Former East Lobby

Humanities

Soured Memories of Sweet Sixteen

This post is in response to a writing challenge on The Daily Post. You can see this here http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/only-sixteen. It also marks the first anniversary of Adwick School’s demolition. The post refers exclusively to Adwick School, and (save for the poetic reference to others taking the throne) not to the two institutions that subsequently succeeded it.

That last seat of childhood authority is no more. One year on, I still struggle believing it! That our prestigious institution could so unceremoniously fall to the dust beggars belief.

Sweet Sixteen - in school uniform

Sweet Sixteen – in school uniform

For in truth our Emerald Queen was gone long before her ruined courts were razed. And I find that so hard to comprehend. What in my day was revered if though in dread, these days is scarcely remembered save in contempt. Therefore though those buildings be but newly gone, our world therein is much that longer lost.

While these ruins of our youth remained, they were defamed by those that came after us. A generation that had not seen the glories of our day, remembered them for other things. I too saw her slow decline, I watched her uniform in decay, and I heard of the infamy of her latter day. I still sighed when others took her throne. It was over then, not years later when the buildings went.

Ruins of Adwick School

My childhood world in ruins. Photo: Gerald Sables.

Those that scorn the memory of the Emerald Queen could not have known how once it was, and verily I remember her latter crew. They wore the uniform but as they did please; we were never once given the choice! Yet for all that we rebelled, secretly we admired the place – that final seat of absolute authority over the devices and desires of our own hearts! This is the greatest difference between us and them, and now and then!

That it should have ended the way it did feels so unreal. In my day the uniform was not for negotiation, and whatever I said I loved its distinctive colours of green, and white, and black. I said otherwise when I was a pubescent sixteen year old. Like my protestations against wearing a uniform, I celebrated my (so-called) independence the day I finally left – in both cases an attempt to assert myself in the adult world I entered, yet neither were seriously really meant.

Then came those after us, and they did mean those things they said. Among them those that said they would willingly press the button, that day our school came down. Then my foolish words came back to haunt me. The Emerald Queen was dead.

The Emerald Queen is my poetic name for our demolished school

The Emerald Queen

Alas thou mine emerald queen, whose royal robes were black, and white and green – whose Courts of great austerity were in those fields between, and wast of all with reverence seen, of whomsoever thine had been!

Alas! How thou art brought unto the ground, our palace ruined, thy name renowned! and nought is left of all we had: all is gone and where is found, that love, and fear, and awesome dread?

Alas, thou art gone, and thou art dead, despised of those who never knew thee then (nor us for whom thou wast our head)!

 

Propria & Tie to Germany

Thomanerchor

This year I am travelling to Leipzig to hear the Thomanerchor!

Newsflash! The Yorkshire Viking Norway is going to Germany!

Last year it was unfortunately not possible to carry out the planned holiday, announced in this blog. God willing that will be different this year. Yesterday I was able to buy one of the last tickets to the grand opening of the Bach Festival in Leipzig.

I’ll write a little more on the coming German Tour this weekend. In the meantime, I shall be changing my own rules a little.

With respect the propria and (school) tie, the propria were designed to spare the latter in order to keep it in good condition. The German Tour will however see both in use.

For a variety of personal reasons, it seems very fitting to me to use propria for this particular trip, and for those same it must therefore be even more so to use the real thing for the opening concert itself. Going to Germany is yet another irony in my life history, for those who remember me from my childhood. It is for that reason I mention this here. If you’re one of those, do get in touch!

More on this later. Watch this space.

Why Does Hardly Anyone Know About SeaMonkey?

SeaMonkey

SeaMonkey is the successor to Netscape.

I’ve been using SeaMonkey for two years. I’m amazed there aren’t more of us.

Many don’t even know what SeaMonkey is. I’m referring to the browser. Today a lot swear to Chrome, or Safari, and there are even a few who stick with Internet Explorer. It’s not these people who surprise me; it’s those who have chosen Firefox, and specially those who use that with Thunderbird I can’t quite understand.

Seamonkey does the work of both! This browser has the same “engine” as both Firefox and Thunderbird. It has the same technology underpinning it. The only difference is that you get everything in one process on your machine! Like the older Netscape, SeaMonkey is a “suite”. Indeed you get an address book, webpage builder, and chat module as well – and it still goes a lot quicker than Firefox in my opinion!

