Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Quote of the Day

Adam Macy
After yesterday's post, which can best be described as being of "Special interest" I was reminded of a couple of quotes I have recently heard.

On the Archers Adam came up with the crushing

"Well every day I learn some thing new that I will forget"

And the other day on Woman's Hour

"As much use as a carpet fitters ladder"

Well I think these two more or less cover my Tuba post,

Monday, 27 February 2017

Berlioz in Brighton

An 1860s Ophicleide
Yesterday I went to a rehearsal for next Saturday's concert with the Sussex Symphony Orchestra, It is a challenging program of Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld, Saint Saens' Piano Concerto and the Fantastic Symphony from Hector Berlioz.    I will be playing in the Offenbach and the Berlioz; the Offenbach is actually an Ophicleide part; the Berlioz was also originally written for Ophicleide and later, in the second edition amended to "tuba" but not tubas as we now know them in the 21st century.

The Ophicleide had a short period of popularity as a chromatic bass brass instrument, but like the other keyed bugles it lacked depth of tone and power. Also know as the Russian Bassoon (probably what Samuel Coleridge Taylor was referring to in his Rime of the Ancient Mariner) was soon replaced by the earliest attempts at modern tubas as soon as valves were invented.

Early 20th Century French C Tuba
The popular instrument in France, well into the 20th Century was to British and American eyes a strange little instrument with six (yes six!) valves. The fundamental is the C above the Bb that trombones and euphoniums are pitched in giving it an extraordinarily wide register, the part in the Berlioz going from the F above the Bass stave to the D below.   Many players will now use a modern euphonium to play this part but since my little old Euph only has three valves I can't actually get the bottom notes.

My Baby Besson EEb
New Standard, Westminster, Sovereign.
So for yesterdays rehearsal I took both my Euph and my trusty old Besson EEb.   I don't often use it now as most of the time I use Big Shinny my lovely Conn International CC. I was most gratified to find that although I don't play her much I could still get a good register on the EEb and managed those top Fs

When I moved I had so little space that I sold a tuba, I was devastated at the time, but now I'm so glad that I have held on to my trusty old "Baby Besson"

If this is all far too much Tuba Talk for you, don't worry normal service will be resumed, as  I now start to think about what I will be wearing as much as what I will be playing for my next few concerts.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Interesting times

There is said to be an ancient Chinese curse, "May you life in interesting times" and I can totally relate to that.   Over the years there have been a few of those "Interesting times", those times when everything I touch seems to go wrong or simply come to naught.

However; at the moment lots of things are happening around  me, good, positive, interesting things.   Yesterday I had a couple of very interesting meetings one for work, which looks like it will lead to a very interesting job in an area I haven't worked before, and the other with my local Council about Transgender Day of Visibility.    We will be having an event!   It is so empowering just to know that our Council is supporting our communality.   I am very pleased to be involved with the organisation of this, and hope that we can make a big enough splash that it will become an annual event here in Croydon, until it is no longer necessary.   I am now also involved in running Croydon Pride Fest, this will be the second year, and this year I aim to ensure that everybody is aware of the T in LGBT!

In case this doesn't excite you too much maybe I should point out that although Croydon is a London Borough, if it were a City it would be the eighth largest in the UK, with a population of around 380,000 adults it represents more people that some counties, and is an ancient population centre dating back to pre Norman times, the burial place of eleven, yes eleven Arch Bishops of Canterbury.  I could go on (and on, and on) about my home town, but for now I will just rejoice that it is embracing me and leading the way into the twenty first century.

Couple this with a fantastic concert on Sunday, WOW and some other fascinating performance opportunities coming up, and bring a Christian perspective to the consultation process with Stonewall, and this is definitely and interesting time.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Gig ecconomy is not new

I have recently written a couple of posts about my career.  This seems to be turning into another one of my occasional series of posts, so here goes with the next installment of my rather odd career.

Chronologically I had got as far as being made redundant from my second job.   This wasn't as bad as it might sound, for quit a bit of my time with Michelin I had not been happy, I really liked my first job there, and my last, but the least said about the one in between the better.

So now I was in possession of my first flat, living on my own for the first time, I had a little capital in the bank, and no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up.   I needed to find something I wanted to do, yet the only thing I knew was that I didn't want to do what I had been doing.   I good friend of mine had a little business buying and selling cars, since I have always been a bit of petrol head I decided that this looked like easy money playing with toys, I rented a corner of the showroom from my friend and started dealing in second hand cars.

