Impossibly Positive

One of my favourite parts of summer is the world’s greatest music festival, the BBC Proms.

It didn’t always belong to the BBC and it wasn’t always held in the Royal Albert Hall. The first Proms concert took place on 10 August 1895 in the newly built Queen’s Hall in London. The aim was to reach a wider audience by offering more popular programmes, adopting a less formal promenade arrangement and keeping ticket prices low.

The first radio broadcast of a promenade concert by the BBC was in 1927 and every prom is now broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and repeated, so there is plenty of chance to listen at home.

The Queen’s Hall was destroyed by bombs in 1941, during WW2.

The Royal Albert Hall was opened by Queen Victoria in 1871 and is inextricably linked with The Proms. Even if you have never been to South Kensington you may recognise the famous round building and the warm red interior. Some of the prom concerts are broadcast on television and always of course the Last Night. When a camera pans down the height of the hall you feel dizzy and the top seats and gallery are very high. We once had cheap seats near the top for a concert with a famous pianist; we looked down as a tiny puppet tip toed over to a toy piano. The year we booked lots of concerts, so we could qualify for last night seats, we planned with care; big symphonies sit anywhere, but if you want to see your favourite soloist get the best seats you can afford nearer the stage. Live concerts are always different from listening to recorded music and The Proms have extra atmosphere; everyone is there to enjoy themselves and because they love music. At the end you emerge into a summer night and surge with the happy throng walking down Exhibition Road to South Kensington tube station.

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But there is a lot to be said for watching on television. As happens every year, with life getting in the way, I have recorded more proms than I have watched since they started on July 19th, but I have enjoyed several very different concerts so far. What struck me this year was how wonderful it is to have two hours of positive thoughts and enthusiasm with no mention of Brexit, world leaders or general doom. Music is a universal language that brings us together.

The advantage of television is having presenters to tell you about the music and chat to musicians during the interval. Our presenters are impossibly positive; after all they are listening to the best musicians from around the world and being paid to share their love of music. One of them is so enthusiastic he talks at twice the normal speed, if he was a piece of music he would be ‘Flight of the Bumblebee.’ Often presenters get so excited they nearly topple off their high balcony.

If we are not musicians we may not always understand what presenters and musical guests are talking about, perhaps they don’t either, but that’s all part of the fun. They may spend longer talking about a new piece of music having its world premiere than the piece actually lasts. If you hear the words this wonderful sound picture it probably means there is no tune, but hearing pieces of music you don’t know is all part of the experience.

When the music actually starts, there is more entertainment. The camera pans over members of the orchestra, to the happy prommers standing in the arena, then round to the huge choir. We can wonder why the biggest bloke in the choir has been put next to the skinniest, we can make comments on the dresses of the soloists and we can marvel at the blur of bows in the string sections. It’s all very different from 125 years ago.

Read more about The Proms

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1sgMxZvFzHQG3Y1HktMfg6w/history-of-the-proms

Have you been to The Proms? Are you a musician or a listener?

My novel Brief Encounters of the Third Kind follows the story of a golden couple of music. The Royal Albert Hall has a walk on part.

As the first in a trilogy you can download for just 99 pence.

sunshine-blogger

 

 

The Real Neat Blog Award

Thanks to Dragon Warrior for nominating me for this award.

https://verbalcreation.home.blog/2019/08/10/the-real-neat-blog-award/

 

The Rules

  1. Put the award logo on your blog.
  2. Answer the 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  3. Thank the person who nominated you and add a link to their blog.
  4. Nominate any number of people, linking to their blogs and let them know you nominated them by commenting on their blogs.
  5. Come up with 7 questions for the people you nominated.

Here are the seven questions Dragon Warrior asked me.

