Archive for the ‘Life: living of’ category

2011 in review

January 1, 2012

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,000 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Merry Christmas! 2011

December 24, 2011

John Myatt, 1931-2011

May 27, 2011

Very sad to hear of the passing of John Myatt, my beloved bassoon teacher of 40+ years ago and so much more – clarinettist, fixer, conductor, source of inspiration and outrageous jokes, printing master, guru, family friend, clown, surrogate crazy uncle…

Aged 80, John had not been well for some time.  He had been living in retirement in Suffolk, with his devoted wife Janet and their equally devoted dogs.  I feel very fortunate that we were able to drop in and see him in March this year and catch up after so many years.  He was still on great form!

Happy memories of those days in Hitchin, and later in Cambridge, when he taught me almost all I knew about how to play the bassoon (and then generously passed me on to be finished off by Roger Birnstingl, who was another huge inspiration – I managed to catch up with him too at the recent William Waterhouse celebration at the Wigmore).

On Saturday mornings I would get on my bike (more…)

Does sung English need subtitles??

May 4, 2011

Definitive answer to the Great Debate…

We have arrived in Sussex!

March 8, 2011

Better late than never (having finally got my internet connection back), this is to let you all know that after considerable tribulations, alarms and excursions, Diana and I moved into our lovely ‘new’ house in St Leonard’s-on-Sea on 17 February.

After a couple of weeks we are at last beginning to feel at home, having unpacked at least some of the 300 boxes that arrived from our two previous houses and begun to sort out what goes where.  It’s a lovely big solid 1930s house – with a huge reception hall with room for both our grand pianos (major selling point) and some endearingly quirky features of design and layout, but in great condition and beautifully maintained.

We’ve had a fascinating session with a couple of local architects, and it looks as if we’ll be able to do a certain amount of building to give us more room, better facilities and possibly even more sea views!

And on 24 February, a week after moving in, I took ‘early retirement’ from my job at the Royal Opera House.  So I’m looking forward to continuing with freelance work but also having time to look at the sea, smell the flowers, listen to (and play, or even write) some different music, and generally catch up on all the good things in life that we’ve been too busy to appreciate for the past few years.

Watch this space for more news and pictures as things happen…

2010 in review

January 4, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 7,700 times in 2010. That’s about 19 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 17 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 118 posts. There were 24 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 11mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was April 23rd with 193 views. The most popular post that day was a poem for St George’s Day by Brian Patten.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for renault floride, facel vega hk 500, e type, facel vega, and st george’s day poems.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


a poem for St George’s Day by Brian Patten April 2008


What’s the most beautiful car of all time? November 2007


The Most Beautiful Car of All Time (Part 2) March 2008


King’s Theatre, Southsea July 2008


Subtitles and Surtitles August 2007

Merry Christmas from Diana and Jonathan

December 22, 2010

Xmas Thrush

picture:  Breakfast at Thorney Park, January 2010 — photo by JB

For remembrance: Forever Young, a song for Wootton Bassett

November 10, 2010

Wootton Bassett is a small town in Wiltshire, England, which happens to be near the military airfield where British solders killed in Afghanistan are flown home.

A tradition has arisen among the townspeople of turning out to line the streets in respectful silence as the coffins are driven past.

Here is a video of a song written in celebration of this spontaneous expression of appreciation.

On this Remembrance Day, may we remember all victims of war, past and present.

The song and video have been created to raise money for the charity Afghan Heroes.  For more information and to make a contribution, follow this link:

Thank you.


Giffords Circus

September 5, 2010


Just been to see Giffords Circus (in a field outside Cirencester) — as part of Diana’s dad’s belated Father’s Day present!  (Thank you, Ellis.)  Also turned out to be Diana’s ex-husband’s birthday (Pete got a cheer and a rousing chorus) so in all we were a family party of 12 — in a very small Big Top!

Giffords was founded ten years ago by Toti and Nell Gifford who had worked with Yasmine Smart — granddaughter of the famous Billy Smart — and realised that the UK  lacked the kind of traditional circus performances that are still spectacularly successful on the continent.  So they decided — from their base on a Gloucestershire Farm — to set up their own traditional but miniature circus, touring Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Oxordshire with their amazing show.  Every season’s show is on a diferent theme:  this year was ‘Yasmine — the Musical’, telling the story of Yasmine Smart’s life (and love affair with horses) in the style of a vaguely 1940s musical show.

We arrived amid a bustle of adults and children, with a genuine fairground organ (mounted on a genuine old Ford truck) churning out popular tunes;  a fleet of gleaming and impeccably maintained vehicles, all finished in ‘Pullman’ cream and maroon, surrounded an impossibly dinky ‘Big’ Top into which several hundred of us squeezed.  Before the show started, at 2.30, we were treated to various warm-up routines including an extraordinary audience-participation clapping routine led and choreographed entirely without words by the amazing mime artist Olivier Taquin.

There was a (more…)

Douce France

August 17, 2010

Just back from amazing 3-week holiday in France — mellow, tanned and broke!  Wonderful weather almost all of the time, fabulous scenery, sights and cities, great food (including our own picnics) and wine — even the cheapest at 2 euros for 1.5 litres…

Special thanks to Janie and Mark for the invitation to make music in Le Croisic (in Brittany);  to the prorietors of our magical Chambre d’hote in the tiny village of Aumagne which just about saved our lives and gave us a magical and unexpected weekend;  to John and Ann for generously allowing us to be the first guinea-pigs in their gite in Moux in the Corbieres, and for the wonderful lunch (and new loo seat!);  and to Diggory and Russell for once again allowing us to share their idyllic retreat (with pool) in the Provencal vineyards above Entrechaux.

And to Diana for being there and sharing it all, and for doing most of the 2800 miles of driving!  Love you xxx

And to France for being so big and varied, and true to itself, and unspoiled, and… French.

Nul points to Michelin Green Guides for changing their format so you can’t find anything any more, and for being so badly proofread — which they never used to be.

But hurrah for the Michelin Road Atlas for telling you everything you need to know, especially where the scenic routes are.

We have another 500 photos or so, one of these days…