I had great fun, but learnt a few valuable life lessons, in commerce it is not the selling that is difficult it is the buying, contrary to what you might think from watching the apprentice where all too emphasis much is put on selling, anyone will buy desirable stuff as long as the price is right. The trick is buying the stuff at a price that allows for a profit.   My problem was that I kept buying the cars that I wanted rather than ones that would sell quickly with a profit.  

An English German band with an Australian Accordion player,
working for Canadians in Spain,
Somehow I eventually extricated myself before I became totally impoverished, while doing the car dealing I had slowly started to get a few gigs with some German Bands, and amateur orchestras. As I managed to get more and more music work I concentrated on that, abandoned the cars and enjoyed a strange lifestyle, driving from gig to gig all over the country.    This in no way represented steady work, so during this period of my life I would do anything I had to to pay my way.   Being self employed I had the flexibility and status to take on anything that came along. I did removals, piano removals, parcel deliveries, for a while I worked for Currys selling fridges and washing machines.   I emptied dust bins and drove trucks. I had a few temp jobs in offices, I laboured for a landscape gardener and cut grass for a maintenance gardener, I worked as a dispatch rider, in short what ever came along.

It was fun! It was also precarious. Work was irregular and unpredictable I would have periods of employment, but I would get bored and go back to the precarious life of a gigging musician, and the periods of poverty and depression which seem to go with that role ~ at least they do for me.

In 1992 my life changed beyond anything I had ever expected. I fell in love and proposed to the wonderful, beautiful woman who later that same year was to become my wife, I landed a good Gig, playing at Expo '92 in Seville, which saved my financial bacon, and my father died.

Now I felt it was time to grow up and get what my Mother called "A proper job" and so ended my second career.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Social Media?

Every now and then I manage a day away from my laptop, although I have now updated to a smart phone I do try to not spend time on FB or blogger on it, so for me a day away from my computer is a day away from social media, e-mails and all that entails.   On Sunday I had one of those days ~ no not one of THOSE days, but a day away from my computer.   It was a very good day, not simply because I wasn't on FB but more because I was actually doing stuff, with real people who were in the same room as me!

Then on Monday, when I eventually got up I checked my computer and find I have about 30 e-mails to go through and slightly more notifications on FB.

Well by the time, I've put through a load of washing, and had a little tidy up and gone through all that lot I look at the clock and find that it's too late to do anything constructive at all. I seem to have wasted the whole day, with little more than some clean underwear to show for it.

If I had not turned on the computer I may well have gone off and done some work, but I did have to check to see if any important work related e-mails had come in, and then one thing just seems to lead to another.   Were any of those numerous messages important? no virtually all the e--mails were spam and most of the FB notifications were the usual dross.   Maybe I just needed to waste a day and recover from a busy few days.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Sorry I upset you

I seem to have stirred up something of a hornets nest with my post of last Thursday.   I know the general rule of polite conversation is to avoid politics and religion, but I'm not that strong on polite that I will avoid talking about the most important things in life.   I fear that one of the things that these two now have in common is an increasing polarisation of views.   Just as in politics we see the rise of the extreme left and right, almost a tribalisation with the middle ground rabidly diminishing.   I grew up in a time of consensus in British politics, that started to disappear with Margaret Thatcher, we now see the results of that separation here with the reluctance of many "Remainers" to accept the outcome of our recent referendum and the lack of understanding of many "Brexiteers" that many of us do not want to cut off totally from all aspects of the EU.   In the States we see the antipathy between Trump and Hilary supporters.

I don't want to go into the rights and wrongs of either side, just to observe the phenomenon.

I feel that the same is happening when people consider religion.   All too often I see people abandoning calm rational consideration.   People who in their professional life will be totally calm and sensible when asked about religion will become passionate and maybe irrational.

Now I want people to be passionate about their faith, but I also really want them to be rational and considered as well.   I suspect that a lot of the problem with religion within the LGBT community is the broad brush of terminology. There are one or two things I would like my readers to understand how I think about my faith. It may just help to understand where I come from in everything I do, who I do it with, and why.

First the thing that drives me in my faith is simple, it is the knowledge that God loves me. Everything else is a response to that simple knowledge.

Christianity is not about belonging to a Church, it is not about following a set of rules, it is not about criticising other people, or indeed trying to reform them into our idea of what people should be.   As far as I am concerned Christianity is simply about our response to the knowledge of God's love.

In my experience Churches have put more people off Christianity than anything else, and at the moment assemblies like the Westborough Baptists are not helping.  It makes me ashamed of my fellow Christians that I find I need to explain that these people who spout bile and hate are not displaying Christ's love, they are not typical of Christ's followers, and do not represent the wider Church (The fellowship of all believers!)

