Stuff Of The Day: June 2017

June 30th
Feeback of the day: “this is stunning, #stainedglass, #quiet #echoes #dissonance, filled with wonder evoking awe” from someone I don’t know about this piece which has been an important part of June 2017. Also today, two breakfasts with Mum and Dad, fish bargains at the supermarket, Poirot being festively Belgian with Chief Inspector Japp.

June 29th
Glaziers of the day: the ones on the scaffolding, behind the blue veils in Wakefield Cathedral, removing the Victorian stained glass and replacing it with plain glass while the older ones are taken away for repair. They were doing this while the Year 3s and I boomwhacked in the nave, as you can hear. I like the unexpected juxtaposition of two of my current lines of work in the one place – glass music and composing with youngsters.


June 28th
Rain of the day: various places, really. In fact all places.


Red Light

Green Light



Decorative Rust










June 27th
Statistic of the day: Views on my seapieparcel YouTube channel have danced over 25,000. The most popular is Quiet Window, with 99 other songs being listened to since late April when the figure tipped over 24,000. Have a look yourself and see what delights there are there!

June 26th
Waiata of the day: E Papa. We started learning it at The Bridge Singers this evening. This is my favourite version, by Herbs, and I’m hoping for something of the same spirit when we perform it later in the year. I think we’ll manage it judging by the wonderful progress and sound they made tonight 🙂


June 25th
Sculpture of the day: Pierced Hemisphere by Barbara Hepworth. I spent most of the day composing with Henry Moore’s Five Metal Figures, Street Musicians, (which is indeed another favourite of mine) and the eager families of Wakefield in my Musical Sculptures workshops, but my heart has always been with this sculpture ever since I first started working at The Hepworth Wakefield – I saw it lying on the floor in a corner of the as yet unopened gallery on a tour by the learning team. It’s back! Wheeeh! I wrote a song about it, you know! I am somewhat dishevelled in this photo, I do realise, after my day of energetic composing merriment, and am also sporting my Feltonbury sunburn which came upon me yesterday as I conducted windily in the beer garden at Gallery 45.

June 24th
Bridge/Choir combo of the day: it’s the Bridge Singers on Felton Bridge…and also in the courtyard of Gallery 45, and also at St. Michael’s singing about Gallery 45. Windy was the weather of the day, so no chance of recording anything without the crackling, so I’ve filched a bit of one of today’s songs from last week’s concert recording. It was Feltonbury music and arts festival in the village today and highlights were sitting next to “Maria” at the Singalongasoundofmusic with the excellent Alison Rushby, piano playing and teaching brilliance and fun from the virtuosic Victoria Robinson, and of course our own two slots of merriment at which When I’m Cleaning Windows suddenly became a song that we sing with precision and aplomb, and is henceforth added to our list of things we can sing at “please come and sing for us” functions.


June 23rd
Meal of the day: masticated sunflower seeds. These two chaffinches observed through the kitchen, then stairwell windows on our bird table from which hangs a feeder of sunflower seeds. Dad extricates one from the feeder, takes it to the nearby steps, removes the seed from the husk, chomps up the seed for a while, then takes a few tasty morsels to the chick. The music is from the dawn chorus with the River Coquet in the background.


June 22nd
Boomwhacking of the day: The second of three Community Cohesion workshops at Wakefield Cathedral, thinking about making and maintaining friendships through music, drama, art and crafts, and also making friends while we’re at it. You’re seeing the plenary again (demonstration boomwhackers at the ready) and hearing our teensy musical show-and-tell. The lyrics are: “Etch warm thanks in the glass” for the chant, and “Write a conflict in the drips on the window, watch the rain of tolerance wash it away” for the sing-songy bit. It’s the middle third of our musical exploration of how to keep good friends through boomwhacking, singing and a trio of stories about firm friends Sammy and Manu. The actual music workshops take place down in the crypt with six sets of boomwhackers all at it at once. That would be some boomwhackabooming up in the main body of the cathedral…maybe next week…


June 21st
Things on the Longest Day: Early morning gardening; thunder; rain; travelling south; cricket.


Phone box rain

Tarmac storm

Viaduct watching

Newcastle Station

Decorative rivets

Upper level. Lower level.

Childhood window

Settling in for the night with the cricket













June 20th
Reinforced opinion of the day: no matter how untalented you are, if you shout about yourself loudly enough you will get noticed and rewards will come your way. If you are talented but quiet about it, it could go either way!

June 19th
Tune of the day: Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy. Looking for fruit-related music for a future event, I happened upon this, which puts The Bridge Singers‘ recent glass harp efforts in perspective.

And this!

June 18th
Lolling about of the day: that would be me getting up late, “cooking” strawberries and ice cream for lunch, composing by listening to the radio and playing spider solitaire on the computer, telly watching by snoozing, gardening by looking with a smidgeon of hanging-basket watering. I did notice through the window, this transformation of the helianthemum from night-time no-flowers to morning full-of-flowers, but that’s your lot today.

