Archive for March, 2019

Review of ‘Witchford’s Got Talent’ in Witchford Village College on Saturday 30th March 2019

March 31, 2019

Witchford Amateur Dramatic Society (WADS) put on a fantastic show in Witchford Village College on Saturday. ‘Witchford’s Got Talent’ was very aptly named for indeed, the show included an amazing array of highly talented people of all ages.

In particular, there were many excellent singers: solos, duets and ensembles. They were often accompanied live by talented guitarists or pianist Greg Lowes . These amazing performers gave us popular songs many of which came from the shows such as ‘Hamilton’, ‘Mary Poppins Returns’, ‘The Little Mermaid’, and ‘Les Miserables’. There were comedy sketches too and a delightful  demonstration of batton twirling by Aaliyah Scrine.

Highlights for me included singers Sammy Webb, Charlie-May  and Zak Wymer, and ‘The Invisible Car’ sketch by Alex Lee, Jack Dyson and Josh Andrews. Q from James Bond films was wonderful as he lost his cool after being fed up with being taken for granted.

The whole show was enhanced by the highly entertaining repartee from the wonderful WADS Witchfords got Talent 30.03.2019 Sarah Boor and Steve Barkercompères Sarah Boor and Steve Barker.


comment: It is so easy to knock something down.

March 24, 2019

It is much easier to knock something down than to build it. Every toddler knows this. Some concentration and effort is needed to build a tower of bricks. One quick movement of the hand and the tower will come tumbling down.
This applies to a lot that is happening today. It is so easy to find fault with people and what they do. More often than not, such negative words spring from misunderstandings,wrong assumptions or a hidden agenda.
People from all our different political parties are dismayed at the negative back-biting that has been happening in our parliament recently. It is so easy to simply reject a proposition. It is not so easy to create a reasonable one. When there are two sides to a problem it seems logical that some kind of compromise is required. A compromise only comes from both parties communicating with each other, not from one side summarily dismissing the other. While this may be an over-simplification of the situation, I maintain that it has a valid point.
Email is a medium that can easily lead to misunderstanding. Some time ago, I had written to a friend who had suggested making changes to an arrangement we had made. I had written ‘You can do whatever you like’. I was astonished at the reply which was: ‘There is no need to take that tone with me!’. This was a complete misunderstanding and it certainly tested our friendship.
Criticising others by presenting only one side of the situation can also be misleading. We all must agree that people not attending appointments at the doctor’s, for example, is not right and anyone missing an appointment unnecessarily should be criticised. However when we are greeted with a bold statement that 195 appointments were missed, it does not tell the whole story. How many of these appointments included people who were too ill to phone in to cancel or to make the appointment? How many were the result of patients not being told they actually had these appointments?
One local saw that she could access her medical records online. She made enquiries and was asked to bring her passport and a utility bill showing her address so that the right form could be filled in to be given this access. She went to some trouble to make a special visit to the surgery for this purpose. Sometime later the local received a letter saying that she could not access her medical notes after all. This waste of time was clearly NOT the fault of the patient!
People should get their own act together before passing judgement on others.

Comment: How to win friends and influence people?

March 17, 2019

‘How to win friends and influence people’ is a well-known book by Dale Carnegie. It is so well-known that it has become a catch phrase in our language. In the book, he  spells out basic common-sense ways to get on in life, whether socially or financially.

Some of the suggested ways of behaving include: become genuinely interested in other people; think less of self and more of others; be happy and pleasant to be with and listen and try to see things from the other person’s point of view.

It is amazing that he has had to tell us this. It is common sense isn’t it?

So why do so many people ignore these principles and even though they may be in business, show complete disinterest in us and what we want? It is no wonder so many businesses fail.

Recently, I needed and engineer to come to fix the TV. The business employing him would not make an appointment. I had to wait for a phone call from the engineer the following morning and he required me to stay in ALL day so that he could pick and choose when to come. How helpful is that? Is he not aware that I have other things to do with my life than sit and home and wait for him ALL DAY? Needless to say I won’t be rushing back for his services in the future if I can help it.

There are so many businesses that are trying to get rid of the human element and become almost completely automated. In the supermarkets we are encouraged to do absolutely everything ourselves. So far there are usually some assistants who can come to the rescue when machinery fails, but I often wonder how long this will this last. No matter how well automated machinery is designed and maintained, it is a common fact that machines often fail. It is very hard to argue with a machine. If a mistake is made, there seems no way for us as individuals to rectify the matter.

It is time for us to realize that machinery is there to serve us and not the other way round. We should acknowledge and have faith in the value of the human element. Shopping, for example, is much more that getting the goods we want, it is a social experience and there is no accounting for the value of having a good chat with a salesperson while we shop. Being able to discuss the product in detail and having an assistant who will make the effort to try to understand exactly what you want saves time and money and in the long run it usually leads to success.

Let us have fewer self-centred, grouchy and uncooperative people in business so that our society can thrive. This could well be relevant to our current political situation, but that is for another time.

