Laughter and Lyrics Choir I'm the white haired one 7th from left and caroline is the gorgeous oneon the right of the middle

Laughter and Lyrics Choir
I’m the white haired one 7th from left and Caroline is the gorgeous one on the right of the middle

An emotionally charged post for Haiku Heights prompt word ‘crescendo’.  I joined a ladies’ choir this year run by Caroline Edwards at the Everyman Theatre.  It is held on Friday mornings and several of my friends including those from WI joined too.  Lots of choirs popped up in the UK after the charismatic Gareth Malone appeared on TV to prove that everyone could sing by setting up choirs in all kinds of establishments.  Of course in order to make a beautiful sound you need a great teacher to whip you into shape.  We have Caroline for that and she is wonderful.  She has moulded our lively group of women into a choir!

We have a great deal of fun, drink lots of coffee, eat lots of cake, chat a lot, and have become firm friends who support each other.   caroline runs several choirs who will all get together on 15th July for a grand show at the theatre.  It is a sell out concert.  My heart breaks that after all my practicing I won’t actually be there on the night.  However I have enjoyed every minute with our choir ‘Laughter and Lyrics’.  The last song we are singing at the show is Sing ~ I know that along with a backdrop of video images produced by the fabulous Mark Kempner, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.  I will post a clip after the event when it goes public, but for now listen to Gary barlow and the Military Wives Choir as you read my haiku on ‘crescendo’

Deep emotions flow
To spine-tingling crescendo
Heartfelt harmony
Together we stand
Black with a splash of colour
Hearts break while we sing
‘Latte and Lyrics’
Choir gathers, faces aglow
Singing with gusto

Caroline’s choir grows
Along with coffee and cake
Gathering goosebumps
Perfect performance
As 5000 women sing
Hymn ‘Jerusalem’

I recently went to the Annual general meeting of the WI at Cardiff Arena again.  As always it reaches a crescendo when the 4000 plus women sing Jerusalem.  When you are part of it the sound is wonderful.   This clip is from 2010 when I was one of the women singing.


Sugar stars

Barred spiral galaxy NGC 1300 photographed by ...

Barred spiral galaxy NGC 1300 photographed by Hubble telescope (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sparkling stars spiral

In glittering galaxies

Bleak blackness beyond


Sugar sprinkled stars 

On a blue velvet background

Heaven  happens here

stars being born

Last week I went with some WI friends to a talk entitled “A Universe of Stars”.  Dr Paul Olver FGS FRAS gave a fascinating talk with slides and photographs as snowflakes fluttered down outside Bromsberrow’s beautiful village hall.  Being one of the many people who cannot comprehend the size and scale of the universe and all that is in it, I found the talk very educational and enlightening.

When I was a little girl my father used to take me for night time walks and tell me all that he knew about constellations but I never really understood any of it!  Now I can honestly say thanks to Dr Olver I do ~ well I understand a lot more anyway: Black Holes, White Dwarfs, Galaxies, Supernova, Dying Stars, Nebula, Light Years, Constellations, Big Bang Theory ~ these things now make (some) sense to me.  If the sky had been clear we would have gone outside with Dr Olver’s range of telescopes, but although it was cloudy we were not deprived, as he had brought along a range of photos taken from the Hubble Space telescope which were absolutely astounding.  With all the new digital photography and space technology it is almost possible to take photographs at the edge of the universe where our wonderful world began.

Some of the galaxies looked like sugar spilled on a dark linen tablecloth and they set me off writing haiku.

My camera does not do justice to what we saw but I have added a few photos that I took to give you a taste of the evening.

Glory Haiku

England’s Glory Match Box, made in Gloucester

I was sitting at a WI meeting yesterday in 2 Brunswick Square which is now the offices of Gloucestershire Federation of the Women’s Institute, (GFWI).  The room we have our meetings in used to be the bedroom of Mrs Moreland whose family owned the match factory in Gloucester.  It so happens that their matches were called England’s Glory so off my mind went to today’s haiku heights  theme word, which is Glory!

