Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

comment: You don’t kick a man or woman when they’re down.

December 9, 2018

If it’s a case of dishonesty or failure to get a deal we want, I have always believed that you don’t kick a man or woman when they’re down. If someone has failed in any situation, what is the point of making things worse? We are all human and therefore capable of making mistakes. While some disciplinary measures need to be taken, It is far better to allow individuals to learn from their mistakes than to make matters worse for them.

In a local paper, a headmaster who had tampered with exam results was sensationally slated on the front page announcing that he has been banned from teaching for life. While some punishment is inevitable, and sacking from a head teacher’s role appropriate, it seems strange that he has been banned from teaching for life because of his dishonesty. We should perhaps wait until a possible appeal or until we have found out the other facts of the case before kicking the man down. If many of the headmasters I have come across over the years had been banned for dishonesty, very few would still have their jobs. I could list many examples of headmasters who have been dishonest such as the one who had lied in his interview for a head teacher’s position. He had promised to live in the village if he was given the job and yet, as soon as he got the job, he moved out of the village. He was certainly not sacked because of this. I am sure we could name and shame no end of people who have acted inappropriately like this and who have not been chastised for their misdemeanours.

We are told that the Cabinet has warned our Prime Minister that she would have to go if the Brexit deal she is proposing is defeated in the Commons. Isn’t this merely the workings of democracy? If members of parliament suggest a certain way forward and the suggestion is voted out by the rest of parliament, the members are not automatically slung out of the place are they? We all know democracy is a complicated and often long and slow process. If someone, like Theresa May, has been involved with a project in depth for some time, surely if changes are to be made, she would be the most informed person to be able to negotiate further alterations? The situation might be different if she had refused to abide by the results of the referendum on Brexit. As far as I know, whether we personally agree to it or not, we voted to leave Europe. Only if Theresa May refused to take steps to initiate this decision should she be sacked.

 

 

 

 

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Review of Ely Choral Society’s Carol Concert in St Mary’s Church Ely on Saturday 8th December 2018.

December 9, 2018

review Ely Choral Society Carol Concert Colin and Arthur Wills and Andrew Parnell yThe packed church of St Mary’s in Ely was treated to a real taste of Christmas on Saturday. Ely Choral Society’s Concert: ‘The Joys of Christmas’ was one of their best.  Under the expert directorship of Andrew Parnell, the choir’s strong, stirring, masterful voices rang out the Christmas message clearly and with great joy. The audience was a very willing partner in singing their carols: ‘Joy to the World’, ‘Sussex Carol’, ‘Silent Night’, ‘Unto us is Born a Son’, and ‘O Come all ye Faithful’.

The large choir sang a worthy set of songs in the programme and the highlights of these for me were: ‘Gaudate’, ‘In Dulce Jubilo’  and ‘The Infant King’. ‘Gaudate’, a wonderful, powerful opening to the concert, was sung with clarity, precision, varied contrasts and inspired fervour. This set the tone for this marvellous evening.

Ely Youth Choir acquitted themselves very well, their young voices clear and true. Of the songs it sang, the highlight for me was a charming performance of ‘Light of the World’ by J Dankworth.

Some of the carols were unaccompanied which suited the high standard these fine choirs have now reached.  Those that were accompanied were expertly supported by Edmund Aldhouse who will be taking over Paul Trepte’s role as Director of Music at Ely Cathedral next year. Needless to say, Edmund’s performance was impeccable, joyous and above all acutely sensitive to the singers.

The evening was well planned, with the first half including the delightfully approachable and attractive ‘Christmas Cantata’ by Geoffrey Bush .

After mince pies and drinks during the interval, the second half of the programme contained highly entertaining readings on the Christmas theme in between choir and audience carols.

This was indeed a splendid concert.

The next concert by Ely Choral Society to enjoy will be on Saturday 13th April 2019 in Ely Cathedral. contact: http://www.elychoralsociety.org

 

Review of ‘A Festival of Carols’ in Ely Cathedral on Friday 7th December 2018

December 9, 2018

A Christmas Concert in Ely Cathedral is a wonderful  experience that few other places can match. The magnificence of the building, the first rate singing by the choirs and a famous actress giving a taste of West End musicals produced an evening of joy and splendour.

The programme included favourite carols that we all know and love, many of which delighted the audience by providing an opportunity to participate.

One of the key attractions was the appearance of famous actress and singer, Ruthie Henshall. Some of the most memorable songs she sang included ‘From both sides now’ by Joni Mitchell, Gershwin’s ‘Someone to Watch over Me’ and ‘Santa Baby’ by Joan Javits and Philip Springer.

Among the highlights sung by Ely Cathedral Choir directed by Paul Trepte were ‘We Need a Little Christmas’ by Jeremy Herman, ‘Up! good Christen Folk and Listen’ harmony by G.R. Woodward, and ‘What sweeter Music’ by Richard Rodney Bennett.