I think the point I was trying to get to in my last post was that the Church, especially the Church of England, needs to engage with the LGBT community, as we are people, people who are loved by Christ and as such disserving of love from his followers.   The LGBT community needs to engage with the Church (and of course other faith groups) because they do represent a very proportion of  society, and society is still not fully inclusive, is still in need of reform.   The question is how to engage?

It is no good Faith Groups coming to our community (or individual members) and spouting Bible verses or the Quran and expecting understanding and engagement, on the other hand it is pointless for our community to try and engage faith groups by proclaiming civil rights, societal standards, or indeed even human rights.   Faith groups generally consider themselves to be counter cultural, so it is pointless to try to engage with them from the stand point of  societal culture.   Just as the faith groups need to understand that they need to engage with secular society from a standpoint that is relevant and understandable with the context on modern secular life so too the LGBT community needs to engage with Faith groups from a theological point of view.   There is no point in protesting outside the meetings of groups who revel in being hated.

We can all learn from Jesus, he wanted to help everybody, so yes sure he spoke in the Temple and synagogues, but he also spoke by lakes, on hills and in pubs, engaged people where they were in terms they understood.   What we all need to do is what Christ himself did, go into the places that others meet and show them love.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

A mixed Bag

All in all this is turning out to be a very odd week, and I don't expect it to get any easier!   This evening I have been reading through Stonewall's thirty odd page document "A Vision for Change ~ Acceptance without exception for trans people" What I have managed to read so far is pretty much "Motherhood and Apple pie" in that it basically says everyone should be treated equally with dignity and respect.   I will have to go into it in more detail tomorrow as on Friday I will be attending the London consultation meeting on this new Stonewall position and campaign.   I do have some reservations about their attitude to faith organisations, as there seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding that these organisations are based on articles and principles of faith, often through a holy book.   It is perfectly fair to say that individuals or secular organisations should conform with modern understanding of equality and inclusiveness, but is it fair to ask the same of faith organisations? To an extent I think that as long as they are not damaging other minorities then they should be allowed to maintain their long standing practises, as long as no one else is damaged, diminished or disrespected.

This same week I have been asked to be a Trustee of a new charity to run Pride events in Croydon, we will also co-ordinate and promote LGBT events, equality, and, inclusion in the area.   this all happens the same week that my beloved Church of England is debating, and rejecting the Bishops report " A culture of welcome and support" The Bishops embraced inclusion but could not go as far accepting same sex marriage or the blessing of same sex relationships, the laity agreed with them, but the clergy did not, and with our rather arcane system there has to be agreement amongst all three.  

Justin Welby, our very impressive Arch Bishop of Canterbury has now called for "Radical new Christian inclusion"   I'm not sure what all this will mean in the parish church, I know that my own church has been quite radical and very welcoming and inclusive in my case.

Indeed I am rather upset that my stupid lifestyle and over active musical life means that I will be missing them this Sunday again.   I think this will be the second Sunday in a row I have missed, but it seems like more.   I try not to go to Church religiously, but when I miss, I really do miss it.   I am still worshipping at the Church I moved to about two years ago, before moving home, I often think that I should move again to one of the Churches in the community I now find myself; then I will go to a service or event at Christ Church Beckenham, and everybody is so loving, and accepting that I just can't bring myself to move away.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Trying to be positive

Honest I am, I believe in being thank full, looking on the bright side, and the power of positive thought.   But right now I am feeling really p£$$ed off.   Sometimes it feels as though there is a conspiracy to make my life more complicated than it ever should be.   I have carefully arranged my work this week to allow for a meeting this afternoon and my electricity meter being fitted tomorrow morning.   Two phone calls this afternoon ruined all that.

Fist I contacted the office where I was to have my meeting to find that the person I should have been seeing would not be in as she had gone to a Doctors appointment. Never mind I could see them tomorrow, of course that would have to be tomorrow afternoon as I have to wait in for the meter to be changed in the morning; viable but could be a bit of rush as the tender bid we are working on has to be in by Friday.

The next call shouldn't have surprised me, but still did. It was those wonderful people from the E-ON cancelling my appointment.   The E-ON customer service team must be the most miss named department of any company I have every had to deal with.   This is the fifth appointment where they have failed, the new appointment is for the 10th March, the first appointment was for the 6th December, so that will then be over three months! Do I expect them to complete the task this time, do I Bu&&ery!

Add to these frustration a visit yesterday from a guy claiming to be from Thames Water who wanted to now who I was and how long I had lived at my address, he had a form to fill in and then asked me to sign it, when I checked what he had put down I could see that  the details were all wrong, so I refused to sign, he got quite shirty, but I will not sig something I know to be incorrect, so now I have been left with a messed up form to correct and return myself ~ if I can be bothered.

