Monday, 22 December 2008

Less sacked than I thought

w11-web-smallHere's something which cheered me up a bit.

I used to play fairly often for the entirely wonderful W11 Opera for Young People, which I think was in those days called W11 Children's Opera. Exactly why I think this is so wonderful and what I felt about being involved I will save for a longer piece another time. For now, suffice it to say that it was a great privilege to be in the orchestra and a bit of a highlight of the year for me.

Now, who plays the trumpet is largely in the gift of - well, I'm not quite sure who but I think it's probably a two-headed composite of the composer and the MD. Certainly, I was first asked to play by Timothy Kraemer, who'd written the show in a year (1981) when his brother Nicholas was still conducting, and they both sort-of knew me, albeit probably as a well-meaning blunderer rather than the stunning trumpet pioneer I was never quite to become hem hem indeed yes, or rather no.

What a setup like this means, though, is that doing a few gigs is no guarantee that it's your show for ever, no matter how much you liked doing it. People move on, you get a different MD or composer, they've got a mate who plays the trumpet - you're out. (Plus, they might have listened to last year's recording with me on - kiss of death!) And so, for example, there was a bit of a gap after the busier period in the 80s and early 90s when I often used to get asked. I was then asked again in 1996 (though that was a revival of a show I'd done in 87) and I've not been asked since. 

I had rather assumed that I had in effect been sacked, though to be fair with freelance gigs it's not exactly sacked - you're just not asked. However, I had a quick look at their website this morning, a reminiscent mood having been triggered by something quite unconnected; the results are more pleasing than I had thought. This is what I find (all figures inclusive):

Total shows to 2008 since I first played in 1981 = 28

  Of those:
Shows with trumpet = 9
  Of those:
Shows I did = 6
Shows I didn't do = 3

Shows to 2008 since I last played in 1996 = 13

  Of those:
Shows with trumpet = 2
  Of those:
Shows I did (1996) = 1
Shows I didn't do (1997) = 1

In other words, I played in 1996 and was then not asked to play in 1997. Since that year there has been no trumpet part so while I was not asked to play neither was any other trumpet player.

Obviously, I wish I'd been asked in 1997 and I wish there'd been trumpet parts since then and I'd been asked again. Still, the fact remains that I've missed out a lot less than I had thought. I had rather imagined that it had gone trumpetistically onwards and upwards, and bigger- and bigger-time trumpet players were doing it every year, household names the lot of them, while I stayed at home and wept into my Scotch (a rather fine single malt, since you ask).

Sure, if there is a trumpet another year then my chances of being asked are very slim (unlike me, yes Tamsin thank you) because there's probably no-one there who even knows who I am now and the bright young composer and MD will indeed probably have 56 trumpet-playing friends, all of them better, nicer and prettier than me. Yup sure. But still, it turns out, looking at these dates and shows this morning, that I was actually rather a lot less sacked than I thought and, call me a sad old git if you will, I find this strangely heartening.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

I beg your pardon? Or, Oopsie-Beebs-a-Drug-o-Blog™ (fixed)

17-12-2008 12-30-04 From a BBC News story on the obesity epidemic:

Iconic stories and images have emerged: Jamie Oliver getting Rotherham coking [...]

Er ... really??

Gosh. Will there be a Sainsbury's ad too, do you think?

Update: they've fixed it now, after a surprisingly long hilarity-gap. But it was marvellous while it lasted.

Friday, 12 December 2008

This is the Record of John (This is the Bankruptcy of Vogel)

Amazon are making it far too easy for me to spend money, by providing a rather good MP3 service. And no horrid vile pesky DRM, hurrah.

As a result I have just bought eleven different versions of TITROJ. Am I going somewhat mentalist? (Tsk - pejorative language - <slap>! Ow.)

It's a long story - well, a short one really, come to think of it. I may get back to it, but not right now.


Wednesday, 10 December 2008


I am having lunch with dear friends today, and coffee with another one tomorrow.

These are Good Things.


Still not really good enough, but you have to admire the cheek ...

10-12-2008 08-29-40 A slightly eggy message from a non-eggy sender, possibly in Sedona, AZ, (but possibly not):

"As part of our security measures, we regularly screen activity in the Egg Bank system. We recently contacted you after noticing an issue on your account.

"Because of unusual number of invalid login attempts on you account, we had to believe that, their might be some security problem on your account. So we have decided to put an extra verification process to ensure your identity and your account security. Please Click Here [link amended, safe to follow] to continue to the verification process and ensure your account security.