Ely Consort’s concert in Ely Methodist Chapel on Saturday 16th March 2019

March 17, 2019


Ely Consort, directed by Matthew Rudd, is an excellent choir and obviously delighted the packed audience in Ely Methodist Chapel on Saturday. Their singing was a very high standard and as a choir it proved particularly competent at fusing complex chords into emotive, cohesive harmony.

Many of the pieces in the programme were new and those of us who are wary of contemporary composers were given a very pleasant surprise. Matthew obviously knows his music and the selection chosen for this programme, which included many modern-day composers, was particularly musical and delightful.

Pianist, Charlie Penn, and cellist Anna Jones also made and excellent contribution to this lovely programme. Charlie had some highly challenging material to play, and he managed it all with real panache. It was very pleasing to hear the rich tones of the cello. In ‘Serenity’ (‘O Magnum Mysterium’) by Ola Gjeilo, the cello was especially well integrated, making the piece meaningful, heartfelt and expressive.

Other highlights for me were ‘Time is Endless’ by Vytautas Miškinis, ‘Cantata Domino’ by Ko Matsushita, ‘The music of stillness’ by Elaine Hagenberg and the final ‘Polovtsian Dances’ by Alexander Borodin. ‘Time is Endless’ contained gorgeous, ethereal harmonies, ‘Cantata Domino’ was tuneful with a tinge of attractive melancholy, ‘The music of stillness’ had a beautiful, sustained texture with exquisite harmonic changes that were clearly expressed, and the excitement and exotic exuberance of the Polovtsian Dances ended the evening perfectly. None of this detail would have been possible to enjoy without the skill and sensitivity of this wonderful choir and its director.

Their next event will be John Rutter’s ‘Feel the Spirit’ in St. Mary’s Church, Burwell on the 29th June 2019

Review of Viva’s ‘Chicago’ in the King’s Theatre Newmarket on Thursday 7th March 2019

March 10, 2019

Dan Schumann 19Wow! This production of ‘Chicago’ was amazing. The razzmatazz of Chicago in the bad old days permeated this wonderful production so that there was hardly a moment when we were not absolutely amazed. This large troupe of highly talented young people filled the stage with fantastically choreographed movements and tableaux while at the same time it delivered very powerful, toe-tapping and unforgettable music.

The singing, dancing and acting were spot on and we were very much aware of the sheer falseness of the flashy style of living in a criminally-driven society in which murder and corruption were the order of the day.

The actors were phenomenal and included murderess Velma Kelly (played by Kiera O’Reilly), the slippery lawyer, Billy Flynn (Olly Manley),brassy Roxey Hart (Riley Williams), a powerful Mamma Morton (Dresden Goodwin), and the splendid Amos (Joseph Hall), and Mary Sunshine (Katie Kirkpatrick). Other key contributors included the MC and Harry (Mark O’Reilly), Fred and Reporter (Jordan Thorpe), Fogerty and Reporter (Dyan Cardwell) and Judge (Sam Laws).

They were supported by wonderful murderesses, dancers and members of the ensemble. Best moments for me included the hard-nosed, spine-chilling Cell Block Tango, the slick, sexy dancers, and when the hollowness of the razzmatazz was made clear with well-defined sarcasm and wit.

A highly accomplished orchestra led by Richard Hayward gave outstanding support and the choreography by Jess Clifford was second to none.

What a fantastic production this was! Congratulations to the Director Dan Schumann and his team for such an exciting evening’s entertainment.

The next Viva production to look forward to is ‘Brassed Off’ from the 17th to the 20th April in the ADC Theatre, Cambridge. To order tickets:

Pictured is Dan Schumann

Comment: Saying so does not make it so.

March 9, 2019

Recently an individual called at my door and said that he had been contracted to work in the Main Street of our village and that I had spoken to him about three weeks about fixing the gable of my house. I had no recollection of this, sent the man on his way and, after seeing on social media that he had obviously been visiting other homes with the same lie, I reported him to the police. While there are some audacious people who will tell outright untruths like this, there are others who may make statements that they believe to be true, but which to others do not make sense. One person once said that if a barrier was taken away from a certain cycle path, children will never ride straight out into the road. How can he be so sure? He would not listen when I suggested that it could, in fact, happen.

Politicians are renowned for saying emphatically that something will or will not happen. They have often been proved to be incorrect, but at the time, they speak as though what they are saying is fact, absolute fact. One set of politicians say that Brexit will never happen, others that it will. They can’t all be right. Different people are adamant that we will be much better if we left Europe, others say that we will not. The fact is, that nobody really knows and saying so, does not make it so.

What is needed, is evidence. Someone needs to make comparative lists showing the economy now, the predicted economic situation after Brexit and the predicted economic situation should there be no Brexit. Evidence should be gathered and shown relating to all the other aspects of belonging to Europe or not.

