My Last Night of the Proms

My Last Night of the Proms

Last night I went to the *Last Night of the Proms. I didn’t realise that the evening included two world-class opera singers leading a full Royal Albert Hall audience in a jolly singalong.  For me, even more remarkable was the range of nationalities represented at such a traditional British event.

  1. Danielle de Niese “was born in Melbourne to Sri Lankan parents of Dutch and Scottish descent, and grew up in Los Angeles.” She led us in a joyful Sound of Music medley. This is an American film set in Austria with the very British Julie Andrews and her excellent diction.
  2. Jonas Kaufmann, a German tenor, belted out (in a top class opera sense) Rule, Britannia! This is a traditional patriotic anthem from 1740, celebrating Britain’s naval dominance. The original poem describes a ninth-century British king defeating Danish invaders. It felt oddly exhilarating to be singing “Britons never will be slaves!”
  3. Marin Alsop was an electric conductor. She is an American who divides her time between Baltimore and Sao Paulo. She chose to teach us an old American children’s song by Copland called ‘I bought me a cat’. One of the lines was “My pig says ‘Griffey, griffey'”. Weird. [Aside: at the end of the concert she swapped her baton for a selfie stick! Read her guide to taking concert selfies...]

I had expected the Last Night of the Proms to be awash with Union Jack flags. There were a lot, with a few novelty waistcoats too. But there were also flags from all around the world, and a very large, simple “Refugees welcome” too.  Story via The Guardian, obviously

My Italian friend and I felt rather pleased to be part of this charming event. We even stood up to sing Jerusalem. This was absolutely the musical equivalent of a warm ‘upper body only’ British hug, with a firm back pat.

*Use of capitalisation as per the official programme.

Last Night of the Proms

The view inside Royal Albert Hall.


Here’s one I wrote earlier

Where do you go when you press Home?  Does your life have a ‘Home’ button? I’m back home (Sydney) after a brief visit to London (new home).

Happy Chinese Australian New Day Chinese New Year and Australia Day completely passed me by this year. Instead, we surrounded ourselves with cheese, mountains and snow in France.


Please make your way to your nearest procrastination station

The wonderful thing about procrastination is that the longer you put something off (like updating a blog), the better it feels when you actually do it (this blog post).

In the spirit of sharing my immediate achievements, today I have completed the following:

  • A plate of scallops fried with chorizo.
  • City of Death by James Goss.  Classy Dr Who pedigree as it’s based on an actual script by Douglas Adams. The book is a magical mix of time travel, aliens, jokes about Parisians and art history.Bonus points for mentioning one of my favourite sculptors Barbara Hepworth. (Full disclaimer: James is an old but still youthful friend, but even if I didn’t know that he hates fish with bones, I would still recommend this.)
  • My 2014 Australian tax return. Several months late, but DONE at last.
  • A tube of Yu-Be Moisturizing skin cream. I smell a bit like a mothball as it has camphor in it, but this stuff is good. (I need to shoe-horn more beauty products  in to this blog to make it more blog-y. )

Hooray. Done. Tick. Complete. Over and out.

A funeral from afar

A couple of weeks ago we went to a funeral service in our pyjamas. Thanks to the power of the internet, at 2:30 in the morning (UK) we sat in our dark bedroom, and tuned in to a webcast of an early afternoon funeral service (Australia).

I normally associate webinars and webcasts with work-related learning. “27 reasons why you should horizontally integrate your on-boarding data with your digital marketing ROI leverage opportunities”.

In contrast, this webcast was a fond remembrance of a loved uncle. We listened to the gently amusing, achingly sad and warm-hearted tributes to the unfamiliar other facets of this man – father, brother, friend. All from the comfort of our suburban bedroom, cradling mugs of tea, with a light scattering of pretzels over the duvet.

Technical issues

There were some technical issues. At first, although we could hear the service, the video was mostly an old-fashioned test pattern of bold coloured stripes. The experience of listening to the voices pausing and wobbling with emotion, in the silent dark made the eulogies even more moving.

test pattern

Later on, as the service began drawing to a close, we lost the audio, but gained video. We saw the people rising and falling and shifting and singing.

I don’t work for you

As interesting as this was, we thought that we would enquire about the simultaneous transmission of audio AND video. We called the funeral home and then it got a bit weird.


The funeral home reception person has put us through to the ‘technical people’. A very efficient man listens as we describe the issues – what we previously could or couldn’t see or hear.  He performs some technical jiggling at his end, asks us some brisk questions, and we duly report back on what we can or cannot see or hear.

IT MAN: (businesslike) Right. OK. Seems to be some kind of issue with the cabling at (‘name of funeral home location’). I need you to get on to that straight away before the afternoon service.

US: (Baffled silence)

HUSBAND: (quietly) We don’t work for you…

(Pretzel packet rustles slightly. Mugs of tea are silent. )

ME: (confused) We’re calling from London, trying to watch a webcast of a service …

(Uncomfortable micro-pause.)