  1. Are you messy or organized? – Both, I put things carefully away then forget where I put them.
  2. What do you want to share through your blog? – My writing, my many interests, caring for the environment and FUN.
  3. Do you like origami? – No, I can only make a paper aeroplane.
  4. What was your favourite childhood game? – Running around playing horses.
  5. What was your favourite food that your parents cooked? – Sunday roast and macaroni cheese.
  6. What is your current favourite food? – Roast vegetables and brown rice, Sunday roast and macaroni cheese. Macaroni Cheese is a bit of a family tradition, all our children and grandchildren love it. It is the real thing made from scratch; milk and strong cheddar for a homemade white sauce.
  7. Something you collect? – Picture post cards since I was eight years old.

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My Nominees – any great bloggers dropping in here.

Not every blogger likes answering questions or doing awards, but if you want to have a go, follow the rules above, or just pick any questions and entertain us with your answers in the comments.

 

1 What is your favourite electronic gadget?

2 To live – town or country?

3 For holidays – coast or countryside?

4 Paperback or Kindle?

5 If you were given the chance to run your country, what would be your first decision?

6 You can own one form of transport only; anything from skateboard, or a horse to a private plane. Just one choice and you must use only that for the rest of your life. Think carefully…

7 Are you a homebody or a restless traveller?

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Childhood Memories. 90s Russia

Monday Musings – I have been following Elena’s wonderful travels, now today she posts a short, but moving blog about what it was like to be a six year old as the Soviet Union collapsed.

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I usually post texts about the trips or cultural aspects in a light positive way. This post will be less optimistic, so if you want to stay away from negativity, just skip reading it.

I want to go back to my childhood and tell you about post-Soviet Russia. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, a pure chaos arrived. Everything what worked before collapsed, too, nothing was in order. Devaluation was immense, and the prices were rising unequally. There were the days, when the plain ticket and ice cream were of the same price. People were going mad. Crime was ruling, it became the power. Obedient Soviet people turned to uncontrolled monsters: frauds, murders, thefts, drugs. Massive immigration started, people were running away from this mess as far as they could.

But what was it like for a child?

I have to say, I was very lucky to be so…

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Silly Saturday – Boring Blog

Lots of bloggers at this time of year, especially those enjoying summer in the northern hemisphere, are having a blogging break while they are on holiday or finishing their novel. This is an excellent idea if you are popular enough to carry it off; no one will forget you and will be all the more pleased to see you when you return. It is also good news for their followers; there are too many good blogs and not enough hours in the day to read them, so a break is needed.

Other bloggers might worry that everyone will have forgotten them by the time they post again… don’t worry, nobody noticed you had disappeared in the first place.

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There is an alternative for bloggers who can’t bring themselves to have a couple of weeks off; write blogs that are so boring nobody will want to read them anyway, so your readers will have a rest. But what is the most boring thing you could write about?

Perhaps shopping; how inane is shopping compared to all the dramas in the world? If you are lucky you might have a lively street market on your doorstep, or local shops where you will meet real people, pop in the library and idle in a coffee shop.

But the dreariest way to fill a couple of hours is to do a weekly shop or big stock up with your other half at a Superstore. As you arrive at the car park you reach the nadir of your relationship. If it’s a quiet day the driver ( let’s call him a husband for convenience ) will drive all round the car park, ignoring swathes of empty spaces in favour of nearly knocking over harassed mothers or elderly persons pushing their trolleys. He will then hold up other drivers trying to leave as he manoeuvres into a tight space. All this time you are berating him for not parking in the line of empty spaces where you came in. If the car park is full you will crawl round in a queue of drivers admitting defeat and trying to get out, or hoping they can sneak into a space when a shopper leaves. This is the nadir of first world life, the invention of the internal combustion engine was for this?

Inside the store you are confronted with twenty different varieties of everything and yet you cannot find your favourite Taste The Difference Chunky Fish Fingers or Sea Breeze flavoured floor cleaner. As you plod round the aisles children are whining and couples are having the dullest conversation – what shall we have for dinner.

Finally at the till, some of us have invented a packing procedure so complex we are filled with incandescent rage if anyone else interferes; this is what your life has come to. On the till may be a person so bored and boring you lose the will to live. Or you are greeted enthusiastically by an assistant desperately trying not to be replaced by modern technology.

