Friday, 29 January 2010

Shizue Futatsumori

Shizue Futatsumori, mother to Ayako and her six siblings, died in Aomori on 28th January 2010. She was the respected wife of a school headmaster, Juro Futatsumori, who died in 1984.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The Van Gogh Exhibition

Lucky enough to get early to the Van Gogh Exhibition at the Royal Academy. A very fine collection, accompanied by detailed interpretations of his work drawn from his letters - made the more fascinating by the brief trajectory of his life. Click the heading to see more paintings and drawings from the exhibition, taken necessarily surreptitiously.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Watching Friends from Afar

Not going skiing, but can at least see where some friends are and follow them by webcam

Monday, 11 January 2010

Britain in Winter

Wintery weather covers Britain. Click the photo for a more dramatic view. In the Deep Midwinter seems the most appropriate carol.

We seem to have forgotten that it was it was almost as snowy last year. Click here for a reminder and the Flanders and Swan song of the weather

Two Controversial Books

I have been reading two controversial books recently - Professor Ian Plimer's Heaven and Earth, which questions the science behind climate change, specifically charging that man-made CO2 emissions are not responsible for the present increase in CO2 in the atmosphere - it mainly comes from 'natural' causes - and that there have been periods of global warming in the past that clearly have nothing to do with CO2 derived from man's use of fossil fuels. That view seems now to be relegated the wild fringe but The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand, another professor, this time of Jewish history at Tel Aviv University, argues that much of ancient Jewish history is a myth, including the exile, fostered in the name of nationalism, and in fact there is no such thing as the Jewish race, only a Jewish religion and tradition.

Plimer is almost certainly wrong, and at the very least we must accept that we have to move past our rapacious use of the earth's non-renewable energy resources whatever climate change may be going on. So far as ancient Jewish history is concerned, to the extent that those myths are responsible for the present intransigence of Israel in the matter of sharing land with the Palestinians (who, on Sand's reading, are of the same blood and much the same ancient history as those that call themselves Jews), his work should be regarded as of seminal importance. However, I can't quite accept his premise that there is no binding Jewish blood. One has only to look at the arts - particularly music, to see the extent to which those with Jewish blood seem to have acquired a special mastery and sensitivity.

Friday, 8 January 2010

The Drapers' City Service

The Drapers' traditional New Year's Service was held at St Michael's Cornhill on 8th January 2010, with lunch at the Hall afterwards. The service was enlivened by a splendid address by Professor The Reverend Edward Norman and the singing of Lux Aeterna by Sir Edward Elgar. Click the heading for a video of the choir practicising the anthem, being conducted by Jonathan Rennert.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Elmore Abbey

I have to thank my friend Fr Frowin Reed, a Benedicine friar from Conception Abbey, Missouri, for the discovery that there are many abbeys still buried in the English countryside. Elmore is one of the smallest with only four monks, but it stands in a beautiful part of Berkshire and has a fine church next door. As one of my friends said, it's one of those marvellous places where 'the veil is very thin'.

Click the heading for more photos of the Abbey and our travels