All that, a dispute with our property management company, not having been paid by most of my customers for the little bit of work I did manage in January, and a flat tyre! I think I can be justified in being just a bit grumpy!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Don't pretend

Yep, don't pretend you'd not noticed, or even that you'd forgotten, yes today is St Valentine's day.   Once again I will be on my own, but to be perfectly honest that's not a problem (any more). I do not expect to get a card, indeed I expect not to get a card, or any flowers, or a box of chocolates, but that's fine.

I may not have a romantic partner, but I do have a good relationship with my wife (even it's not the one we expected) I have a wonderful daughter, I have some great friends and lots to look forward to.   I even have some work to do today that I know I will enjoy; so no! I'm not worried that it's Valentine's day and I will be on my own.

Monday, 13 February 2017


Finally we have a nice sunny day, the temperature is not too low, and I have to spend all day in an office!

It's one of the drawbacks of my type of career that sometimes the weather just doesn't fit in with my schedule.   I have at least a couple of days work this week preparing a tender bid for one of my customers, then I need to brush up on some of my more general recycling knowledge for a potential new customer next week.

So it looks as though there will be some recycling consultancy work coming in just as the weather improves and I can do a bit more gardening.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Every Silver Lining has a Cloud

So after yesterday's general rant about the way of the world and the politicians who are trying to control it, I'm getting a bit more personal today.

My van is back at the garage with another electrical problem following Decembers battery and alternator change, the weather is cold grey and moist, so between them no work today. I'm fed up with not working, I'm fed up with being at home, I'm fed up with not being able to do much out because of lack of money. All in all I'm feeling a bit fed up.

But then I take a small step back and think again, I have work to do when I can do it, I have been accepted to play in the Women Of the World Festival Orchestra again this year. Last year this was definitely the coolest thing I did, not just last year (which included being filmed by the BBC) but in my entire musical career.   Tonight I am playing for a masked ball, and tomorrow I'm meant to be going to a breakfast reception at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (as long as I can work out how to get there) so all in all there's quite a lot going on.

Indeed I do have problems, but none that can't be solved with money so I'm a lot better off than a lot of people.   I have a lot to be thankful for, and so I choose to concentrate on the blessing I have received rather than the brickbats.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Some Lies are Bigger than others

The other day  my Blogging friend Joey wrote a post about lies, his reminded me that a while back I too had written a light hearted piece about lies as well.   When I looked it up and found it here I was quite surprised to find that it was way back in December 2013.

Most of the lies we have both listed are pretty harmless, if annoying things like
  • One size fits all
  • I'm stuck in traffic
  • I just have the occasional glass of wine
Well there are also some pretty big and very armful lies doing the rounds these days, and many of them are being told by people in power, those who really should know better, those who have a responsibility to act wisely and speak truthfully.

The one that is exercising me at the moment is the one the British Government have been pedaling for some time, the lie that "there is no more money". We are told that we have to operate in a time of austerity, we need to reduce expenditure, we cannot afford to care for (or about) the weak, the poor, the vulnerable, or the simply unlucky. Yet very little economic analysis is required to show that there is still plenty of money, indeed thanks to quantitive easing there is actually more money than there was before the crash.   What is not being said is where the money is.

It is a political decision not to collect more of that money into the public purse, there are several demands on the funds held by both central and local government, Health, Social Care, Benefits, developing infrastructure, defense etc. etc. etc. We are told that there are ever increasing demands on an ever decreasing resource, so we have to cut, and cut. We have to reduce our expenditure on the very things that we have government to do. Yet we are not being told that it is a political decision, not a basic fact of life that taxation is being reduced.   Any Government can choose to raise more money through taxation, what we need to be told is more about the direct relationship of the services we get and the tax we pay.   If we are prepared to pay more tax, and vote for the politicians who will increase taxation then we will be able to have better services.   If we continue to insist on politicians who will continue to reduce our taxation burden then we will continue to have cuts in our services.

If we keep doing the same things then we will keep getting the same results.

Monday, 6 February 2017

A Day of Rest

Sunday is a special day, it is not just that it is the first day of the week, it is the day when I will not work, try to go to church but most of all I try to make Sunday's different to the rest of the week. I try to eat better, relax, and enjoy the day.

Well yesterday was certainly a different day.

My Jazz Blues band, "Cross the Line" played at St Christopher's Hospice at lunch time, one way and another I didn't make it to Church in the morning, but at least that meant I was on time for the gig and had time to deliver and set up the gear.   I felt as though this was one of the best gigs we've played, with a most appreciative audience.

