Friday, 31 October 2008


Trying to find information on members of your family can be a long-winded process. Outside of my half-brother in Australia and my mother there's actually no-one I know who can tell me about my father. I last saw him when I was six and that certainly wasn't yesterday. My bro gave me a tip concerning a nephew who is now a high-powered New York lawyer, so I e-mailed him out of the blue and am awaiting his response, if any. His father (my uncle) was, like my mother, also a Mayor, so there is a bit of copy-cat career-mongering in our brood.

Mozart is progressing very slowly, mainly due to the fact the director spends hours on the recitatives like Felsenstein at the Komische Oper back in the '60's. I'm still immune to this as my colleague takes care of the secco department, leaving me free to practise Richard Strauss in the room next door. The cast is delightful and the conductor a joy, so I can't say it's a negative experience, especially seeing as this phase coinciding with the school holidays allows me to spend the mornings with the Fingernails whilst still getting my five hours' daily practice in.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Back to the day job

These last few weeks have been almost nothing but practicing song accompaniments for a recital which I gave with a superb tenor a couple of days ago. You'd never believe just how much time and energy goes into an hour of music which seems to be over before you've started. Your body immediately goes into free-fall afterwards as all the postponed fatigue and stress finally force their way in under the portcullis and you're well advised to take an early night and late morning for fear of going down with whatever plague du jour is. I had about fifteen people in (including Fingernail I) and they've all been in touch to say how much they enjoyed it. Even though it was about recital n° 400 since I started this music lark a few decades ago it never ceases to amaze me how a voice and a piano together can move people. Long may it continue. Mozart's back on the agenda in the next couple of days and then it's the long, slow countdown to Christmas with its copious operetta performances.

I had a lot of funny little anecdotes to relate but can't recall any of them at the moment. There's a student party going on next door, the Brazilians downstairs have finally turned off their hi-fi and the Syrians appear to have gone for an early night, not before apparently pushing all their infernal furniture about the flat for two hours just after the Fingernails' light went out. Honestly, you'd never believe this was the best part of town: we've got South Central LA conditions with Bel Air prices. The only thing missing is wanton gunfire, but I'm sure the credit crunch will eventually take care of that little absence.

The only way to deal with noise pollution is become ridiculously philosophical about the whole thing. Forgive me if I've mentioned that before in a previous post, but agonising about other people's incapacity to live considerately and sociably only leads to one eventual loser: you. The Germans have a wonderful saying: In der Ruhe liegt die Kraft - Strength resides in peace; a positive result will only come through long-term investment and a cool head, a dictum our buy-now-pay-later society could well have heeded in the light of the current international financial melt-down, too.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Time for a post

It's been a few days since I had a late-night waffle, so here we go. The credit crunch has hit Europe, rich bankers are now having to eat their families and Lamborghinis in order to survive and life seems to be trolling on pretty much as normal: there's still a queue at the baker's, my salary still got paid in to the bank and the school doors gape invitingly wide when we roll up with the Fingernails. providing our modest savings aren't swallowed up into something no-one will be able to explain properly we should be OK. The general governmental mud-slinging is pretty childish as everyone played a part in it, somewhere: beit wanton, unnecessary consumption, opaque financial products or just economic overheating as an entertaining spectator sport for those in power, those who have overspent or gambled have only themselves to blame. Investing in stock markets is only failsafe in the long term and those who view it as an easy way to make a quick buck are often deluding themselves (I speak from experience). Still, there are surely a million shades of grey in this matter which is why, presumably, no-one is capable of giving a straight answer as to how it happened and what will happen next. My tip is to invest in the Scilly Isles and pigs' trotters, but my business nous is inferior to that of a salad spinner, so there you go.

Fingernail II's birthday is coming up and she'll be thrilled with her scooter. It's exactly the same model we bought for her sister three years ago (which got stolen from the courtyard) but was half the price. This shows there is a balance in the world economy: rice, pasta and wheat are getting more expensive by the day but children's scooters are plummeting in price, so stock up while you can.

You can't help but be morbidly fascinated by the US Presidential Race. Has there ever been such an incompetent pair of cretins as McCain and Palin? We don't know enough about Obama, but considering the stranglehold Senate and Congress have on US Politics, the President's main brief is that of figurehead, particularly regarding foreign policy. The thought of some hick moose-murderer jumping in for an ailing Vietnam POW to lead talks with Iran are just too frightening to behold. Faced with such a dreadful GOP ticket, Obama looks the safer bet.

Saturday, 4 October 2008


Having children means you always live in a world of extremes: you come home from work where someone has implied that the collective inability to realise the current project will result in global meltdown; twenty minutes later you're searching for a missing hairgrip under the sofa and being encouraged to enthuse about a ballerina's outfit. Today was such a day. A hissy fit at work, followed by a demonstrative walk-out by said colleague followed by preparations for a six-year-old's birthday party. Not that the celebrations went entirely smoothly, either: a certain group of guests made life difficult for the rest, voices were raised and tears shed. Parental firemen ran about, dousing the flames with standard wisdom, veiled, never-to-be-implemented threats and order returned.

It's this life balance that makes work bearable. I love my job, but you always need perspective and that's what it lacks on occasions. I'm just glad I return to Planet Earth when I exit those doors of an evening.