Friday, 29 December 2017

The End of Year review

One might as well start by saying that I had a number of compact discs for Christmas amongst other things that I've just opened and to which in time I'll write a comprehensive review of here.
As well I finally have central heating back on which is a blessed relief from having to sleep in multiple layers and woolen hats just like you would if you were outdoor camping in Winter rather than being at home indoors!
The year excluding what is the core of the other blog saw me spending quite a bit of regressed time with others which as explained last year is so important for my own well-being.
There were a number of major political events and sadly terrorism offences too across the year from The 2017 General Election fight on the backdrop of Brexit which itself was big story, the fluid political situation in Catalonia, the removal of President Mugabe of Zimbabwe and the election of a new leader of South Africa's leading political party both of which have the potential to change many millions of lives in Southern Africa for the better.
There was of course the inauguration of "The Donald" in the States whose twittering was at least as big enough an issue as his political actions and his playground spats with Kim Jong-un of North Korea over missile tests over South Korea and Japan complete with name calling.
Closer to home we had the terrorism incidents in London and Manchester that cost lives, indeed young lives in my area.
These events were talked about on what has become the revitalized That Boarding School Girl blog with improved visual presentation with the restoration of some original sized images on older posts being a journal of Middle writing from her Dorm to an audience that would discuss such things.
We also looked at music marking the deaths of such luminaries as George Michael and Tom Petty and looked at classical music more which ties in with my little side oddly enough looking at composers and great recordings  as I expanded upon the collection I started in the early days of the compact disc,being the format of nearly all of that music in my collection.
This has included an number of multi-disc value packs that offer great performances from the past in space saving boxes ideal for dipping into at leisure on my acquired Marantz super audio cd player. Discussing recordings on a site's thread has helped this process.
We also completed for now the Project X series looking at putting together a small inexpensive stereo system for a small room.
Finally we also did read some books which because of my dyslexia and also developmental disabilities are more vocabulary stretching upper tween books some being shared with the other blog cos that's the elephant in the room we addressed last year of which one gave it's name to this blogs title.
I'd like to thank the Fur Affinity Fursons (and persons), the Angelic ones and the Boneyard Crew for being around.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Pre Christmas edition

Around this time of year I take a break as some of my oldest followers may recall for a few days from blogging, social media  and commentating on various sites cos in truth all of that is only possible from spare time and I'm busy dealing with face to face encounters and family events over Christmas which do take priority.
Christmas for me is a time of that child-like magic.


Friday, 15 December 2017

R.I.P London Midland

This week the rail franchise "London Midland" finally ceased operations being replaced by West Midlands Trains on December 10th, a combination of part local authority group here in the Midlands and part private sector.
London Midland started operations in 2007 and was one the biggest operators here so not surprisingly I travelled on them quiet a bit not least to littles camp passing through Wolverhampton, Staffordshire where you can see a Class 170 parked on platform one.

One place you certainly would see many of their services is at the Virgin owned Crewe rail station one of the biggest and busiest stations in the UK and is my local main station as the stations in Greater Stoke-on-Trent have a much more limited set of connections.
Here therefore you'll see a Class 350/3 on one of the twelve operational platforms as I have numerous times.
London Midland had a rather so-so reputation from the start but I would have to say outside of one overcrowding incident on a early evening Ex Birmingham service to Liverpool, I always found them punctual and the conductors exemplary, being gendered correctly.
Farewell then London Midland, a part of my life, and welcome aboard West Midland Trains.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Domestic political reflections

As I've been reflecting on other events elsewhere and dealing with some ahem 'drama' this week I though I'd set out some reflections around contemporary current affairs that have been grabbing the headlines across this year.
I think I'll begin by saying my thoughts around the use of intelligence and resourcing in tackling terrorism expressed in the aftermath of the Arianda Grande concert in May that had an impact on people in this local authority area seem to be been born out in the report into the incident. While there is talk of more police officers being deployed, it seems little real change in resourcing the surveillance side with the need to cherry pick who to closely follow  being finely balance hasn't been tackled.
The Irish Question or as my History teacher put it the 'English Question' is never far beneath the surface from the 'colonization' by Scots, the start of calls for 'Home Rule' during the Victorian era  through the Easter Rising and bloody Civil War, 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland and the 1995 'Peace Process'.
Feeling, symbolism and fear in Irish Politics counts for as half as much to either side  in Northern Ireland, itself the neutral name given to what I grew up as 'Ulster' so the issue of the co-alignment of Irish, United Kingdom and European Union boundaries was always going to be an issue in the UK's departing the EU.
"Two's company, three's a crowd" is an expression that lends itself  how that border causes issues for and between each because prior to joining  the the Common Market in 1973, the UK approach was one of special deals for the Irish Republic ("Eire") to take account of the close ties between the peoples of the British Isles notwithstanding political differences.
One of big things of the UK's leaving is the questions of the Single Market and the Customs Union because the UK and Irish Republic do trade and share some facilities such as hospitals, universities so border communities are rightly concerned about such matters.
On the other hand the customs side, taxation, declarations and  so on  they are very much EU wide matters and so ensuring checks are made in the event of the UK being completely matter in terms of lost revenue and common standards matter to them as much as to border communities the shared trade continues.
This was the idea behind in effect placing the boundary on the Isle of Ireland to eliminate the need to have manned boarder posts and associated paperwork.
The problem area with it is two-fold, one being it may solve the issue of trade with the Island of Ireland but places one in the North Sea between Northern Ireland and Great Britain  which counts for a higher proportion of trade between themselves than the Republic and the UK.
The second is what scuppered this weeks attempt to move on the the whole Brexit negotiations to trade, which is from a Unionist Northern Irish point of view you're not treating  the whole UK the same way and they felt it was the start of an erosion of their British Identity.
To those pro Brexit voters the terms of staying in the Single Market and Customs union - no regular ability to control migration levels year on year from the EU, the ability to set ones own tax rates and negotiation fully independently ones own trade agreements free from the EU after leaving - would be heavily compromised by acceptance across the whole of the UK. They hold effectively it nullifies the very reason they wished to leave.
It remains to be seen if there really is a solution that meets everyone's needs to this question before we are able to get around to talking about trading relations before the year is out. 

