What a pleasant surprise to learn this morning that Jan Gould, Vicar of 'The Res' Glan Ely is awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours list recognising her amazing musical work with children and young people in the locality and city in the Making Music Changing Lives project. It is modelled on 'La Sistema', the Venezuelan music education project among poor people, which has been going for a quarter of a century and touched half a million lives. Jan and her co-workers have shown this way of working translates well from third world to first world. At a time when state funding for the arts and music education falls prey to economic austerity, it shows what voluntary community enterprise can achieve.
Clare returned from shopping with a bag of Seville bitter oranges, which have just arrived in our local greengrocer's shop. By tea time, the first batch was done. I went out to get my regular prescription medication, only to discover the local pharmacy re-located during the week to a former delicatessen store opposite our GP surgery in King's Road. After Clare had done her recipe calculations, another expedition was needed for some lemons and a few more oranges to make up the right weight for the number of empty jars to hand.
While we were out, I bought a new cover for my Samsung J3, having given the one I bought last week in the shop on the corner of Severn Road to Owain. When Clare gets her J3, I'll be in the same shop again to get one for her. The shop is, I believe, run by a local Pakistani family, always helpful, cheery and polite. Posted at the side of the doorway is a notice apologizing for regular Friday lunchtime closure. The shop is generally open long hours, why bother? It's a simple statement reflecting the fact that attendance at Friday Prayers is built into their trading norms. The local mosque is a couple of hundred yards up the side street from the shop. I have the highest regard for that. Nobody should have to apologise for living their faith in work or out of it.
Today is New Year's Eve, or St Sylvester, as it's known in much of Europe, after the early church Pope commemorated on this day in the Latin rite Calendar (John Wycliff, translator, in Anglicanism). People tend to dine out on St Sylvester, as they also tend to dine our ot feast at home on Christmas Eve across the Channel, rather than Christmas Day. Anyway, Clare fancied dining out this evening, so we went to Stefano's for an Italian meal fairly early, in order to be back in good time, just in case the children started calling us early before going out to see the New Year in. Which they did. Connectivity is not so good tonight, whether talking to Andalusia or to Arizona. All the world is wanting to call up and greet someone, around the clock from sunset to sunrise, whatever time zone that may be in.
The noise of Fireworks has been punctuating the air all evening. We've both tired enough to go to bed and not bother to see the New Year in, rather sleep off the horrible old one. But how to get to sleep with all that random noise in the background? It's hard to imagine what 2017 might bring, but vital to be ready for anything, in a spirit of good-will, compassion and helpfulness, resisting the indulgent greedy, selfish spirit of the age. I wonder how I might be able to make some difference for the better, and not be part of the problem, for as long as I'm fit and able? Having finally moved on from CBS after nearly seven years, I start 2017, looking for a fresh challenge to awaken my energy and imagination, before I become totally addicted to a soporific lifestyle.