Monthly Archives: March 2015

In His Palm

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So, it’s now Holy Week, which means for some, their lent endeavours are over. This lent, I decided to do one thing each day for someone else that I wouldn’t normally do. Not exactly giving something up like convention or, perhaps giving up thinking about myself for a few weeks if you will. It’s been great, it’s meant I have got in touch with lots of people I perhaps wouldn’t normally, baked numerous cakes, given out an awful lot of chocolate, donated a few times to the food bank, helped out with events and left notes and treats in the library for people to find. Sometimes the best way to be happy is to make other people happy. It has however, taught me that it is harder than it sounds to think of something to do for someone else everyday and that it is easy to be nice to people who are nice to you, less so when there is no gratitude. Maybe this sheds some light on the type of people we are, that after lent, I need to continue to be thinking less about myself.

I sometimes wonder why we celebrate palm Sunday as we do in church. On the surface, it’s known as the Triumphant Entry. Jesus, a now popular man, makes his way into Jerusalem, on nothing but an unridden colt for the climax of his life. The crowds fully behind him. Because it’s easy to be nice to someone who’s nice to you. It’s easy to support someone popular. We can all afford an afternoon, a few cheers and even a bit of clothing for someone everyone likes but the truth is, this was the same crowd that crucified him less than a week later. Quite frankly, I don’t want to be a palm Sunday Christian.

This palm Sunday, I spent the evening sharing testimonies with friends round a campfire, roasting marshmallows and making smores. It was absolutely fabulous and I couldn’t think of a better way to be hearing people’s stories. To be sat round a campfire together because we are loved far beyond Palm Sunday. That we can be sharing stories, held in God’s hand, because someone decided to love the unpopular. Because someone decided to love those that didn’t love him back.

By the sounds of it, that first palm Sunday was great, but what happened on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday? What happened to the crowds? All I can say is I’m glad Jesus didn’t just come to be a people pleaser because if that was the case he’d have a bit of a shock the rest of the week. In fact, all in all, it’s a good job He loves us even when the tables turn 🙂

Somehow Perfect

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So, the second term has come to a close and once again, it’s been a busy one.

Do you ever go to sleep thinking it’s just been a pretty much perfect day? Well, if you ever get to be in the position where you feel that every time your head hits the pillow, you know it’s going alright. I’ve absolutely loved every minute of this term and quite frankly, I can’t always say why.

I stopped going to one society and started another. I am now in the music society as a member of the brass band having also made an appearance in the symphony orchestra and folk group. This means, thanks to both the societies I’m in (music and CU) I am now in an award winning brass band and on an executive committee as secretary. I have however been told multiple times by both of the only two societies that I’m still in that I’m being kicked out. I’m starting to think there may be a correlation. I have taken part in some great events though including singing folk music in bars, playing the loudest, fastest and most tense game of Trivial Pursuit in a board games social and getting to spend two and a half hours in the Atheist, Agnostic and Non-Believers society being grilled about my views as well as attending an Islam Awareness event.

I’ve even branched out to a few new recipes in my time at university. This term I’ve baked five cakes (which, I have discovered is my biggest distraction to essay writing). One of these was a ‘surprise’ birthday cake, simply meaning it wasn’t her birthday, hence the surprise.

I managed to get to second term without really injuring myself however a couple of weeks ago, I did acquire a nice bruise that turned every colour under the sun and lasted significantly over a week. That’s what happens when you say you’re not going to go out as much this term and still end up going out at least once every week and three times in reading week.

I’ve also kept up to both of my reputations by setting off the fire alarms another two times taking it to a total of five. Although, the way I see it, it’s an improvement, I’m going for just the once next term, gradually decreasing so I will be fully ready to live in a proper house next year without porters at my constant beck and call. Me and the porters have become quite well acquainted now seeing as I’ve also maintained the reputation of misplacing my keys. It’s happened at least three times this term including once when I left them in my coat pocket along with my train tickets and railcard in another town after a weekend away. It also happened to be raining heavily all day on our journey back and both our trains had been replaced with bus services meaning I got home with an awful lot of stuff, very tired, cold and wet and with no way of getting into my room for a good few hours.

So, that’s what I’ve been getting up to, nothing mind blowing or unbelievably exciting but as I said before, I’ve loved every minute. Maybe it’s because I’m surrounded by such incredible friends. In fact, for me, university is often like an extended holiday; living with friends, reading books, going out, beautiful countryside. What more could I ask for?

Don’t worry, around week seven or eight, I did also have the revelation that I’m actually there to do a degree, I even got to write my coursework on my new favourite book 🙂

 

The Good, the Band and the Ugly

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I titled my last blog post ‘Brass Banter’ because I was led to believe that everything in the brass band was banter. This weekend, I realised this wasn’t the case.

