2019 to almost spring


My latest PSA reading has been less than 0.01. That has been a relief. And Dr. Suh at the Royal Marsden wants to end my hormone therapy after two years rather than the original schedule of three. That means that my last injection could be the one I get just after we return from France in June. Of course there’s no security or guarantee that it will not return, but for the moment things are feeling good.



The Focus

It has been a busy two months plus. Cinema included Mary Poppins Returns, Collette, Bohemian Rhapsody, Vice, Stan and Ollie, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Green Book and If Beale Street Could Talk. I enjoyed them all immensely and think that Richard E. Grant in Can You Ever was excellent. Of everything I have seen in the last few months, including Widows and The Favourite, I still think that Roma has been my favourite.

We have had four theatre experiences. Elisabeth took us to Nine Night at the Trafalgar Studios. Even if some of the dialogue was difficult at times to follow, the acting was superb. Then Home, I’m Darling was a strange, eclectic, funny & sad but enjoyable experience with an excellent Katherine Parkinson. Harley Granville Barker’s 1900 Agnes Colander: An Attempt At Life, I found stilted and uninspiring and do not know why I wanted tickets for it. This was at the Jermyn Street Theatre. And finally, at the National Theatre, we had great seats and thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed Sondheim’s The Follies. Everything about it was magnificent – the acting, the staging, the costumes, the singing, the dancing. Joanna Riding as Sally Durant and Janie Dee as Phyllis were both particularly noteworthy, but everyone was great as well.

Concert-wise, there were a number a real treats. At the Barbican, pregnant and as an emergency replacement, Paula Murrihy enchanted us with an unforgettable performance of Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrende Gesellen. This was the highlight of all. The concert by the Britten Sinfonia under Mark Elder included a piece by Benjamin Britten as well as Brahms’ Second Sympathy. But with Gin, we finally got to meet Paula in person. And since then, Fódhla Róisín Bonner has been happily born – Fódhla being an ancient name for Ireland, who along with her sisters Banba and Ériu (Éire), was a daughter of the Tuatha Dé Danann.

Our other concerts have been the Nonsuch Singers at St. Martins-in-the-Fields: Rutter’s Requiem which we reasonably enjoyed despite the comments by Eamonn and another singer in the choir, but Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms was lovely; and all at Cadogan Hall, Claire Teal with her Big Mini Big Band, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Antony Hermus with the Overture to Mozart’s Clemenza di Tito, a thrillingly  stunning performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Boris Giltburg, and Beethoven’s Third Symphony to conclude, and the next evening ‘Swinging at the Cotton Club’.

Our museum experiences have been the Renzo Piano at the Royal Academy, the Bill Viola and Michelangelo ‘Life, Death, Rebirth’ exhibit also at the RA. The Michelangelo were supremely stunning, and the Viola were most fascinating – though I was a bit motion sickness queasy afterwards. The Platonic philosophy being expressed was disappointing and the very position my mysticism book is set against. But overall, we enjoyed the exhibition. And then we had a sumptuous lunch in the restaurant below. And after the lunch, we went to see the Cocteau mural at the Notre Dame de France Church next to Leicester Square. We have been to the Wallace Collection (a feast of a collection) with Meg and Marie-Laure where we also had lunch, and at the Saatchi the immersive art through some sort of goggles of “We Live in an Ocean of Air” by the Marshmallow Laser Feast collective. “Their work illuminates the hidden natural forces that surround us, inviting participants to navigate with a sensory perception beyond their daily experience. In these spaces, the known physical world is removed to reveal networks, processes and systems that are at once sublime, underpinned by research, and fundamental to life on Earth. Fusing architectural tools, contemporary imaging techniques and performance with tactile forms, they sculpt spaces that lay dormant until animated by playful imagination.” In all, it was a liminal experience sublime, and we both treasured it. And also at the Saatchi, we attended an evening talk and slide presentation of her work by the young Russian artist Asya Marakulina.