June 17th
Choir of the day: The Bridge Singers. We had our Magical Glass recital this evening. Another lengthy affair, but this time with a big clappy audience of over 100. Some excellent singing from choir and soloists, stunning music, most of which was delivered in a very accomplished manner with lots of spirit and a large helping of musicality and warmth of tone. It was tricky music and required stamina and concentration too. We’ve been going for less than two years, and look at us tackling 8-part motets and music in dubious time signatures and forming our own glass orchestra. I’m a very happy Musical Director indeed. This choir is such a thrill to be part of. Here’s the scene at St. Michael’s in Felton, and a few snippets of the first “half”.

June 16th
Rehearsal of the day: it was a lengthy affair – The Bridge Singers for our window-and-other-glass-inspired recital tomorrow. (Saturday 17th June, 7.30pm at St. Michael’s Church, Felton, Northumberland) But very much worth it because this is a splendid group of people and we’re singing amazing music and we get to feel even more confident about it than we already did. I also got to devise a very attractive colour-coded logistics chart for the choreographic elements of our concert! Here are some tasters of what we’re singing:
Quiet Window
Gabriel Fram Heven King
Factum Est Silentium by Dering
A choral version of When I’m Cleaning Windows
The Parting Glass

See you there!


June 15th
I took my new song and story on the train (including replacement bus service to Woodhouse which a station we all normally peer at through the window) to Wakefield where I made sport with it at the Cathedral with local 7-8 year olds. There was much in the way of boomwhacking and chanting in 5/4 and it was very lovely to meet up and work with my cathedral pals Tracey, Becky, Rachel and Gillian once again. Here’s the scene at the plenary, and a taster of the musical fun.

June 14th
Heatwave of the day: the one in Worksop. I wrote a song and a story this morning, then caught a train at Alnmouth heading southwards. It was warm in Northumberland – no coats required. Hardy people’s knees were out. I changed trains at York. I wandered around Retford Station for 45 minutes waiting for my replacement bus service. It remained warm. I alighted from my bus at Worksop Station and was assaulted by a heat and humidity redolent of my days in Brisbane. There were more than knees out in Worksop, I might add by way of local colour. I stomped through Worksop with my back-pack full of boomwhackers, overheating as I went and arrived at Mum and Dad’s to find windows and doors akimbo to encourage the maximum through-draught. Upstairs in the guest quarters, oven-like conditions prevailed…. (and in an addendum from the 15th continued throughout the night on a gentle simmer. Walking back up to the station at 6.15 the next morning, Worksop was still hot and humid. My replacement bus deposited me at Woodhouse Station where it was cooler and drier – the same in Wakefield. So it truly was just in Worksop.)

June 13th
Nose of the day. I spied this one through my window and thought it was a splendid example of nosehood. It was driving a road surface churning-and-regurgitating vehicle. We’ve since been resurfaced, although are full of “clearway” cones, and awaiting new road markings. In other news, I strolled up to the shop for butter and chocolate to make soprano cakes and chatted with my next-door neighbour, another neighbour and an unknown man, the wife of a Bridge Singer, the mother of a Bridge Singer, a friend from teaching in Alnwick, a Bridge Singer and her friend, another Bridge Singer and her sister-in-law, and a church warden who is excited about my Thomas Ilderton research. Later there was soprano merriment, hard work and cake.

June 12th
Flower arrangement of the day. The Bridge Singers’-inspired arrangement in front of the 1870 “quiet” window by Ann Lings as part of the Village Flower Festival at St. Michael’s Felton. It uses lyrics from Quiet Window, glass, flowers, music signs and symbols, musical flowers, a bridge, a K6 telephone box, sound (Magical Glass performed by The Bridge Singers), musical score from Magical Glass and is in the choir colours. It was there for the village flower festival last weekend and will be still be there perked up again for our concert on Saturday at which we will perform the world premiere of Quiet Window. We rehearsed in there tonight. We showed promise of a great concert. Final rehearsal on Friday!




June 11th
Choir of the day: Rock Festival Choir. We did scrumptious Rachmaninov’s Vespers to great acclaim from quite a large audience, and it wore me out and made my arms ache with the holding-of-scores-while-tense of it, and made my eyes blurry with the tiny-Church-Slavonic-in-the-scores of it, and made my heart soar with the glorious-in-a-big-acoustic exuberance of it, and made my face smile with the magical rhythms-and-harmonies of it and the being-in-such-an-accomplished-choir of it. That’s three choir performances in three days (thankfully no piano this time) – a fourth tomorrow, but only a rehearsal. Mind you it’s an exceedingly important one in the church venue for The Bridge Singers’ concert on Saturday. There won’t be bells and whistles but there will be glass orchestra and recorders.

