Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Thinking on... my birthday

Regular readers of this blog will know of my tortured history in relation to music and the healing that has come through being in a choir with Grace, taking up piano lessons with Rebbecca and more recently doing voice work with Rebbecca.

Some of you will also know that my 60th birthday happens next January 3rd and I am planning a small but happy birthday do on Saturday 2nd - invites will be reaching many of you in due course. If you can't be there raise a glass on the day.

Part of the birthday do will involve people being invited to do a turn or two - a song a poem a story. So inevitably I have been thinking about my turn. It occurred to me that I might just try and sing a favourite Pets song (Guess which one!) maybe alone and unaccompanied. Well I tried it out with Rebecca's help and she reckons rightly that it is too difficult for me right now. This is hard to accept but I am so pleased that she can say this to me that I can take it on the chin and it also puts her praise of me on other occasions in a clear light i.e. I can believe the praise more readily when I hear such critical feedback. So I might look out an easier song but meanwhile following her suggestion I am trying out the Pets song as a poem and it works remarkably well!

Meanwhile I have just joined the 10:10 campaign that's about reducing emissions by 10% by the end of 2010 - all I now have to do is figure out how!

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Manky poet

Yes last night I performed 2 of my poems live to a real audience of about 20 people at the monthly Manky poets gathering at my local library. Each poet and poem is well received and applauded so it is hard to tell how it is received but apart from feeling a bit too nervous and a bit tight I was pleased with my performance and reception and I will go again. Below are the 2 poems I read - previous blogged here and both have appeared in copies of 'Thresholds' magazine the journal of APSCC the spiritual bit of BACP.

Now I must lie down!

Spiritual Suffering

When the President
Of my university
Responded to my query
About increased staff ill health following merger
He replied
He had no evidence for this.
But I
Just looked into your eyes
Even the psychiatrist
Saw a ‘soul in torment’
And then prescribed
Electro Convulsive Therapy
So I guess ECT
Is now an evidence based treatment
For spiritual suffering

Meeting a cow in Bangalore

You weren't troubled by the traffic
But I was
They see you as sacred
But cars are not respectful of my being
You walked on unhurried
I ran for my life
You remind me of my divinity
My inner light
My need to uphold the best in me
And not the beast in me.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

More music

I made a curious discovery in the singing part of my piano lesson with Rebbecca last night. When I try and sign the note she has just played on the piano I usually get it wrong. If I sit and listen to the note in my body and then respond I am more often than not right or very close to it. The rush to get it right gets in wrong. When I am slower and more relaxed and focused on listening and feeling it I can usually sing in a way that resonates with what I have heard. I find this staggering.

When I hit the wrong note on the piano I usually know that I have and I know which hand has made the mistake. Rebbecca says that this is not so for all her pupils and she complements my 'developing musicianship'. Ah!!

My 'aged to perfection' birthday do is taking shape. I find myself wondering whether to attempt a Rufus or a Pets song possibly unaccompanied which is probably a bit too risky even given the audience. In a practice rehearsal I find that Pets come out better than Rufus even though my voice is probably closer in range to Rufus compared with Neil.

Watch this space!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Frankie again

Hello friends, Frankie speaking or rather word processing :). The Boss is gearing up for his 60th birthday do and is becoming a bit impossible. I can only cope so much with his renditions of Red Letter Day (though at least it is the Pets or it was before he mangled it) but Al Bowly and Cole Porter is way too far! Still he has invited me and suggested that I do a turn so I am wondering about dressing up as Rufus and doing 'Release the Stars'! What dya think?

Mind you if it was my birthday do I would dancing in the Streets niteclub like I did at my infamous 30th birthday do. I have never really recovered from being 30. I thought my life had ended but as Neil sang on legacy 'You'll get over it my friend' and I kinda did.

The Boss pretends he don't mind becoming 60 but I have heard what he was like when he turned 50 and you don't want to be around that. Still we must give him a good send off. Now what can I buy the Boss. Want Too by Rufus? or a rare limited edition Pets CD or so lurid socks that I will insist he wears for his do...

Love and kisses,

(as told to Bill on Bike)

Monday, 12 October 2009

Future and past poem

(Written and Paper planes workshop last Saturday)


I was convinced you would die on me
And I would be a single step parent
But you left me instead
And all that soul searching
My 'What is life for?' stuff
Was turned on its head.

I went off to Japan on a business trip
And you just went
I came home to a hollow house
And a mortgage of grief.

So it goes
It went
You went
I brought a bike
And leaned into the wind
And didn't fall off.

I couldn't see a future for me
For some time spent following my nose
Keeping my head down
Getting by
You know the kind of shit
I am talking about.

Sometime something new and unexpected
Opened out in me
And I jumped the rails
And hit a future I didn't see
And now that future is coming to an end
And I ask myself 'Was that all a dream?'

