Thursday, 16 March 2017
A year older today, I am now 82!!!
This year I have felt all of those years but, bugs and viruses defeated (touch wood) am now starting to look outward rather than in.
Yesterday I received two lovely bouquets of flowers and my sitting room smells gorgeous.
Today, looking at the cards which have winged their way to me I felt a small but definite lift in spirits.
I had a long talk to middle brother on the phone yesterday and was reminded how much contact with loved ones counts when living alone.
In the 7 and a half years since John died I have come to value my three brothers in a way I never previously did.
Taking each other for granted is par for the course between siblings and it takes a sharp reminder such as the death of a spouse to make one realise that our personal landscapes complete with support team are not just a background to our lives.
My three brothers have of course some things in common but are also very individual and I value them all, each for their own slant on life.
Friends in church and in the Close all play their part in my single status life but the ties of blood are, inevitably, the closest.
One of my cards is from my oldest friend, ( since school days) and that too is a very special link.
Watching the dreadful series of news programmes on TV covering the East Africa famine is heart-rending and the stuff of nightmares, yet it is the everyday reality of these poor peoples' lives.
Helpless to do anything except pray and wait for the details of how to donate money to appear on our screenes, makes us all the more aware of the huge gulf between their lives and ours.
It seems the situation in Africa never improves despite years of aid from other countries and billions of pounds being poured into the bottomless pit of misery.
Clearly the root cause is not being tackled, but, what can we do at our level?
I fear this is one thing which time will not heal.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 11:49:00 am
Wednesday, 1 March 2017
We also had ( for me the unwelcome ) return of incense.
I love watching the ritual of the incense being swung but not quite so much when the sacristan swings it in the direction of the choir.
Enclosed as we are in the chancel the smoke stays with us for most of the service, whereas in the main body of the church it tends to drift up into the (very) high roof.
Trying to do justice to "Hide not thou thy face" with a throat and chest full of pungent incense is not easy.
By the time the black cross has been impressed on my forehead by the rector's heavy thumb and with lungs full of smoke my one desire is to get out into the cool damp air of the churchyard and breath clean air.
Since our organist was unable to play this evening our long-suffering choir-mistress had to play the piano to accompany our singing. This meant that we had no-one to conduct and of course the sopranos lost her beautiful voice to swell their ranks.
Ash Wednesday being a fairly stylised service it was not possible to mention the fact that today was also St David's day, but as the piano accompanied our exit after the service I suddenly recognised a Welsh folk tune in the medley being played. Our lovely Christine's nod to my patron saint.
Lent is well and truly started.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 11:08:00 pm
Wednesday, 22 February 2017
The Friday rehearsal was something of a shock.
We were told it was to be a Mattins rather than the usual Eucharist as there was no priest available to give Communion.
Unlike most of the other members of the choir I have no tradition of Christian worship and the Eucharist is the only service with whose music and liturgy I am familiar.
It is such a totally different piece of Anglican worship that I found myself stumbling to keep up (very good for the brain, if not for the ego) and was really rather glad when it came to an end - about 20 minutes earlier than our usual Sunday.
Talking to some of the congregation since then I found they were split into two distinct camps. Those who are used to and happy to attend Mattins and those for whom the Eucharistic service is the only one they would choose to attend.
If this hopefully one-off Sunday has caused so much alarm and consternation i begin to see how some of the bigger divisions in the Protestant church have come about.
Never mind the differences between Baptist, Methodist Catholic and Anglican church, this is just one of the presumably many differences in just one branch of the Anglican church.
Religion is meant to unite people isn't it?
Roll on next week when Lent begins.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 8:16:00 pm
Saturday, 11 February 2017
Back at work at St M's for about 10 days, but not yet back for any of the services, I feel as though I'm in limbo.
Every day I try to sing just one line of music and every day I manage five notes at best,
A hoarse squeak is the nearest I can get to singing and I'm beginning to get fed up.
