriving here for the weekend. I think the house is clean and tidy enough to pass muster now, and I've planned out and bought the necessary food-stuffs. So I'm having a little LJ-break before they arrive.

The plan is broadly thus:

Friday evening: going to see a play called The Dreamer Examines His Pillow at the Old Museum Arts Centre. Don't really know much about it beyond what it says on their web page, but it was just something I came across while browsing through events listings for this weekend, and thought they might enjoy. It's something to do, anyway.

Saturday: going to see the Giant's Causeway. I'm quite excited about this, as, not having a car, I don't really get much chance to get out of Belfast and see the rest of Norn Iron. The Causeway is supposed to be one of the best things the rest of NI has to offer in the way of sights, so it seems a worthy focus for a day excursion. The general driving around business may well extend into the evening - depends whether we tag other stuff onto the Causeway. Note to self: set the video for Doctor Who!

Sunday: lunch at the Crown Liquor Saloon, probably preceded and / or followed by some general wandering around. Mum wants a proper look at the Waterfront Centre, because she hears a lot of concerts from it on Radio 3. If the weather's decent, we might also make our way to somewhere like Malone House to stroll about the grounds. They then fly home on Sunday evening.

Should be a reasonable balance between not getting bored and having time to relax and enjoy each other's company, I hope.

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