"We guarantee to repay you any money that is taken from your Egg account or any third party account aggregated via Egg Money Manager as a result of fraud, unless you have failed to follow our security guidelines and terms and conditions"

Sadly, my new Web 2.0 startup spinoff playup showoff onramp upnose leveraged buyout selllout legacy new technology business to offer language tuition to phishers and spammers has still not quite established itself yet. (We are having trouble with local certification in certain trade areas, and with obtaining trustworthy armed guards in others. Indeed we are having both problems simultaneously in a number of key markets.) Seems a pity but I think this one is going to have to be marked FAIL, especially with that old favourite "you-for-your" thing and the double whammy of Bad Comma followed instantly by Bad Their. Though, to be fair, I'd give it a Judge's Commendation for the magnificent cheek of that last paragraph, which actually gets funnier as you reread it.

Onwards and upwards!


10-12-2008 chl The pedestrian traffic lights at the junction of Colney Hatch Lane and Alexandra Park Road, N10, have been "fixed". That is, they have been put back to their previous dangerous state.

What now happens is that a pedestrian waiting to cross the northbound side of Colney Hatch Lane gets a green to cross. Sadly, the cars waiting in Alexandra Park Road to turn right into CHL-Northbound also get their own green just a couple of seconds later. A small proportion of car drivers understands that the pedestrian lights are separate and that the red light immediately after they turn is telling them to stop. The rest just drive straight through on this red light, which is supposed to be protecting the CHL-crossing pedestrians. These drivers either do not see the red or think it is not for them.

This is bad, dangerous and (in my personal opinion only of course) negligent and stupid too. Since it cannot be that the roads people actually want to kill pedestrians, can it be that they are just too thick to understand this problem? Who knows? My personal opinion is that they must be intelligent and conscientious people. Er. Yes.

Sad point: it isn't the likes of me that this crossing will kill. It will be foreigners, children, people with disabilities, old people, people who are too trusting of officialdom. These people risk their lives if they take the green light on trust: the rest of us treat it with grave scepticism, and look all round very carefully.

Sad point: it was definitely safer when it was stuck on permanent red for the pedestrians. Honestly.

Positive point: even if they won't sort it out properly, how about a sign at the lights warning drivers that the lights after the turn are separate? There's one of these on or near Falloden Way and I think it helps. For goodness' sake, it certainly might at least help with the road managers' liability if someone gets squished... I'd do it for that reason alone! Go on Haringey/TfL - give us a sign!

I submitted this as a street fault report, editing slightly and adding "If you think I am wrong about this, contact me and tell me why." Do you think they will?

Monday, 8 December 2008

Memo to Self, concerning Repulsive Yobs on the Underground Railway System of our Fair Capital, and your Demeanour and Behaviour regarding the Said Yobs

Dear Self,

Please don't cheek horrid yobs on the Tube. Especially not those who look able, nay willing, to beat you to a pulp in five seconds (on a slow day).

Although their obnoxious behaviour might seem to give you the moral high ground, this would be of limited use to you in hospital or indeed some place more worser. High ground to six feet under, kinda sortafing.

Or did you really enjoy the next few minutes at Euston, wondering if Mr Knuckledragger could be bothered to come after you? Or wondering, indeed, how much it would be possible for you rapidly to alter your appearance, as a precaution against him kindly offering to do so for you? Or do you want to have to carry a nice selection of wigs and glasses against a similar circumstance in future? No, I thought not.

Did you consider at the time the possibility that this was not only a Nasty-Piece-Of-Work™ but perhaps an easily-offended, spiteful, persistent and clever Nasty-Piece-Of-Work™? Sure, the Blessed Ian Dury sang, "you know if it came to a brainy game / you could baffle a blockhead with ease" ... but you don't know that this applies here, and if not you could, even more, be in trouble. Suppose the yob is cleverer than you, and knows Euston better? He's certainly faster ... think on, chuck. Or suppose he's a copper??

Is it worth it? No-one was in danger and no-one else was being oppressed. You could have swallowed your stupid pride, ignored him, cursed him lightly and pianissimo from at least 200m away (having first checked the wind direction) and enjoyed your coffee and croissant very much more without the encumbrance of the big orange fright wig and the diamante Elton John glasses. (In which, to be honest, you didn't look that great.) Think on.

Another thing to consider might be the advisibility of anticoagulated persons standing up to Yob Britain (©Daily Mail thank you so much). It could be a touch tricky trying to explain your bruisy-bleedy tendencies to a person on such a mission and in the full flow of demonstrating their commitment to their, uh, personal ideals. Your high INR might well whisper "not today matey boy" to the cautious listener, but you'd better decide who this listener is going to be ... and just imagine the reaction of the rest of the family if you got bashed around by Mr Tubeyob. Yes, quite. Think on.