There’s something odd about us human beings. We’ll use lots of money on software like Microsoft Office when alternatives like Open Office are just as good, and won’t cost a penny! That said, I have to admit that SeaMonkey could have been promoted a lot better than it has been. Many people have quite simply never heard of it.

Nevertheless I strongly want to encourage you to try SeaMonkey. If you’re coming from Firefox, there’s no need to feel uncomfortable with something you’re unfamiliar with: you can actually make SeaMonkey look exactly like your old browser by using a so-called “theme”. So try SeaMonkey now!

this post was a translation from today’s post in the sister blog, CQD.

Arctic Organists Unite

Concert

Me, the Yorkshire Viking – ready for our concert

Once again the Yorkshire Viking (Norway) blogger and Arctic Organist joined forces. This time it was at Finnsnes Church. We did so for a concert on Saturday 8th February.

The first time we co-operated was back in 2012. That was when Jon Blamire, aka Arctic Organist had just arrived in this land. I crossed over from my neck of the woods the scenic way, taking the ferry over from Andenes to meet him.

Jon’s blog had already had a profound effect on this one. Indeed had it not been for the arrival of Arctic Organist my English blog, then a separate publication, would have been discontinued; I had begun a Norwegian one the previous year, and had decided to concentrate on that. The (unexpected) competition from Lenvik caused me first to redesign the original blog, experiment with black and white, and finally “wed” it to the Norwegian one as its “twin”. The Yorkshire Viking Norway you read today is therefore largely due to Jon!

Then we came together again last August. This time Jon Blamire came to us in Lødingen. The idea was to raise money for our parish, and neither of us took any money for this other than reimbursing the petrol money. Then as this week we put on a concert for our parishioners.

shows

Jon changes his shoes while his wife waits!

This last weekend was therefore the continuation of that August concert. This time I should visit Finnsnes where Jon works. Once again we took absolutely no money for ourselves, and other than my petrol money all proceeds exclusively went to the parish.

So we put together a concert using both the impressive organ and the beautiful grand piano in Finnsnes Church. I started the concert with Haydn’s Piano Sonata in B Flat (HOB XVI:2), and then Jon performed a piece on the organ. He had put the program together such that the piano and organ provided as much variation as the different genres of music we had set up. However, Jon was to remark that he did have the disadvantage of having to change his shoes every time he went to or from the organ. In this respect, I have an advantage, since I have not used shoes for the organ for about twelve years.

Lenvik is very fortunate to have found the Blamire family. They produce music of a very high standard, and crucially are convicted of their Christian calling in their work there. I have no doubt at all that my own music making will ultimately prove to be adjusted and improved upon in a similar manner to my blog, as Jon keeps me “on my toes” (if you’ll pardon the pun for an organist who doesn’t use shoes anymore).

Me opening

Opening the concert with Haydn’s Piano Sonata in B Flat

Bowing

Bowing to the audience after the concert.

I was both delighted – and horrified – to find that he had a piece of technical wizardry that provides a recording of the concert. While the concert was an undiluted success, I was able to hear areas I need to pay more attention to, something I needless to say intend on doing.

Pudding

Sarah’s Christmas pudding!

For the concert, I wore THE tie. That has now become fast tradition. When we also worked together for the Sunday morning service, I replaced it with propria. That is because while I have made the green, white, and black something of my brand, the Adwick tie is irreplaceable: it is in use for concerts and the 24th December only. At a distance, the propria do the same thing on those lesser occasions that I want to do that same thing.

I am indebted to Jon and Sarah for their hospitality. They kindly suffered me for the three days I was over there, and in addition to providing me with a bed to sleep in treated me to a wonderful Sunday dinner before I drove back home to Lødingen. For the dessert we had Christmas pudding, which they had made themselves. This was in answer to my post at Christmas.

 

 

Return of Propria

Propria

Propria Ties (still in wrappings) with School Tie

The propria were something I invented back at Huddersfield. I was there as a student between 1988 and 1991.

What are propria? Quite simply items of clothing that are not, and as individual items do not represent anything, but which when worn together take on the appearance of uniform. I employed propria when performing at St. Paul’s. For the uninitiated, that is the concert hall belonging to the University of Huddersfield (then the Polytechnic).