From my last experience of a really bad chest infection I know better than to try to sing properly when the equipment has failed..
Last time was when I was in my early fifties and singing with the London Philharmonic Chorus. A bout of bronchitis stopped me from singing for 24 years.
These days the best i can aspire to is the choir of St. Mary's, and is a very average sort of alto with a limited range, but, not to be able to sing at all is horrible.
There is still a bit of a cough and energy levels are low but by now I had expected to be able to make at least some sort of recognizable sound.
Perhaps it's time to try the WD40.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 11:44:00 pm
Thursday, 26 January 2017
So much is at stake both politically, financially and morally that only the most considered and careful debate should be contemplated.
Every time this man opens his mouth he alienates yet another huge swathe of the population, both at home and abroad.
Each comment appears to confirm our worst fears as to his style of leadership, His is not the language of diplomacy. It shows no evidence of judicious and measured examination of the problems America is facing on the home front.
His manner is that of the school bully with the added incentive of seemingly limitless power.
Whatever the outcome of this first meeting of the new president with a foreign head of state I fear the lady will require a very long spoon.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 6:58:00 pm
Tuesday, 17 January 2017
After almost a week in bed sweating, coughing and only getting up to make drinks and other essentials I feel someone somewhere should be made aware of my suffering.
Never one to suffer in silence I feel it is only fair to spread my misery as far as possible (though, not my virus, even I am not that bad).
As I became more and more poorly I informed all those who had to know and took to my bed.
Usually two days in bed is sufficient to see off the worst part of a cold or flu attack, this beast however is something else.
On Sunday night the pain in my upper back was so severe that I broke my golden rule, gave in and took two Paracetamol Extra tablets and within ten minutes the pain was gone and I was asleep.
Waking 3 hours later I was saturated from neck to ankle, nightie, bedlinen and all and so hot I was glad to get out of bed and walk around. Looking out of the window I found I had double vision, very strange to see my neighbours' houses with two frames around their doors and windows.
As I had been giddy for a day or two I wasn't really sure how much was the virus and how much due to the tablets.
I may have said before that I never take tablets or medication for anything unless I am forced to do so, with the result that when I do give in (about once in two years) and take what other people routinely take for every headache, I have quite spectacular results.
Late this evening as my aching back was still causing a problem I took another two, they worked on the backache but unfortunately didn't send me to sleep, so here i am, soaked again with sweat but pain free and joyfully sharing my woes with anyone silly enough to read them.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 12:35:00 am
Tuesday, 3 January 2017
Following normal procedure I went downstairs in my nightie dressing gown and slippers, set out the breakfast stuff, put the water heater and the kettle on and opened the back door.
An icy blast greeted me (temperature -5 degrees) and it was pitch black.
Stepping out onto the outside doormat my foot slid on ice and I fell on my back with my knees twisted and one foot under me.
My naked legs were out in the icy cold my upper body on the kitchen floor, such an elegant pose.
I yelled blue murder - fortunately far too early for anyone else to be up and knew that I had hurt my right foot but also that it was not broken. (I have injured myself often enough to know when something is broken) and tried to get up.
This at my age is no longer a simple matter. Rolling over onto my knees I clung to the nearest bit of 'white goods', the tumble-dryer, and hauled myself upright.
Shaking and uttering gentile expressions like "Oh my, what a silly thing to do" or something similar I went back inside made my tea and then stepped outside again, headed for the shed and put out bird-seed etc.
Realising that I was going to have a very big bruise and a lump on my ankle I then had a long hot shower.
Before leaving for St Mary's (I was on SPACE duty ) I realised that sometimes one actually needs to take a look around before taking an action, or even try to notice the thick frost on the ground, or even to remember that yes I was once 18 but that was 63 years ago.
January is clearly off to its usual 'flying' start.
Does anyone know the phone number of a good patient angel, or even a body guard?
Posted by Ray Barnes at 10:36:00 pm