Home PageWent The Day Well Original ArticlesWesley Roddie LettersPublicityThe AnthemJOGLE Cycle RideOur BlogSite MapContact Us

January BlogFebruary BlogMarch BlogApril BlogMay BlogJune BlogJuly BlogAugust BlogSeptember BlogOctober BlogNovember BlogDecember Blog

2010 Blogs2011 Blogs2012 Blogs2013 Blogs2014 Blogs2015 Blogs2016 Blogs2017 Blogs2018 Blogs2019 Blogs
2020 Blogs2021 Blogs2022 Blogs2023 Blogs2024 Blogs

James Gilchrist
La Paon   Le Grillon   Le Pintade

November 26th 2013


James Gilchrist

Mary and I went to a concert last week to hear James Gilchrist, a wonderful tenor, accompanied by the pianist Anna Tilbrook, perform at the Wathen Hall, St Paul's School. I first heard him sing at a concert at the same venue some years ago and Mary and I have been fans of his ever since, so we were delighted to hear that he had agreed to give another concert at the school. The programme had a Benjamin Britten theme - this year is Britten's Birthday Centenary - and was quite superb. Not only does James Gilchrist have an exceptional voice, he is also a remarkable actor and his impersonations of a peacock, a cricket and a guinea-fowl whilst singing the poems: 'La Paon'; 'Le Grillon'; and 'Le Pintade' by Jules Renard, put to music by Ravel, were quite delightful and will live long in the memory.

The programme finished with Britten's song cycle of Thomas Hardy's poems, 'Winter Words', to which I was delighted to be introduced. If you have not read them before, I recommend that you do so. I have written out one of my favourites below:

Wagtail and Baby (A Satire)

A baby watched a ford, whereto
A wagtail came for drinking;
A blaring bull went wading through,
The wagtail showed no shrinking.

A stallion splashed his way across,
The birdie nearly sinking;
He gave his plumes a twitch and toss,
And held his own unblinking.

Next saw the baby round the spot
A mongrel slowly slinking;
The wagtail gazed, but faltered not
In dip and sip and prinking.

A perfect gentleman then neared;
The wagtail, in a winking,
With terror rose and disappeared;
The baby fell a-thinking.



The Angel of Peace
Bomber Command Memorial   Bomber Command Memorial   Bomber Command Memorial

November 5th 2013


The Fighting Spirit

We are coming towards the last of the Wesley Roddie letters that I will be putting up on this site. This one called The Fighting Spirit, however, is as provocative and thought-provoking as those that have gone before. I was inclined to believe whilst reading the first several paragraphs that I lacked the fighting spirit that Wesley feels that we all should have, being one that does not like to get directly involved in, or watch a fight; I began to think that this was in some way a deficiency. As I read on, however, I was pleased to see that my desire to complete the Daily Telegraph crossword shows that I am not completely devoid of that primitive impelling force!

There is always at least one part of each letter that I particularly like, either because it is so outrageous that it makes me laugh - remember, for example: 'My mind is not made up – a somewhat feminine failing I must admit.' from his letter on What is a Gentleman? - or because it remains as pertinent today as it did when first written, as is the case here:

I need not remind you that there is much in the world to provoke your righteous indignation and to stir your soul to battle.  In many instances today, we show much too much tolerance to these things, to compromise, to go for peace at any price. 

The photographs have the fighting spirit in mind. The first is the massive bronze statue on top of the Wellington (or Constitution) Arch in central London on the south side of Hyde Park, which depicts the Angel of Peace descending on the Chariot of War. The other three are of the Royal Air Force Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, which commemorates the sacrifice of 55,573 aircrew from Britain, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Poland and other countries of the Commonwealth, as well as civilians of all nations killed during raids.



  © Copyright Thomas Jackson 2010