So I have always liked a bit of “show”. In my concerts in Norway, I have worn the school tie which, until the uniform was officially disused back in 2002 differed from the propria in so much that it individually did represent something. As you have previously seen on Yorkshire Viking Norway, I have also a tradition for using this on Christmas Eve.

For a thirty year old item of clothing, the school tie is in incredibly good nick. Indeed I want to keep it so, especially as it is now an irreplaceable relic. Therefore, for the first time since Huddersfield, enter…. propria.

The Sun Has Got His Hat On

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Well, not quite. However, I couldn’t help but think of that jolly little tune. The end of our polar night is nigh.

Had Adwick, Doncaster been at this latitude when I was growing up, today would have been our first glimpse of the sun. Doncaster doesn’t have our mountains. Nevertheless, although we shall have to wait another two days before we see it ourselves, it was for the first time this year visible on the highest ground. On the horizon yonder a golden fire radiated around the distant peaks that at least for now kept us in the shade.

There is tangible collective optimism when the sun returns. Some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder, and for these the polar night can be a long time. In many communities, like Finnsnes where our competing blog Arctic Organist gets written, they really go overboard with a celebration in the church to which most of the schools come along. Then again, being further North they have good reason: they won’t be able to see the sun for another two weeks!

My apologies for perfectionists like myself. Because I have been taking so many pictures in dark conditions, I had left the ISO-setting at 1600, meaning that the images are a little too grainy for my liking. Nevertheless, in accordance with the policy of this blog stating “Although we reserve the right to use colour photography, black and white shall be preferred…” this is one of the occasions, then, when colour gets to be used.

We shall be getting a new employee in our church here in Lødingen in just over a week. He’ll be living in the apartment immediately over mine. Coming from Örebro in Sweden, he is going to experience huge changes even though he has missed the polar night. When he arrives, the day will only be a few hours long; by the middle of April, the last traces of night will be disappearing! The polar night has of course its counterpart: in the Summer from mid-May to mid July, the sun never goes down, and there really is no night from the last week of April to the first in August.

If anyone wants to experience the midnight sun then the best time to do so is the month of June. If you come in July, it is true that we have it until the middle of the month; but because things change so quickly here, one notices that the shadows are already getting longer with every passing day. If you really want to know what 24 daylight is like, my recommendation is the first two weeks of June. Then not only is the sun out 24 hours a day (if it’s not cloudy or rainy of course) – but it is still getting higher in the sky.

I shall publish some links to places you can stay in Lødingen later on. Right now, it’s bitterly cold. You wouldn’t really want to be here!

Language Change on Radio Sheffield

Radio Sheffield

Video Didn’t Kill the Radio Star – listening to Radio Sheffield in Norway!

Andy Crane has just been talking about language on Radio Sheffield. More specifically, those expressions that “really get one’s goat”.

I don’t buy the linguists’ reassurances. He had one of these on his program. The English language is getting simpler. That isn’t in dispute. As it does so, however, my opinion is that it is losing nuances. Having more and more new words, which linguists like to mention supporting the idea of language growth, is a red herring. When I broke a set of china that I had inherited (during moving house), I had many more pieces of china than I had had before – but it certainly wasn’t worth the same.

Having now been away from England for a quarter of a century (!), I am sensitive to quite a lot of the changes. The wonders of the internet have allowed me to listen to Radio Sheffield, and it is a surreal experience listening to what I used to listen to as a schoolboy from my DAB/FM/and Internet radio here in Norway. I notice the language immediately, and when Andy Crane decided to talk about this – I couldn’t resist writing.

One of my pet gripes is the loss of the word “pupil”. Right from primary school, children are now called “students”. I know from correspondence with teachers this is done deliberately. “Student” is felt to be more respectful, or as the Outwood empire of schools based at Wakefield puts it “Students First” (yes, I know they are “academies” now, but I don’t have time to moan about that here). Yet this is firstly a loss of an important distinction, and secondly disingenuous in my opinion.

