Saturday, April 12, 2008

A rave review, pleasing myself

I woke up this morning from a dream where I was being reproached, I know not by whom, that I had given up my early morning blogging starts. There was a sense that something had been lost. Lately, it's true, and for quite a while now, I have crept back to bed after letting Molly out, and often slept, dozed and snuggled blissfully until nearly 8 o'clock. If I've had twenty minutes or so to spend here, on a work day, say, I've tended just to visit a few blogs, tinker with some pictures, perhaps answer an e-mail. The days of saluting the sun, making tisane with honey, and simply spending time with my own writing, have largely gone by the board. And perhaps the counsel of the dream is a good one, although whether I can rekindle the sense of excitement I used to get at the prospect of just pleasing myself here, I'm not sure. I suppose the loss of the first flush of enthusiasm with any activity is inevitable, but I feel a little that as I have become more involved with the world of blogging, my much valued collection of friends increases, I am more caught up with their on-line worlds, and spending more time in the day involved with it, wanting much more to please and elicit positive comments, so I'm somehow putting rather less of my real self (whatever that is...) and heart into what I do here.

So with a cup of lime-blossom tea, a sleeping dog and the early blackbirds for company, I'll type up some scribblings about something that interested me, for my own satisfaction, and resist the temptation to stick in some pretty pictures because I know I always get more comments when I do that!

What we've been watching: Simon Russell Beale's series on BBC4, 'Sacred Music'. The whole series was a joy; SRB seemd at first a rather bluff and possibly bumptious personality, but he wasn't at all, and grew on us enormously. He was very knowledgeable and comfortable in the field, passionate and dynamic but without in any way imposing himself irritatingly on the programme, and he was a truly sympathetic, unpatronising, generous interviewer, just self-effacing enough. The presence of the very personable Harry Christophers and the Sixteen to interpret and explain the music provided a consistently excellent thread through the whole series.

So, all good, but the last one last night (Friday 11th April) really surpassed itself. It was principally about Bach, but in the context of Lutheran church music, quite a large chunk of it was the story of Luther. I had forgotten what a grand narrative that was; in the predominance given in our historical awareness to the venal and bloody realpolitick of the Tudors and Stuarts, the played down pan-European trauma of the wars of religion, of which the Englsh civil war was really just one episode, the deadening joylessness and vandalism of the Puritans, one tends to forget the nobler aspects of the birth of Protestantism.

There were some delightful little stories: of Luther being moved to help some disillusioned nuns escape from their convent by smuggling them out in recently emptied herring barrels, then falling in love with and marrying one of them. I wondered if she'd had a wash by the time he fell in love with her, or if she still smelled kipperish. Perhaps that was what attracted him to her...
or of Bach impulsively walking over 200 miles across Germany just to hear Buxtehude play the organ in Lubeck. Buxtehude offered him his job if he'd marry his daughter, but Bach declined. Later Buxtehude offered the same job and daughter package to Handel, whose response was the same. Poor woman, her only place in history to have been turned down by two of the great Baroque composers. Bach went on to father twenty children, and poured out volumes of music, taught with a passion, wore himself out and when he died was buried in an unmarked grave.

Aside from the sumptous music and fascinating history, though, I could have watched it for the photography alone. Dreamy, painterly landscapes, beautiful architectural detail and statuary, light-filled interiors, just enough human interest in street scenes, schools and congregations, and simply some gorgeously composed abstract pictures which could have stood completely alone - I do notice photography more these days.

So, if you didn't see it, I'd recommend it heartily. I assume BBCiPlayer will supply it, but we can't get that because their devious technology know we're not in the UK. I wonder if there's a DVD?


meggie said...

I hope you get some outings.
I am craving some too, but they come along rarely.
As to the mornings, as we move into Autumn here, I find myself snuggling down, & pretending to sleep! It is not even really cold here yet!

Granny J said...

My LH was very much into Bach (he played a mean piano; I miss it very much). Thus, I'd heard the tale about Buxtehude's daughter -- but not the Handel aspect. Poor lady; getting her married off must have been a real trial to her father. Our local NPR radio station plays a lot of baroque music, but almost all instrumental, so we don't hear any Bach cantatas or Handel oratorios.

Rosie said...

early mornings are the best time for writing arent they! it should be easier now it is getting light

Zhoen said...

Spring is a good time to start, or restart, good habits, everything is easier with the helpful push on the swing of light and mild weather.

See? You're getting comments even without illustrations.

Lucy said...


In fact the extra sleep was necessary to cope with the change of hour for a bit, but now it should be possible to reclaim a bit more of the day.

I'll still do photos too!

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean re the blogging and giving less of your true self when you develop a loyal following. The same thought occurred to me on the Bubble Lift in Courchevel. I love blogging, love blogworld - but I do wonder if I am a little more circumspect about how I present myself these days, more careful not to write things that make me sound crazy, whereas initially I just wrote. I came back from holidays deciding that i would ensure that I did write as I felt but now I am back, I'm not sure it will happen. Although I also think it is easier to write from the heart when you feel sad or confused so maybe it is simply that I feel happier and more certain these days.

I think these days I am most myself in people's comment boxes!

I hope you do find a way to write in the way that you wish. I think that readers stick with us, you know, whatever we write, or do not write and that we should worry a lot less about it and just get on and write. They are a wonderful bunch of people on the whole.

herhimnbryn said...

The tv series is new to me, I hope they show it here in Oz. Funnily enough we watched a film about Luther last night and I thought more or less the same as you about his wife!:) The film was a tad 'Hollywood-ish'.
I like your words as much as your images and I reckon that here you have used tg's 'word camera' again.

HLiza said...

I've never heard of the series or the story itself..but I love period dramas. Been wanting to watch The Other Boelyn Girl (I think the spelling is wrong there..)but haven't done it. I'm having the same weekend here..normal, usual, boring, tiring one.