Further, someone who gets paranoiac anxiety attacks if looked at strangely by, say, a poodle is probably not quite the right person single-handedly to tackle London's er er moral blight (©Daily Mail thank you so much). Not, at least, without tights, a cape, and some rather good Powers. Voosh.

Face it, self-righteousness is often in any case a bit nauseating, even if the person being self-righteous is actually, er, right. I'm actually a bit annoyed and irritated with you right now, and if you wrote out a profit and loss statement for the whole yob-interaction episode it would be hard to see how it would come out as a net gain compared with the wiser choice of completely ignoring the creep. Think on.

And how about this: if that young man goes off and kicks the dog or thumps someone today, is that your fault? Not at all, a bit, a lot, entirely? Think on ...

Certainly it is most unfortunate that you accidentally stood on his toe, even though it really was the purest of accidents. Yes. But what, precisely, do you think would be your chances of persuading him, in a hurry, of this important fact? Yup, me too.

So now ... first you got unhappy about the yob and then you got unhappy - and anxious - because you got unhappy about the yob. And now you're wasting your life blogging about it. Feedback loop red alert. Red alert feedback loop. On balance you're probably in a less good happiness-state right now than he is. (But shall we write something spiteful about his toe maybe hurting? Ah, perhaps not.)

You need to give up doing this stuff: this is a type of behaviour which you need to abandon, right now. Indignation engenders idiocy. Think on.

And please don't get me started on your driving. Oy veh!

Bottom line: learn anger management. You should, because they won't.

Thank you for reading. Think on.

Yours sincerely,


Blogular management note: I feel that I have abased and embarrassed myself quite enough already in this blogological entity and, as a result, questions along the lines of "but what actually happened?" will not, I am afraid, receive any satisfactory response. Dear reader, it would take more chocolate and red wine than you currently have. Instead, do please feel free to imagine your own little playlet, casting me as a chubby, red-faced, indignant demicentenarian, with perhaps just a hint of Retired Colonel, and casting the yob as, well, a yob, with perhaps just a hint of Yob. (Though ahem of course I am sure that he actually has a most interesting hinterland and is a pillar of his community and loves his Mum.) Put these two uncharming characters (both of whom would appear to have got out of the wrong side of bed this lovely morning) together in neighbouring seats and observe their unlovely interaction. That should pretty much cover it, thank you.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Gig-a-Blog™ (Haydn Dickenson, St Anne & St Agnes)

01122008280 Haydn Dickenson, piano: works by Robert Parsons (b. 1938), Schumann, John White (b. 1936)

An interesting concert going new-old-new, which I thought a very successful and enjoyable mix (but hey - what do I know?)

Parsons: Three Eisler Transcriptions

  1. Hoelderlin Fragment no 2 Poised slow movement with graceful sweeping melodies and fabulously fruity harmony.
  2. Hoelderlin Fragment no 5 Difficult, nay impossible, to categorize but - meiner Meinung nach - has bits of a very nice slow jazz-waltz feel, lush and romantic, then some more urgent, declamatory interjections building the tension.
  3. The Sprinkling of Gardens Quite intense, unruffled, more lovely harmony.

The composer was here and looked nice. Yeah, irrelevant, I know, but it's my blog! And it's a fabulous piece of music.

Schumann: Faschingsschwank aus Wien op 26

(Colin, please see me afterwards. It is a perfectly respectable German word, the sch- is an inseparable part of it, and your silliness is really not helping. Do try to behave.)

  1. Allegro Impressive, swashbuckling start. Good piano-bursts-into-flames stuff! I love it. Oh alright there were a couple of quieter moments chiz, but I diskard them.
  2. Romanze. Peaceful, simple melody picked out and sung through by Mr Dickenson with superb finesse and restraint. Mmm nice.
  3. Scherzino. Jolly, quick march, left-right left-right. Silly but fun.
  4. Intermezzo Oh dear it's gone a bit serious now. But it's also rather gorgeous.
  5. Finale: busy, fun. Big symphonic ending. Woo.

White: Sonata no 154 (Carbon Footprints in the Snow)

Driven, quick music. Then lovely chorale thing with the fast parts taking more of a back seat ... then it all kicks off again for a barnstorming ending.

This concert - with its clever, interesting programme - was an great display of the technical skills and expressively beautiful playing of this powerful and impressive pianist. Yeah, I liked it.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Vogel Blows His Top, or, The Pedestrian Traffic Lights on Colney Hatch Lane are (in my personal opinion) Very Dangerous and Will Kill Someone (in my personal opinion) One Day and I Did Try To Tell You. (In my personal opinion.)

