Midweek mutterings.


Most Wednesdays I travel into Newcastle to sing with the wonderful North East Socialist Singers. This evening there was no practice and I had the opportunity instead to go to a gig in town. Like lots of things I plan to do it sounded like a great idea in theory. A friend’s band and a couple of other really exciting sounding groups were playing. Long story short, I didn’t go. Because I would have missed the last express it would have meant 7o minute journeys there and back. This would have meant possibly longer on the godforsaken bus than in the actual venue. Pretty much anyway.

The bus takes the longest route possible to get from Stanley to Newcastle. On the way home you can almost reach St Andrew’s spire when the bus does a U-turn and heads back to Tyneside*. I have never been so pleased to pass through Catchgate on the return journey and when I see the green lights of The Ox Inn I feel like kissing the driver. (Although that would never happen as there is not an ounce of joy in the whole workforce combined).

Naturally, the mod cons offered on other services aren’t available to the Newcastle to Stanley punters. No WIFI or free Metro newspapers for us. You have to go to Sunderland for that pleasure and let’s face it, those travellers need all the help they can get so it’s not to be begrudged.

So, a night in front of the TV with fish and chips and chocolate was in order. This has given me the chance to listen to music for Friday (we are learning a fab arrangement of ‘Love Will Keep us Together’ which is fun to learn) and also to read Kevin’s blog and catch up on Facebook. Kevin was observed teaching today and battled his way through flooding with an umbrella in hand. I found the fact his height was an advantage in this mission hilarious. I have a lovely visual image. He also speaks about his brother who would have been celebrating his 50th birthday today which makes me wish we weren’t so far apart x



On a different note, I read another favourite story this week. It’s by Dick King Smith (of ‘Babe’ fame) and is called ‘The Whistling Piglet’. Henry is one of ten piglets and the only one to concern his Mam by whistling. She doesn’t like it but all of his siblings do. One endearing part is that the youngsters in the story all say that when they hear Henry whistle it ‘makes my feet itchy’ which I think is a delightful concept. None of the grown ups understand but all of the young animals admire Henry and follow his tune! They dance around the farm yard to Henry’s whistle.

The fateful day arrives when the van comes to take the piggies to market. They ask their Mother why they are going and she brushes their question aside. But Henry knows. That piglet isn’t going to be led off to any market…

He whistles his tune and of course the younger farm animals all follow behind him – right out of the open farmyard gate. They gambol and leap their way into a forest. Now, there it might well end but it does not. The twist in the tale! Some of the animals aren’t cut out for freedom and are unable to survive outside the confines of their enclosure. The farmer and his workers capture the animals in dribs and drabs. There is the sense that some of them are relieved to be returned to their ‘home’ and whatever fate has in store for them.

Not Henry of course. The last illustration sees a deserted forest with only the musical notes of Henry’s whistle visible in the distance…

The listener is left with lots to think about. Even when you are four that’s a wonderful thing.

*some scenes may have been adapted slightly for dramatic purposes.