Firstly, a word about “in my opinion” though. That has to be the last time I write this. I remember when I went to the former Polytechnic of Huddersfield, we were told by our lecturer David Lennox that we should have the confidence to write what we thought. It should, he said, be obvious that it was our opinion; and now that we had got a place in higher education we should have that confidence about our own competency on the subjects we were writing about. I mention this because I can almost hear somebody thinking already, “well, that’s only your opinion”. Yes indeed it is my opinion, and that is why I write a blog about it!

By calling children “students” one is being disingenuous. Contrary to what you would think from an age with corporal punishment, schools were less autocratic when I was brought up. Looking at the “discipline policies” anyone can read for themselves on most schools’ websites, it seems to me that instead of calling it “a rule” one calls it now “a policy” – and somehow “policies” seems much nicer. My impression of the “student” life at school is that it is just as controlled as mine ever was as a pupil, if indeed not more so. Now these same policies for “students” are regulating their life even outside the school gates.

Yet there is another problem with “student”, which really comes back in the face of teachers thinking they are showing them respect. Let us say these teachers are successful in sending these “students” into higher education, there will now not be anything special about their new status – as students.  Being a student formerly implied a greater degree of autonomy. If this were not so, then there would be no argument either for abandoning the term “pupil”: as we have seen, “student” is thought to be more respectful. Yet now this word “student” has become devalued and one denies today’s youngsters this later status.

I have already written about how language can sometimes do one’s thinking for a person, instead of the other way round. That English is simplifying (acknowledged by the linguists) means that everything we say today, Shakespeare could have said – but the opposite is not true. No Shakespeare didn’t know about computers, but he like we would have been able to invent a new word for something he hadn’t seen before. That is because in addition to words, as in the above example, we also have grammar. It is the grammar – not words – that is simplifying. In one respect, the argument that modern translations of the bible are more accurate is patently false: the English language can no longer distinguish between the singular and plural address. Given that biblical texts constantly alternate between “thou” and “you” within one sentence just like we alternate even today between “I” and “we”, there is no way that the paraphrasing into Modern English can be more accurate.

In 2004 I wrote a deliberately provocative essay on just that. It is called “Your Body Is NOT the Temple of the Holy Spirit”. Most churches in England and America are completely wrong on this. You can read why here. http://www.scribd.com/doc/49207268/Your-Body-Is-Not-The-Temple-of-The-Holy-Spirit

The distinction between “you” (singular) and “you” (plural) always used to be a problem for me when I lived in England. Once you grasp this, and start thinking it, then it can become a constant irritation for you. The model of communication is supposed to be TX (transmitter, ie speaker/writer), medium, and RX (receiver, ie hearer/reader). If I am transmitting “you” (plural) but in my receiver’s brain “you” (singular) pops out…. there is a real problem.

There is a problem.  Most of you cannot see this, and if you do then chances are you have another language. It was only because fate brought me to a country where this distinction is a day to day part of my language that I escaped this.

So yes language is changing. That does not mean that this is necessarily progress, if that word is only understood to mean something good. I think the English language is much poorer today. One reason may well be that it is a victim of its own success. In order to become an international world language, it has had to adapt and simplify. Yet that has come at some cost.

The Subversive Grammarian

By David Grünewald

It wasn’t until after I had left school and several failed attempts that I finally got my English. Photo: David Grünewald

I like blogging. Language fascinates me.

It wasn’t always so. Though my blogs’ theme is based on my old school uniform, my schoolboy English was not something to be proud of. I consistently failed the old “O” level English examination until 1983, two years after leaving school. Indeed I also failed the examination in the Summer of that year as well!

When I decided to retake my failed examination something remarkable happened. This was at the former Doncaster Metropolitan Institute of Higher Education in that same Autumn. They held evening classes at the now demolished site in Waterdale, in the centre of town. All of us attending were there to redo in a matter of a few weeks what we had tried, and failed to do that Summer.

I wish I could remember the name of our teacher. He changed the course of my life – in more ways than I knew at the time, and not only in the English language. He shut the classroom door, and gesticulated that he had something to say to us almost as though he were afraid of saying it and might lose his job if he said it out aloud.

I can’t remember now when the course began, but he didn’t have a lot of time to change our failed examinations into passes. Therefore I can’t remember exactly how many weeks he said that we had, but what he said was truly astonishing. He said that we had only so many weeks until the examination, but he could guarantee us success if we would follow his method. There was only one catch: his method was an old fashioned one, and some did not approve of it in modern teaching.

