Francis's Christmas Newsletter 2009


Welcome to Francisís third 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.

This year has been overshadowed by the death in March of my elder son Oliver. There is more information on a separate page.

But lives goes on, as have Judith's, Sam's and my own. Much of my time continues to be taken up by West Gallery music. London Gallery Quire continues to flourish, with a healthy membership of over 30, and enough instruments (if they all come on the same night) to vary the instrumentation from verse to verse in the strophic settings. Perhaps our highest profile performance of the year was a concert for The Worshipful Company of Salters at their well appointed London hall. We actually managed to find a hymn which mentions salt.

After considering the possibility of issuing a second CD, we decided on a book instead. Your Voices Raise contains 56 of our favourite West Gallery pieces, many appearing in print for the first time in modern times. We printed 200, and well over half are sold already. If you want one, please contact our sales officer Ros Clements.

The other big project of my year has been revising most of the pieces on the Roding Music website. I have continued to provide them all with fully underlaid text, alternative keyboard versions, and many of the tenor-led pieces with alternative soprano-led versions. All this has been tedious and time-consuming. I hope it will be worth it.

I think this is the first year that I have ever done two intercontinental globetrots, both related to go. I attended the US Go Congress, held this year in George Mason University. It claims to be in Washington DC, but is actually a good hour's travelling time away from the city centre. The Congress was well organised, as it usually is, and I played quite well. The only prizes I won were in the Bob High Memorial Competition for a go song and a poem.

Before and after the Congress I visited a number of kind American friends who put me up in their homes. I spent a few days beforehand in Baltimore and then in Washington, and after the Congress I moved on to Boston and then New York. While in Boston I had the opportunity to lead a West Gallery workshop for the only permanent US WG quire.

An adventure in Washington is worth recording. My friend Karen kindly took me to the National Botanical Garden, and in the bonsai enclosure she produced a go board, and we settled down to a few games. When we finished, we found ourselves locked in; although the gardens closed at 5 pm this section was locked up at 4 pm. I thought that my climbing skills learnt at Oxford in the '60s would be required, but we managed to set off a security alarm and security arrived and released us, with many apologies. Health and Safety ...?

Unfortunately I picked up a nasty throat infection in the plane going over. Apart from the usual symptoms it knocked out much of my singing voice. To cut a long story short I have up to date seen eight different medics of various types. The infection is gone, but my voice is far from back to normal, which is a nuisance for a musician.

In mid-October, I received at rather short notice an invitation to attend the 20th annual International Pair Go Tournament in Tokyo for four days in November. Another two British players were actually competing in what is effectively mixed doubles go. I was invited to receive a honorary presentation for my part in promoting Pair Go in Britain. I also had to make a speech of thanks and acceptance on behalf of the five overseas (non-Japanese) recipients of the awards. It was hardly worth travelling so far for just four days, so I spent a few days beforehand at the seaside and hot springs resort of Atami, and a few days afterwards in Tokyo seeing various friends and sightseeing. I have written a fuller account of my trip on another page.

One activity which I have now finally ceased is school teaching. Since my early retirement in 1994 I have done odd bits of teaching, but the day a week which I had been doing for an Essex school came to an end last summer. I wouldn't have been able to teach since then in any case because of my voice, but though I shall miss the children it is time to draw a line and concentrate on other activities.

London Gallery Quire at Dulwich Chapel
London Gallery Quire at Dulwich Chapel
23 line go
23 line go;
an unusual game at the US Congress
Atami castle
Atami castle
Presentation at Pair Go ceremony
Presentation at
Pair Go ceremony