Sunday, 15 January 2017

Hexachordum Apollinis…

I think the word I was looking for was bliss… – although any of its synonyms would probably have sufficed: ecstasy, euphoria, rapture, joy, elation, happiness, gladness, blessedness, etc. – the feeling that the opening notes of Mozart’s Serenade No.13 for Strings in G major always provoke in me: primarily, because the piece – better known as Eine kleine Nachtmusikis so fantastically blissful; but also because, last night, this appositely-named piece of music was rendered nirvana by five extremely talented members of Orchestra of the Swan. The occasion was the Friends of Orchestra of the Swan fundraising soirée; and its proceeds are to be put “towards the orchestra’s projects in local care homes” – as worthy a cause as I can think of. As Artistic Director David Curtis said, in a brief speech, “it really does make a huge difference”.

Bliss was also writ large on each of the player’s faces – David Le Page and Rebekah Allan, violins; Adrian Turner, viola; Nick Stringfellow, cello; and Stacey Watton, double-bass – along with hearty dollops of concentration and communication. But, as I’ve probably set down on these (and other) pages far too many times, if there’s anything that marks OOTS out as unequalled – however many (or few) of its players are on-stage – it is this unique combination of talent and joy, combined with a healthy dose of friendly fellowship: a camaraderie that leaps forth with every single note sounded. As I’ve probably also documented too frequently: my hearing aids seem to ‘prefer’ such chamber ensembles and the sound they produce – the transparency of tone and the clarity of line granting the music an instant comprehensibility that requires no further interpretation, no further work, from me. It is enjoyment – nay, “bliss” – pure and simple. And all the better for it.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Labouring under the allusion…

Patrick O’Kane (Caravaggio) – photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC
For too many of us it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and sh are the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions.
     The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.

Barack Obama
I resigned from the Labour Party on Monday night – and then (convinced myself that I) comforted myself by cutting my membership card into itsy-bitsy pieces. Well, it was some form of catharsis, I suppose – if not any true kind of compensation. I had been a full member for many years; and a supporter and voter for even longer; had backed Jeremy Corbyn with joy in my heart… – but was finally floored by the following sentence in the Guardian
Jeremy Corbyn will use his first speech of 2017 to claim that Britain can be better off outside the EU and insist that the Labour party has no principled objection to ending the free movement of European workers in the UK.
I wrote in response that “I cannot support a party that does not support the free movement of people.” To me, the words “no principled objection” just came across as “no principles”; and – as a result of what feels bitterly like betrayal – I now mourn the lack of a truly socialist party whose ethos meshes with my own; and who can represent me, as well, especially, as those many others desperately in need of compassion – those deprived of moral, political and social assistance and validation. (You may call me an idealist. But I’m not the only one. And – truthfully? – being disabled soon knocks pragmatism into you more efficiently than a beating in a back alley for wearing the ‘wrong’ school tie. Or, indeed, a Work Capability Assessment.)

Monday, 9 January 2017

Swift as a shadow, short as any dream…

It was the moment first-light shape-shifted – imperceptibly transmuting from astronomical to nautical dawn – and, although my vision had long adapted to the gelid gloom, all I could discern ahead (as if insinuating myself deep into one of Dürer’s Meisterstiche…) were motionless, almost monochroic strata of indecipherable spectral shades: pitch against jet against coal, against ebony, soot and sable. And yet I sensed them, stock- and stand-still. As, assuredly, they sensed me.

Monday, 2 January 2017

The angels forget to pray for us…

It’s time that we began to laugh and cry
And cry and laugh about it all again

– Leonard Cohen: So Long, Marianne

A few days ago, I started drafting a review of what was then the current year: but didn’t really get very far (somewhere around the end of February…). And, now that my deadline has passed (because of a parallel lack of mental momentum and physical health), I was on the verge of conveying those few musty paragraphs to the overflowing dustbin that is my output’s virtual, but permanent, companion. Waking up to a dark, dank day – which quickly infused my weakened joints (and thus my resolve) – did not help. However, after too many semi-comatose, quilt-hidden, guilt-ridden hours, I awoke again to realize that this was just the sort of challenge I needed to face down if I were to survive the next twelve months: a period where tough personal decisions must be made; and where the consequences of last year’s tragic body-political ones would start to make themselves evident – neither of which I could ever justify shying away from: however painful the outcome.