Friday, 1 December 2017

Classical update II

Today's entry may be the last of this series this side of the new year where I look at old but new to me additions to my classical music collection

Bach was mentioned in late September 2008 on That Boarding School Girl during the period I established a modest selection of his more important compositions and replacing one cd whose conducting lead the playing  seeming more suited to F1 than sedate chamber music!
I am very fond of the Cello as an instrument and so had been looking at getting a recording of his Six Cello Suites when I spotted this which originally came out as three lps and cds in 1985 and to which this is the latest edition with two very well filled cds taking in all three discs worth which came out in 2015.
Maisky's performances have real character holding your attention.
It is interesting to note that would set you back around GBP £40 new in 1985/6 and I managed to get this two cd edition for exactly GBP £4.16 new including delivery!

There was a point in the late 1980's when I had on lp Rachmaninov's most popular Third Piano Concerto but in the intervening period that had left my collection so I had been thinking about picking up a set of his symphonies and piano concertos when I spotted this 'like new'  for GBP £9.99 which works out £1.99 per disc which takes Lorin Maazel's well regarded and performed 1980's account of the symphonies and the 70's Thomas Vásáry's account of piano concertos recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra  conducted by Yuri Ahronovitch across five discs.
He was the last leading Romantic classical composer of the Twentieth century, born in Russia of a military family moving after the October Revolution of 1917 to Switzerland and by W.W.2 to the U.S.A.
Like most two cd versions one of symphonies is split between the discs - here it is symphony No. 1 but the piano concertos are not.
For me this is ideal as a starter set as all the recording have been freshly mastered for the best possible sound and comes with background notes all in a small box.

Past links:

Friday, 24 November 2017

Reflections on the death of David Cassidy

It was announced Wednesday, the child actor and singer, David Cassidy died from complications following hospitalization late last weekend
He played the role of Keith Partridge  a teen boy of the touring headed by their Mother who was played by Shirley Jones in the must see tv series of the early 1970's that we all watched and talked about as juniors back then. Indeed I had to go visit friends as we weren't allowed at home to watch commercial tv in order to see the show on the pretext it was a play date.

The series was massive in North America and given its construct being but a few years on from The Monkees, the series gave birth to hit 45's and albums which are still adored by many of our generation as terrific pop songs.

David left the show pursuing a career in popular music having a good number of hit 45's and albums of which this, Daydreamer from the Dreams Are Nuthin' More Than Wishes album was a favourite of mine from 1973

Like a number of artists of this era following a change in music tastes he took time out before resuming in 1985 with the  Romance album  issued by Arista and resuming concert tours. It was sad he had to give up performing in 2014 due to dementia.
David was a part of our lives as kids back then the adorable boy next door who could sing and act whose life we followed in Jackie magazine and elsewhere.
Let's be glad for what he gave us and for the opportunities he was able to take advantage of furthering his craft.
Rest in peace, David.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

That Boarding School Girl Updates

Hello. I first put in an appearance here in 2015 telling you about updates on this  blog and while it isn't as dramatic as it was back then, I can tell you this blogs owner has been working her socks off upgrading the layouts and pictures of many posts because this blog is kind of old.
As well the 'Littles Blog' just turned 800 posts so that had a big tidying up too!
When it first started in 2006 before I was born, it looked very much like this just gaining the Topic Index although for the first four years the template colour was dark blue with the text in orange and we had that lovely banner but the link coding for that got messed up so soon it had to be changed.

There I am first time around!
We had to change the top bit but otherwise it was the same keeping that manga bit at the blog footer. If you look closely you can see how the area for the text with pictures has improved then to now which was one reason some older entries needed changing cos the pictures on some were really tiny and others were blurred.
Of course now That Boarding School Girl who loves me has changed the title cos it better suits her and what this blog always was meant to be, so now with these improvements you'll have the best old entries you ever could get!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Education progress.