IT MAN: (mortified) I am SO SORRY. I thought you were calling from the venue. I didn’t realise … etc etc

US:  (Speechless with laughter.)


I’m not sure if the tears in my eyes were from the strangeness of this last conversation, or the moving stories of a great man.

[– In memory of PJ –]

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Love is not dead, it’s just resting. How often do you tell your loved ones that they are loved? On a sliding scale, I think the most romantic medium are (with 1 being most lovely) …

A Christmas cat and snowman video

Husband and daughter have collaborated on a wonderful Christmas video. Enjoy the magic of plasticine and patience…

Here’s one I wrote earlier

12 reasons I don’t hate Christmas  My crying in front of the Christmas tree has been interrupted by the arrival of our online shopping order. Bags of quality produce to last us through the next few days of family, friends and festive-ness.

Step away from the shopping!  A heavy glossy Christmas shopping catalogue has fallen out of the newspaper. It’s from Liberty. I fear it.


Step away from the shopping!

A heavy glossy Christmas shopping catalogue has fallen out of the newspaper. It’s from Liberty. I fear it.

  • Shearling ear muffs £120
  • Rose-cut diamond star brooch £3,500
  • Myrrh Imperial candle £65
  • Small Leather Rhino £165 (I have no idea…)

I am not linking to these, in case in a moment of madness, you click and accidentally buy something ridiculous.

Yesterday was Black Friday and the police were not impressed: Shopping madness! The words ‘anarchy’, ‘violence’ and ‘paramedics’ all featuring in an article about people buying TVs.  It’s unfortunate that Black Friday has seeped in to the UK shopping agenda. Even my supermarket was sending me emails telling me about Black Friday specials. Did I say: ‘Ridiculous’?

Calm down peoples. It’s just stuff. Stop shopping and watch this calming video…


Here’s one I wrote earlier

I give up. I keep giving up. I have THIS MUCH to do each day. (Imagine me holding an over-sized hand-knitted cushion.) I have THIS MUCH time each day. (Imagine me holding a medium box of assorted supermarket chocolates.)

First World Problems. I live in the First World and I have problems. Some people call this ‘White Whine’, but as I’m not technically white, I prefer the term ‘First World Problems’.

I’m blogging again, but I don’t know why…

Well, hello again. After an extended period away ‘resting’, I’m back on the blog horse, riding high.

What’s the point though, of all my treasured blog posts, if WordPress probably won’t exist when my kids are old enough to appreciate my stylish turn of phrase? Perhaps I could print out all my entries and bind them all in butter-soft hand-embossed leather.

These thoughts on the nature of digital assets have been prompted by my current Online Learning (capitalisation intended as this is Work Related).  I thought I’d try the Digital Marketing Course on the FutureLearn website to give me some ideas for work (and because it’s free…) It hasn’t been practically useful for me, but it has raised all sorts of interesting discussions about what digital assets I buy, own, use and sell.

If digital formats, companies, technologies come and go, then I am wary of investing too much of my real self in them. Ongoing contradiction: I want to control and limit my digital profile, but if I don’t exist digitally, then what will you have to remember me?

For now, I’m just going to keep blogging and clogging up the digital drainpipes. Read it while you can…

BTW: After my previous pastry-themed homesick post, you may have assumed that I had stayed in Sydney. However, I’m back in lovely London and eating crisps.

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Gluten-induced homesickness. Fresh sourdough toast with jam and ricotta has made me ponder moving back to Sydney. A fig Danish pastry has triggered layers of crispy homesickness. A pork and fennel sausage roll has almost brought me to tears.

Show me your private parts. Pre-digital privacy was such a clear concept: Teenage diary with “Keep Out. Private.” written on the cover; Letters addressed to you; Your phone calls made at home, in a room with the door shut; Holiday photos stuck in a photo album.

Gluten-induced homesickness

Fresh sourdough toast with jam and ricotta has made me ponder moving back to Sydney. A fig Danish pastry has triggered layers of crispy homesickness. A pork and fennel sausage roll has almost brought me to tears.

Fig danish

Love is a fig danish

I have been overloading on gluten and memories at Bourke Street Bakery. I am remembering the loss of these sights and smells and sounds, at the very same time that I am soaking them up. Equal parts happiness (I’m back!) and sadness (I have to leave.)

Daily London life is so solidly full and interesting that I rarely pine for Australia. So after nearly 3 years away, this visit has been surprisingly  interrupted by ‘in situ’ homesickness.

I am missing the thing as I experience it. That doesn’t make sense. But a dark chocolate and sour cherry cookie as big as my hand does. In gluten we trust.

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Where do you go when you press Home? Does your life have a ‘Home’ button? I’m back home (Sydney) after a brief visit to London (new home). My old house is empty and my new house is waiting for me.