Of course all below is merely my personal opinion and should not possibly be taken as a statement of fact. Dearie me no.

This is a fault report I've just filled in on the TfL web site.

If you are wondering if I have blown my top and gone a bit nuts, then yes, I have. I have a long history with this issue. The medication does not help, doctor.

If you are a Haringey or TfL roads person, and you are wondering if I have put this here with a sort-of malicious intent, that is, starting a historical record of my attempts to counter your (in my personal opinion) stupid (in my personal opinion) horrible (in my personal opinion) dangerous (in my personal opinion) negligence, so that if/when someone is killed or seriously injured there I have a public record of the fact that you were told ... hmmmmm well chaps what do you think? I'd be quite worried, myself. Seriously.

If you are a Haringey or TfL roads person, and you want to argue with me about this, the comments are below. Please join in. Seriously.

If you are a Haringey or TfL roads person, and you are actually going to fix it and make it safe, because you've actually understood the issue, then woo woo woo and please let me bake you a cake. Seriously.

Right, off we go.


Borough: Haringey

Fault type: Traffic light

Location: Colney Hatch La/Alexandra Park Rd N10. Pedestrian light for people crossing NORTHBOUND side of CHL a metre or two north of the road junction.

Description: This particular part of the system currently has NO green light phase for pedestrians. The pedestrian WAIT light is permanently on and the red man is permanently displayed. I have watched the lights right through a cycle to check this.

Please note:

  1. I do NOT mean the light for pedestrians crossing the southbound side of CHL. It's fine. I mean only the one which I describe exactly above.
  2. In many ways, your current mess is safer and more honest than when it was nominally working. Why? Because your previous setup, designed I assume by an (in my personal opinion) idiot and/or (in my personal opinion) would-be murderer, gave pedestrians a green and then gave the cars waiting in APR to turn right into CHL-Northbound their own green just a couple of seconds later. Since only about 5% of car drivers seem to have the brains to realize that the pedestrian lights are separate, the other 95% just drive straight through on the red light that is supposed to protect the CHL-crossing pedestrians. They either do not see the red or think it is not for them. Now, none of you has ever (in my personal opinion) had the understanding to get anywhere (in my personal opinion) near this problem, but it would be nice, in a perfect world, to think that someone with a bit (in my personal opinion) more sense could actually VISIT the junction, watch driver behaviour, see what I mean, and do something.


a. It's currently broken
b. If you "fix" it by putting it back to how it was before, you will be (in my personal opinion) knowingly endangering lives. If you did this then someone was killed or injured there, I'd very much hope that your (in my personal opinion) negligence would become public knowledge.
c. If you fix it by actually listening to what I have said and acting on it, you will be (in my personal opinion) taking an opportunity to enhance pedestrian safety and should probably (in my personal opinion) get the OBE. And a nice (in my personal opinion) chocolate (in my personal opinion) cake.


Vogel (in my personal opinion)

And the response so far:

Street fault reported

Thank you. Your fault has been successfully recorded.

I'm sorry, I know this is a terrible terrible rant. But I have, honestly, had it with this issue. I have tried and tried, given up, retried - and, essentially, got pretty much nowhere. So my instinct to report the broken light came crunching up against my pre-existing, er, condition and the above rant is the result. Will it do any good? Quite possibly not: I am up against (in my personal opinion) intransigent people who know that they know better than me and have rarely shown signs of paying attention to what I've said. But maybe it will make me feel a touch better that I have at least tried.

In the meantime, if you cross the road there, please treat that traffic light, whatever it is telling you, with the very deepest suspicion: make sure you are safe by applying your own judgement and careful observation. I am not kidding.

If any of this has any impact, I will let you know. I do not advise holding your breath but, if it does have a beneficial effect - just imagine!

Gig-a-Blog-a-memo™ (Various, St Anne & St Agnes)

Various dates in 2008

This concerns a number of lovely concerts at St Anne & St Agnes, that I enjoyed greatly. As noted elsewhere, though, I've recently had to bite the bullet and acknowledge that I'm actually never going to get round to writing about them all despite my good intentions, that well-known paving material for a Certain Road. This rather incomplete list is what I know for sure I went to, and may be edited occasionally when or if I remember more concerts or find more programmes. I know it's probably not very interesting for the reader: sorry - I just want to remember what I can and this blogular place is as good as any to keep a little aide-memoire.

