Francis's Christmas Newsletter 2022

Welcome to Francisís sixteenth electronic Christmas Newsletter. As usual, I donít buy cards, but make a charity donation.

Puddletown church
Puddletown church

We have been able to move about a bit more this year, now that Covid has receded into the background. We took a week's touring holiday in Wiltshire and Dorset, visiting son and daughter-in-law Sam and El at Corsham, an old bassoon-playing friend now living in Tisbury, and a few days at Dorchester on a Thomas Hardy pilgrimage. We were able to vist the Dorset Museum, which happened to have a Hardy exhibition with manuscripts and the violin played by his father on display. We also visited Stinsford and Puddletown churches, mentioned by pseudonym in his writings as Mellstock and Wetherbury. Puddletown church had retained the singing gallery that Hardy would have known, as you can see.

Al fresco go
Al fresco go

I don't attend many go tournaments these days, owing to diminishing powers of concentration. Three tournament games in a day are too many for me. But I do still play regularly with friends. In the middle of the gross heatwave this summer I visited my friends Matthew and Kirsty in Barford, Warwickshire. The heat confined us to barracks for much of the time, but here I am playing with Matthew on their ait in the River Avon, reached by a bridge from their home.

Bressingham
Bressingham

Looking for a holiday somewhere, Judith suggested to me that as I am often seen watching railway programmes on the Yesterday channel, I might like to try a conducted railway tour. The one I chose was of heritage lines in Norfolk, of which there are many. With an excellent leader we visited about eight, including standard gauge steam railways, narrow gauge, and model railways. At Bressingham I was able to indulge my love of parks and gardens as well as the three narrow gauge lines.

Michael Portillo
Michael Portillo

And when our party arrived by narrow gauge at Sheringham, we found a BBC camera crew in attandance, making yet another of Michael Portillo's Great Railway Journeys programmes. He turned out to be friendly towards a group who share his enthusiasm, and was happy to be photographed with us.

Knapp cover
Knapp cover

As reported last year, I spent much of the lockdown time making a complete edition of the The Church Music of William Knapp. Knapp lived from 1698 to 1768. and was probably the most popular of the earlier West Gallery composers. Like many such, he was an amateur musician, working as a glover in Poole

There were many proof corrections to be made (and I still didn't find them all!) but the edition of all 91 pieces from his three publications is now published, and available from New Generation Publishers.

LGQ outside
LGQ outside
LGQ ointside
LGQ inside

London Gallery Quire continues to enjoy singing West Gallery music. We are smaller in numbers than before lockdown, as some members have yet to return. But we are still able to function, despite a shortage of bass singers. It is a rare choir of any sort which has to resort to strengthening its bass section with tenors.

The pictures show an outdoor party in a member's garden, and us at our annual carol concert at St Georges German Chapel in Aldgate.

Jigsaw
Jigsaw

Judith is still busy with her Quaker work, both actively within the Society of Friends, and academically, publishing articles both on line and in hard copy. She is also pursuing her interest in art, visiting galleries and attending lectures, many online. It is her art interest which inspires our choice of 1000 piece jigsaws, as exemplified by the illustration of The Embarkation of St Ursula by Claude, which took us a couple of months.

Son Sam is happy is his senior management role working, almost entirely on line, for a games company based in Dundee. And daughter-in-law El is having success in getting her writings published. She appeared on Radio 4 recently in a Changing Lives programme.

Gaudy
Gaudy

Time marches on. When I returned to Pembroke College, Oxford, my alma mater, for a gaudy, or reunion dinner, I found that I am now in the oldest group of "1961 and before". And next year is the big eight-zero, for which I am planning various celebrations. As with most people of my generation, various bits of my body are beginning to malfunction, but, as you can see, I still manage to enjoy life.

I wish all my friends and family a convivial holiday period and a peaceful 2023.

Top