This week the Church of England that apart from being an Established religion of Anglican Christianity here in the UK is a substantial provider of both primary and secondary education though its schools that are open to all, made a pronouncement around gender equality in a set of guidance issued to Heads and others running them.
In it it was clearly established that a culture of humiliation, intimidation and ridicule was not to be accepted within school for children with gender identity issues or  have differing forms of sexuality  from the mainstream was not going to be tolerated.
This covered staff but also from other children in the classroom.
In this the issue of childhood exploration of roles and identities through play such as dress up was addressed by saying a boy who wishes to wear a Tutu or a Girl who wishes to dress in attire associated with boys roles  would be accepted without anyone saying "Don't be silly, pick something else" or with any acceptance of the same from that childs peers.
Some in the UK media read that as saying ordinarily in a class a boy might wear a Tutu but this wasn't about uniform so much as play and exploration of roles through it.
What was made very plain is in so far as presenting as either non-binary or in a gender different to that assigned goes, this is to be accepted and a child would be permitted to wear school uniform from with the range that in their opinion best suits them as that child.
In other words uniform was to be upheld but in a form allowing expression of a child's gender identity. Something socially liberal but fairly traditional sorts like me would agree with and indeed would of willing engaged with had it been an option for us at that time in our childhood.
While I'm not an Anglican I find much within this I can agree with as we do not send children into school to be intimidated or humiliated for just being the gender and sexuality they truly are. 

Friday, 10 November 2017

Politicians not getting it!

It seems to me there's a sign missing outside UK Politics and it should read "Welcome to the madhouse".
Honestly you'd think people who spend a lot of their time studying and taking various forms of office to get into National politics by being Members of the House of Commons, the Lords or a member of a devolved UK National Assembly or Parliament might of picked up a few ideas about what it requires to hold a senior post.
Evidently in the instance of one Priti Patal Mp International Development Secretary the idea that you might need to tell people such as your department, the Foreign Secretary, a senior Civil Servant or heavens above even the Prime Minister you are meeting senior people including the Prime Minister of another country for talks seemingly didn't exist in the way many of us would not of held talks with other parts of the companies we worked for never mind competitors without clearing it.
Equally having been caught out, verbally chastised by the Prime Minister and upon being told pretty much to declare what talks you had held with who you'd of thought she'd of disclosed but no we don't and then these other talks come to light.
Honestly, who could not say the Prime Minister hand on heart  did the only thing open to her to deal with a person who would not tell the whole truth and make it plain if she didn't resign she would be sacked?
All pretense of personal integrity went the minute she chose not to tell the whole truth to Prime Minister May, quite rightly she has to pay the price for her actions and Penny Mordaunt has been appointed to take the position.
Damian Green's position as First Secretary to the State is a different matter that seems to caught in a three ring circus between an investigator who maintains pornography was found on his computer, his successor who says not and Mr Green himself. 
Somewhere down the line there must be a record of when the computer was taken in to examine its hard drive together with any external memory used and what was actually found and if there were any pornography on it was it seen to be legal as regardless of personal opinions, some clearly is being permitted to be bought and viewed.
That one will resolve itself in time.
There are ongoing scandals concerning sexual harassment, assault and abuse of power between certain Members of Parliament and people who do things such as research or admin for them as presently the individual member recruits and pays his or her own and there's no proper grievance procedures.
This really needs to change and there should be a proper recruitment system with pay and independent means of complaining in place so people feel free to talk about anything that they are unhappy with.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Alpha by Asia is now on SACD

Followers of the other blog tm will be aware I actually won't be around when I normally post but away on one of my middle/little weekends away so as I'll be through the door at about Twenty past Seven tomorrow morning which is why the post is today.
That's so I can get the links posted out.
In the past I have written a bit on both blogs about speciality remastered editions of albums and today I will return to an artist I last wrote about here on June 16 2010 which is a mighty long time ago and before we worked through what this blog was about.
Asia, the group were a supergroup formed musicians associated with deeply unpopular at the time progressive rock bands of the nineteen-seventies and comprised of Carl Palmer of Emerson Lake and Palmer, John Wetton from King Crimson, Steve Howe and Geoff Downes from Yes.
In 1982 they issued the album Asia yielding hit 45's in the form of Only Time Will Tell and Heat Of The Moment that was re-issued on 24 Gold cd in 2010 and reviewed here: Asia 24kt AF Gold cd