But it only feels that way
I can see
The truth of these last 20 years
All around me
It's been good
But what next?
I guess today will be sufficient.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Ask Q

Regular readers of this blog will have read blog entries from me from time to time in which in my character the Boss (and of one occasion Frankie!) I consult a mysterious and imaginary spiritual adviser known as Q. I actually often find Q words very helpful to me.

So if you as a reader wish to consult Q and ask him (I think he is a him) questions of a spiritual nature then Q will respond as soon as he can on this blog. I can accept no responsibility for the consequences of you receiving Q's words. Email your questions to Q - with Ask Q as the subject of the email to


Thursday, 8 October 2009

The Boss meets Q again

The Boss once more visits Q his spiritual director:

- Hi Q
-Hi Boss
There was a comfortable silence.
- Q?
- Yes.
- Last year I visited my friends in Edinburgh. And... and, whilst I was there I went to a dinner party at the home of a Catholic priest who I've met before and quite like. Well I arrived a bit early, as I am want to, and they were having a short Mass in the chapel room. I was invited to join in and found myself taking Holy Communion..
- Hmm.
Q was thoughtful.
- It seemed fine at the time, in fact I found it quite moving, well more than a little. It seemed a natural expression of friendship and spirituality. But the thing is although I occasionally still take Anglican Communion, I am not a Catholic and have only ever attended the occasional Catholic wedding or funeral and never Mass.
- And this troubles you?
- Why Yes.
- And what is it about it that troubles you?
- Well some of my fellow Quakers and some of my Anglican friends would certainly not approve.
- That's never troubled you before for example with regard to your views on same sex marriage.
- True but this seems different.
- How?
- Oh, I feel like I've let the side down but actually I don't really care. It was a loving action that did not hurt anybody on the contrary it had a deep spiritual feel to it. I wont let myself be made to feel bad about it. Indeed I think we should do more of this - attend each other's services and feel the love that's there. I do wonder about whether James the priest would get into hot water but I guess he's a grown up and can make his own decisions. It's rather refreshing to see it happen actually, like if the spirit is right why not?

Q was smiling as the Boss lapsed into silence and a deep air of peace filled the room.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Music: Joseph

Last Sunday was the first rehearsal of the musical Joseph at my Quaker Meeting for our Christmas do. We only had 15 minutes for this first rehearsal and there was no warm up but straight into singing through half a line at a time. I was stood next to Maurice who has a lovely signing voice and I tried not to be put off by this. There was one note I struggled to reach. I asked Sheila afterwards and she said it was D one octave above Middle C.

So with Rebecca last night I explored this. Well this D is about 3 notes off the top of my range currently so no surprise there. When I have trouble singing something my immediate reaction is 'Oh, it is because I am a rubbish singer' rather than 'Well this note is beyond most men.' Sheila said well sing it an octave lower that is what most people would do' True but my problem is that I can't instruct myself to do this and then do it. I might do it by 'accdient' by I can't (yet!) by design. Now if Rachel the choir conductor had sang my line to me I could try and hold it especially if Maurice and other people were singing it. Sheila says it is not like that we are not going to sing in different parts like in Carol's choir. Ye Gods this is a tough one. As Rebecca said 'You have no musical training'.

So I will see about Joseph. Rebecca says if I bring the music she will help me sort it out which is great. I still want to be back in Carol's choir so I must chase that up.

Cold today on the bike, we have moved into Autumn but at least it is dry and the colours in the sky are worth getting up for. I am whacked after a 2 week visit from my Kenyan colleagues in whcih I was doing wall-to-wall teaching. Life is a bit grey without them!

Best to all,

Bill on bike.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Dawn and my dad

Cycling to work with lovely blue skies and pink clouds this morning and a tang of Autumn in the air and I want to cycle on forever! It made me think of my dad who loved to see the sunrise. Towards the end of his life his sleeping habits got a bit erratic. My feeling was that he was reverting to his (Second World) war time sleeping habits. He was in the Navy and was on small ships - converted trawlers (small fishing boats) - and they did 'watches' i.e. 6 hours on 6 hours off. So many times he might have had a bad night - seasick or afraid of a possible or actual attack by German plane or submarine, and so to see the dawn rise was wonderful, full of promise and life. So I think that experience was repeated in his final days. I remember him saying from his hospital bed that he couldn't he could see nature from out of the window!

Besides the dawn he loved the stars and passed on this love to me, and I have passed this onto my daughter. In those long hours of the night with not much to do but to keep watch under a starry night.

I keep finding these threads in my life of my dad and my mum. And I am more at peace now with their imperfections and with my grieve. I am thankful and each dawn is a new day for me and an extra day and I hope it is a good one for you.

Best to all,

PS Jupiter the planet is still very bright and easy to see on a clear night. Creation is just awesome!