Symbol on matchbox

‘HMS Devastation’

proud “England’s Glory”

HMS Devastation, symbol on England’s Glory matchbox

Moreland match factory

Moreland match factory

S J Moreland, factory owner

The factory was situated alongside the Gloucester to Sharpness canal which was a thriving transport system for the timber trade in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  All sorts of timber products were made there before matchsticks became their sole product.  Originally the matches were handmade.  This was a very dangerous job as white phosphorous was used in the tips.  Conditions were so bad in London factories that the matchstick girls went on strike in 1888.  You may have read Hans Christian Anderson’s beautiful story of The Little Match Girl.  It is so sad!  But, eventually conditions improved and a safer form of phosphorous was used in the making of safety matches.  Before the first world war there were 650 people employed in Gloucester’s Match factory. but by 1911 a continuous automatic matchmaking machine was installed.  Many of the workers at the factory went off to war in 1914 never to return, and due to the introduction of the machinery the number of workers dwindled.

When I first came to Gloucestershire in 1967 the factory was still operating but had been taken over by Bryant and May.  They stopped making matches there and the factory closed in 1975.  England’s Glory matches are still made, but they are made in Sweden now!  There is a trading estate on the site of Moreland’s match factory now but there are still lots of reminders of the times gone by.

England’s Glory matchboxes were great fun.  They had jokes or wise words on the backs.  My husband remembers some.

One said, ” Trainee electrician – do they have to do Ohm work?”

Another said, ” A pessimist is someone who complains of the noise when opportunity knocks!”

Timber is still an important industry in Gloucester and the Sharpness Canal is still a thriving waterway.

Now where are my notes from that meeting?

Inspired by September Challenge day 21 at Haiku Heights

Argentine Tango at the WI!

It was such an exciting evening at the last WI meeting.  There was passionate, fiery and exotic music, rare footage of filmed tango, a fascinating talk and beautiful dancing demonstrations.  Janet Earl and Adrian Barsby, who teach together but are not regular partners, did a double act chatting in a relaxed fashion and inviting members to ask questions or interrupt whenever they wished, rather than wait until the end.  The talk was so informative, explaining the background and history of the dance as well as describing the different types of tango.

They explained that Tango is a social partner dance which originated in South America.  In spite of its name, ‘Argentinian Tango’, Uruguay and Chile also lay claim to originating it. Argentine Tango should not be confused with ballroom tango which is a sanitised version of the dance developed in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s because the Argentine brand was considered a little too steamy.

Salon tango (the most social version) is a fully improvised dance, though it clearly follows rules which give it its appearance. The leader, who is usually the man, expresses himself by interpreting the music in his own steps and those which he invites the follower, usually the woman, to make. Historically, there is an element of “showing off” the woman by making her dance well. Their classes are generally based around this style of tango.  There is often a tragic story being danced out!

Another style of tango is called Canyengue, which has a slightly higher stepping characteristic (possibly due to its having been dance in the sawdust and blood on slaughterhouse floors).

Tango Fantasia is a show version of the dance which is more likely to be choreographed and includes aspects of jazz and ballet dancing.

Socially, dancers also dance Milonga, which is more uplifting and happy, and Vals (Waltz) which is more graceful. Tango is danced in bars of two beats each but phrased in two lots of two bars, giving a phrase of 8 beats. Milonga is also in bars of two beats each, but phrased two bars at a time. Vals is in bars of 3 beats (though usually fast enough to be in 1), where the first beat of each bar “corresponds to a whole beat in tango”.

Janet and Adrian explained the instrument used in tango traditionally is the Bandoneon which is rather like an accordion.   They played beautiful recordings of Tango music on the instrument.  They delighted us by showing a clip of Rudolph Valentino and Alice Terry dancing in “the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” in 1921.

They explained how Tango spread to USA and came to Europe in the 1920s, mentioning lots of very famous singers, dancers and musicians whose names I cannot spell ~ Carlos di Sarli, Asto Piazzolla among them!

Janet showed us her beautiful dance outfits and her exquisite shoes, which she buys in Argentina.  They finished by recommending several performances of Tango that members may wish to see locally:-

Tango at the Music Festival on 11th July, Tango, Tango at the Roses Theatre in October, Midnight Tango in Oxford and Bristol in July etc.

A fabulous night out!