Let me backtrack. On Saturday, we had what’s called Campus Fest. This was a fantastic afternoon/evening of performances from various music, dance and other entertainment societies and acts on campus. We had two main stages set up as well as a ‘culture corner’ tent with hay bales to sit and listen to some good quality acts. A true festival feel standing outside listening to good music with a burger from the burger van. Everyone I saw really was great from the Barber shop, to the folk group, the solo artists and the big bands, and I was there for pretty much the whole time, except when I popped home for about ten minutes to gather more clothes as it wasn’t quite as warm as expected. All this was then topped off with a big firework display at half past ten accompanied by the headlining act by the music society; a combined medley by the university symphony orchestra and choir.

As well as watching friends and listening to great music, I also had the privilege of actually playing in Campus Fest on the mainstage with brass band. We did a very similar set to our UniBrass set, including The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Pocahontas. In fact, it seemed that Disney was a bit of a theme as the final medley was also a Disney number as was discussed at our last band rehearsal. I got quite excited as a Disney lover myself which is when our conductor said to me “well you might as well come along then, we could do with an extra person on the trombone part.” Now, this joke about me playing the trombone had come up a couple of weeks previously because, in case you didn’t know, I don’t play the trombone (although incidentally, have taught it but that’s neither here nor there).  So I decided to play along with the joke, laughing and saying “yeah, alright, I’ll just turn up to the symphony orchestra and see what happens, I’m sure they’ll love that.” At  which point, our conductor replied, giving me four instructions saying, “great, be at the mainstage at half past ten, bring an instrument and be sober enough to walk up steps.” I suddenly had a horrible feeling that this might not be a joke anymore.

The day before Campus Fest, I found out it was indeed not a joke after asking if he was serious and being told he’s already written me a part. It’s always awkward when you’re joking and the other person isn’t. Anyway, I followed all the instructions and even played some notes, some of which I’m sure must have been on at least one of the parts somewhere. Not really sure how I get myself into these things but for one night ad one night only, I was a part of the university symphony orchestra. I can’t say everything I played was pretty and I did end up sitting next to the one person that asked me not to sit next to them but all in all, it was great fun and at the end of the day, at least I wasn’t the one to drop my trumpet on the concrete giving it a hefty dent just before walking on stage. Although, as much as I enjoyed it, I do think it will be more of a one-hit-wonder kind of deal rather than a debut performance.

Having played in few brass bands, I have often found that conductors are nearly always full of banter, until they want you to do something. Although, it also wouldn’t be fair to restrict the stereotypes to just the conductor. In fact, I think you can tell a lot about a person in a band from what they play. For example, the basses, great, but won’t know what’s going on, ever. (Potentially because they sit so far away). The trombones always want to be the loudest hence why they are also often the most vocal outside of rehearsals too. They also get way too excited when they see the word ‘gliss’ on any part as it makes them feel superior to valved instruments being able to do things that others in the band can’t. The baritones are nearly always the loveliest people in the band and usually relatively quiet people (although secretly aspire to play euphonium). It is a well known fact that the euphoniums are simply the best section of the band, not really much more to say on that, other than everyone else in the band is secretly jealous of their parts and general awesomeness. As for the horns, they are the boss at offbeats but beyond that it doesn’t get much more interesting. This is often (but not always) reflected in their social life outside the band. Then there’s the flugel. If we’re being honest, no one’s quite sure what this is, they like to think they’re in both the cornet and horn section but realistically aren’t in either. However they do get all the nice solos so people are willing to get over their unique individuality. Then we get to the cornets. There’s always an army of cornets and it’s true they probably have the best best banter simply because there’s so many of them but it’s not a secret that together they are trying to take over the band. It’s cornets vs the rest of the band. Then there’s the soprano. Now the sop is a special kind of cornet, sharing the goal of trying to take over the band however their aim is to do this single-handedly. They nearly always aspire to be the conductor while feeling fully integrated in the cornet section, sharing in their banter, although in reality the rest of the section are sick of their screechy notes and would rather they were a section of their own. Finally we come to percussion, how could we forget them? The ones that just want to hit things, but, strangely enough, it’s always the quiet ones. Wonderful people and one thing’s for sure, they’ll keep to time, never early, never late. They will resent the fact that people think it’s not a real instrument, however will rarely, if ever, play what’s on the page. Secretly, they believe themselves to be in control of the band rather than the conductor, they demand the most stage space for probably the smallest section and this is why they are the most fun to watch in concerts. They are also often misjudged and are usually obscenely clever people.

So there you have it, a brass band, full of banter although maybe not the best idea to take everything as a joke. Although having said that, it did result in me having a fantastic day on Saturday and as people kept telling me, what’s the worst that can happen? 🙂