Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Happy Christmas and an Excellent New Year!

That's what I wish for all and sundry. I'll not be blogging for the next two weeks, but I leave you now with what is, as far as I know, a world first, and without doubt a highlight of 2010 for me ...

It was Dress Up As Your Favourite Book Character Day, and in amongst the Harry Potters and the Pippi Longstockings was Jason, who chose to come to school as Professor Appleword from The Case of the London Dragonfish. Thank you, my friend - I may never stop smiling!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Love the Tunes, Pity about the Words

The Dundee Choral Union is going all operatic this time. We're singing choruses from Aida, Carmen, Madame Butterfly, Die Meistersinger, Tannhauser and others ... leaping from German to French to Italian with all the grace of a slightly elderly centipedic gazelle. There's no denying the tunes are fabulous. And with an excellent soloist (Gwynn Hughes Jones), a delightful children's choir (NYCOS) and the deeply groovy Orchestra of Scottish Opera, it's going to be a very good concert indeed.

There's obviously a "but" coming and here it is. The problem of giggling.

When I was growing up my mother baked on Saturday afternoons, while listening to the opera at the Met in New York on the radio. Luscious smells, gorgeous music, words in a foreign language so I wasn't bothered by their naffness. Also when I was growing up, my father was showing me Marx Brother movies, and sharing his own translations ...

Celeste Aida became
Heavens, it's Ada!

The Toreador Song became
Toreadora, don't spit on the floor-a
Use the cuspidora
That's what it's for-a
Don't spit on the floor
Do not spit on the floor!
Do not expectorate
If you expect to rate
If you expect to rate ...

Need I go on ...

I like to think I've shared many different approaches to culture with my children. Not all my boys are going to make it to the concert, but I'm going to have to be extremely careful not to catch the eyes of the ones that do. Opera is serious stuff, after all.

Cheers, Joan.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

See How It Flows

I like doing poetry with primary school kids. I like the way they take to it without fuss and declaimers and all that 'ooo I don't do that - I'm not Shakespeare!' that sets in at, probably, puberty. When I do a group poem with a primary school class I always get enough material for 20 poems. It just flows ...

Here are a few samples from last month, the first a group poem and the second a spontaneous offering from a Year 4 girl.

If Only I Had a Flying Horse

If only I had a flying horse
I would fly to Mars
I would see aliens in make believe suits with stars in their ears
I would hear sticky gooey stomping
I would smell the burning of the sun
I would taste the sun smoke and
I would feel the stars
If only I had a flying horse

P3 Linlithgow Bridge Primary School

One day a dark night, did swirl
in the midst sat a pale girl
she sat upon a tiny stool
she sat unflinching though the wind cruel
she was motionless lost in thought
the world cruel, but the world so sweet
it depends whatever path you meet
that she was trapped between the two
and there she sat, still as a stone
with a body that seemed to be made
out of bone
the night winds were bitter
but there was our sitter
upon that tiny stool
so small

Elizabeth (age 9) Great Abington Primary School

Fabulous! I'll be putting them up on the Readers' Gallery as soon as I can, along with some more drawings. Meantime, we continue to be inordinately inconvenienced by snow ... though I did hear a lovely little throw-away on a weather report recently. The pictures were of a snowy sheep farm and the reporter said,
"At X Farm, the snow is deep and crisp and even the sheep are feeling the cold ..."

Cheers, Joan.