After touring to great acclaim with Asia, the band booked time in the studio to record the follow up Alpha which was released as I well recall in July of 1983 with the lead off 45 being the opening cut, Don't Cry with non album b side Daylight making the US Billboard top ten.
Single and album art was by Roger Dean.
A second 45 was issued The Smile Has Left Your Eye but while the album sold well, it didn't sell nearly as well as the debut did plus in some circles the highly produced heavily synthesizer lead production garnered criticism. The repercussion of all of this was John Wetton was edged out of the group.
Personally I put more score on the reverb heavy production which even on the lp version I bought cut using the true master tapes and pressed in the Netherlands was for the time loud and unrelenting. As well while the first lp side wasn't as immediately grabbing the quality of the songs is certainly quite high not least in My Own Time (I'll Do What I Want)
The original cd issues of this were no where near as satisfactory as the lp where the remastered version sandwiched with bonus tracks on Anthologia - the 20th anniversary Geffen Years compilation  were even louder!
On September 15th 2017, Audio Fidelity issued a sacd also playable on regular cd remastered version mastered by Kevin Gray which while not perfect (only remixing it could cure some of the issues) offers better bass extension and improved dynamics.
In my opinion at last we have a listenable version for regular and super audio cd players of this ignored album.  

Friday, 27 October 2017

Copland redux

For as long as I recall classical music played a major part in my life from handed down records, broadcasts listened to an concerts attended that over the decades has lead to collection of favourites by various composers.
Parts of this have been mentioned on That Boarding School Girl over the years as I moved from buying performances on lp records and cassettes to now standard Compact Disc and High Definition download
Chunks of my collection are in one respect time periods where I picked what I could as my interests were piqued remaining without being reassessed in the light of newer recordings and improved mastering of older ones.
Aaron Copland is one of America's greatest composers, period, someone who had the art of getting a lot in without losing touch with American home spun idioms and relative simplicity.
It was around Nineteen-Ninety that got to hear across a weekday broadcasting slot the majority of his compositions in an excellent BBC Radio Three "This Mornings Composer" series of programs much of which served as my 'template' for collecting recordings of them around that era.
The mainstays in that era were Copland's own recordings for Columbia (now Sony Classical) records that in 1991 were compiled into three cd box sets.
I bought two at the time as they had the bulk of the works I wanted even if the early sixties sound left a little to be desired but that other set sounded poor so I never got it or its content

Following getting the Super Audio Player (see the middle/littles blog) I started this process of reassessment as its reproduction of regular cds  exceeded my previous players looking replacing by better sounding and sometimes played versions of which last months Mozart entry was one example.
There precious few recordings of Copland's Clarinet concerto or of Dance Panels and I had formed the view for my purposes, the two Sony Classical boxes I bought in the early nineteen-nineties would benefit from being replaced and this would be a good start point adding two works and replacing my original of 1925's "Music for the Theatre"
Leonard Slatkin is one the best leading conductors and advocates of Copland's music and he recorded for RCA a series of works featuring the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra well compiled of which this adds the not often heard Organ Symphony with Simon Preston and two other symphonies in modern wide ranging digital sound.
Copland mastered the art of writing film music that both didn't get in the way of the screen action and equally wasn't just soundtrack fodder, capable of being appreciated in its own right.
This disc featured the Red Pony, Music for Movies a arrangement of film music in the forms of a suite, Our Town and seldom recorded Prairie Journal (Music for Radio)which was broadcast on the radio.

This disc featured his Third Symphony and Music for a Great City which benefits from a modern recording.

Naxos had an excellent series of discs covering American Composers and I own most of the Samuel Barber titles but this one appealed as these main two works were in the third box I never bought although I've always loved The Tender Land suite written around life on a Southern Farm during the nineteen-thirties, his Piano Concerto and two collections of American Songs originally intended for piano and voice but transcribed here for orchestra and chorus.
I just love singing along to "I Bought Me a Cat".

Friday, 20 October 2017

Thoughts around learning

There's nothing quite so stereotypical British as national panics best talked over tea and a common one is around educational standards although it could be argued part of this reflects the debate around learning and retaining facts over looking things up and following a process.
My feelings are more that you do need a knowledge base so you know  8 x 8 is 64 and The Great Fire of London did take place in 1666 so you can both know off the bat if something is 'wrong' and work efficiently. It is hard to progress when you haven't mastered the basics as like a good number of dyslexic people I know only to well which was a reason I ended up resuming studying a while ago.
Much of this chart from a UK national newspaper is familiar in that what I was expected in my class when I was educated strongly aligned with that common during in the 1950's and following reforms, changed.  My feeling is what happened has been less is required to be known and over a longer period which shows up when international comparisons are made.
It's hard to believe that in that time children are less capable of learning even if we are more enlightened around the things that can making learning more harder for some and prepared to assist more.
It may be how we teach that needs to be addressed apart from having the kind of classroom I had when the teacher just walked in with the texts needed, you got up to greet them and from that point on you were expected to sit still and pay attention rather than dealing with messing about with cellphones and the like.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Catalonia and I