From there I had to dash straight down to Sevenoaks where I was playing at an Orchestral service.  We had a mixture of traditional hymns and modern worship songs, and I had been asked to take both a trombone and a tuba to give the variety of tone colour.

This meant that in the one day I played three different instruments, now I will often play three different instruments in a week, but in a single day!

I was feeling a little challenged and a little smug about this until I realised that for the lunch time Gig, one of band played three instruments in one Gig, baritone sax, tenor sax and clarinet; and he's only 16!

Sunday, 5 February 2017


As I might have mentioned this can be a difficult time of year to be a gardener, it would be nice if I could rely on either of the other strings in my bow to bring in a bit of income, but that doesn't seem to be working well either.   Having said all that I have had a busy week.   After waiting indoors all day on Monday for the engineer who didn't turn, and then three different medical / treatment appointments during the week it was an absolute joy to get out in some gardens get my hands dirty and do some proper gardening.

I had a couple of days doing just the sort of work I enjoy most at this time of year, replaced a couple of rotten fence panels and put the trellis back above them.

I've done a lot of work in this garden over the years, the owner is a lovely lady who is a keen garden and very knowledgeable plants woman, but the structural stuff is just a bit much for her.

I laid the paving a few years back, along with the wood store and a few other things.  This week I put up some wires for a passion flower to grow up.

On Friday the sun was so warm that I had to take off my fleece, it was a real joy to be outside working on a day like that, it reminded me why I do this.

The only issue was trying to work out how to only use one piece of wire, with out going over any stretch more than once, I failed on that one, if anyone does know a formula for that problem, I probably won't understand it.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Careering away

Now I can't afford lunch in my old office
After three years working in a bank I realised that every day was the same, every day stretching out over years, and I was so bored I was prepared to do almost anything else, although while looking for my second job I did interview with a Pension Actuary, I was so bored I almost feel asleep in the interview!   Word processors were still a long way in the future so I was limited to jobs that didn't need me to write anything.   I ended up working for the Michelin Tyre Company in a commercial accounts related role. In my first department there we had a Data Input Clerk, a Junior Clerk, three Commercial Clerks a Supervisor and a Manager, later all except the Manager were replaced with a P.C.

The Suit
Mostly I enjoyed the work, I liked the Company and if they hadn't moved location to North London would have stayed with them a lot longer.   I worked in three different departments over a period of seven years ending up in the technical support department.   I was always office based which I did find a little frustrating but did enjoy some odd outings, occasionally even dressed up in "The Suit".   This has led me on occasion to claim that I was a model for a rubber goods company; it also got me into a few race meetings that would otherwise have cost a lot of money to get a worse view.

When in 1979 I started with Michelin there was still an assumption that this would be a job for life, the Company were quite paternal and seemed to care.   By the mid eighties everything had changed, finances were everything, the fine old office building was sold and any staff who didn't want to move were made redundant.   This I consider to be the end of my first career.   My small redundancy payment meant that I could start out on my own doing something on my own account, the only question was what?

I recently realised that I still have a pension from my Michelin days, it is worth a lot more than I would have thought, and will make all the difference wen I do come to retire, hopefully in about 8 years time.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Pinch Punch!

Yes it's the first of the month, so here's a couple of white rabbits.   I haven't actually spoken to anyone yet this month, but it hasn't worked as it has been raining all morning.   I'm so glad I managed to do a little bit of work yesterday as otherwise I would be going "Stir Crazy", sure I get out in the evening but it's not the same as getting outside and doing some work, exercising a few muscles and achieving something, making things a look little better.

So this year I will be checking up on myself at the beginning of each month, I need to lose some weight and start drinking less.   So each month I am going to publish a few stats, just to shame myself into action, and keep track of how well I'm doing.

So this morning I weighed myself and I came in at 13 stone (82 kg near as spitting, or for the Americans 182lbs) this gives me a BMI of 26.1 which for a woman is classified as over weight.

Not entirely unconnected is the amount I drink, I think I drink around 20 - 30 units of alcohol a week, equivalent to a couple of glasses of wine or a couple of pints each day, I think I will find it quite (or very) hard to cut down on this.   Instead I plan to aim for at least two alcohol free days each week.   I have managed that already this week, but am struggling to remember the last time I had a single alcohol free day, I think there may have been one earlier this month so I am going to claim three for the month of January; not very good!

The other side of all this is my activity levels, during January I have only managed six days when I have done any energetic work, so if it sounds as though I have spent the month lounging around at home drinking wine, well..............  

I have managed two performances, playing for the Year's day parade and a Burns' night supper.   Lets hope that I can manage some better stats for next month!