Until these evening classes, I had used English “automatically” with my internal “autopilot”. That is to say that I wrote what I should say, and never thought about it any more than one thinks about how one walks. It is my belief that many people are now doing this very thing, and without most of these realizing it, their language does their thinking for them rather than letting them express ideas that they themselves have put together. Our teacher wanted us to analyse our language.

Obtaining so our surreptitious consent, he then introduced us to what we had thought was a very dirty word – grammar! In some respects, English is like a building that has lost one of its rooms. We started looking not just at how that building was today, but how it once used to be.

English address is a good example of this, where the plural has now to double up as a singular. Unless you know that, then it seems like the use of a plural verb, “are” for example, when one is addressing only one individual is just one of the many exceptions-to-the-rule that plague anyone who wants to use the language. Unless you have the grammatical bird’s eye view from above, then indeed it will seem like many complicated rules and exception to the rules just as in our example here.

We started writing out tables…. I am, thou art, he/she/it is, we are, ye(you) are, they are. We briefly looked at Middle English, but I have to say that most of what I now know of that came later. Nevertheless it was from the interest this evening class ignited inside me. Needless to say, I could see why verbs ended the ways they did very quickly. In Modern English, one simply cuts out the “thou” address, and replaces the “eth” verb ending with the “s” that we have today in the third person singular. Not complicated at all!

One of my major sins used to be the misplaced apostrophe. This subversive grammarian taught us that there were two types of apostrophe: the first when the apostrophe was used to show omission, and the second use to show possession. This was before I ever even heard of things like the genitive case, through my own study that followed!

Since I often pop into George Barton’s blog, and follow him on Twitter I have been introduced to the term “the apostrophe police”. This refers to those (like me) who have the audacity to pick people up on misplaced apostrophes. Nevertheless, for those of you who once and for all – guarantee! – want to learn this so you never make a mistake again, I shall give you the infallible rule.

The first use of the apostrophe is for an omission. Instead of writing the two words “it is”, you can contract these to “it’s”. The apostrophe stands for the omitted letter “i”. Instead of writing “you are”, you can contract to “you’re”, and the apostrophe is in place of the omitted letter “a”.

The second use, which I began this post with when I referred to the school uniform theme my blogs now use, is to show possession. You can very simply find out where to put the apostrophe here by rewriting the sentence using the preposition “of”. For example:

  • the children’s toys – rewrite, the toys of the children (you know to put the apostrophe between “n” and “s”)
  • the child’s book – rewrite, the book of the child (you know that the apostrophe is between “d” and “s”)
  • the boys’ choir – rewrite, the choir of the boys (unless you really mean that one boy has started, and perhaps leads the choir, and that it is his project – then you know there are several of them, and the apostrophe comes after the “s” at the end)
  • the boy’s friend – rewrite, the friend of the boy

So, whatever it is that you actually mean, write it first as an “of” sentence it you are in doubt! This always works! So if anyone thought that I had made a mistake at the beginning of this post, it should now be apparent that I was writing about the theme of my blogs (and not my blog). Yorkshire Viking Norway is twinned with a Norwegian sister blog.

I wish I could remember the name of our teacher who got me my English qualification. I should like to thank him. However I cannot, but I pay tribute here. What is more, if you follow the advice above, neither will you go wrong. Ever!

The Arctic Organist Wins

Christmas Pudding

We concede that Arctic Organist has today’s best post! Christmas Pudding!

Never let it be said that we don’t acknowledge when we’re beat. We’re beat.

We have (of course) the most beautiful blog and logo.… 😉 based on the smartest school uniform that ever used to exist 😉 a tradition to maintain the tie for special occasions, and well, we’re just the best…. 😉 and in none of this has our competing Arctic Organist the slightest chance of beating us…  even though we admit he takes some darned good pictures of our local nature.

But this time we’re beat. He wins! He managed not only to get his wife to make him Þe olde CHRISTMAS PUDDING – but his wife even flames it as well!

He wins this one. We’re beat! His post can be found here http://arcticorganist.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/christmas-catch-up/

Yorkshire Viking Norway would like to congratulate you, Jon, and wish you a Happy New Year. We (that’s the pluralis maiestatis of course) look forward to more creative competition within the blogsphere in 2014.