  • 14/11/08 Woodrow: Gaultier, Schlee, Bach
  • 10/11/08 Graudina, Griffiths, Mitrea: Bach, Pärt, Kroll, Bottesini
  • 7/11/08 Luciano & Losi: Luca Luciano in concert
  • 24/10/08 Koshka & Brown: Bruch & Mendelssohn
  • 17/10/08 LD Frazier: Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel
  • 10/10/08 Sändig & Knizia: Bach & Handel
  • 6/10/08 Graudina & Knizia: Schubert & Mozart
  • 22/9/08 AnDante: Gesualdo
  • 28/7/08 Pienaar: Bach
  • 26/7/08 Sweelinck Ensemble/Knizia: Bach
  • 25/7/08 Sweelinck Ensemble/Knizia: Bach
  • 11/7/08 Smith & Campling: Handel, Campling, Aubert, Poulenc
  • 1/7/08 Meyer: Bach
  • 25/4/08 Kikuchi & Fuller: Flackton, Samuel, Wolstenholme, Schumann
  • 11/4/08 Quantrill & Allen: Leighton, Gershwin, Milhaud, Koechlin, Gaubert
  • 7/4/08 Caballero & Yamamoto: de la Barre, d'Anglebert, Telemann, Bach
  • 4/4/08 duoDorT (Halsall & Kurataç): Reich, Riley, Telford, McPhee

Lovely lovely!!

I must also mention a fabulous Salmagundi Ensemble concert at Wesley's Chapel on 29/4/08: McDowall, Chopin, Ravel, Martinů. For more go here and search down to "29 April". My notes for this are very trashed: they were already pretty bad and then suffered a proper technical accident, involving the blood-curdling ishoo of, ahem, Irretrievable Deletion Caused by Gross Incompetence. So I can't possibly use them, but, take it from me, the concert was great stuff.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Gig-a-Blog™ (Nadia Giliova, St Anne & St Agnes)

Friday, 27 June 2008

Nadia Giliova, piano

The last almost-rescuable Gig-a-Blog™ from Back Then™. Sorry about the stupid gaps: mea culpa, etc. Right, off we go:

Blake Variations on a Theme of Bartók Op. 3

Interesting, spiky Bartók corners. I'd have loved some programme notes and I'd love to hear this again.

Another Blake work – sadly not noted at the time, so lost. Bother.

Schumann - Carnival of Vienna, Op. 26

  1. Allegro - grand, inspiring, goes with a real swing. Huge sound, incredible technical assurance.
  2. Romanze - gorgeous, mysterious, full of longing. I rather like the way this movement just sets out its stall and goes away - you don't get three hours of pleading.
  3. Scherzino - light, jollier moments
  4. Intermezzo - flowing lovely arpeggiation. And hence a full satisfying texture with melody being brought forward without being in your face.
  5. Finale - I loved this - busy, broad, singing at times and positively symphonic at others. This is a great movement and hearing it played by a great pianist like Giliova is a fantastic privilege.

Rachmaninov Two Preludes Op. 23

  1. Restful, calm, possibly too calm for me right now, but very beautiful.
  2. Ah - fireworks! That's more like it. Worth two coffees at least. Extremely exciting, and I need to get close enough to check whether she's actually got fourteen fingers or something: she is currently playing more notes than I can process. Fabulous.

So there you go. A jolly fine concert, and her notes (arf) really somewhat better than mine. Aha.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Gig-a-Blog™ (Pells & Knizia, St Anne & St Agnes)

Mary Pells, viola da gamba; Martin Knizia, harpsichord. Works by Telemann, Marin Marais, Simpson, Corelli

It's odd, but comforting, to be back at St Anne and St Agnes following all last week's excitement. In terms of my place in the scheme of things it feels rather like I'm picking up where I left off. Usual pew, usual coffee: all just as it should be. And my notes are just as bad as they are supposed to be under the New Stressless Regime! So now read on, if you can be bothered:

Telemann Sonata in A minor - gorgeous, largely cheerful, and warming.

Marin Marais Suite in A minor - fantastic and fascinating. Mary Pells was interesting on the subject composer and his very precise approach to notation.

Simpson Divisions in E minor - beautiful variations. (Can I feel a brass ensemble arrangement coming on? Hush!)

Corelli Sonata in F major - stately Preludio gives way to: Allemanda - lively, direct; a poised, simple Sarabanda; Gavotta - jolly and driving; and an admirably nimble-footed Giga.

A lovely gig. I was worried that after the trumpet concert I'd be coming down to earth with a heavy bump today. Due, however, to Pells' and Knizia's glowing sounds and beautiful phrasing, I instead sort of drifted around in a cloud of goodwill to all mankind, and indeed I still may not have quite touched down yet. Watch this space.