Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Flower Festival day 2 and Zone Plus day 1

The second day of the Flower Festival – Monday – was a great success. Lots of visitors from the village and further afield and everyone seemed to like the new organ. We had a visit from the walkers on the Parish Plod who had lunch with us (and made generous donations later in the day)

More pictures in a few days

Zone Plus

Another two days of fun activities for youngsters – this time not at Church because the clerestory window project is starting. Today we had Team Fun from the Green Park centre and cooking. There was also a swimming session in the school pool and the Dirt Fox radio-controlled trucks had a good outing, too.

Ian Macdonald from the diocese visited today to present the grant  from the Youth Evangelism Fund that Zone Plus has been awarded. Ian presented the 'cheque' to Lucy who applied on our behalf earlier in the year. Lucy and her friends have been very active in the organisation of the summer Zone Plus.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Flower festival and Organ Dedication

The first day of the Flower Festival was a great success in spite of one heavy shower and some strong winds that blew down one of the gazebos. The festival was well supported and we're hoping for more visitors tomorrow – particularly as the forecast is better.

The Church was full – with several people standing – for the dedication.

More tomorrow.

Friday, 27 August 2010

A week on the canals – and preparation for the Flower Festival

We've been on the canals with the grandchildren for the last week – hence no blogs. On Sunday we had all four – a bit traumatic but no accidents.

For the rest of the week we just had two. Great fun in spite of rather damp weather towards the end.

Quotes of the week: Alfie (3) when looking at three ducks on the water but no boats around “why is there no-one to feed them?” Jack (6) when we had moored  “Can I go offboard now please?”

But it's back to a busy weekend. We had a wedding at Little Hampden today – and the first serious use of the new organ. Needless to say, it performed perfectly.  We've got a Flower Festival on Sunday and Monday to celebrate the arrival of the organ – and to help to pay for it. Geoff helped me make shelves for the sloping windows and preparation started today with Mary and Juliet doing their arrangements. More over the weekend.


Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The organ installation is complete

John Budgen completed the installation today – in spite of visits by a number of organists and parishioners. The verdict from all these seems to be very positive and I think John was pleased that so many people looked in and were obviously excited about the new organ. So we seem to be all set for the wedding on 27th August and the dedication on Sunday evening, 29th.

History of the organ

John left a note to be put inside the organ – I think this is traditional for organ builders.

This little organ served for many years in the church at Charlton Musgrove, near Wincanton, a long narrow building; it stood in a small transept near the chancel. In those days it had two 8ft stops, open diapason and salicional, both poorly voiced. When in 2008 it was superseded by an electronic instrument, we rescued it and stood it in the English Organ School at Milborne Port. Liam Cartwright, a pupil of Margaret Phillips, noticed it and brought about its purchase for Little Hampden church.

John Budgen exchanged the pipework for a Gedact and Principal, which he had done with two similar Casson organs quite successfully. In this instance, the channels of the soundboard are routered out and very shallow (not the full depth suggestee by the top and bottom veneers). The result is a tendency to 'rob' and makes for difficult tuning, but it is at least more tuneful than when it had two 8fts, and. Hopefully, an improvement on the 'keyboard' in use up till now.

The original builder Thomas Casson is a the father of Lewis Casson, the actor and husband of Sybil Thorndyke. Sir Hugh Casson was Lewis Casson's nephew.

I hope this is the start if a new phase for this organ, bringing beautiful music to the worship at Little Hampden.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Organ installation continues

John Budgen continues to install the Little Hampden Church Organ – interrupted periodically by visitors. I heard it played this afternoon – not all the pipes were installed but it sounded good to me.

Here are some more pictures of the organ arriving and being installed.

John and I have been having interesting discussions about organ pipes: I can remember some of the basic physics, but not the equations. The sound is made by a standing wave within the pipe which depends on the length of the pipe between the mouth (the slit at the bottom) and the end. Some of the pipes are open-ended (the metal ones n our organ) and some have plugs at the end so are closed (the wooden ones). The closed pipes resonate at half the frequency (one octave lower) than an open pipe of the same length. Also, according to Wikipedia, an open pipe produces odd- and even-numbered harmonics whereas a closed or stopped pipe produces only odd-numbered harmonics.

The pipes are tuned by slightly altering their length. You can see the sleeves on the metal pipes in the picture below. Sliding these up and down change the length – and so the pitch – slightly. The stopped wooden pipes have a movable stopper which can lengthen or shorten the resonant chamber thus altering the pitch. We did discuss how the different tones are made – but this got beyond my physics.

