About this blog

This is a window into the weird world of Anglicanism, as experienced on a Cathedral Close. Has anything much happened since Trollope's Barchester Chronicles? You will still see the 'canon in residence' hurrying across to choral Evensong, robes flapping, as the late bell chimes. But look carefully and you will notice he is checking the football score on his iPhone as he runs. This is also a writer's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the novelist's life. And it's a fighter's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the judo mat. Well, the agony, anyway.

Sunday 2 June 2013


Here's where to find Chapter 22:
The music to go with this week's instalment begins with one of my favourite choral pieces.  I first heard it in Durham cathedral when I was an undergraduate: 'Jesus Christ the apple tree.'  Fr Wendy sings a verse of it as she sits under a crab apple tree.  Poor old Wendy.  She's one of those countless thousands who think they can't sing, because someone poked them in the back when they were children and told them they were out of tune.  My mother (who sings very nicely, though she doesn't believe it) can remember vividly that poking moment, and the teacher saying: 'Shut up, you: you're growling.'  Never, ever tell a child they can't sing, even if they can't.  Most will get the hang of it later, but if you poke them, you'll snuff out a bright light for the rest of their life.  

Here's the song for you, sung with beautifully rolled Rs in the Anglican manner, by the choir of King's College, Cambridge.  I looked in vain for a version by Durham cathedral choir.  Sort it out, please, Mr Precentor.

The next musical reference is Jane's dystopian vision of a world run by 'the aggressive homosexual community' forcing people to participate in Sound of Music Sing-alongs.  It's quite a big thing, this.  Check  it out for yourselves here:

And apart from a fleeting reference to this again (mwa ha ha!)

that's about it for this week, other than St Patrick's Breastplate, which is the tune to the Trinity Sunday hymn, 'I Bind unto Myself Today'.

This is a hymn with a long history rooted in the stories of St Patrick.  Here's part of it, given a haunting twist, by composer Arvo Part.  I play this when I'm besieged by panic or misery, as many writers are from time to time, I'm afraid. 'The Deer's Cry':


  1. I totally agree about children & singing. I used to train a choir. We didn't audition and had lots of children who had been told they couldn't sing. They all left able to sing in tune and hold a part in a round either on their own or with one other person. Lots of it is about learning to listen and the easiest way to learn to sing in tune is to sing with others - matching voice to voice is much easier than matching the voice to piano or any other instrument. *Climbs of yet another hobby horse*

    1. My older son was hopeless, which was tricky when his younger brother (who could sing in tune from the word go) used to laugh at him. They would then appeal to arbitrate. He sings perfectly well now.