The UK is in danger of grinding to a halt again because of snow. Now I know there are many visitors out there who live in places where our kind of snow is a mere snowflake in comparison to that which you receive on a regular basis, but the difference is you know what it is like, you know it will arrive and you are prepared for it. Over here everyone, including the weather men, react with total astonishment when it starts and then panic sets in and the local authorities run out of salt and grit, schools are closed and the Health and Safety people have a field day stopping children throwing snowballs ('dangerous'), getting their sledges out ('dangerous') and even sliding in the school playground ('dangerous').
I have already posted about how much I like being indoors in the warm and cosy and nice and gemutlich and today is one of those days. The curtains are drawn, when I glance outside the street lamps down my street are casting a glow on the snow, a fresh fall came about an hour ago and is not yet slush or marred by foot prints and all is gleaming and beautiful. I am sitting here at my laptop, Mozart playing (concertante for woodwind), my supper is ready to pop in the over later and ooh I feel so contented to be here. Earlier on I nipped out to put my rubbish bag out for collection tomorrow and there is something rather delightful at turning round and seeing my living room glowing in the dark and seeing all the books and the warm light and thinking Oh that is my home and I am going back indoors. I know I crack on all the time about loving being retired and I do apologise for being a bore on the subject, but having no pressures, no clocks to watch, having control over what I do and just pottering about the kitchen as I did yesterday, cooking for the freezer and making flapjacks and Christmas puddings. Total bliss.
And I have rediscovered the joys of radio. When I was commuting the radio was on in the morning for half an hour and that was it. I never listened to much and missed a lot. Yes I know I can listen again via the computer but somehow never got round to it. Now I can tune in when I want to and I do. I have always dipped in and out of Classic FM, a station for which I have a high regard as it has certainly broadened classical music listening, but now that I can hear it a lot, I find the constant adverts tiresome and repetitive, as is the music. Some of the presenters, John Suchet and David Mellor are the two that spring to mind, play interesting music but most of the time they stick to The Most Wanted List which is not wanted at all, a selection of music is put on the website daily and you choose from that; they also used the Top 300 list as their basis for their choices so much though I love the Hebrides Overture or the finale of Bruch's Violin concerto, there does come a time when you tire of them. Classic FM also has its favourites, by favourites those artistes whose agent has got in touch and is pushing their product, so we will have a six month blitz on Pavarotti (not any more of course); Roberto Alagna (not so much now that he is no longer with the fragrant Angela); Andrea Boccelli (he seems to have dropped off the playing list thank heavens); then the two Jenkins - Katherine and Karl both of whom I dislike intensely. Rolando Villazon has been done to death recently also Anna Netbrenko (know that is spelled wrong) along with Andre Riu and the singing priests (the singing priests are not performing with Andre Riu you understand, it just reads like that. Shut up Elaine...). So now I tend to dip in only now and then, usually the evening concert where they play the Full Works and I can listen to an entire symphony or concerto.
My main listening nowadays is Radio 3 which really is a miracle of a station with an eclectic and amazing output. In the mornings when I wake up there is the Breakfast Show, at the moment with Rob Cowan, which is always full of wonderful music. At ten we have the Classic Collection with Sarah Walker at the helm (though this changes) playing recordings which are classics for one reason or another. In the last week the theme has been French and we have also had some marvellous recordings of Pierre Monteux who was still conducting when he was in his 90's.
Then composer of the week which I can choose to listen to or not depending on who it is, and then the afternoon concert which is a marvel. Yesterday we had Beethoven Symphony No 1; Land of the Mountain and the Flood by Maccunn; Sibelius violin concerto and then ended up with a concert performance of Die Walkure Act 1 which was simply terrific with great singing. This afternoon I sat writing my Christmas cards with Dvorak's 8th symphony in the background and a stunning performance of one of my all time favourite symphonies, Sibelius's second.
On Radio 4 we have a nightly episode of Mrs Gaskell's Wives and Daughters, Woman's Hour always provocative and interesting, next week Friday Night is Music Night on Radio 2 which I used to listen to when I was a little girl, has Bryn Terfel singing Christmas songs and so it goes on.
I am very choosy at the TV I watch, don't mistake me, I watch rubbish as much as the next person but my main entertainment these days comes from the radio. BBC 4 always has interesting progs and I check those out, I watch Mastermind and University Challenge and that is about it really now that Downton Abbey has finished. BUT I must not forget - I tune into Miranda on a Monday which I simply love. Touching, witty, wise and amusing it is perfect. And not a fart or a swear word in sight.
And there are my snowy ramblings for today - have read two Reginald HIll titles today, one of which was unknown to me and the other I had forgotten, so thoroughly enjoyed them, had three publisher catalogues sent to me so am choosing which I would like to receive for review, and most delightful of all, a copy of the Winter edition of Slightly Foxed and a request that perhaps I would like to write about them?
Will be delighted to do so.
Watch this space.