Monday, 16 August 2010

The organ arrives

First few pictures of the new Little Hampden organ which we transported from Warminster today. John Budgen is installing it over the next few days.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Here's something you can try at home

I think I mentioned the two '50 ideas...' books I bought at the fête a while ago. I've been working through the Maths one – Chris has the Physics book; I'll be looking at that later so watch out. The sections on number sequences were fascinating but yesterday I got to non-Euclidean geometry. This was equally intriguing. Until I had read this, I thought that  the angles of any triangle always added up to 180°. But that's only in Euclidean geometry. You can make a triangle with three right angles! You'll need an orange. Another spherical fruit will do, I suppose, but an orange is best. You'll also need a sharp knife. I guess at this point I should warn you about the dangers... so be careful! Hold the orange upright. Now cut a horizontal line around the centre of the orange – the equator – and go a quarter of the way round. Now make two cuts at right-angles to this cut towards the top of the orange, one at each end, and continue these till they meet. They will meet at right angles, too. So you have made a triangle with three 90° angles – the total is now 270° not 180.

Friday, 13 August 2010

More communications

The morning after I blogged about modern communications, the Thought for the Day on Today resonated with my theme. I've copied the text below (probably in contravention to the BBC copyright – sorry about that!) and you can hear John Bell by going to the BBC web site and searching on the date 11/08/2010. If you'd like a copy of the podcast, e-mail me.

I'm sorry if I'm an avid BBC R4 listener – but things are getting worse: my son-in-law now reluctantly admits to listening to it in the car (he says 'occasionally')

John Bell's Thought:

After hearing the news yesterday I realised that I possibly broke the law last Friday.

I managed to spy on someone else's mobile phone.

It's now an increasingly frequent phenomenon. Fraudsters can tap into the range of information stored on mobiles and then run amok with the owner's credit facilities. Or they may choose to interfere with private correspondence. Or, via satellite communication, they may be able to identify the location of the owner at any given time.

In my defence, I didn't do anything so devious. I just observed data. And I did it in the comfort of the Royal Albert Hall during a stunning performance of Beethoven's 3rd Piano Concerto.

Other people were doing it too: my friend on my right and a woman on my left were equally distracted by the mobile in the row in front. We saw family photographs and text messages. Then we watched the phone's owner type in the word WASTED, enlarge it and show his handiwork to his two companions; this during the slow movement.

Had these been teenagers, it might have been excusable. But they were affluent young business types besotted, I suggest, with self-importance - a phenomenon greatly aided and abetted by the possession of this type of technology.

For if my diary, my address book, my emails, my text messages, my credit facilities are all available at the flick of a switch anywhere and at any time I want, my self-esteem is bound to rise. I must be an important person... so important that if I wish, in a public place like a concert hall, to see who has texted me in the past ten minutes, then I should do so, irrespective of whether my miniature lit screen and murmurs of approval annoy or distract those around me.

There is no denying the abundant advantages of a mobile phone, but who is in charge - it or me?

In one of his books, the late Metropolitan Anthony Bloom commented that if the telephone rang when he was praying, he simply asked God to get the caller to phone back if it was important.

What his Russian Orthodox faith did - in common with other religious and ethical beliefs - was to convince him that he was not the indispensable centre of the universe. A fulfilled life is not one where we are constantly wired up. It is one in which there is a time to disengage, to stand and stare, to relate face to face with others, to be taken in by great music... and thus to be taken out of ourselves.

I sometimes wonder whether, were Jesus around today, he might slightly amend one of his most famous observations and say, "You cannot serve God (or humanity) and Narcissus."

copyright 2010 BBC

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Communications – more is less

Are communications getting better or worse? There's no doubt that technically communications have improved significantly over the last years. I can remember the time when we had to book a telephone call to Paris to tell our friends that their son, who was spending some time with us to improve his English, had arrived safely. Today, I received an e-mail from a friend who was “adrift in the Andaman Sea, west of Malaysia” but my PC noted that he was logged on and I could chat to him immediately. No doubt, I could have spoken to him via his mobile or Skype.

But have these improvements in the underlying technology actually improved information flow?