It's really quite amazing how the things that featured in my past come back and one that has come back is Catalonia, which is something I knew of because of family connections, learning about the Spanish Civil War and reading many of the novels of George Orwell.
In North America as in Great Britain his two towering texts, Animal Farm a fable of a revolution gone wrong in the form of allegory of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and 1984 which is about totalitarian dictatorship, blind obedience to "The Party" and the attempt by defining out to prevent critical independent thought and betrayal
One book that had an influence on me was Homage To Catalonia which is his account as seen by him of being an independent fighter for the Spanish Republic against Franco that tells not just of the action but the bitter blood thirsty internal squabbles among the left-wing republican forces not least the sacrifice of non-communists by communist support and Russian Government  and the blind refusal of many on the English political left to tell it as it is.   
I hate to say it but there times where a disrespect for Truth and Humanity are ignored when it doesn't seem to fit a narrow political objective or imperative not just by suppression of criticism but the telling of deliberate untruths.
Part of that Civil War was about individual freedoms and the centralization of the State most telling after Franco's victory.
This is where today's concern for the people of Catalonia and of wider Spain come in because while previous regimes have tried to allow more local budget setting and decision making in the manner of the UK's evolving devolution and Quebec's unique status within Canada as a separate society, the current crisis happened on a backdrop of reduced autonomy.
It seems the current Government in Madrid feels a strong Spain in difficult economic and political times requires more control from the centre and this fed into a situation where the Catalan regional elections produced support for more independence minded parties.
This lead to the recent 'illegal' referendum where pro united Spain parties  abstained and by default the only parties taking part supported independence.
It is only fair to point out under the Spanish Constitution only the State has the power to call, hold and act on such referendums and declare independence. 
The referendum being called, the Government called in the National Police to disrupt the illegal action, seizing ballot boxes  beating up voters and protesters.
To pull a old woman by the hair, to beat causing cuts and bruises those who protest and deny the right to express though voting an opinion for a good number of us brings back the images of the 1930's and indeed of fascism.
While the election was illegal, the state held the Trump Card  in that it was well within its rights to not act upon the results and so having not prevented it, seeing polling itself had started tolerated it as a safety valve. No damage was being done.
Having done that then looking at how to square more support for greater local say on matters within being in Spain would of been a more sensible approach as would engaging in the debate during that campaign.
Instead, it only appears to have inflamed tensions more and the failure to adequately censure the Spanish Government for police conduct by the European Union and many of its leaders appalls me. 

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Upon the death of Tom Petty

It was announced late Monday night UK time, that Tom Petty, one of America's greatest songwriters and singers had died on what had been a pretty dark day for the Las Vegas shooting with its 59+ dead and the violence in Catalonia by Spanish Police in response to an illegal poll.
This was the formal announcement as issued on the day:

On this blog we have reviewed some of his albums not least his final one, 2016's Mudcrutch2 that surprised and enthralled us as someone who was sixty-six years still had the vitality to pull off as much as 2014's Hypnotic Eye did with its social and political observations did two years before.
Tom goes way back to '76/7 with me with the release of "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers" a 30 odd minute much needed straightahead roots rock that garnered attention in New Wave's spiritual home, Great Britain, which presented the opportunity to develop the live act and then 'sell back' to the States that bought You're Gonna Get it and its 45's I Need To Know and Listen To Her Heart.
If I was to pick just one of his albums outside of 1994's Greatest Hits, I'd pick Damn The Torpedos, his 1979 release which in so many ways encapsulated his simple but effective way of reducing down complex ideas to the most commercial while not losing the 'message'.
The best known examples from that album  are "Refugee", "Don't Do Me Like That" and "Here Comes My Girl", all hit 45's.
Tom was a member of the Travelin' Wilbury's a 'super group' with former beatle George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne of England's Electric Light Orchestra that blended the talents into a very much 'Americana' feel best exemplified by the mainly Canadian band, The Band but being contemporary too selling well beyond each members own audience.
It is hard to put across what Tom meant to us: At a human level he was very genuine, reflective, free from the ego grabbing me,me,me that the so many in the music business have. 
Musically he straddled that gap between so-called 'Classic Rock' and 'Indie Alternative' in a way another of my music loves, Bruce Springsteen never quite pulled off  even if he did do the long epic song.
'Refugee' was a song whose theme spoke to me as a disabled person battling not be defined by events, unable or unwilling to move on.
Writing this has been emotionally exhausting cos Tom meant so much almost on a par with David Bowie.
Rest In Peace, Tom.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Goth wedding account

