'Daily Life' Blog Post Archive
‘So somewhere in my youth … or childhood’

‘So somewhere in my youth … or childhood’

During the Christmas holidays we watched The Sound of Music on television. Some parts of it will forever be charming, while other parts have not worn so well. No matter - it's still a feast of nostalgia for those of us who remember the film when it first came out. Bob...

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Best reads of the year

Best reads of the year

A reader has asked me to specify my favourite books of the year. I keep a note in my diary of the books I read, and this year I read 42 books in their entirety, plus a few more I didn't finish. Here are my top five favourites: 1. The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth....

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Playing the piano to elephants

Playing the piano to elephants

On Saturday there was a lovely article in The Guardian about Paul Barton, a man who plays the piano to elephants at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. The elephants have often been overworked or mistreated before they come to the sanctuary, but it seems that they...

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A bunch of pianists get together after lockdown

A bunch of pianists get together after lockdown

At the weekend a bunch of us, all pianists, got together to be sociable and  listen to one another play some live music. One of us had realised that the layout of her house offered the opportunity for us to obey current rules while still enjoying some piano music. Her...

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Piano tuning on the horizon

Piano tuning on the horizon

My poor old piano has not been tuned for almost a year because of the lockdown. As the tuning became less delightful, I have practised 'mind over matter'  - a kind of 'fingers in ears, la la la! I don't hear anything wrong' approach. In fact, my piano has held up...

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The street is just the street … as time goes by

The street is just the street … as time goes by

A year ago, when lockdown happened and all my work was cancelled, I spent a lot of time walking around the streets of my neighbourhood - partly for exercise, partly to pass the time, and partly because we were not supposed to be taking the bus so there was no other...

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This time last year

This time last year

It's now a whole year since concerts started being cancelled in anticipation of the pandemic. I remember very well that I had been to a birthday coffee party where the extended family sat around a big circular glass-topped table while our reflections ate scones and...

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A taste of elsewhere

In a cheese shop the other day, conversation turned to exotic cheeses and someone mentioned Gjetost, the Norwegian goat's milk cheese which looks like a block of fudge and has a distinctive, caramel element to its taste. It's a cooked cheese made with whey and cream,...

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Larks ascending

Larks ascending

One of our regular walks in the nearby hills takes us past a cornfield, which we discovered in the first lockdown. It was Spring then, and the field was softly green. We were thrilled to see larks emerging from their hiding-places among the rows of corn, rising up...

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The possibility for musicians of making a local career

I keep coming across articles about the importance of revising our approach to international travel. For the sake of the environment as well as public health, we're told, we should be working towards the possibility of doing everything in the places where we live....

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Learning to play the spoons in lockdown

Learning to play the spoons in lockdown

Last weekend, reading the Guardian Review, I was struck by a comment of Joe Moran's about having learned to play the spoons in lockdown. I was vaguely aware of spoons as musical instruments, but a bit of research put me in the picture: spoons have long been used to...

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Leaving the EU

Leaving the EU

Now that Brexit has happened and the UK is out of the European Union, I have been reflecting on the fact that I have seen the whole arc of our membership of the EU from start to finish. I was a student when we joined what was then the European Economic Community and...

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‘Zonal Attachment’ for Musicians

I was half-listening to the radio this morning when they were talking about fishing rights. The concept of 'zonal attachment' was being explained. I learned that this was a new and scientific way of approaching the issue of fishing rights. Fish move around; from year...

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Otters

Otters

One positive aspect of this year's lockdowns has been seeing more wildlife in the city's green spaces. Earlier in the year, when there was very little traffic, animals seemed to pluck up courage to venture on to the quiet golf courses, parks and hillsides. We saw lots...

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Edvard Grieg and Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Edvard Grieg and Shakespeare’s Macbeth

It's been a turbulent week, and I have found some distraction in playing through a volume of Grieg's Lyric Pieces. I've always liked them, though I admit I knew only the more famous pieces, and only recently discovered that there are many more - all worth getting to...

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