What to say this time, dear Friends?
Lets turn the elephant out of the room: we may not agree about many things, some of us are Sumptionists, some of us welcome more lock down, others, less; but on one thing we can agree, and clearly do from your many emails and feelings on the matter, and that is Bojo and his Shudder of Clowns appear not to have any idea of what to do about anything very much; that Britannia is certainly advancing but towards what?
The virus spreading as we approach winter? The dread of half the Nation as we advance towards a no-deal Brexit? FOMO affecting the mental life of most of us?
While across the pond we gaze in horror at the possibility that the November Presidential election may very well not go the Democratic way and that banality, narcissism, cruelty, mendacity and greed may well succeed for a further four years?
Here in East Anglia and particularly Essex we have been moved up a tier and seem to have stepped firmly backwards witnessing a lot of disobedience and reluctance as we do so. Even our Conservative MP, Sir Bernard Jenkin is getting worked up, especially by the Government’s side-lining of parliament and descent to diktat.
Enough. You get the drift and we all agree that the world is not in a good place.
Dillie Keane, one of my favourite entertainers whose Fascinating Aida often hits the nail on the head came up with this last month:
I would love to play you her Dogging Song, otherwise known as A Song for Essex but might get into trouble with the censors, and I’m sure you have heard her wonderful take on “cheap airlines”?
Her Gavin Williamson song is rather apt too, for those of you battling with schools.
The Ferryboats to carry you across the Deben Rivermouth to rejoin the Suffolk Coastal path.
We continue our hikes which get slower all the time. The big one this time has been our Felixstowe to Woodbridge walk along the Deben River. This completes our programme of walking the left and right banks of the Stour, the Orwell and now the Deben Rivers though only the west bank of the Deben has access as it’s a maze of channels, saltings and dykes that snake inland, wild and isolated: low skies, rain threatening and very beautiful in its own special way. Part of the dyke has collapsed and entailed a long detour turning the whole expedition into 18.5 miles and eight hours from Felixstowe to Woodbridge stations with a lunch break at the Maybush pub in Waldringfield at 2.30, at least an hour late.
We were all alone. The estuary smells of oysters, mussels and samphire; the big skies are filled with honking geese and the cries of sea birds, Terns and other waders fishing the muds.
I managed a dyke-glissando and fell upside down into the mud. Quite a manoeuvre to be righted and dragged up the embankment! Nothing serious but the event slowed us down somewhat. Here is a picture which shows the position I was in though not on a dyke; rather an example of our states of mind when friends join for lunch at our favourite pub, the Alma in Harwich rather the worse for wear. I think the entire carriage were singing of all things, Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens……..don’t ask!
All I can say is that I was very grateful for our masseur, Paul’s visit the following day.
Hardly any due- tri- quar- or quin-tettes to report. The new lock down has seen those off for the time being but visits to Snape continue. They have solved the spacing issue and very comfortably accommodate an audience of about, I guess, a hundred. The concerts are small scale, never last longer than an hour and involve only one or two artists at a time. Thus we have been treated in the last two weeks to piano works by Schubert and Rachmaninov and the brilliant virtuosi Steven Osborne and Christian Blackshaw. Thanks Friend Ruth Gee for alerting us to these concerts. There are more to come.
The other major project has been to watch the streaming of the MetOpera’s fantastic 1990 Ring Cycle produced by Otto Schenk, by far the best we have seen. Beautifully staged, Otto’s production captures the scenic world of Wagner’s Ring as brilliantly as James Levine and the Met orchestra capture the musical world. The incredibly complicated story is rendered at last easy to follow.
I know Wagner’s not everyone’s cup of tea and that many are mystified by both his story lines and his music, never easy in any opera, so I can’t resist introducing Anna Russell’s 1952 recollection of her own experience with the Ring Cycle which, Friends, took 18 hours out of our time!
We have an array of talent on our Green. Terence Davies the film auteur is a few doors down and in spite of lockdown has managed to keep his latest film project on the road. Benediction is a film about Siegfried Sassoon – interestingly named Siegfried after his mother’s passion for Wagner – and Terence and the production company backing it seem to be dodging all the Covid brickbats.
Here is a link for more information if you are interested.
Jorge Jiminez and Joy Smith live a few doors down too and they are managing to keep their show on the road though it is of course incredibly tough. As well as home-schooling their two lovely daughters who form two of the Pixie quartet I mentioned in an earlier post, manage to keep their harps and violins singing.
This week saw the streaming of The Hanover Band’s latest project the filmed concerts of Beethoven’s symphonies starting last night with the 1st and Jorge in there as lead violinist. Such beautiful playing, it was recorded in the acoustically challenging Stationers’ Hall in the City of London.
All the instruments were of the period Beethoven composed the work; it was premiered in 1800.
And so Friends, soon the clocks go back and winter is fully upon us; the leaves have almost all turned here; the migrating geese and other birds have now departed for warmer destinations; the last of our summer/autumn plans were cancelled recently and we head towards what Nicola Sturgeon calls a digital Christmas though I’m not at all sure what that means exactly.
Lots of Zooming I expect!