Why is this? Is it information overload? Are we confused by the various ways of recording information? Most people still rely on the calendar on the kitchen wall – which isn't integrated with the internet yet  fortunately. So we still have to remember to write the appointment down in the kitchen – not very easy when the invitation is received on the train. Are e-mails, once very significant, now so trivial or so common, now not treated seriously? Are they too impersonal? A year or two ago the Young Enterprise students I worked with seemed to communicate through Facebook but I hear that they have moved on – I haven't discovered where to – and left Facebook for their parents. Incidentally I have one Facebook friend who regularly has entries on her Facebook about her daughter “Xxx is the bestest daughter i could wish for i really do love her she is amazing! She blows me away!” We all suspect she leaves her PC logged on!

Maybe the youngsters have something to teach us. I remember being with a Young Enterprise group a few years ago with a potential new adviser who was used to working with adults but not teenagers. The YE company was trying to decide about Christmas cards: which of three designs should they chose to sell, should they do one only or two or all three. I said to the new adviser that the group would discuss this for ten minutes or so and would then come to a decision; they would all be committed to the decision and it would be clear to all what the decision was – but we would have no idea of how they came to the decision. And sure enough, the decision was arrived at, the were all fairly happy with the decision – or at least would go along with it – but how it all worked was a mystery.

More importantly, what can be done about this? At a practical level, I'm seeing people missing their slots on rotas – not a major concern but a worry but a symptom of the problem. Using more personal communications seems to help – although it appears to be more time-consuming. A face-to-face meeting is much more efficient than a phone call which itself is better than an e-mail, text or voicemail message. Research suggests that in a face-to-face interaction the majority of the communication is non-verbal. I hear this research is misquoted, nevertheless body language adds much to the interaction. When I was managing an international team, we worked very hard on ensuring that we could communicate effectively on the telephone, and in another situation, the introduction of videoconferencing was a significant improvement over the telephone. And although these calls were across the world, talking to people in Little Kingshill, South Heath and Ballinger is actually no different.

So – cut down on e-mails, phone more and meet in the pub often?


So far for the Cream Teas:

“Phew Rog.   Will Mrs Green and Mrs Harris ever bring us cake and tea...?”

“Don't worry, they're far too busy to notice us”

“If only the others could multi task”

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The Little Hampden organ is on it's way

Our new (or restored) organ is nearly here! Ten days or so ago, I phoned John the restorer and was rather concerned to hear that he had a bad ankle and was not able to complete the last few tasks in the restoration of the organ. With a wedding on 27th August and plans afoot for a dedication service on the 29th, this was not the news I wanted to hear. Contingency plans were necessary – at least for the wedding. However another phone call last Friday brought better news: John was on his feet again and the organ would be ready in a few days.

After looking at various options, I've opted for a 'man with a van' and I'll go with them to Warminster to help collect the organ on Monday next week. John will come up to Little Hampden to install and tune the organ. So although there is still lots to be done, the outlook is positive.

The process of gaining permission for the new organ has been quite prolonged – but not too difficult. The first stage was to meet the Diocesan Organ Adviser. Fortunately, he was very positive about our plans and the organ itself – which had been found by our Director of Music. Armed with a supportive letter from the Adviser, the next stage was to apply to the Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches (the DAC) for a Certificate. Members of the DAC have a wide range of expertise in all aspects of church conservation work, reordering, furnishings, textiles and repairs. The Certificate is a statement by the DAC that they approve of the proposed change to the building. We were fortunate to have a Certificate issued fairly promptly with no conditions. The Certificate is dated 20 July 2009.

The next stage was to petition for a Faculty. This is issued by the Diocesan Registrar. The process involves a significant amount of paperwork but, most importantly, requires public notices to displayed for a period so that members of the Church can make their feelings known. I don't believe there were any formal objections and we received the Faculty in December 2009.  At this stage we could commit to the restoration of the organ – and get stuck into fundraising!

I'll keep you posted on activities of the next few weeks.

Meanwhile – I've quoted him before but it's appropriate here:

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.
Niccolo Machiavelli

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Behind the scenes at Cream Teas

We've been running Cream Teas at St Peter & St Paul, Gt Missenden since 1985. They were started by the bellringers to pay for repairs but now are a significant contribution to Church funds. But it's not only a money spinner – it brings people into the Church, some of whom eventually join us.

Brenda and I were in the team today and I took some photos of the volunteers – and the customers. We had the Celtic Guitarists providing music today, too.

And finally, one snap of the workers taking a short break – any suggestions for a caption?