Posted in England, Green & Pleasant Land

May Day

From Magdalen College Oxford – Virtual May Morning

The May Morning celebrations may well have been cancelled, but the Choir of Magdalen College is determined not to let this 500-year-old Oxford tradition go unmarked.

The Choir will welcome the coming of spring this year, but the Choristers and Academical Clerks won’t be singing from the top of the Great Tower. Instead, they’ll be singing from their homes across the country via video link in a video produced for the occasion.

Mark Williams, the Informator Choristarum at Magdalen College has been working with the 28 members of the Choir over the last few weeks to complete new virtual renditions of the Hymnus Eucharisticus and a traditional madrigal for May Morning.

“May Morning is a highlight of our calendar,” said Mark, “so, when I mentioned the idea of a virtual May Morning to the choir, everyone was delighted to take part.

“It’s been tricky to get everyone all together, but I am glad that the members of the Choir have thrown themselves into this. We’re pleased that we will still be able to celebrate May Morning with the Magdalen community – and with thousands of others – this year.”

You can watch this very special May Morning performance  on their webpage (https://www.magdalencollegechoir.com/).

 

Posted in England, Green & Pleasant Land, TV

The Detectorists

This is a writing challenge because I cannot say enough good things about “The Detectorists” (from the BBC). It’s simply the best television show I’ve seen in years. I won’t compare it to other TV shows I really love (or loved, because all of the ones I really loved were years ago). I won’t compare it because I don’t want those other shows to feel bad about themselves.

The Detectorists (character names: Lance and Andy) are written as ordinary people with foibles and a lampoon-able hobby. You will cringe on behalf of the main characters as they make inexplicable and poor choices, and all the while you will be rooting for them. You will chuckle. You will become privy to the language of metal detecting and the descriptions of the finds. If you’re an American, there will be things you don’t understand. Finding a ring pull from an aluminum can, Lance says, “Tizer” (it’s a soft drink). “Kestral Super” — It’s a beer, mate.

You will appreciate the camera’s long close-ups on the flowers and creepy-crawlies in the fields. The wide shots of the east Anglian countryside are calming, a welcome balm especially if you are a city dweller in need of space relief. You too will want to have a cuppa sitting under the big tree. Even if you aren’t a detectorist, there are few ways to spend a day more pleasant than being in a field under a vast expanse of blue sky.

MacKenzie Crook, the writer-director-actor who birthed the series has given us something singular and unique. Thank you, MC, for a series with heart and soul. Thank you, BBC, for letting MC have free rein. And free reign.

Pub? Go on then.

_ _ _   _ _ _   _ _ _

The Ringer

Detectorists: When people find it and realise what it is, they hold it close to them

 

Posted in Current Events, England, Green & Pleasant Land, WTF?

Jacintha Saldanha

Perhaps you have heard about Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse at the London hospital who answered the telephone call from the Aussie DJ’s looking to have a bit of a laugh at the British Royal Family’s (BRF) expense. Saldanha put the call through to the nurse in charge who then prattled on about Kate’s condition to the DJs unimpeded by any suspicion of “humor” in the making.

Now Saldanha is dead of an apparent suicide. The woman must have been terrified. She was the first line of defense between the BRF and the ravenous world-wide media. Were I in her shoes, my thoughts would have been something like this: How could I have been so stupid? Why did I believe the caller was the Queen? Now I’ve gone and done it. I will probably lose my job. I have disgraced myself and my family by not carrying out the simplest of tasks. I will be an international laughing-stock. There is no hope for my future. I will never work again. Cameras will hound me for weeks, and then my permanent status as a pariah will be cemented forever. Might as well end it now…

Forgive me for conjecturing about the thoughts of an apparent suicide, but I find Saldanha’s alleged act the logical conclusion of a rational person who couldn’t bear her mistake.

Let’s play the blame game, shall we? Royal Family, I know you’re trying to be like us, but you deserve a severe dressing down on this one. When one of you (Kate) ends up in an institution inhabited and run by us mortals, here’s a suggestion: Lady-in-waiting (with staff), 21st century style. Think Valerie Jarrett (Obama’s left-hand woman).

Kate is in hospital. A phone call comes in regarding Kate? All inquiries about Kate go directly to the royal staff on duty no matter what. Ah, so simple, isn’t it? Oh BRF, how do you not have protocol for how to handle one of your own being amongst Muggles?

