Just a thought, after reflection, during the first few days of the Christmas holidays. Often we make things worse when we do our very best to make things better. Have you even realised that ?
On Christmas Eve, when goodwill is supposed to be replacing all that competitive, snarling, mean-spirit, the vicar’s wife stunned me. She reached new heights of neighbourly nastiness, even for her. And considering they live as grace and favour occupants in the Church’s house in this otherwise lovely Islington square, you would think she might try and spread the message of tolerance and kindness just a little.
This is the story, it has to be told. My best friend, a leading landscape gardener, brought round the turkey today and her pressies, two beautiful flowering Amarylis, and other surprises. In her excitement, she forgot to buy a parking ticket. Along came two Nigerian wardens bearing Christmas parking fines. But being rather sweet souls they examined her van, realised she may be loading and legitimately has 20 minutes loading time, and stood beside her vehicle quietly minding their own business and waiting for the driver to return. The vicar’s wife, ever on hand, shot out and snitched, She’s been there an hour, I can vouch for it.
Shocked that a member of the public was actually urging them on, they had no choice but to write a ticket for £60. At that moment we realised the little party had gathered and rushed out to explain that Diana was indeed loading and had only been 20 minutes, and that there was absolutely no need for the Christmas Eve ticket. But, we can’t have that, the helpful vicar’s wife was in full swing now. Tolerance, forebearance, and peace for all mankind being her philosophy, she came out on the steps, not at all minding her own bloody business, and said, Sharon, she’s been there an hour, she’s been there an hour. In fact she repeated it so many times that it was a bit like Chinese water torture. She does know I wouldn’t dream of listening to her, and on this occasion I wouldn’t have actually believed my ears if not for what happened next. The nice Nigerian men looked at us and said, Sorry, we have already written it or we would not have given you a ticket. We can see you were loading. Thankfully, those sorts of horrible people don’t exist in Nigeria. Only here. Well I never. The thing I want most for Christmas is new neighbours. With vicars like that, let’s all have a revolution.
I’ve been learning how to play Soul serenade- David Sanborn- and is Frank Walden the best saxophone teacher ever ? I think so. He doesn’t really have to bother with the likes of me and my struggle to practise and keep up with his incredibly fast mind and nimble saxophone fingers. but he does, and he doesn’t appear to be giving up.It’s officially been two years this Christmas and I have to say I didn’t even know what a reed was, a sling, a mouthpiece, how to read music properly and certainly not how to make a saxophone sound somewhat tuneful. He has painstakingly brought me to the point of David Sanborn- we’ve skipped by Van Morrison, my old favourite, as Frank thinks his sax playing leaves a whole lot to be desired, and in the end we had a laugh about it and I had to agree. One minute Frank’s backing Amy Winehouse at Coachella, or on tour with Tom Jones, or playing in a West End musical, and the next here he is in my study going through long notes, helping me get my embouchure stronger and discussing how I should structure my practise. We also head downstairs to the piano room and duet to pieces I’m learning and I get to improvise and play the blue note rather a lot. It’s a whole lot of fun in an otherwise grim journalistic day. Thanks Frank, you’re one in a million. Don’t let me give up.
The following video clip show Frank performing at Castle Stririn in the Czech Republic 14 months ago:
Love The Coen Brothers’ latest film, A Serious Man, hysterical, cringe-making, poignant and so sad. Everything goes wrong, there just can’t be any more bad luck, but then there is. And where is God, not to mention a decent rabbi ? We have a truly good man, beset by a series of disasters, one after another they keep coming. The old Yiddish folk song says, The world is still here, we have reason to hope just as long as we inhabit it. And the good man keeps hoping. The movie starts with a difference of opinion between a man and his wife about a holy man who comes to their little hovel in the driving snow. The wife insists the man is long since dead and that this is a dybbuk occupying his body. In Jewish folklore, a dybbuk is a malicious, possessing spirit, the dislocated soul of a dead person which attaches itself to the body of the living.
The serious man’s dybbuk is his unceasing drive to do the right thing, no matter what. But when he can no longer cope with the crushing blows from every corner of his world, he pleads with the old Rabbi to see him. The Rabbi cannot, he is too busy thinking. When the Rabbi grants his son an audience on the day of his Barmitzvah, his wisdom says, simply, Live with yourself and do the best you can.
This is a film about morality, life and luck. How you keep to what you know is the right path and hope until the end. It’s one to keep you up all night.