Category Archives: Life

Computer Peripheral

IT purchase of the year? A wooden lectern from Waterstones for £20. Advancing years and the remnants of a whiplash injury have made me increasingly conscious of posture at the computer. This fetching desktop lectern eliminates the strain of looking down at music, text etc. It also keeps the book open at the right page – worth every penny. A few people have mentioned that they are very handy when cooking, but I favour the traditional spatula.

All In The Mind

I recently heard a very informative article on self harm on Radio 4’s All In The Mind. This is a problem about which I knew next to nothing and was surprised by some of the facts – particularly that it affects 1 in 10 girls and 1 in 5 boys. The article also features a reading from the diary of a sufferer (which contains description content that some people may find disturbing).

The article is remains available for “listen again” until it is over-written when the next broadcast goes out on Tuesday at 21:30.

If you forward-wind to 16 minutes into the programme, you’ll get straight to the article. The previous two items covered in this week’s edition covered the findings of MRI scans of the brains of psychopaths and New Year’s Resolutions.

The Blog Tag Game – Five Things You Maybe Didn’t Know About Me

Having been tagged by David Gilmour, below are my five things:

  1. I spent a year in prison. Every Wednesday evening 7.00 – 9.00 teaching guitar in Saughton. What struck me about the prisoners was how calm they all seemed and how kind they were to one another. When my time was up, I never returned. I hope the same is true of those I met there.
  2. I have punched more people in class than I can remember. Fortunately, for my continuing employment in East Lothian, all punches take place in the Five Winds School of Tai Chi Chuan, in Meadowbank Stadium, where I have trained for 15 years and taught for 10.
  3. Aside from teaching, the job I have most experience of is green-keeping (6 x 9-week summers at Winterfield Golf Course, Dunbar when I was a student). Despite such exposure to the game, I have never struck a golf ball – although one has hit me. That explains everything.
  4. My favourite game is chess and I always have 20 – 30 correspondence games going online at any one time. I seem to get no better at it, but the beauty of the geometry and variations keeps me hooked. Ironically, in my first ever live tournament at the age of 43, I was beaten by a wizard called Jamie Hook (who was in P7 at the time) in around 18 minutes. I’m relieved to say that he seems to be a rising star. Watch Kasparov having a similar experience here.
  5. According to his obituary in the Western Reader (in 1937) my maternal great-grandfather, Frank Mooney, worked for Celtic Football Club – on the charity side and with the boys club. If you want to test whether talent can miss out a generation, just pass me the ball.

In turn, I tag Ollie Bray, Ewan McIntosh, Rob Woodhead, Richard Wilson & Anne Johnstone


Cheap At Half The Price

Recently I received the latest rates for arrangers from The British Music Writers’ Council – a branch of The Musicians’ Union. The going rate is £3.65 per bar. Out of interest, I added up all the bars arranged for this year’s school projects so far – 5 pieces weighing in at a total of 388 bars – and the fee comes to £1,416.20 (not including parts for individual players – for which add another few hundred quid).

Of course, nobody really expects cash for these extras – book tokens will be fine, thanks.


Beyond These Walls

“The atmosphere of the theatre is my oxygen.” Plácido Domingo (1941 – ) 

You’d be surprised how much of a surprise it can be when instructors hear the fruits of one another’s work at concerts. How can this be? I would describe the instructors in East Lothian as a close-knit, affectionate family. Yet, we hear very little of each other’s work in the course of a normal working day. Continue reading Beyond These Walls

Honey, I Depressed The Kids

“Clocks slay time… time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.” William Faulkner (1897 – 1962)

I awoke yesterday to the news that children in our country are being poisoned by junk culture. This referred to a letter sent to the Telegraph by Baroness Susan Greenfield (Director of the Royal Institute and Professor of Pharmacology), author Michael Morpurgo and 109 others. Junk food, a test-driven curriculum and a general lack of time feature among the problems described. Depression and concentration problems are two of the symptoms. Rather than simply complaining, the purpose of the letter is to spark interest in a national debate on childcare in the 21st century. Continue reading Honey, I Depressed The Kids