This weekend past was somewhat chaotic to say the least in that a marriage reception that I had known about for a period being notified of the date and then the time and location  had some poorly communicated serious changes to it.
You see, I was meant at least according to the official invite that I R.S.V.P'd  in the affirmative to be attending a reception social gathering for the wedding with it being on from around of 2PM through 11PM with the actual wedding being held in Florida in the States.
The invite specified a dress colour plus the that this was an event to which you could drop into and leave at any point within that so in the absence of any further information to the point of checking a day before, I was under the impression I was to be picked up for 6 PM attending in the evening  so had just had a light cooked late breakfast on the Sunday morning as I received a call from the Groom's mother inquiring if I had my lift arranged for a Wedding service at 1PM and I was required to go!
That's like two hours notice of a change of plan as when I asked politely what was this about, I was was informed there had been a change of plan and indeed a subsequent call to my brother confirmed even he who was to witness it, had only been informed the day before. I was able to get transport arranged at speed and then proceeded to get dressed at speed to attend the civil ceremony in a hall in the centre of a large park.
One of first things to say is this wasn't a plain civil ceremony because the place had been decorated in halloween gothic manner with pumpkins and lanterns down the bridal procession with pumpkin shaped critters suspended from the ceiling, spiders and streamers and a spooky arch by the registrars desk.
The bride and groom all walked down the aisle in black with the bridesmaids in a velvetry purple coloured dresses before making their marriage vows and my cousin presented the ring.
After that we went outside whereupon I met one member from the Spanish-Canadian side of the family  I hadn't seen for a while who moved during the Franco era and talked with several others as the photographs were being taken in the park.
The park itself look in great condition, plenty of flowers still out although the fall was making itself know as some trees were changing colour which made for a great backdrop on what was a bright sunny day.
While that was going on the catering team were setting up for the reception where food was served with black napkins and the cakes themed including the wedding cake that was themed in black all of which was done buffet style.
After saying my goodbyes, I left home, feeling however chaotic the day had started and the amazing level of miscommunication, a great day was had  not least for the happy couple.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Mozart Masterworks 1991 revisited

Last time we had a "syncro-post" on this blog which I hope you all enjoyed but today's post will be the complimentary post for a post on the other blog looking at classical music which was something I did blog a bit about on That Boarding School Girl because it was a childhood and school centred experience that included a woodwind group and lessons in music appreciation.
In 1991, to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of Mozart, the record label Deutsche  Grammophon at the time one of the leading labels issuing classical music, instituted a 25 compact disc series entitled Mozart Masterpieces that picked what they regarded as the most essential Mozart compositions in performances they regarded as being desirable all in what was a budget price which from recollection was around £5.49 per disc available separately or as a complete set. 
When compact discs first came out typically we paid £12.99 or more  and by around 1987 mid price discs often more generous when it came to content when it came to classical ones came out around the £7.50-7.99 mark so to have all these recordings at a low unit price really was a bargain for someone who only had a few recordings and many of them on tape or record.
There were however a few for various reasons I didn't get such as the recording of Symphonies 40 and 41 by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado that it was generally scarcely skated the surface of what was in the score to which I bought the mid 60's recordings by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  conducted by Karl Bohm instead and there was this one that I had the 1976 Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra recording by Karl Bohm I bought in July 1987 when it came out on the new Deutsche Grammophon "Galleria" series  with the Posthorn Serenade.
I thought it was time to revisit this series that was the core of Mozart collection and track down a copy for the 1960's recordings the Berlin Philharmonic did of this and two other works under the larger than life conductor Herbert von Karajan.
That copy of Bohm's conducting Symphony No.31,40  and 41 on DG "Privelige" was the first I replaced.

Part of the reason was I added the nineties DG "Galleria" of symphonies 25, 29 and 31 was to expand the range of symphony recordings  which did bring about duplication with symphony 31  and this double cd is not only remastered for better sound but adds symphonies 35, 36, 38 and 39 as the original Mozart Masterpieces cd DG 429 802-2 with symphonies 38 and 39 conducted by Herbert von Karajan had gone missing.
This took in his recordings of the late symphonies in their entirity that many hold to be superior to his nineteen eighties digital remakes with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

I did buy the Melos performed String Quartets disc but I bought later on a 6 cd set of the main String Quartets performed by the Amadeus Quartet at which point this single disc disappeared for some reason or other so I've picked up a replacement so I can enjoy their account of these two works.
This disc played by Pollini was in the set I bought as DG 429 812-2 with a rather generic embossed Mozart head on a piano image using the cd stampers of the mid to late 1980's cd issue but was re-remastered in 2011 in DG's "The Originals" series.
The remaster has given it a smoother less harsh sound that also feels more full and spacious than the original so has replaced it.
As well, it restores the original 1976 lp front cover which is much more attractive as art to look at featuring conductor,pianist and orchestra. 

Also included in the series was Géza Anda's recordings of his Piano Concertos 19 and 26 which for some reason I never bought although I did get a different recording of no 27 than the one in  this cd set which were from a complete series of them that currently are in a 8 cd set that I hope to get at some point being one the finest ever issued.
While the cover on my copy has the label "Privilege" not "Resonance" in the same font) it is from the very same stamper used for it so it is technically identical.
This was the 8 cd set that eventually I bought remastered compared with the early single cd for more firmer sound. It's just a pity copies of the original lp front covers were not included in the booklet.
This series was the first one I followed rather had bought for me, providing an opportunity to replace a number of works I had on much played records and tapes, making available what had in some instances been full price discs cheaply such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Anne-Sophie Mutter recordings of the 3rd and 5th violin  concertos and the first time some recordings previously issued on tape and lp record came out on cd.
Revisiting it, playing some of the original purchases and these others I missed  brings back many happy memories that lead to the establishment of considerable collection of favourite works by many composers on compact disc and its higher quality form, the super audio cd.
As well I did get a complete set of recording of Mozart's violin sonatas that originally came out as separate cds at this time cheaply comprising of excellent all digital recordings to go alongside the collection.

