Friday 10th. January, 2014 – An evening of wonderful music 

A view of the early morning sun as Mix and I walked the Swinton Road this morning

Got up and walked Mix. It was crisp and clear and the sun was just beginning to shine through the trees in that wintery, watery way which is so unique to this time of year – turning so many trees into silhouettes because the sun is so low in the sky.

Invigorated, I breakfasted in the farmhouse. Tom arrived. I hadn’t expected that, but in fact he had come to collect his tools because he was going to make a new gate, the previous one having been vandalised by his goats who have come into season and as a result are particularly frisky.

I worked on organising (or rather continuing to organise – it will be a long job) the summer house and, in parallel, to tidy my former study. I got on well and now, indeed, have a coffee machine installed. Got involved in a number of phone calls, mostly sorting out orders and things of that nature. In the middle of the afternoon Mix and I went for our afternoon perambulation and when I returned I got ready to go to Berwick with Rachel. I got photos taken in a machine in ASDA so that I could send one to have my driving licence renewed. It seems that after a number of years one’s picture has to be replaced. I must say that I think the picture on my licence looks more like me than the one I had taken today. Still, they say the camera cannot lie.

After a visit to Curry’s to buy a computer printer and some ink, Rachel and I had something to eat at Marks and Spencer before making our way to the Maltings in Berwick. This is our local theatre and it is really doing rather well. We arrived at six for a seven o’clock performance to discover the place awash with young people who had come to see a Disney film called Frozen. I gathered that the performance was a sell-out. We went to the bar for a drink before making our way to the studio theatre. This, too, was a sell-out and was, we were told by the Director, the first time there had been classical music played at the Maltings for seven years. It was absolutely excellent, The Royal Northern Sinfonia have the only salaried Chamber Orchestra in Britain and they did not disappoint. The group who entertained us played three of Dvorak’s Cypresses (love songs) and followed this with Mozart’s quartet in Bb major – The Hunt.

During the interval the ‘cellist came out and chatted with the audience (he actually came to take a picture of the venue – so I thought I could do the same)

The second half was taken up with Dvorak’s string quintet in G major. The acoustics of the studio are marvellous and the playing of the quintet superb. I was taken with the clarity of each of the instruments and the ease with which the different parts came soaring through. There is a beauty in the form and order of a quintet as well as the opportunity for virtuosity which is different from full orchestral pieces and this was a superlative performance. I loved it.

As we drove home from Berwick there just happened to be a ‘Points of View’ essay in words by John Gray. His thesis was that it’s not the things that we don’t know we don’t know that harm us so much as the things we do know but choose not to know. He built his argument from the invasion of Iraq and the ‘decision’ not to know about what would happen after the invasion, through the collapse of Wall Street to our present failure to face up to the changing financial situation in which we live today. It was well reasoned and argued and really quite compelling. As we drove through the gate at Mount Pleasant a Professor from Princeton (which made my ears prick up) starting a series on the similarities and differences between the peoples of the United Kingdom. I heard only the opening moments of the programme but I heard enough to think that tomorrow when I am having lunch I might try to catch it on the BBC I-player – isn’t technology wonderful?

I watched Newsnight which was a real reflection of the world's woes as it concentrated first on the police admission that some of the evidence against Andrew Mitchell in the Plebgate row had been fabricated. That's a shorthand summary and some would argue with it but it is a bad day for the Police and regardless of what people say it must undermine confidence in the Police. That is nothing short of tragic. Then we were taken to Paris and an alleged affair involving the President, and a magazine editor's decision to publicise it in spite of the rigid privacy laws in that country. I walked Mix before retiring to bed – the music of Dvorak (rather than the frailties of human nature) ringing in my head. What a wonderful day.


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