Books and Music

A few books I’ve been reading lately, and also some new music to ponder…

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs.  Now I wouldn’t have picked this book myself but as it was forced upon me by a friend and told it was really good and I would love it… well what can you do?  Actually it was quite a good read with a few empowering women bits.  And if you are into knitting it will make you smile here and there.

A Darker Doman by Val McDermid.  This was my first Val McDermid and I don’t really know why she isn’t more widely publicised.  I thought this was just as good as Rankine. Might it be a woman thing? Anyway this story linked up the disappearance of the daughter and grandson of the richest man in Scotland 25 years ago with the Miner’s Strike of 1984. I loved it.

Family Ties by Malcolm Goldsmith.  As Malcolm is known to many of us as priest, campaigner of the spirituality of dementia, prayer and Myers Briggs, and facilitator of our mid-ministry course, then it was a delight to discover that he had written his first work of fiction. This is about relationships and family tensions and I loved it. (Bits of church in there too.)

The Great Lover by Jill Dawson. Just finished this one and still not sure. It tells the story of Rupert Brooke, poet and captor of hearts of men and women alike. It sort of lost momentum for me as it went on but an interesting insight into a complex man.  Quite a bit of sex too. (Not that that’s a bad thing!)

And what have I been listening to?

Well, thanks to Maggi Dawn I have found 2 cds which can be used as reflective mood music on those occasions when you want a group to settle down.

The first one I got was Craig Armstrong Piano Works. There are some beautiful and haunting pieces on this. Lots of ‘I know that tune’ moments too.  I’ll be buying more from this guy.

The second was Mnemosyne by Jan Garbarek and The Hilliard Ensemble. If you like the sound of a sax and medieval chamber music intertwined then this is for you. Little flock, you shall hear more of this I promise. It is just glorious.

Finally, I’ve been listening (and boogying on down) to Fischy Music’s Down to Earth.  Readers may remember that Fischy Music came and played for us at the end of Junior Church term. We had a great time learning to sign the new songs and having a laugh too. J has requested that we have them on Sundays too so I’ve been revisiting them to see which to have first.

Funeral music

Forget hymns like “Abide With Me”, “Amazing Grace” and “Jerusalem” the next time you attend a funeral, because you’re more likely to hear Monty Python’s “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life” or the theme song from the Benny Hill television show.

A survey of 30,000 funerals conducted last year found that hymns were now the most popular requests at only 35% of services. “My Way” by Frank Sinatra was the most popular, followed by “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler and “Time To Say Goodbye” by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman.

“You Raise Me Up” by Westlife and “Angels” by Robbie Williams made the top 10, while X Factor winner Alexandra Burke’s “Hallelujah” was at number 26 only months after topping the Christmas chart.

Lorinda Sheasby, of Co-operative Funeralcare, said the findings indicated that tastes are changing, with television programs and chart hits influencing people’s choices.

“Today’s tear-jerking chart topper is extremely unlikely to be tomorrow’s funeral classic but it’s quite possible it will figure highly in the months or even years to come.”

On the downside, priests reject one in 10 requests, including those for AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell” and “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen. Even further on the downside is that some requests are for theme songs from soap operas.

People must be awfully dull round here because I hardly ever get asked for anything like the above. My biggest problem just now is that Dad is requesting Courage Brother, Do Not Stumble. Quite. Have you ever heard it?

Laugh? I nearly wet myself

Last night saw the Cursillo Christmas party at St Mark’s. Enough nibbles to feed an army, as ever. Little elves who came straight from work to put the church together and stayed behind to wash the glasses – bless them. Singing of one Advent hymn accompanied by L on the clarsach and then a few Christmas carols. (Yes, I know! St Mark’s lot mimed or stay tight-lipped!)

Then came the turns. Some poems, some prose but the prize has to go to Father A who did a rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas a la Frank Kelly (Fr Jack from Father Ted). You had to be there!  It has to be the best version ever. Go listen to it yourself now!

Christmas songs

Kelvin was talking about one of his favourite Christmas carols – Jesus Christ the Apple Tree. I love it too – one of those which brings tears to the eye.

One which makes me laugh has the line ‘O pluck your cherry Mary.’ Once heard, you’ll be singing it all day. Or I have been known to sing just that line all day. Can’t remember what its called though.

But if you are looking for something different in the Christmas CD line (and yes, I know we are not listening to them YET) you should get Celtic Christmas from Brittany. I got a copy years ago in a shop in Edinburgh and it comes out every year and people always ask what it is. Beautiful.