Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The silver linings

Though today I'm feeling rather less sunny than I have the past two days, I need to record that a couple of silver linings exist in the cancellation of our holiday. The first became evident on Sunday afternoon, when Holy Trinity was filled with regulars and visitors from all over the place - including Hungary - for a marriage blessing and a baptism. After a dreadful accident at work, the effects of which are still very obvious after four months, Csaba thrilled us all by reading Psalm 139  in an electrifying manner, and was able to stand alongside Melinda as their marriage was blessed. It was joyous and moving, and the music for the occasion - Hungarian and Scottish -  could be live rather than on the iPod because I hadn't hauled the organist off to Sicily. As for the Hungarian dancing at the bunfight afterwards - there will be photos, and a wee movie, once I finish retrieving the important things on my convalescent computer - it was as unexpected as it was wonderful.

The second plus for me was being able to attend the funeral of Kenneth Elliot. One of the discoveries of my time at university was the pleasure to be found in singing the music of 16th and 17th century Scotland, a tiny portion of which I had studied for my Higher Music. At that time, Mr B and I were founder members of a vocal ensemble - The New Consort of Voices - and a fond memory is of an evening when the eight of us were invited to Kenneth's house to drink wine, eat olives and sing the music he had been working on. Later in his life, he too looked back to that particular bunch of students - because we were enthusiastic, young, sang without wobbles and sang his stuff the way he wanted it. At least, we did before the wine had flowed too freely ...

Yesterday, five of that Consort were at the funeral in St Mary's Cathedral in Great Western Road, Glasgow. Yes, there were other people too, but we were remembering a particular era, a time of discovery and handwritten manuscripts, of late nights and laughter, of traumas involving delicate harpsichords and wayward visiting counter-tenors. We marvelled at how old we were becoming, and how some people looked just like their fathers (these tended to be people we hadn't seen since uni). The funeral service was beautifully put together; a scratch choir under Alan Tavener sang just as they should have, and George McPhee was the perfect organist.  I was particularly struck by Kelvin Holdsworth's words - as he told us, he had only met Kenneth at the very end of his life, but he struck exactly the right note in a manner we all appreciated. (And no, there was no pun intended - I never think of good puns when I need them). Kenneth would have approved of the whole thing.

Today I'm paying for the fact that I couldn't spend ten minutes in every hour lying on my face in the last two days - but to compensate I realise even more forcibly that I couldn't have survived a walking holiday such as we had planned. We shall go another time - but these silver linings were one-off affairs. Etna can wait.

I hope ...

Later: I was waiting to retrieve a photo for this post, and somehow it's arrived here after midnight. I've not gone crazy - just think Tuesday rather than Wednesday for the posting date!

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