From time to time, Ely Imps, also directed by Paul Trepte, joined the Ely Cathedral Choir and their special moment was noticeable in ‘Masters in this Hall’ arranged by David Willcocks. The choirs’ voices rang out in the Cathedral adding vigour and excitement to events.

The accompanists: Edmund Aldhouse and Paul Schofield gave splendid support.

In between the music, a number of interesting readings were read. One of the most amusing was an extract from ‘Shirley Valentine’ read by David Blair, when Brian did not do what he was supposed to in a nativity play.

The event was in aid of the Cathedral and Soldiers, Sailors and Airforce Association (SSAFA) and was supported by The Cambridgeshire Freemasons.

The evening was made even more enjoyable with the mulled wine served at the interval.

This was indeed a magnificent concert. It was no wonder the Cathedral was packed.

For information about future events contact http://www.elycathedral,org

 

Review of Ely Consort’s In memoriam concert on Saturday 1st December in Ely Cathedral Lady Chapel

December 3, 2018

Ely Consort is a name to be reckoned with. This must be one of the best choirs in the district. It isn’t until you hear good quality music produced by an excellent choir like this that you realize what you have been missing. Director Matthew Rudd really knows how to shape and develop a beautiful, well balanced sound and how to vary the pace, rhythm and dynamics to create mesmerising effects.

Russian Orthodox Church music brings to mind deep bass voices singing in open harmony. Tonight we certainly had the gorgeous deep basses and also a well produced tone in each of voice parts. With the gorgeous sound this choir produced echoing round the Lady Chapel it was easy to imagine we were transported into the depths of Russia.

The theme of the evening: remembrance, commemoration and reconciliation was well reflected in the pieces. The programme was based around Rachmaninov’s unaccompanied ‘All Night Vigil’.  The powerful richness of the voices was apparent from the start. Singing in Russian, this choir’s attention to detail, its expressiveness and precision were exceptional.

Other works included David Bednall’s ‘To a Missing Friend and ‘The Soldier’, a delightfully refreshing ’Do not Stand at my Grave and Weep’ by David Jepson, the tumultuous ‘Ring out, Wild Bells’ by Jonathan Dove and the first performance of a commissioned work by Sarah Quartel ‘’Hope’ is the thing with feathers’.

Sarah’s work was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the evening. Her charming lyrical piano accompaniment and the way she coloured the words so adorably and effectively made this piece most effective. The sense of the lightness of a fluttering bird, rising above the storms in life was never lost.

Charlie Penn’s accompaniments were superb. He achieved amazing effects in Jonathan Dove’s ‘Ring out, wild bells’.

This was indeed an excellent concert. The next events to look forward to are concert on Saturday 15th December at All Saints’ Church in Cottenham, on Saturday 16th March in Ely Methodist Church and on Saturday 29th June in St. Mary’s Church, Burwell. For more information contact info@ elyconsort.org.uk.

Comment: Negative thinking gets us nowhere

December 2, 2018

Be it Brexit, providing buses or a warm pub, negative thinking gets us nowhere.

Cries that we should vote against the agreements our Prime Minister has drawn up with the EU so that our country can leave with some semblance of a future are no help. No one has said that the deals are perfect, but at least we may have something to ensure our continued existence. The alternative does not bear thinking about. Imagine, the UK leaves the EU without any agreements at all. Why should the EU then have anything to do with us? Why should it accept our goods? What is to stop the EU suddenly raising their prices so high that we can ill afford them? What is to stop the EU piling on taxes to the goods we may wish to sell to it? What is to stop the EU suddenly closing its borders and demanding huge sums for us to apply for visas? Nothing. Some agreement is better than no agreement.

On the subject of buses, a local manager whose job is to provide a bus service made it clear at a meeting that it was cheaper for him to withdraw bus services that do not pay. While this may seem sensible, to take this way of thinking to its extreme would produce a bus service with almost no buses running at all i.e. he would drive himself out of business. When suggested he should invest in his business first so that his buses are on time, regular, comfortable and with friendly bus drivers, he asked who was going to provide the investment. In any other business, it is accepted that first you need to invest in your business dream before there is any chance of it succeeding. If you are providing a bus service, first you need to provide the buses before you can say you are actually providing a ‘service’.

I went to have lunch in a pub recently. The food was lovely, the place spotless but it was freezing. When I jokingly asked for a discount because the pub was so cold I was told emphatically that it cost too much to put on more heating. Again, this kind of thinking drives the customers away. No matter how much advertising is done, word gets round and other than bringing our own blankets and hot water bottles and wearing our coats as we dine, there is no future in this way of thinking.

