Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A bit of this, some of that and quite a lot of the other

Over the weekend I dipped into the Classic FM Hall of Fame 2008 Countdown. Its been a long while since I have listened to Classic FM. I went off it a bit to be honest but listening again I noted that its changed a little, got some new presenters (mainly as a result of its sister station TheJazz going under) and a new sound, which I am not sure I entirely like. The Hall of Fame is a countdown of the supposedly 300 most popular pieces of classical music, which the station does every Easter weekend. I've voted for pieces the last few years and I try to be quite careful and thoughtful with my choices. Although I did enjoy a lot of the music I heard I do have some reservations about the Hall of Fame idea. Part of me thinks its just not right to do a 'Top 40' style chart of classical music; it just doesn't seem to fit comfortably. My bigger concern though is that are these choices really the nation's favourite pieces of classical music? I ask because all too often it is the same movement or excerpt that is played from a work, year in, year out. Therefore, do people who vote actually like the work or just the piece that is played every year in the Hall of Fame? To give a couple of examples - the opera Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten is always represented by one of the four Sea Interludes and Elgar's Enigma Variations is always Nimrod. These pieces in themselves are wonderful and Nimrod is absolutely exquisite but they are just part of larger works both of which I like in their entirety, not just for the selected highlights played in the Hall of Fame.

Also some of the selections seem unfair. For example, while Spitfire Prelude and Fugue from First of the Few is worthy of inclusion on its own, Star Wars presumably encompasses all six movies and Lord of the Rings similarly all three movies. Again who knows, because it is the same piece played each year, giving no clue as to whether this represents a single film or the whole saga in these cases. Which brings me to my final point, say for example that I voted for The Emperor's Death from Return of the Jedi, does this count as a vote for a) Star Wars, b) Return of the Jedi or c) for the track The Emperor's Death? Methinks that the voting is not particularly transparent and is unfairly weighted towards certain pieces or works.

Having said all that I was pleased to see that Ralph Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending remains at Number One. Whatever such an accolade might mean, it is still one of the most beautiful and exquisitely English pieces of music I have heard,

Along the way I was inspired by a couple of pieces I heard by living composers and have been prompted to buy CD's to try their work. I will let you know what I make of it when the CDs have arrived and I have had a chance to listen to them.

An article on the BBC News web site about London's bendy buses caught my eye. These buses are loathed apparently and two of the candidates for London Mayor have said that they would withdraw them. I used the bendy buses on route 73 frequently when I was working in London last year and I don't understand what all the fuss is about. I think the bendy bus is a great idea especially in congested urban areas - they are quick, easy to get on and off and I thought quite fun to ride on. Only very rarely did I have to stand and often it wasn't for long. There seems to be a lot of misty eyed nostalgia for the Routemaster, which to an extent I share. They were after all the only bus to be purpose built for London and they fulfilled their role admirably over many decades but lets be honest they are hardly the most user friendly bus in the modern age, especially for people with disabilities. It seems that Boris Johnson wants to bring back some version of the Routemaster although I don't really see the need and why replace something like the bendy bus that seems to work so well?

I had a bit of a sort out over the Easter weekend. Well, I say that but truth be told it was really more a paper shuffling exercise because I am so loathed to ditch anything. I am amazed at just how much paper I collect - newspaper cuttings, magazine articles, brochures, leaflets, timetables, pamphlets, correspondence, bills, junk mail, things that really should have been responded to weeks ago and just miscellaneous other stuff. I keep newspaper cuttings and magazine articles that catch my eye and file them according to whether its something to do with Milton Keynes or anything else. I am a terrible hoarder of magazines, whether it be film or railway mags and I was flicking through a couple of the latter from the 1990s and was surprised at how little has changed. The railways were going through the same convulsions of self-doubt and public criticism then as they are now! Timetables I keep because they are useful (whilst they are still current) and still interesting even when they are not. Okay, I might be alone on that one, lol! Seriously though, some good money can be made from old timetables and some are more collectible than others. I do tend to pick up a leaflet or pamphlet from everywhere I go. I gather them as eagerly as I do fridge magnets, bookmarks and pens!

Correspondence there is not so much of these days. I think its a shame that generally people seem to have lost the art of letter writing. E-mails just aren't the same. I've had a wonderfully catty and gossipy e-mail from someone who I used to work with but can't help feeling it would mean more and read better if it was good old pen on paper, lol. Bills I seem to gather with alarming ease and although they're all paid (I ensure that everything goes out on Direct Debit) it still worries me when I find the gas or telephone bill or some other such request for money from some months back.

I feel better for having sorted through it all or rather, moving it all from one pile into new neat collections in various folders, to be put away.

I sometimes wonder what someone would make of the things that I have collected if they came and had a rifle through my bookcases and folders. What would they think it said about me? A lot of it I keep private not because it is not things that I wouldn't share with anyone else, just that I don't think it would be that interesting.

One of the things I suppose I am doing as I am sorting through all this is censoring myself, deciding what can be left on display and what has to be discreetly packaged away, kept for my eyes only. I am the same when writing e-mails. I might have said this before but I will often write and rewrite parts of an e-mail until I get it 'just right.' I always worry that I might be too indiscreet or come across as being pompous, stupid, boring or lecturing. There are probably as many e-mails that I don't send as those that I do because I think they'll be boring or sound stupid or come across as me trying to drum into my friends that they should be interested in all the things that I am interested in.

Work is going okay at the moment although I have realised that every office that I have worked in, including the current one, are clones of each other. They are inhabited by the same basic collection of personalities, have the same politics and dynamics and are very much indistinguishable from each other when you get down to it. Not to say that is necessarily a bad thing, just that I find it amusing to realise that all these people that I am working with now I've worked with before, although they looked different and had different names!

Not sure what I will do long term and I don't have a clear idea how long this temp position will last. However, I am still looking at other jobs and keeping alert to what opportunities there are. I will need to find myself something permanent by the summer I should think.


Derek said...

Carla often spots me sorting out piles of papers...for fun! I do chuck stuff away, and recycle, but I still have an Amazonian rain forest worth of old paper around me! Logging receipts into our accounting software and checking them is a useful habit though!

I haven't been on a London bendy bus yet, but I did go on one in Budapest, Hungary, three years ago. They are pretty good! I dunno if they are really designed for cramped and tiny London streets though.

I think you have all of my old 'railway' stuff now - but I will keep checking! The only thing I can think of is that Hornby train set, which I can get to you whenever.

Good luck with this job and the next!

jamie said...

hmmm,i think it's definitely another case of you navel-gazing again... you spend too much time looking introspectively at yourself,and worrying about what other people think.
to hell with other people think,if they find what you've got to say boring,then they aren't worth the time and trouble... you know who your friends are,and vice versa.
and bin all that paperwork,it's a health and safety hazard.

Joe said...

I quite like the bendy buses too, but the Routemasters are a feature of London, and should be reinstated.

There's room on the London streets for both, surely. Just get rid of the blasted car drivers.

On the subject of classical music, I've come back round to the Alan Titchmarsh programme on Radio 2. He was rather crass at first in his style, but has moderated since with a much more agreeable blend of the classics and his own favourites.