Francis's Christmas Newsletter 2008


Welcome to Francisís second electronic Christmas Newsletter. As usual, I donít buy cards, but make a charity donation. Some of my friends and relations (mainly those who are still off line) will get paper copies of this.

I have done two major globetrots this year, both go-related (as usual). The first was my first ever visit to Sweden in late July/early August to attend the European Go Congress at Leksand, which is in the centre of the country. Leksand is a small town surrounded by forest and lakes, as is much of the rest of rural Sweden. It is very clean and tidy, again like the rest of Sweden. I had rather more opportunity to enjoy the rural scenery than perhaps I was expecting, as my billet, a pleasant enough guest house, was four kilometers from the school complex where the tournament was held, with no regular public transport. It took me about 40 minutes to walk; good healthy exercise.

The tournament itself was well enough organised, which was just as well, as there was a record attendance of 900 all told. As usual I was expected to officiate at the song night, and to produce a new song. In the train back to Stockholm for the flight home I made friends with some Japanese players who subsequently invited me to their homes in Japan.

Which brings me to my second big globetrot. A full account of this visit may be seen on my website. I was invited by the British Go Association to represent the UK at the Prime Minister International Baduk Tournament in Seoul, Korea. (Baduk is the Korean word for go.) I was chosen for this honour as a reward for persistence rather than competence at go. 68 countries were represented. In the eight round tournament I won four games, which is so-so. So I was rather surprised to be called to the stage at the prizegiving to receive a "special prize" ... for being the oldest competitor.

From Korea I travelled on to Japan where I have a cousin and many friends. My travels included Kyoto and Hirano in the Kansai (West Japan) area, and Mito city, Kamakura, Yokohama and Tokyo in the Kanto (East Japan) area. Perhaps the highlight of the trip was being invited, as the only foreigner, to the 40th anniversary party of the Kyoto Women's Go Association. I was introduced to the former world champion Rin Kai Ho, and was called upon to sing the Niken Tobi song to the assembled company.

Judith came with me to the biennial go tournament on the Isle of Man this summer. The island was its usual charming self. Judith herself has taken on new posts with the Society of Friends. She now has joint membership of both British and French Quaker organisations, and remains busy with both. She continues her voluntary work at Friends House in London, helping to restore and catalogue old tracts. Her project to research the language of 17th Century Quaker tracts reached a milestone when she found she had entered half a million words into her database. Apparently this enough to start running them through the software which tells researchers what they want to know.

I have cut down my teaching commitment to one day per week now, at Larchwood Primary School, in order to give myself more time for West Gallery music research. which I continue to do. There have been two big projects this year. Firstly, I have edited and published a complete edition of the Pickard-Cambridge collection or Dorset Carols, 42 of them altogether.

The other project reflects my desire to make West Gallery music more accessible to mainstream choirs. I have been trying to nudge the West Gallery Music Association towards a more outward looking stance through my work on its committee. I thought I had better try to set an example, so I have re-edited all 205 settings on my website with keyboard accompaniments. Next year I intend to re-edit many settings to make them more user-friendly in certain ways, and to continue to upload more music.

London Gallery Quire continues to flourish. We have about 30 members now, and a splendid band of nine intruments, with more that I can call on when needed. And there seems to be no shortage of churches and other bodies calling for us to sing services and concerts. And I continue to run West Gallery workshops; the best one this year was at Beckenham Baptist church in February. I had an attendance of over 70, which I think is my record so far.

And the other thing which keeps me busy is keeping my website up to date. If you have any comments, positive or negative, on the site, I am always keen to learn. Website technology is a mysterious business.

Leksand song party
Leksand song party
Azerbaijan vs. UK
Azerbaijan vs. UK; Prime Minister International Baduk Tournament, Goyang, Seoul, Korea
Francis and Great Buddha of Kamakura
Francis and Great Buddha of Kamakura
London Gallery Quire at Islington Unitarian Church
London Gallery Quire at Islington Unitarian Church