We are frequently told by our mentors as we grow up that we should believe in ourselves. Pretend you are confident and are going to be successful, and more often than not, you are. It is time we put our negative thinking aside and thought positively about the future.

 

 

Comment: We need to keep our city centres alive.

November 24, 2018

One more shop in Ely bites the dust. ‘New Look’ has closed its doors and recently, the city has also lost ‘Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shop’, ‘The Yarn Room’ and ‘Select’. Whatever the cause, be it increasing rents or people buying all that they need on the internet, it is such a pity that Ely, along with many other city centres, is becoming like a ghost town.

There is no need for it. It seems as though our community of landlords, shopkeepers and shoppers has been drawn into a downward spiral of negative thinking which can only lead to worse conditions. The false logic is that you can save money by not selling anything. You certainly will not make any money by not selling anything and that is certain.

It is time our shop owners, shopkeepers and shoppers changed their way of thinking. If you want something to work, you have to invest in it – be it money or your time and effort. Most business people know that you cannot expect a huge profit immediately. You have to build you clientele, work hard and adapt to changing conditions. Closing the shop does not improve matters. If the shop is not making a profit, it certainly needs to change, but not necessarily to close.

If shop owners think only of making money by charging an increased rent each year, they are bound to lost tenants. If many owners thought more sensitively about their tenants, what they were selling and their value other than as money making objects, many of our shops would not need to fold.

If shop owners went with the flow, – if people are buying a lot online – then they should offer their goods online as well as selling them in shop. If sellers focussed on what people need, rather than on what they have decided to sell them, I believe they would have more success.

If shoppers realized that the more they rely on shopping online, the less they will be helping to create the community they often say they want. It is just as easy, if not easier, to telephone the local shop that sells what want and talk one-to-one with a real human being about it. You would more than likely be able to buy just what you want and have it delivered by the shop that day or the next. If there is a problem, you will most likely not have to wait indefinitely for a stranger to mishear you and frustrate you with discussions of proving who you are and whether your problem will be escalated or ignored.

The next time you see a sign saying ‘shop local’, why not?

Review of G4’s Christmas Concert in Ely Cathedral on Tuesday 20th November 2018

November 22, 2018

It is no wonder G4’s Christmas Concert in the Cathedral last Tuesday was a sell out. This unique group captured that quintessential quality that appeals to our inner-most senses. The difference between amateur and professional singers was never more obvious than when these great singers first opened their mouths. Serious training, well-placed and controlled voice production, the ability to express deep emotions in a single sound were in evidence with this group. Jonathan Ansell, Mike Christie, Nick Ashby and Lewis Raines knew their stuff.

They were joined from time to time by a huge young choir from the Cambridge Pauline Quirk Academy adding a touch of what Christmas is all about – the joy and spontaneity of children.  Harry Smith, in particular, gave a heart-stopping solo in ‘Once in Royal David’s City’.

Highly proficient accompaniments throughout the evenings were provided by the fantastic harpist, Zita Silva, and the phenomenal pianist and organist: Jonathan Hodgson.

The programme was well selected and there was something for everyone, even a chance for the audience to join in. Along with popular Christmas Carols and songs were a number of other delightful items including ‘Panis Angelicus’ by Cesar Franck, ‘Ave Maria’ and ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ (Vicar of Dibley-style).

Highlights for me were ‘We’re Walking in the Air’, ‘Good King Wenceslas Last Looked Out’, ‘To Where you Are’, ‘Bring Him Home’, ‘All I want for Christmas is You’ and ‘Nessun Dorma’.

The event supported the charity ‘Missing People’ – so pertinent at this time of year.

G4 will be coming to Ely Cathedral again next year on Thursday 21st November. You are advised to book as early as you can.

Comment: It is time bullies had their wings clipped.

November 17, 2018

Deep inside today’s ‘Daily Telegraph’ is a small article announcing that the White House has been instructed to return a press card to Jim Acosta, a CNN reporter, who had it taken away by Mr Trump during a press conference recently. Mr Trump had called Mr Acosta “a rude and terrible person” and had immediately demanded that the pass be taken. The judge, Timothy Kelly, said Mr Acosta’s credentials should be returned so that he could gain entry to the White House and continue with his occupation as a reporter until the full hearing is held after CNN sued the White House over the matter.

This is the type of article that should be splashed on the front page. At last reason and the law prevail. Have we become such an unfortunate world that  it seems acceptable for a ruler, supposed to be head of a democracy, to demand someone’s rights be taken away from them simply because he doesn’t like them?

Why did CNN have to sue, surely Mr Trump’s advisers should have been able to advise him that being “rude and terrible” at a press conference was not a good reason to take away a person’s right to work?

The world would be a bland and unfruitful place if it consisted only of people someone liked. The behaviour of Mr Trump is close to that of a dictator, a bully who is not interested in due process, only in what he wants.

