Saturday, 22nd July, 2023

[Date 1223]

Today dawned as a miserable, wet and drippy day which threatened to last all day long. After we had got ourselves up and breakfasted, Meg and I made tracks for Waitrose , via our customary newspaper shop. I joked with the proprietor that the wet weather was probably the result of a malign influence of some ancient Australian deitities who were were conspiring to ensure that no play was possible in the Test Match, thus forcing a draw and giving the Australians the series (as this is a ‘must win’ match for England) Meg and I sat in the café having our coffee in isolation because none of our usual friends turned up. We were not totally surprised by this as one of our friends only tends to venture out when the weather is not inclement and another is having a bout of rheumatism to contend with. Nonetheless, we gave everybody a good half hour or so and then decided to call it a day. No sooner had we reached our car, then we got a phone call from our University of Birmingham friend wondering if we were available for coffee. Naturally we were, so we trundled back inside for our second drink of the morning and then had a wonderful pleasant chat with our friend when he turned up a few minutes later. We had quite a deep conversation when we were speculating whether some of the phrases that had been adopted some years back such as ‘post modernism’, a social ‘narrative’ and so on had the same meaning for all of the people who adopted the phrase. We shared the view that often people might use a phrase but not be entirely sure how it should be used or even what it means. A case in point is the word ‘decimate’ which had the specific meaning, in ancient Rome, of killing one of every ten soldiers, as a form of military punishment. There are, it must be said, some problems with the argument that this is the only correct meaning today. A problem is that even if decimate did refer to the practice of killing one of every ten soldiers in Roman times, it did so in the service of Latin, not English. We have many words in English that are descended from Latin but which have changed their meaning in their travels. We no longer think of sinister as meaning ‘on the left side’ even though that was one of the word’s meanings when it existed in Latin. So when our friend and I were in agreement that the word ‘decimate’ had strayed from its original meaning, it has to be argued that often words do travel away from their original meaning to their current one. So ‘decimate’ is very often used today to indicate that a large proportion of a population may have been been destroyed such as ‘the epidemic of avian flue decimated the tern population of the island’ (not actually true, but that is not the point) Eventually, the hour had come for us to depart but we agreed to meet tomorrow in a different venue just down the road to give is a bit of change where no doubt we will find an equally esoteric topic of conversation with which to amuse ourselves. Meg and I made tracks for home and cooked ourselves a steak and kidney pie for our Saturday lunch. We always tend to have a quiet afternoon on Saturdays as we go to church in the late afternoon.

Meg and I are quite glad that the Proms have resumed since this gives uf some relaxing listening in the evenings when we can either pay attention to the concert and/or read at the same time. There seems to be a bit of a Beethoven ‘fest’ at the moment because last night they played Beethoven’s 5th symphony. When I was the unofficial ‘leader’ of the second violins in the school orchestra we seemed to constantly to be playing the finale to Beethoven’s 5th. We must have sounded terrible becaude when I hear a proper recording it is played so much faster than ever we achieved in our school performances. I must at the age of 13 been able to play and read the music perfectly adequately but I had completely forgotten all of this. In my present organ-practising mode, I am still trying to ‘lock’ into position the notes that I see on the score in front of me with the actual keyboard keys. But I do have something to assist me. Immediately after I had acquired the organ I did scour the web and managed to secure a cut price complete set of organ tutors. The first of these had complete inside the front cover a set of cardboard templates that one could cut out and carefully place into position at the back of the two manuals so that each note was actually labelled. These days you can get buy as a tutorial sticker for learners little stickers to label each note but these run the risk of messing up one’s keyboard so this little cardboard template (think of a small size toblerone triangle with appropriate notches for the black keys) are an absolute bonus for me at the moment. I have now got fixed in my memory the opening sequence of the Bach cantata ‘ Wachet Auf ‘ but still have to learn the trickier sections that follow.