Good Afternoon Dear Friends . . .
. . . and welcome to Saturday in all its silentness and solitude; I sit in the study and listen to various pieces of music that I have loved over the years and think of all the associations they bring with them ... Listening to Elgar I am reminded of the time I used to spend in Barryfield, a very large Victorian house in the depths of Stockton Heath, where I would sit in the music room and compose on the (rather poor) piano some twenty plus years ago . . . when the strain of creativity would get too much for me I would resort to listening instead to some of dear old Sir Edward's stuff that fitted the surroundings so well; the house had rather nice grounds including an orchard and looking out at this with the sound of the Enigma Variations or Serenade in E in the background summoned up the essence of the Edwardian period very nicely for me - a sort of pre-war innocence which, with the gift of hindsight, was already tinged with the sadness of premature loss.
As the music continues and the sounds of Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis fills my head and heart - for it is one of my most favourite pieces ever - I am transported, not as one might expect to Tudor England, but to its filmic counterpart A Man for All Seasons with the inimitable Paul Scofield as the doomed Thomas More dying for his faith . . . it also starred a practically juvenile John Hurt as the arch-betrayer of both More and Fisher, Richard Rich. The music has a rich lusciousness and also a stark, bare harshness reflecting beautifully the themes of the film - faith and betrayal and, subsequently, of life and death.
It has been quite a day for nostalgia really; and, although obviously still August, the stillness of the air reminded me of the turn of the year with its inherent beauty and sadness . . . in fact, the memories have been flooding over me quite a lot recently; I've spent some time driving around Cheshire and re-encountering places like Great Budworth where I once wanted to live - there was a house I adored there; it had French windows there and it was always my dream to have a study with such windows where I could place my piano (grand, of course!) and look out into the garden as I played! - and all the twisty lanes and byways of rurallity . . . the fantastically named but ultimately disappointing Antrobus, and a number of places dotted around on the banks of the Weaver . . .
Talking of venturing abroad, in a few days I am leaving the shire and journeying south. It will be a holiday of sorts but the main purpose is to take the Old Duchess on her last outing; one of her requests was to have her ashes scattered near Sandbanks in Bournemouth that they might mingle with those of her brother who she loved dearly and so I am off to stay in Winchester and spend some time exploring that wonderful and historic city before slipping the thirty miles or so to the coast and saying a final farewell to her earthly remains . . . and as I type that sentence the music has changed to Nimrod which we played as she entered the chapel at her funeral, very apt and moving . . . the plan is to take the boat over to Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour and say goodbye there.
This, of course, also means that Sal is off to spend time in her favourite hotel, the really quite splendid Talbot House in the wilds of Worthington . . . she actually loves the family who own the kennels and so I can leave her there for a few days without feeling too guilty . . . but before all that though I have lots of work to do on my portfolio in order to actually qualify as a fully-fledged counsellor; my colleagues on the course have received their certificates and are now "proper" . . . to be honest, I am sadly lacking motivation for such things but it does seem a waste of four years hard work if I don't do this final task - a mere six thousand words or so; if it were fiction it wouldn't be more than a couple of days work . . . so I have to buckle down to it next week before the outing, oh hum!
Anyhow, I still have a breathing space before Monday and so I shall leave you to your weekend as the music - An Oxford Elegy by Ralph Vaughan Williams, an enduring masterpiece and all time favourite - swells and breaks like waves of memories over my head until I am drowning in images and times gone by . . . have a wonderful weekend liberally bespattered with sunshine and love
'til next time
Be Seeing You !
* The word is a learned formation of a Greek compound, consisting of νόστος(nóstos), meaning "returning home", a Homeric word, and ἄλγος (álgos), meaning "pain, ache".