‘Hello, how are you today?’

Do they want a list of your ailments? They quickly start scanning before you can answer. But when they finally announce the total money due they utter those words you dread.

‘Doing anything interesting at the weekend?’

Your life is exposed in all its nihilistic bleakness…

Have you taken a blogging break or decided you need one after reading this?

sunshine-blogger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction Five Hundred – The Cup That Cheers

I crept downstairs and put the kettle on. With any visitors staying I need half an hour and a cup of tea to get going; with Pandora and Justin staying, the later they got up the better.  Geoffrey had conveniently gone off on a golf holiday. At least they weren’t on the Palaeolithic diet this time, but perhaps their new veganism was even worse, that had come about after they joined Extinction Rebellion.

I sipped the cup that cheers and looked out of the kitchen window, the weather was looking good for their bike ride into town, perhaps I would join them if Justin could help me dig my bike out from the back of the garage… and if they promised not to go too fast…

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‘Mother! What are you doing?’

‘Nothing… you’re up early, there’s still some tea in the pot.’

‘Tea, how could you, I’m going to have some carrot and cranberry juice before I go for my jog, you should have some, it’s good for post menopausal women.’

‘So is a nice cup of tea, it is Freetrade, loose leaf…’

I thought I had everything covered, meat out of the freezer, coffee machine hidden, impress them with the new Whole Earth shop to get something acceptable for dinner. I had even sold my car, I hated driving anyway, but at least I was doing my bit for climate change…

‘One day people will look back and wonder how anyone could drink coffee and tea, same as smoking is frowned on now.’

‘Oh Pandora, don’t be ridiculous, what harm is there in tea?’

‘Well firstly you put the kettle on, unnecessary use of electricity, then there is the addiction to caffeine… but also exploited tea pickers.’

‘If we stopped importing tea then they wouldn’t have a job at all…’

‘They could be growing food instead.’

There was no arguing with Pandora, she had an answer for everything, had done ever since she was three, now her experiences with Extinction Rebellion had led her to join the Green Party. I defiantly poured myself another cup of tea and tried to change the subject.

‘About what you said last night, are you serious, politics, what does Justin really think?

‘He will be a stalwart supporter, like Phillip May. Which reminds me, we have to watch breakfast television, that scientist chap we met on the protest is being interviewed.’

On went the television, Pandora seemingly unaware that the kettle wasn’t the only thing in the house that used electricity.

A scientist has claimed that if everyone gave up their daily cuppa or ten cuppas, it would contribute considerably to halting climate change. Professor Greenwood, are you actually serious about this proposal?

Of course, just add up all the electricity for all the millions of kettles, but it’s not just that… the resources that go into growing tea, then the carbon fuel to export it all over the world. If everyone just drank water…

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Sense of Direction

DSCN0516The first time we went to the cathedral city of Salisbury, Wiltshire we couldn’t find the cathedral. The spire, at 123m from ground level, is the tallest in Britain, visible for miles around and we couldn’t see it from the main square. After wandering around we finally found the signs. We often go to Salisbury, but it is one of many places where I can easily lose my sense of direction. There are five park and ride sites, all completely free at present, to encourage visitors back to Salisbury after the novichok poisoning. We usually go to the one on our route into Salisbury, but one time, against my better judgement, Cyberspouse suggested we go to the main car park near the supermarket. On arrival I was quick to point out how expensive our visit was going to be. We have a purse in the glove box that my Australian sister-in-law gave us, which is made from a kangaroo’s testical; we can get a lot of coins in it and I always put my silver change in. I poured ten, twenty and fifty pence pieces into the machine, but just before we had clocked up the right amount it stopped working. Money gone and no ticket, but at that moment, as if by magic, a car park attendant appeared at my shoulder. We had put so much money in we had blocked up his machine. He unlocked it and the money poured into our hands – we then put pound coins in and got our ticket. Setting off from that car park I had no idea where we were in relation to the Salisbury I knew.