Monday, 18 September 2017

The Best Bat in the School

As mentioned on my Introducing That Boarding School Girl post and its hopefully helpful questions and answers I said they'd be a few shared posts between this middles journal and my main little/middles blog  and so today we are having a 'syncro-post'.
We have been going through the St Brides/Maudsley series of classic girls own fiction by Dorita Fairlie Bruce and recently read a new book in the series but with a twist.
This isn't a regular 'series' book so much as a compilation of a series of short stories originally published for various Girls Own publications such as yearly annuals she wrote for and one which is more of a long short novel which is the main feature  and all involve the characters of we met in the St Brides boarding school  and Maudsley day school although there is sufficient information to make sense of the story if you hadn't.
The main feature, The Best Bat in the School, is set at Maudsley with Nancy, Phyllis, Lois, Charity and the gang and how measures the school adopted to deal with a severe outbreak of Scarlet Fever in the district-placing restrictions on the school girls movements lead  to resent and a girl disobeying them.
The focus of the story is on the cricket match between Maudsley and Larkiston which I'll be honest and say is not a game I have a clue about and the role Lois and Charity have as the girls in charge of making the teams selection.
The issue is Lois saw a girl who go to the theatre breaching the restrictions and feels by putting their own enjoyment over others respect for school rules should be dropped.
What unfolds is the lesson set out by the authoress  around  how a misunderstanding (which girl and why) leads to a condemnation of that particular girl unjustly, how that impacts on the relationships of all the girls bring various people under suspicion and puts into jeopardy the schools honour in the competition which with interventions by Charity working out the actual situation, they do win. 
It is I feel having read it, a very important lesson well told in  this story
Victoria Vixtrix is set at St Brides around a girl who badly needs to win a scholarship to go to University to complete her education when her family are through no fault of their own facing poverty.
We meet again Winifred Arrowsmith, disabled wheelchair user to use modern terms as I was for part of my childhood, crippled by polio, showing clear signs that the more regular, less pitied interaction has developed  into one more sympathetic, just one of the girls
A strength I feel of her work is both her clear understanding of social disadvantage such as poverty, the impact of illness and disability on family welfare and the emphasis on moral education which may perhaps to some today seem a little old-fashioned but one I wholly subscribe to so we better serve ourselves and others.
There is more to us than physical and intellectual abilities and needs.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Weekly update from "The Dorm"

I'm writing this in the aftermath of Hurricane Aileen that arrived over Tuesday night and rampaged into Wednesday morning here pulling down trees, causing localized flooding and causing a power out that lasted five and a half hours to which I don't known what is worse: being without the power or sheer cacophony of security alarms ring for hours as you try to get some sleep in.
Anyway, we're back up and running, nothing has blown from a power surge although it confused the main tv into thinking it had no antenna for some strange reason that took a bit of troubleshooting and I think the electric kettle's on its last days.
As you know I've always had a thing for Kawaii, almost an obsession even over the cutest of things having shared it on That Boarding School Girl pretty much from the beginning and indeed at one point I even had a very short-lived side blog devoted to 'cute stuff'.
If you'd of asked me in 2008 I could see my dorm looking just like the room illustrated then I'd have to of said yes cos while the cute bits and bobs are there I was very much into cutified technology replacing standard keyboard and mice and might of replaced the monitor too.
In 2017 it's different because of that technology, I use mainly a small Chromebook which is black and an aging Dell Windows laptop for music downloading and copying to files on and they have less customization as in making pink even if do liberally cover them in cute stickers because not needing separate keyboard and mice, I don't have the excuse to toss the supplied boring one to landfill and add something from the Hello Kitty range instead cos I don't like the look of 'boys toys' although I'm not exactly a technophobe.
I have finished with any luck the redesign of this journalling middles blog in conjunction with my middle/littles blog so they do match and have a less busy, more streamlined feel on the theme side.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Hits on cd

I was looking back yesterday tidying things up at clippings from such magazines as Smash Hits!, Big which was a music, movies and tv star teen magazine that came out before Bliss and Sugar with pictures on Adam Ant, 5 Star and New Kids on the Block that you pinned to your dorm or home bedroom wall.
It got me thinking back to how we listened to music back then.
When in 1983 the compact disc was introduced commercially in North America and Europe, there were a number of concerns beyond of that of the then high price for the actual players for those who had more than $700 to throw at this new technology.
One was the catalogue which on launch was minuscule and pretty expensive as I well remember and the other was connected with it was let's say you're a dealer so what could use to demonstrate it to broad customer base?
Luckily Philips, co-creators of the format through its then Phonogram music arm had the answer in form of a short lived compact disc series called simply Hits on CD