June 10th
Choir of the day: Longframlington Music Festival Sing Out Choir. After a mere seven weeks of weekly rehearsals, 12 of the 14 and I did our performance this afternoon, including three New Zealand songs (2 in Maori), a 3-part round, 2 Abba songs and these two WW2 songs about rationing which we sang separately and then together. This is us at our final rehearsal last Tuesday. We had lots of fun and I’ve made some lovely friends. What a wonderful bunch of ladies they are.

June 9th
Rustscape of the day: Woodhorn Museum lift. I went to Woodhorn Northumberland Archives to learn more about Reverend Thomas Ilderton, and deciphered lots of exquisite and tiny calligraphic clerk-scrawl on huge legal documents full of thereinafters and wheresoevers and even a couple of thereinbefores. I spent a good four hours peering at said documents and aquiring the indenture dust of centuries upon my person and clothing. Upon leaving the dust I wandered for a while around some of the old colliery buildings and spotted some decorative rust on the old lift. Later in the evening four of Lionheart Harmony did a spot for the centenary of Alnwick Lions. I played the piano for the community singing. Alarming turn of events.


June 8th
Book of the day: War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. I’ve seen the play and loved it, but never read the book. Now I have, and rather like that too. Looking for readings for our War Memorial Window slot in the Bridge Singers’ Magical Glass concert, I noted this: The German: “Goodbye Welshman. We have shown them, haven’t we? We have shown them that any problem can be solved between people if only they can trust each other. That is all it needs, no?” A noble sentiment in these and those gnarly times, but still, they saved the horse in no-man’s land.

June 7th
“Startling moment of depressing commentary on BBCRadio 4” of the day: In a summary by correspondent Jonny Diamond, at 6.15pm on election eve, of how the two main party leaders have fared during the election campaign, I was jolted from the enjoyment of my inaugural drive along the new Morpeth Bypass by mention of two places I know very well, my home town and the place I do so much of my work: “Mr. Corbyn faces a different kind of electoral challenge. There’s no doubt that especially in the big cities, the Labour leader has gained support, sometimes grudging, often enthusiastic, from those who were once sceptical or uninterested, but in Labour’s non-metropolitan heartlands, places like Worksop in Nottinghamshire and Wakefield in Yorkshire, Mr. Corbyn produces a viscerally negative reaction. Working class men in particular seem astonished that the party should offer such a candidate.” I’m not sure what is meant by “such a candidate” but as I’ve said before, I like him. I particularly like his calmness and lack of bluster, and his concern and care for those with very little. There are a lot of people with very little in Worksop and Wakefield, so I find it saddening to see that the reaction is so much against him there, but Jonny Diamond’s observations do back up what I’ve heard from people in Worksop. As I said, startling mentions and depressing conclusions.

June 6th
Fledgling of the day: blue tit on the windscreen wiper.




June 5th
Disappointing song of the day: Yo Ho Ho And A Bottle Of Rum. But so many gloriously sung ones that it’s a shame to dwell on it really.

June 4th

Chocolate rose

Elephant book shelf

Sunshine of the day: the late evening one casting shadows at home. There were other sunny contenders. The one where the rising sun illuminated the clouds over Felton with an apricot hue as I finished off my freshly-laid path early doors.


Fireplace sheep.

The one that disappeared while The Bridge Singers were in the middle of “Kathy’s Song” at their outside gig at Blagdon Hall in the afternoon. The one that subsequently shone directly in my eyes as it re-emerged during the rest of our first set, after we’d repaired to the entertainment tent, which was too small for me to fit in too, so I stood outside conducting in the rain with an umbrella in one hand.

Curly Grass

Black iris

The one that shone on us again during our second set, back out in the courtyard, when I conducted with a banana provided by cheery bass, Richard. The one that made several flowers come into bloom while we were out and which then later provided these excellent shadows.

Sleigh bells

Brick path



June 3rd
Poem of the day: The Song Of The Lathes by Rudyard Kipling. We went to Newcastle with a list of fripperies, all of which were located and purchased efficiently. I came home, read war poetry and laid a path.

June 2nd
Cherries of the day: the ones in Robert Burns’ poem and song, On Cessnock Banks. It’s performed here by the excellent Kenneth McKellar. I’m reading my way through Burns’ songs in search of fruit, you see, and they’re few and far between, so imagine my delight when I happened upon this one. Meanwhile, I had strawberries for breakfast.

June 1st
Contact over the centuries of the day: Today I went to Woodhorn Museum to visit the Northumberland Archives where I read lots of parish notes from the 1860s and 1870s for St. Michael’s in Felton. Lots of thrills to be found, none of which I was permitted to photograph. The most exciting of them all was Rev. Ilderton’s actual signature which I ran my fingers over and smiled at. He’s the guy who put up the quiet window, which is the subject of my most recent composition. I also saw original drawings of several of the other windows in the church and also the joiner’s plans for the 1870 renovations. I was very thrilled.


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