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On our most recent visit we arrived from a different direction and used a different park and ride. The pleasant bus ride brought us to a bus stop in a road where I couldn’t get my bearings. Luckily Cyberspouse has an excellent sense of direction – I did read recently that men have better spatial awareness, so that might explain it. I then worried what would happen if we got on the wrong park and ride bus, the buses all look the same and the park and ride sites probably look similar. Imagine searching for your car, not realising you were at the wrong place and with no hope of getting to the right park and ride because you had caught the last bus of the day.

Read more about Salisbury in last year’s blog.

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2018/09/19/secret-salisbury-september-staycation-part-one

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There are more ways of arriving in Southampton than most cities; by ocean liner from abroad, by ferry across Southampton Water, by train, by bus and by car and each arrival presents a completely different view of the city. In my mind I can never put the parts together. The first time we drove there we went into the West Quay shopping centre car park at ground level and somehow walked out onto the seventh floor of the shops.

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Big shopping centres always present a challenge to those lacking a sense of direction; how to find the way out to the bus station, which level takes you to the high street, will you ever find your way out of John Lewis and where on earth did you leave your car. In Southampton my best landmark is the towering blue and yellowness of Ikea. The restaurant provides an excellent view of the ships and if you came by ferry it is a short walk away. Of course Ikea itself is famous for leaving customers feeling they will never see their own home again, as they wend their way through endless happy home room lay outs.

Take the ferry to Southampton here…

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2019/02/09/silly-saturday-how-to-cheat-at-travel

Have you got a good sense of direction?

The third novel in my trilogy is partly set in Wiltshire and Salisbury.

Silly Saturday – Sensible Statistics

Award

Lots of bloggers like to share the good news when they achieve a certain number of followers; ten, twenty, two thousand… I forgot to celebrate 500, now I have 609 or should I wait for 666?

This means I have over six hundred good friends all over the world – no hang on, that’s Facebook, I only have 163 best friends on there… but 593 followers on my Facebook Author Page.

Of course all these statistics are very meaningful. The lives of all these followers are enhanced by the thought that when they wake up or browse on line before bedtime, they can read my Tidalscribe blog or my words of wisdom on Facebook. I’m sure every single follower checks in every single day to follow my words and pictures, they don’t always comment, but that’s because they have five hundred other blogs to read.

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More exciting is to look at the map and see where followers live and just as important, learn a little geography. Did you know that if you turned Canada sideways it might be as large as Russia, speaking of which, no one ever explained why Europe and Asia are separate continents when it is obvious they are one. You can hardly see where I live… but never mind, I am most excited when I discover that realtors and dental surgeries in the USA LIKE my blog or another US blogger, who writes reviews of garden lawnmowers, is now following me. Alas I am not in a position to buy any real estate or import a lawn mower; my environmentally friendly hand pushed mower is enough for my little garden.

I also have some followers who are real human beings, at least I think so; they certainly do a very good job of writing intelligent comments on my blogs and responding to my excellent comments on their blogs…

Have you had any amazing statistics for your blog?

sunshine-blogger

 

 

Friday Fiendish Flash Fiction – Digital Dialogue – Sunseeker

Characters:

Sebastian A. Tan, Sunseeker boat owner

Christina Da Santa, B.B.C. reporter

Joe Carpenter, B.B.C. cameraman

 

Setting: Poole Marina and Poole Harbour

 

Joe: Which berth is it?

Christina: He just said look for the largest boat; we should recognise him from that photo in Dorset Life.

Joe: Yes, he looks very distinguished.

Christina: Pity more men his age don’t look after themselves so well.

Joe: (chuckling) Maybe you’ll be in with a chance, quite fancy him myself.

Christina: I’m very happy being single now, anyway, I thought you didn’t fancy older men.

Joe: Exception that proves the rule, he’s a gay icon apparently.

Christina: Oh, talk of the devil, there he is; what do you reckon Joe, straight or gay?