It was launched in early 1984 taking 14 to 16 tracks from the in print cd catalogue they owned in Europe one track per artist across a wide range popular music from Techno pop to Hard rock to show off the medium.
Nice touches included information about the album it was from and catalogue number and using full length versions of tracks from Trio to Kiss and all points between.
It was I believe the first place on compact disc the non album single Twisting By The Pool by Dire Straits was issued and one the few places anything by the very short lived trans pop star Marilyn was ever issued on cd.
I own the first four which work well with some of my other original 80's  compilations -hello Now '86! - and do sound very really good no doubt because they use little post studio processing in the way so many do today.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Nancy to the rescue

Seeing this is second post of the month following yesterdays entry about this blog's future we'll begin by catching up with a series of book reviews that by co-incidence is being printed at the start of the Autumn Term.

Following on The New Girl and Nancy, this installment is set at the start of the Autumn term with Nancy being moved to the Upper Fifth  Form with Desda (Desdemona) Blackett which is seen as being a more dull but worthy form more centred around academic work.
It is soon resolved however to do something about this not least by making a AM. group which is really an Amateur Dramatics and Arts group where they'd study to put on short productions, recitals and undertake some games.
Followers of the previous entries might recall this series started not at Maudsley Grammar school but at St. Brides and this past of Nancy's is a key theme in this edition as we are reintroduced to Althea who we learn has moved to Maudsley in somewhat distressing circumstances, her mothers ill health and given the era we are is the nineteen-twenties there is no Welfare State, they ate in a state of acute poverty where Althea and her mother at at risk of losing their rented home and from which Althea has had to leave St. Brides because of being unable pay the school fees.
Nancy's after school life involves her being in charge of ("Maid of Merit") of the Guildry where the adult Miss Knevitt, is talking about setting up a new unit and that it would involve some changes in unit leaders including Nancy.
It was coming back from a meeting where this was being discussed that Nancy hears a flute being played as it happened rather well and upon coming across her realizes this is her lost friend from St.Brides who is malnourished  and Nancy takes her to a cafe for a drink and food and soon realizes things are very bleak.
Disturbed by this, she takes a long detour to Lord Woodridge a local land owner and 'big cheese' of the town and discussed her friend and mothers plight with him suggesting with his mothers knowledge of nature that an offer of the post of Curator of a museum he is about to open soon be given to her and with it a place to stay.
Like many of her generation Althea's mother would feel they could not just accept a place out of charity, it would have to be seen as being in exchange for her services and this way is accepted by him.
Equally Althea herself needs to continue in her education but there is a stumbling block which is that while a 'scholarship' can be issued for any form it is not generally accepted for 'upper school' which is where she belongs but it is in his remit to award one he does and so Althea now goes to  Maudsley Grammar in the upper fifth like Nancy.
Unfortunately, a small rather voracious group of girls lead by Elma hold to the notion that having a Free Scholar rather lowers the tone especially one held to do something vulgar like play a flute for money even though Althea only did this to raise money where her Mom was down to her last three pence and facing eviction and make things difficult by having so they would not play games with her so she helps the Fourth and lower Fifth out instead and having made a big deal in bring her poverty stricken flute playing out so embarrasses her that an offer to join the AM. for which she has considerable talents is just too embarrassing for her to take up.
In time however Althea joins the Guildry, just at the point Nancy is pondering a change to the 2nd new unit as it's leader so she feels supported although the behaviour of those other girls is really bad.
Just before the Museum is about to open and Althea's Mom has moved in, a mysterious Japanese man comes in a demanding a Cedar tree that her Mom refused to sell, refusing to leave until he's gotten it. Nancy and Althea trap him and just by luck Lord Woodridge comes by and has him arrested. It transpires what was so desirable about the tree was a Crystal which was buried beneath it as an insurance against hard times for Althea's Mom.
Althea's new found status as an heiress impresses those who so rejected her as the Free Scholar, the shallow meanness thereof not lost on Nancy and clearly transmitted in the book to the reader.  
A area competition for the arts is held called the Rosebury Festival and Nancy's name is put forward as a soloist but Nancy feels strongly this is Althea's time and so puts forward to the Head Mistress that really a change of entry to Althea is really called for as her skills as flautist are the stronger but she'd accompany on piano.
This is accepted so the pair go in the competition judged at City Hall and Althea wins the gold medal  and Nancy awarded a special commendation for the accompanying so the pair have brought honour upon their form and school.
Although in some respects it's a relatively simple book in the series, I think it's strengths are that it tackles head on social prejudice, and poverty in a compassionate, thoughtful  way that reminds me very much of what it felt like being 14 or 15 felt like, caring deeply about issues and each other, wanting to help in the way Nancy did her friend and mother, trying to make a difference for the good.
Making a stand for decency, treating people fairly are important lessons we need to learn to keep our society holding to civilized values.