Am I missing something? Was such a protocol in place at the hospital? Was Saldanha’s mistake not handing the telephone off to the royal staff on duty? In my cursory glance at today’s news, I see the BRF apparently treated the initial debacle with a “Ho, Ho, Ho” and nothing more. Saldanha was, no doubt, waiting for the next, and certainly less sanguine, royal utterance.

Now that Saldanha is dead, the least the BRF could do would be to arrange for her body to be flown to India.

Many of us will pray for the repose of the soul of Jacintha Saldanha, and for her grieving family, friends and co-workers. I urge the Royals to take responsibility for their own lack of management in what should have been a routine hospital stay. BRF, Jacintha Saldanha thought of herself as one in your service. She believed her error was irreversible, and she fell on her sword in service of you and your unborn child. She deserves your highest respect and honor.

Posted in England, Green & Pleasant Land

Lakenheath High School

I’m interrupting my Vegas series because I just found this photo over at the Lakenheath ning site.

LHS Kathy Soden 1

Lakenheath High School, ca. 1977. This is what my high school looked like, people! (Same photo but bigger, better here.)

Kathy Soden Grant posted this photo with the caption: “The Smoking Area – Can anyone tell me how we got a smoking area?” I supposed we had a smoking area at school because we were all given ration cards to buy cigarettes when we turned 16…just another iteration of the relationship between the military and the cigarette industry. Of course, most of us dabbled in smoking cigarettes or became outright addicted long before turning 16.

I gave up smoking when I was 14 because Kevin Foley didn’t like it. It didn’t help with my relationship with Kevin, but I’m a happy non-smoker to this day.

I do believe that Phil Mason is the guy on the left (in the letter jacket) walking toward the camera. And to the right–the center person in the group of 3–Peggy Gralish?

Ahem. Pardon my nostalgia. I have a clinically certifiable case.

Posted in Around Town, England, Green & Pleasant Land, Pasadena

In Which I Struggle With the Season

There are so many reasons to hate Christmas as it is celebrated in these United States. The buying-ness of it all gets to me. I don’t want buying to make me happy. I don’t want things to make me happy. I hate it that our whole economy is based on consumption.

But who am I kidding? Some things make me happy. Opening a wrapped gift makes me happy. Watching someone else open one makes me happy too. Afterwards, burning the wrapping paper in the fireplace satisfies my inner pyro.

I’m as guilty as the next guy—I buy at this time of year. I do nostalgic buying, as in: “Well, I have to get something from Canterbury Records because I always get something from Canterbury Records, and Lord knows I don’t want Canterbury Records to go out of business.”

canterbury-records

Photo credit: The Sky is Big in Pasadena

Canterbury Records offers up some wonderful things. My favorites for this time of year are:

bellsofdublin

The Chieftains: Bells of Dublin

Are you about to tear your hair out of your head because you can’t stand another scintilla of tired old holiday music? The Chieftains will save you, along with musical guests Jackson Browne (The Rebel Jesus) and Elvis Costello (The St. Stephen’s Day Murders). Sample lyrics from the latter (referring to “Uncle”):

While the lights from the Christmas tree blow up the telly,
His face closes in like an old cold pork chop

See? That bit irreverence truth makes you feel better, doesn’t it?

vince-guaraldi

Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas. I love the melancholy Christmas Time is Here. I love Linus and Lucy, and I dance just like the kid in the orange shirt.

By the way, The Carol of the Bells is PURE TORTURE, wouldn’t you agree? Chaney approved it for use at Guantanamo, I’m sure.

* * * * *

I always miss England at Christmas. I would like to take the train to London and look at Selfridge’s windows.

hangingsanta1

Photo credit: Laura Porter

I would like to hop on a Number 15 bus starting at Marble Arch and travel through London and see the lights.

debenhams

Photo credit: Laura Porter

A few years ago, The Scout worked in London on a Marriott commercial. He had a birthday while we were there, and I bought him a flask at this very Debenhams. He likes to fill it with Patron Silver and take it to the movies. And the golf course. And the…oh, never mind.

hamleys

Photo credit: Laura Porter

Here we have the Hamley’s where I bought AP’s Tardis Piggy Bank.

* * * * *

Sigh. This post was actually therapeutic for me. The photos of London helped. If you’re of the Christmas persuasion, I wish you a Happy Christmas.

UPDATE:  My friend Adela is selling her muy sabroso tamales.  If you’re in the Pasadena/Altadena/So. Pas/Highland Park area, she’ll deliver them to your house!  You can reach her at 323-691-0073.