Joe: He looks all man to me!

Sebastian: (Calling out) Good afternoon, welcome to the ‘Hidden Depth’. Allow me, it’s tricky if you are not used to boats.

Christina: (flustered) This is Christina Da Santa at Poole Marina, on board Sunseekers’ newest and biggest boat. I’m here to interview Sandbank’s newest resident. Mr Sebastian A. Tan has agreed to an exclusive interview. Good afternoon Mr. Tan.

Sebastian: Please, call me Nick, all my friends do and I’m sure we shall be friends Miss, Ms, Mrs.? Da Santa.

Christina: Call me Christina, please; are you settling in, have you met the neighbours?

Nick: I love the area, but the neighbours are a little ‘standoffish’, that’s what you get with ‘new money’, no class.

Christina: Have you always loved boats?

Nick: Yes, I love the freedom, do you fancy a quick spin?

Christina: If Joe can hold the camera steady, I’m up for it.

Nick: I’m sure a strapping young man like Joe has a steady hand, he can film you in the wheelhouse.

Christina: (breathless) This is fantastic; if viewers fancy skimming over the waves at these speeds, a boat like this will cost you more than a house.

 

We’ve weighed anchor now, with a lovely view of Studland Beach; no other boats nearby, time to have an in depth chat with Seb… Nick.

What is your new house like?

Nick: Magnificent, worth every million.

Christina: So are you officially retired now?

Nick: I hope not, but business has been quiet; or rather business has been so good, my influence is hardly needed, I feel quite redundant; a feeling you will be familiar with soon!

Christina: (tersely) I wouldn’t believe what you read in the papers.

Nick: I sympathise entirely; if you think you feel discarded in your fifties, imagine what I feel like in my millions. Still, mustn’t grumble, it’s even worse for HIM. People these days just don’t believe in what he has to offer, don’t believe in HIM at all. Now my package, they have taken up whole heartedly, I should be pleased, but somehow I’m bored, no challenge.

Christina: Does this mean you are able to spend more time with your family?

Nick: (snorts) I’m no family man, over rated business; marriage wouldn’t suit my busy social life.

Christina: Would you describe yourself as a ‘Ladies’Man’?

Nick: (winks) Not just ladies, had a bit of an eye for the ‘Greek Gods’ in my time, still got an eye for young cameramen.

Christina: (taken aback) Well, we’re all open minded these days, would you describe yourself as bi-sexual?

Nick: (proudly) Omnisexual. My dear, I haven’t offered you a glass of wine; it should be nicely chilled by now, you’re looking a bit hot and flustered. I’ll go down below and fetch the glasses.

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Joe: Wow, what do you think.

Christina: He has the most amazing piercing blue eyes!

Joe: He sends shivers down my spine.

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Nick: Cheers, here’s to a successful documentary.

Christina: (embarrassed) It’s only a little slot in News South.

Nick: Surely I’m worth an hour, you are coming to film at my home as well, I assumed you were both coming to dinner.

Christina: Oh… er …this wine is divine.

Nick: Very good vintage.

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Christina: We went so fast just now, we couldn’t film; Nick is just tying up at his private mooring. There’s a bit of drama going on, the lifeboat is just going out to rescue some teenagers in their kayaks, they weren’t prepared for the wake from our boat, Nick said they shouldn’t have been in that part of the harbour.

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Here we are inside Nick’s beautiful home.

Nick: (chuckles) Yes, one would never guess that only a few months ago, all that was here was an old bungalow belonging to a couple of pensioners.

Christina: Do you like to cook?

Nick: I love hot food.

Christina: Viewers, I have to say, this is the most delicious food I have ever tasted; if only we had ‘teletaste’. No more wine for me or Joe, we are working.

Nick: (suavely) Perhaps it’s time you both went off duty.

Christina: Well… first tell the viewers what this fantastic recipe is, the meat is rather like pork.

Nick: Secret recipe my dear.

More fiendish and fun tales here…

sunshine-blogger