Hairy House

Hairy House

Friday, 24 June 2016

What Price Democracy?

Democracy is a beautiful word, liquid and crunchy at the same time, a river of fairness flowing over a pebbled creek bed of justice. It resonates with echoes of history, of age and wisdom; it is a word which conjures up beautiful old Greek men and women in their marble togas, debating in a temple of peace and prosperity.

An archaic view perhaps, but maybe one that is more fitting than the idea of millions of British people lining up at polling booths? For surely the concept of Democracy was born out of the idea of people having facts, time to debate them, to turn them over and look at them from every point of view?

In any other part of my life, I tend to ask for expert opinion. If I am ill, I take the advice of a qualified doctor over a group of friends who have no experience in the medical field, I would go to a solicitor on matters of law, to a plumber for trouble with our never ending sewage issues (though maybe the latter is something I need to rethink!) Sometimes, there may be things I could fix myself, but because I run a family and work etc etc, I do not have the time to do the necessary research, or gain the expertise, and I don't think I am unusual. And yet, I, along with 64 million others, have been asked to make a decision on an issue with massive legal, economic and environmental implications. 

I have done my best to research as best as I can, dipping into the quagmire of lies and arguments, counterarguments and vitriol, that the media of this country have drummed up, whilst the people who I believe should be the experts, the people who have the details and facts at their fingertips, have spent their time mud slinging and whining, pointing fingers and making wild claims that they are already, less than twenty four hours later, rejecting.

Now that the results are in, I feel heartbroken, devastated, terrified for the future of my children. I would love to shout and scream and blame all the people who have voted against my own beliefs, but at the same time, I know that they too will have been fighting their way through life, many of them too busy to do anything other than glance at the headlines of the Daily Mail. How many of us have the time, the energy or the wherewithal, to sift through the lies and hate? How many of us have the experience, the knowledge, to make decisions such as this, on the very little knowledge available to us?

I believe that Great Britain, and maybe even the world is a much darker place this morning and all for the sake of "Democracy"?

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Remembering Music

According to Facebook, my followers would like to hear from me...not sure that's true, or if I even have any followers.
Be that as it may, I have been thinking of a series of Rants that I intend to write, regarding music education,have just been trying to pluck up the courage/ find a minute in the day to write them. In the meantime, thought I might just witter on a bit about some thoughts I had last night, which could, possibly, be connected in some way.

So, last night I was Morris Dancing with Owlswick Morris in a pub in Whitchurch, a lovely old building called, rather originally for a Buckinghamshire pub, The Swan. Whitchurch is a gorgeous village only slightly marred by being carved in two by the A413. As in so much of England, the architecture ranges from lopsided cottages with pudding basin hair cuts, cuddled up to little houses made of flapjack coloured Cotswold stone, or medieval black and white timbered buildings with diamond pane windows. Church towers, turf covered graveyards, pubs with swinging signs, stags, swans, you get the picture. Last night was the last of May and a cold wind was blowing, slanting rain etc so there was no one but us dancers in the pub, dancing to ourselves. The musicians started up a tune - Beaux of London City, which is a tune I have danced to countless times, occasionally with Owlswick and, for a couple of years, with Windsor Morris, in Ales all over the south of England. And yet, as soon as I heard the music, blowing out into the wet, grey English evening, I was transported to a place and time where the air was hot and dry and smelled of dust and wide open spaces, eucalyptus trees. Behind the notes, I could hear echoes of the call to prayer, the hum of the pool pump, the confused chatter of parrots, laughter, the clink of tea mugs and cns of 7Up, I could feel the thump of teenage adrenalin in my veins, see the inky darkness beyond the floodlights in my parent's garden. Because, in spite of the fact that I have heard this tune played so often, in so many places, the first time I danced this dance, heard the music, was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, when I was about fifteen.

It is the same with Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March. I have played it numerous times, most often in Best of British concerts, for instance, in Australia with the Queensland Pops Orchestra; I have sung along to it at the Albert Hall, standing squashed into the Arena with hundreds of other promenaders at The Last Night of the Proms. And yet, whenever I hear the opening flurry of notes, I am filled with the atmosphere of a gymanisum in Riyadh, heaving with drunken, homesick expats, all singing their little hearts out, to the backing of an out-of-tune concert band, in the nerve wracking days leading up to the first Gulf War. 
When I hear the first notes to How Great Thou Art, I see the dim flickering of candles on the altar of St Theresa's Church in Harper, Liberia, hear the deep, rich harmonies of many African voices, the crash and thunder of tropical storms and the swelling of the red earth as it is pounded by the rain. When I hear the Skye Boat Song, it is not a Scottish Loch that comes to mind, but the magical smell  of petrol, hot sand and wind and fish, salt water and sea weed that was the smell of Lake Shepherd, the Lagoon that lay in front of St Theresa's and the place where we had many a barricuda filled adventure in our days in Harper. 

I have heard it said that the sense of smell is that that is most closely linked with memory, but I wonder. If, after all these years, the very first notes of music can bring back such strong memories of every other sense, does that mean that music is a sense of its own? And, I know that in the past, music has often been used as a memory aid, in story telling, for eductional purposes - and I don't just mean music education here. But I feel that, in Western society, more and more, music is just used as a means of "entertainment" with a definitely small e. I know music is used wonderfully by many therapists, but is it not time to see how we may use music more effectively again, in every day education and life?
Anyway, just some preceding thoughts. Would love to hear of others experiences re music and memory, if anyone ever reads this blog after my long absence of writing...?