Current Affairs

No, not politics … although the pre-election goings-on in UK seem increasingly bizarre: for example, a serious proposal regarding ‘human rights’ for rats … while here in France, politics is a musical comedy without any music and neither is it funny, just farcical. Of course! It’s the famous French Farce. How silly of me not to connect the dots! I don’t ‘do’ politics usually, just have opinions on issues as they crop up. For reasons outside my control, for the last couple of months I have been in charge of all matters domestic, although now gradually letting go of those reins back to my wife. That situation has meant stealing the odd hour for my (still) daily activity as an arranger and composer. Curiously, with those time constraints I have managed more work per minute than usual, polishing the last dots and dashes to the SABBA commission ‘Gallery’ for the Scottish Open Contest in Perth in November. I have now moved on to revising a concert overture from about 20 years ago, entitled ‘Postcard from Riddings,’ subtitled The Two Windmills. The subtitle shows how the best intentions can sometimes go astray. Having been approached by the Riddings Band with a request to commission me to write a short piece … Riddings being a small industrial Derbyshire town … we duly agreed terms and I began to consider the task ahead. In talking to an official of the Band and enquiring if there was anything particular of note about Riddings that might be a peg on which to hang the piece, there seemed to be nothing much he could find to say, even though he was Riddings-man-and-boy. Finally, after much puzzling he said that there were two large windmills, and that was the best he could do. As these were the days before the internet had developed into the facility as we know it now, I found further information impossible to source. However I allowed the image of two large windmills doing what they do to influence the musical motifs that appear throughout the piece. With the piece finished, I rehearsed the Band and the first performance duly took place. Apart from the fact that the Band official then said to me after the first performance that the Band was now going (1) to publish the piece … I had to smartly disabuse him of this … and (2) of course make a lot of money from it … Dreams! Dreams! … I finally thought to ask him more about the windmills around which I had ‘themed’ my overture; “Oh,” he said; “they were pulled down donkey’s years ago.” I discovered subsequently that they had (at least) existed and were called James and Sarah. They were both large, and James, the larger, had been kitted out with six large sails and eight small fantails. It would have been quite a sight. Sarah was thought never to have been given sails at all, because she was so badly placed that she would have stolen James’ wind and rendered him … windless … or should that be speechless? A sort of domestic parable? Was Sarah so chatty? The windmills had been pulled down totally in the early 1960s, having previously been gradually reduced from windmills to storage units. However, this little Overture, which has now undergone a total refurb ready for some performances in Norway, is quite a favourite of mine and is ready to go out, bright eyed and bushy tailed, to make its way in the world once more. As a concert opener it ticks many boxes … no double sharps for those of a nervous disposition, and everyone’s valve casings will be red-hot by the final chord. I must now decide what’s for supper, feed the cat and generally be a (rather unconvincing) domestic god. At least I have learned to move pretty swiftly with the electrical cleaning device … why doesn’t it work by wifi instead of all those wires? … and I can do something vaguely three-star-ish with a tin of baked beans and a poached egg. That’s about it. Oh, and my wife is recovering extremely fast. What was my title for this very rambling blog … current affairs? Strange that there are so many exams these days and so many multiple choice options, but that when it comes to elections, each person has only one vote every five years and therefore only one priority to choose amongst so many choices. (Strangest of all is how easy the ruling insider classes find it to keep us outsiders quiet.) My vote would go to “independence” above all. But I’m old-fashioned and can’t see the trees for the wood. And I don’t forget being bombed out in London during the Blitz. Anyway, because of exceptionally sneaky UK voting rules I can’t vote anyway. Even the farcical French have an MP with a seat in Parliament for its expats! How bad is that comparison? Forget it. What on earth can I do for supper?

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