Even with the evidence, nothing is absolutely clear. We all know that statistics can be twisted to match findings that we want rather than what they really say. If a study shows that a majority of people in the study like to read the newspaper, this does not prove that most people in the world like to read the newspaper especially when the group of people studied all turn out to be journalists.

We should all take care when making unequivocal statements and if we do make them, we should provide the supportive evidence. We should also realize that there are people out there who will blatantly lie and expect to bully others into beliefs that are not correct or not even common sense. We need to make sure that we study the evidence and make up our own minds no matter what others are saying.

Comment: Attack the ideas, not the person.

March 3, 2019

So many times people are attacked in a personal way for their ideas. While it is sometimes difficult to separate the two, it nevertheless can and should be done.

It is difficult, for example, to separate the character of Boris Johnson with his ideas. Sometime ago he set the cat among the pigeons by saying that our Prime Minister, Theresa May, had wrapped a suicide vest around the British Constitution in her Brexit plans. He was also quoted as saying that May’s Brexit plan last year was ‘deranged’,

While a person may be ‘deranged’ or wrapped in a suicide vest, ideas and plans, I argue may be unsound, unsupported by evidence or unwise. While the choice of metaphor is very effective in creating a picture in our minds so that we are likely to react strongly and agree or disagree with Boris, by choosing personal metaphors, he makes his criticism personal. It would be far fairer and better to spell out the specific reasons for his reaction.

Jeremy Corbyn was described by some of the press as ‘failing the Brexit test’. He apparently forgot the party position on Brexit at an interview. To my knowledge there is no particular ‘Brexit test’. No one can predict the future and no one can be said to know absolutely everything about what will happen after Brexit. People fail to understand and or remember many things; plans and negotiations are no more than that. A person may win or fail an argument; they, themselves may not be failing, they may be perfectly well and clear minded except at a particular time regarding a particular issue

Recently, closer to home, an inspector upset a council by criticising a plan and making suggested changes. The inspector, rather than the process, seems to be criticised for this. There are always two sides to a controversial situation and an inspector doing his or her job, is doing just that. He or she is not being personal when they make criticisms. It is the process, the decisions and the plans that should be criticised, not the person or people involved.

It would be so much better if a simple statement was made that a named person has said or done something and the following language continued in a calm and reasoned manner with addressing the problems with what the person said or did.  It would be so much better if there was less personal attack on people as they try to do their jobs.


Review of Cambridge Chorale’s concert ‘A Sense of the Divine’ in the Lady Chapel Ely Cathedral on Saturday 2nd March 2019

March 3, 2019

The title of this concert was most fitting and the Lady Chapel was the perfect place for this marvellous choir to perform. Under the expert baton of Owain Park, the choir’s meticulous concern for clear, precise focus on the sheer beauty of sound created a concert of the purest quality. There are very few choral groups that can reach such perfection.

The varied programme included works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, William Henry Harris, Charles Villiers Stanford, Judith Weir, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Thomas Tallis, G.P. da Palestrina, John Tavener, Hildegard von Bingen, Gerda Blok-Wilson, C.H.H. Parry, Eric Whitacre and the conductor, Owain Park. These pieces ranged from the 11th to the 21st century and the variety of styles and voice ranges required created a huge challenge that this amazing choir met with sophisticated ease.

Highlights for me were ‘Silence and Music’ by Ralph Vaughan Williams, ‘Faire is the Heaven’ by William Henry Harris, ‘Evening Hymn’ by Einojuhani Rautavaara, ‘Sicut Cervus’ by Palestrina, ‘O Little Rose’ by Gerda Blok-Wilson and ‘Beati quorum via’ by Owain Park.

Serenity, cohesion and harmonic balance were immediately evident in the opening ‘Silence and Music’ by Ralph Vaughan Williams, whereas in the following piece,  ‘Faire is the Heaven’ by William Henry Harris, we were entranced by the music’s attractive cheerfulness and contrasting moments of excitement. A sense of character and courageous melodic expansion using an amazing range in the voices pervaded ‘Evening Hymn’ by Einojuhani Rautavaara. Singing  ‘Sicut Cervus’ by Palestrina in the Lady Chapel and its renowned lengthy echoes made it easy for us to be transported in time back to the 16th century when this music was first performed in the ornate cathedrals of Italy. Works for male voices only are usually on the macho -bombastic style, but in ‘O Little Rose’ by Gerda Blok-Wilson, the male voices of Cambridge Chorale sang with tenderness and beauty – a most enjoyable and rare treat. ‘Beati quorum via’ by Owain Park was a sophisticated reference to Stanford’s earlier version and Owen’s piece and was a very impressive modern, full-blooded and expressive work of variety and interest.

The final ‘Her Sacred spirit soars’ by Eric Whitacre with its amazingly powerful climaxes was a fitting ending to this superb concert and the encore by ‘Heavens Flock’ by Ērics Ešenvalds was certainly well deserved.

Cambridge Chorale next perform at Trinity College Chapel on the 18th May 2019. For more information contact