This kind of behaviour is not unique to the USA. I am sure there are many of us who can cite other cases where bullies seem to reign. Although they may claim to chair meetings in a democratic way, they make decisions without consulting the others, or at least asking their opinions. They may not even be aware that their behaviour is so dictatorial. They may believe that they have everyone’s support in whatever they do.

At least in the UK with all the fuss over Brexit, our Prime Minister continues to consult, discuss and tries to persuade and those of us who disagree with what she is doing are allowed to say so.

When no one responds or does anything, this could easily be misinterpreted as unequivocal support. The well known saying by Edmund Burke is certainly relevant to this situation:: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

It is time we spoke up for people’s rights, no matter how small or insignificant they may be. It is time this took top place in our list or priorities. Unless we stand up to bullying and insist on fair play, matters can only get worse.

Comment: Risk Assessments may not be a waste of time

November 10, 2018

The recent fires and deaths in California are a reminder to us that we are all vulnerable to nature’s forces. Even the famous are not beyond being affected. Cher and Lady Gaga are apparently two who were concerned about their homes in the area.

There will be few families who will be completely unaffected by the devastating effect of fire, to themselves, to other relatives or friends.

Coming from Australia I was brought up to be very careful with fires and we were never allowed to leave one until it was well and truly out, even to the extent of dampening the wider edges of the ground that surrounded it.

When I visited the house in Hobart where my grandparents used to live, the true force of fire came home to me. The house was no longer there. It had been destroyed by the 1976 fires. Gone was the long rock garden at the front with a lot of bright-coloured flowers. Gone was the large grandfather clock tickling loudly in the dark interior. Gone was any evidence of all the childhood memories I had of them when we visited so many years ago.

Now living the UK few people worry about forest fires for it rains here far too often and the land is usually too damp and green – or is it? There have been serious accidents when farmers used to fire the fields. We have had some very warm, dry summers lately and I feel I am often speaking to myself when I say how we should be careful. Apparently very few fires are actually caused by a natural event, the main cause is human behaviour – such as lighting barbeques in built up areas and ignoring floating embers as they lift up into the sky and come down anywhere. They could easily land on some of our very dry trees which could easily catch alight.

We should all take heed of the possible consequences of ignoring the risk of nature’s forces, be they fire or flood. While some people can be over pessimistic and fearful, we should all at least take precautions and think what we would be able to do should   a catastrophe occur.

One local had to demand a double-glazing firm replace the upstairs windows they had installed because the windows could not be opened fully. What were the residents supposed to do if there was a house fire? Another keeps telling us to get a fire blanket in the kitchen because water does not put out fat fires.

We should no longer ignore these things. Whenever preparing an activity we should all think the ‘What if?’ questions. The ‘’Risk Assessments’ we have to fill in may not be such a waste of time after all.

Comment: We need a change of attitude towards aggression.

November 4, 2018

I asked a senior member of the police force why sometimes people report crimes, such as pickpocketting, and they feel ignored by the police.  I believe I was told that it depended on the outcome. If the police do not have enough evidence, they may decide that the case is not worth pursuing. Surely, in the case of pickpocketting, there would have been a witness report from the victim? Also, the police would have been told where the pickpocketting occurred. Surely this information was enough to at least be concerned and take steps to prevent further incidents? But then, perhaps this is happening and it is not being made public.

We have had numerous other reports in the press about aggressive behaviour from man and beast. Knife crime appears to have increased; burglaries and theft are being reported daily. There was a woman who tried to save her child while thieves were stealing her car with her child still inside. The thieves thought nothing of running the woman over with the car as they made their escape. How callous is that?

Then, of course, in the animal world, there was the man-eating tiger in India which has finally been shot amidst cries from animal welfare people saying the animal should have been tranquilized and taken to a zoo instead. While I can understand this point of view, I cannot help feeling that if it were my job to tackle a man-eating beast I would rather be on the safe side. Tranquilizing a beast can sometimes go wrong.

We are told of a man who had to climb for safety up the cliffs of a beach in Scotland as a seal colony nearby turned aggressive. They were probably protecting their territory and their young ones. While it is a shame that such a charming-looking creature as a seal has now been represented as a dangerous animal, when you think of how humans behave when they believe their home is being threatened, it is understandable.

In Australia, when a couple were feeding wild kangaroos they were attacked by one of them. The attack was so bad that if it had not been prevented from continuing by the couple’s son, they could have been killed. The explanation here, again, is that the kangaroos’ territory may have been invaded by the homes that were built in the area and with the lack of food or a drought, the animals were forced to come further inland.

Whatever the case, we need a large, strong and reliable force, be it the police force, or members of our society to prevent uncontrolled aggression at its earliest stages, even in children or in the event of territory invasion of animals. This is one problem that will not go away if it is ignored.