Our houseguests have been Barbara and Patrick (and we finally got to meet Caroline Windsor) and later Norman. We’ve had lunches at home with Claire, and with Elisabeth, Peter and Monica – both times I believe with my frittata, at Duck Soup with Carlo, Jean-Christophe and Carlo’s pregnant daughter Elisa – eight of us in all, at the Diwali vegetarian restaurant near Euston Station with Norman, and a mutton meal at the Rixes with Rix, Sylvester, Hillary and Steven. Dinners: at home with Gin, with Peter and Barbara, and with Gin, Chloe and Matt – probably all again with my frittata, at Stephen and Darby’s, at the Club with Barbara and Patrick, at the Sanderson’s with Jonah, at the Fish in a Tie with Penny and Hamish, and the Burns Night celebration at the Tate Britain’s Rex Whistler – just Richard and me. And then again just the two of us at the Azteca for our Terminalia (original end of the Roman year) celebration. Our intervening carnival before the new year on the first of March included several bus rides to the end of the route and culminated with The Follies.

We have been to two Sloane Club mixers – the January one with Moscow Mules; the February one with strawberry prosecco cocktails. We have had coffee with Marion and Leslie; phone calls with Jimmy and with Paul and Jonne-Marie, and a skype call with Jimmy and Matt who I had asked if he would set Jim up with Skype. There was the Imbolc ritual at Conway Hall, and Greg Hands’ discussion in Fulham on the third Heathrow runway proposal. I asked about the air pollution along with the noise pollution that was the basic focus of the meeting and got a round of applause with my question.

Gin and her sister Penny organized a lovely memorial for their mother Lynn in Haselbury Plucknett. Because of the weather, Rix and Sylvester decided we should not go on the Friday night with the road closures, but on Saturday morning it was sunny and, as we entered Wiltshire, there was a gorgeous expanse of snow covered trees & fields. At the church (St. Michael & All Angels) it was interesting to read about Blessed Wulfric the anchorite who died in his cell at age 29. He read psalms while sitting in cold water. The service, placing the ashes in the ground of the cemetery and the reception that followed were all beautiful. The following morning, Rix and Sylvester took us first to Seatown on the nearby coast, and then in Netherbury, we visited Judith.

I gave a talk on ‘cultural astronomy’ to David Parry’s Valentinian Meditation group at St. Peter’s in Clapham. Richard and I had left in plenty of time, but the bus had to take a diversion, and this lasted an hour. But it all worked by the end.

I have had to get Wilhem and Melvin to replace the Amsterdam basement radiators for Pavel and Tereza. And now a pipe is leaking. And thanks to fog and mist, Richard and I were unable to see the blood moon eclipse. The Brexit catastrophe remains the perpetual background to everything – unless Trump manages to upstage. Theresa May’s deal defeat by a staggering 230 votes in mid-January managed to change nothing. There is only less than three weeks now before we leave the European Union. I’ll conclude here with what I posted yesterday on my Facebook wall:

“Come on, guys, meaning our Parliament members and even the Prime Minister. Since you have been in such a hopeless and, yes, tiresome mess, let’s call the whole Brexit off. It is time for all of us to wake up to the actual world we live in and the work required for its future. This, rather than to attempt to turn the clock back to a past that no longer exists and would be incommensurate to the needs for present movement even if it did.

“The future belongs to the younger generations, and they voted to ‘remain’. They understand the reasons and benefits of being part of a European Union. Is it not time to cease the incessant dithering, obfuscations and stalemate, and face reality? Can you not accept the EU’s present shortcomings and join President Macron of France and work with the other 27 nations for reform? Do we need the difficulties that ‘leaving’ will present and our own inability to have a British voice for EU change?

“If you, the members of Parliament cannot do it, then let there be at least a second Referendum. With two-and-half years of charade, ‘the people’ may have changed their mind since the ‘first referendum’. In a democracy, are the people not allowed to change their minds? Switzerland, perhaps the world’s most democratic nation, has countless referenda. If you of the Parliament cannot call off Brexit, then stop playing games, wake up and become mature people, and let the people themselves have another say.”

Happy New Year!
































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