Francis's Christmas Newsletter 2012


Welcome to Francisís sixth 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.

The Roads family life continues with little change. Judith is now about half way through her PhD research in corpus linguistic analysis of Quaker literature of the late 17th Century. She is still as busy as ever with Quaker activities of one sort and another. Sam's business still seems to thrive, with enough ups to counteract any downs. He describes himself as a Facebook Developer and Creative Director. Don't ask. Neither do I. Sam's partner Lizz has left Birmingham and is now permanently resident with Sam in Cardiff. She has a new job in Cardiff, arranging an educational programme for homeless people.

I have undertaken only one globetrot this year, to Bad Godesberg, a suburb of Bonn. This was for the European Go Congress, run there with characteristically crisp German organisation. It was a very pleasant place to spend two weeks. I wrote an account of it for the British Go Journal, which you may read here. My go playing is not as good as it was. I was formerly rated at 4-dan; that is like a fourth degree black belt in martial arts, though we don't wear coloured belts. Nowadays I am struggling even to rate 2-dan. To some extent this is the result of Europe-wide grade deflation. But it also has something to do with advancing years.

Despite above-mentioned decline, owing to a somewhat arcane points system operated by the British Go Association, I qualified this year to represent Britain at the 2012 World Amateur Go Championship, held in a Far Eastern country each year. Unfortunately an administrative error at our end, not my fault, prevented me from taking up my place. I imagined that the BGA Council would simply postpone my selection until 2013. Not so; they decided to send someone else next year. Watch this space.

This year for the first time in my life I have initiated legal action. In December last year my car was impounded by Newline Parking, who alleged that it had been parked on private land. According to the AA they are well known to be cowboy clampers of the worst type. It was released on payment of £467 release fee, payable only in cash. Following protracted correspondence and attempts at out-of-court settlement, I applied to the Small Claims Court for repayment, on the grounds that the signage had been inadequate. I attended the hearing, 11 months after the incident, well supplied with photographic evidence, and reference to a previous case, only to find that no representative from the cowboys had turned up. The judge struck out their defence and found in my favour, ordering repayment within 14 days. At the time of writing no such payment has been received. Once again, watch this space.

I am as busy as ever with West Gallery music, and about to upload the 300th score to my website. London Gallery Quire continues to flourish. As last year we are still bottom heavy. Other choirs look with envy at our strong tenor and bass sections, while I long for more sopranos and altos. We publish a regular newsletter; you may see the latest one here.

An unusual usage for West Gallery music was put to me by Carl Heap, a playwright and producer, who wanted me to provide incidental music for his play A Progress, based on John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. This was to be produced for three weeks at The Yard, an alternative theatre in Hackney Wick. I pointed out to him that this would be anachronistic, as the West Gallery genre had not really taken off in the 17th Century. Nonetheless, I gave him what he wanted, together with some dance music from John Playford's The Dancing Master of 1651. The play was duly produced, and got a 4-star rating in Time Out.

I have developed what I suppose may be described as a new hobby; walking in London. There are numerous walks, some waymarked, which have taken me to parts of our vast capital city which I would never otherwise have seen. I have completed the 140 mile London Loop, which sticks to open country around London's perimeter, and done the inner 70 mile Capital Ring in both directions, together with many other walks listed here. I enjoy these tremendously, and they help to keep me fit and away from the computer. Once on a section of the Loop I met an Italian gentleman who spends holidays in London just to do our walks. Apparently there is nothing like them in Italy.

I don't often mention medical matters, as they can be tedious. But this year has seen a particular triumph. I suffered from severe insomnia from childhood onwards, and latterly had been relying on a nightly drug to sleep. Following a (private) visit to The London Insomnia Clinic I am now sleeping druglessly better than I can ever remember. I'm not paid to say this.

I am still enjoying life, and looking forward to my 70th birthday next year. I wish all my readers equally happy lives in 2013, though perhaps not the birthday.

River Rhein near Bad Godesberg
River Rhein near Bad Godesberg
Newline's notice
Newline's notice may be seen faintly
on the left of the lighted area.
Advertisement for A Progress
Advertisement for A Progress
London Loop view
A typical London Loop view