Today was both wet and gloomy so we were quite pleased that today is the morning when we traditionally meet in Waitrose to have a coffee with friends and acquaintances. We were joined, as we usually are on a Tuesday, with one of our pre-pandemic friends whose musical career we are following with interest. This lady of quite advanced years has taken up again one of her past-times which is singing in a choir. Every week they are rehearsing Braham’s Requiem in its totality which must be quite demanding as the whole performance must be about an hour in length. Mind you, our friend started singing this piece back in 1961 so I should imagine that about sixty years of singing the piece, she ought to know it by now. But of course, the pandemic meant that all choir-type activities had to be set aside for a few years and of course one’s voice ages and changes with time. Whilst on the subject of singing, we tend to sing about three or four hymns at the service on Saturday evening. Typically, we would have an organist and sometimes we evidently have a chorister who knows the hymns well and sings them with a quite a degree of gusto so that the rest of the congregation who typically do not know the tunes can start to contribute more from the second verse onwards and any refrains of course. Last week, I found myself having to sing higher and higher and I am sure I was attempting to sing in a counter tenor range. Perhaps the organist starts off in a key that she thinks is within the range of the female members of the congregation but I was finding the range far beyond me. Eventually I had the courage? temerity? to start singing at least one octave lower and possibly two octaves lower in the equivalent of a bass voice and this I found I could manage a lot more comfortably so once I get settled on the correct starting notes an octive lower, perhaps I shall make this my default mode from now on. We chatted on with our friend for about half an hour, mainly about musical topics such as the instruments upon which we had been encouraged to play as youngsters. I suspect that most young girls of a particular age and generation tend to have a combination of piano lessons and/or ballet lessons to see if they have any natural talents. I suppose boys are pushed in the direction of football teams each Saturday morning but of course many school playing pitches have been sold off over the decades which cannot help youngsters develop any of the skills they may have. When we visted small Spanish towns in the decades when we wished to visit Spain regularly, it was quite common for each smallish town to have a football pitch arond which there was a running track which always seemed an excellent idea. But athletics and football because of their different historical roots have scarcely ever shared faciliies in this way which I have always felt was a geat shame. When you listen to young athletes in competitions, it is interesting how many of them start in one discipline and decide to have a dabble in another at which they find they are very much better. Do most long jumpers always start their athletics careers as sprinters I ask myself? And when it comes to rugby, the young men (and women) who start off in Rugby League and then change codes to Rugby Union nearly always seem to be excellent sprinters and show the opposition (and their team mates)) a clean pair of heels.
I walked down to my Pilates class in the middle of the day and by chance bumped into one of our Irish friends who invited us round for coffee and a chat next Sunday, to which we shall look forward. We had a few snatched words as our friend was enquiring about Meg’s health these days and gave us some useful advice. Then it was my Pilates class as usual but there were only three of us today so we were a little bit dowwn on our more normal four – which is still quite a small class. On my way home at this time of year, I like to spot in people’s gardens what appears to be budding. There are daffodils bursting out all over, as you might expect and a goodly number of snowdrops often found in clusters underneath some trees. But I was particularly looking out for crocuses which I think are quite sparse at this time of year. I know that certain birds play havoc with young crocus flowers but one expects to see a real abundance of both the orange and also the purple varieties at about this time but perhaps I am not looking at a very representative sample of gardens.
Today, it is interesting to see what the reaction of the Tory party is going to be to Rishi Sunak’s New Windsor Framework to deal with the Northern Irish border problems post Brexit. The reaction so far has either been positive or neutral and the Tory MPs on the extreme right of the party are merely putting it about that they are studying the text of the agreement and the deal before they are coming to a judgement on the deal as whole.