A fulfilling afternoon

Back in February we were fighting for the future of our beloved Bromley Youth Music Trust, the best youth music organisation in the UK, one of the best in the world. To recap (briefly) the Trust was facing the loss of 100% of its funding from Bromley Council, with six short weeks’ notice. You will have followed our campaign against this disastrous decision made by people who will not accept the value of music in a child’s life, in the life of a well rounded adult.

The upshot was that the Trust managed to keep half of its funding this year but will lose the rest from next April. The following year it will lose the BYMT Centre, where music changes lives. This would be a tragedy and the search is on for high profile backers who will make a commitment to securing the future of top quality music tuition and the opportunity to play in world class ensembles for 9,000 children (and many adults) every week.

Anyway, back in February, fired with our renewed sense of purpose, a few of us Bromley Youth Concert Band parents formed a loosely-organised fundraising team. We took over the task of running the annual fundraising Garden Party, which had been swathed in mystery.

We started from scratch and had no idea what we were doing or how to do it but today all that organisation; those trips to the cash and carry; the booze cruise; the ambitions, imaginative upcycling; the baking; the cutting of cucumber; the garnering of raffle prizes all that came to fruition.

When I woke this morning and this was the view from my window, my heart sank.


Today had no Plan B

Nevertheless, off I trundled at 11am to help set up for the party.

No-one knew how to set up a gazebo and it's not a task for someone my height.

No-one knew how to set up a gazebo and it’s not a task for someone my height.

In the end, the sun came out and we had a fantastic afternoon. Support for BYMT was immense and nearly everyone seemed to come in and then stay for the whole afternoon. I’m so proud to have been part of the team that made it all happen.

I’d like to thank all the people who donated prizes and all the people who worked so hard and gave up their precious time to make this happen.

BYMT Past and Present video

As you’ll know, In February of this year we became heavily involved in the fight against the sudden cut of 100% of our beloved BYMT’s funding. A deal was struck with Bromley Council eventually, but it still meant that the Trust lost 50% of its funding this year. Next year they will lose the remaining 50% and the lease on the music centre building is up for reconsideration in 2017.

It is my feeling that many Bromley Councillors have no idea of the value of music and the arts in feeding the souls of children to create well-rounded interesting adults. To many it would seem that learning to play classical instruments at this level is an elitist pastime and therefore not worthy of their consideration.

This is already becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy. Music will become the preserve of an elite few if we don’t nurture it in young people.

Please take a look at this video and share it if you feel able. Any donations towards preserving the Bromley Youth Music Trust for future generations of enthusiastic children will be gratefully received.



Saturday chores

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy

After yesterday’s day of extreme enjoyment, today has been somewhat more workaday. But only somewhat. Saturdays are largely devoted to laundry but today I have felt like doing crochet so that’s exactly what I have done.

One workman has been busy all day in activity that seems to have filled the air in our working part of the house with dry pink dust that has got onto all the surfaces into all the nooks and crannies, on our hair, in our pores in our lungs. It’s so drying that it feels like someone has rubbed us with Emery paper. I can no longer tell whether something is clean or dirty but inside I know everything is caked in this dust.

As well as ordering the slate for our new kitchen floor – we have plumped for large tiles of black Brazilian slate inside and out. The Brazilian slate is respectively more reasonably priced and better quality than the British and Chinese alternatives – and firming up on the exact models of our appliances; in addition to organising the next steps for distribution of our BYMT Grand Raffle tickets and securing an accompanist for MsDD’s annual BYMT audition, and the rest of the usual chores, I have crocheted more granny bunting triangles. It is strangely mesmerising and addictive.

There are three things I try to do every day: my singing practice; my blog post and, now, some crochet or knitting. There came a point in the afternoon where I needed to do some singing practice and I just carried on crocheting because that is what I wanted to do. Of course that doesn’t mean I forgot about my singing practice. I am me, after all, and I don’t ever pass up an opportunity for continuous self-condemnation. And I condemn myself still as I have done no singing since Wednesday. Whoops.

But I carried on doing triangles. Now I have a grand total of about five to string together to make bunting. It’s not very much it it?

I am beating about the bush though, and I shouldn’t really ignore it any longer. Today I have booked the Boywonder’s one-way ticket to Canada for a couple of months’ time. It’s exciting and frightening for him and it’s making me sigh heavily.

When he went off to Australia in February, I missed him terribly, but tried not to think about it because  he had a return ticket andI knew he would be back two months later. This one-way Canada ticket is a blow and, to me, really does signify the change that will come with university. It really is goodbye to my little boy and I don’t want to sing. So instead, like the crones in a Tale of Two Cities, I have crocheted away the thoughts this afternoon.


[fdropcap bg=”#333333″ color=”#ffffff”]I[/fdropcap] t’s not been a great day, emotionally. It feels odd sharing those sorts of feelings in public on this blog. I’ve done it before and brought a shower of concerned comments from very kind people down in a sort of warm, rose-scented rain. It almost feels like attention seeking to be less than relentlessly cheery but we all have our less than cheery days, don’t we? It’s a normal part of life.

I am listless, dear reader, melancholy and vulnerable. The day started with a FaceTime argument with Boywonder. It would be really unfair of me to list all those arguments again in a public forum to which he is unable to reply and one which will make you think less of him but goodness, we’ve been over this ground so many times before and I’m so tired of it all. I feel rattled, defeated, my head like a watermelon shattering on brick. Just understand and empathise quietly please. I don’t want any advice, not even of the well-meaning sort. That only exposes my helplessness or idiocy and I really can’t take that at the moment. No-one on the outside really understands the whole situation. Well-meaning advice will make me defensive.

Maybe I’m hormonal but I’m feeling vulnerable too. The enormity of this kitchen project is dawning on us. I’m trying to ensure that all the details are included but again I feel like a mere cost centre acting on a whim, every penny of extra expenditure questioned on, say, limescale filters (in this area of spectacularly hard über chlorinated water,) or integrated knife racks. And the reasonably-priced slate I’ve found, that will save 20% on the cost of the flooring? Not mentioned.

It’s just passing nerves, I’m sure. When the work starts as planned next week, I imagine the jitters will dissolve.


The Bromley Youth Concert Band gave a concert tonight and I had offered to help with interval refreshments. One of the fundraising committee had very kindly whipped up a few dozen cupcakes at the last minute but despite looking fabulous, they didn’t sell well. It would have been good to have offered tea and coffee. I don’t think the audience associated cupcakes with wine or beer.

I’m feeling conflicted having let a member of staff have a complementary beer. Now I’m feeling guilty about that. This is all redoubled fundraising to try and redress the shortfall of having lost half of our funding from Bromley Council and it feels wrong to let people have things for free. We are, after all, having to pay £1 a time for the privilege of a small slice of cake. We parents are having to pay increased ensemble and tuition fees as well as stumping up for raffle tickets (and prizes) at every available opportunity. Mr B shouldn’t have had the temerity to ask, especially since I demanded £1 from a poor 1st trumpet mate of the Boywonder’s for a glass of interval apple juice (I feel equally bad about this), but managed to get around me quite easily and now I’m kicking myself for my embarrassment. Perhaps I’m not cut out for retail. Here is a picture of the beautiful but intimidating cupcakes, anyway:



I’ve finally put my Phillips RéAura up for sale on Gumtree. If you click on the tag down there on the right, you’ll see all the review posts I did where I was happy about the effect on the texture of my skin but deeply underwhelmed at the hyper-pigmentation caused by my skin’s melanin stress response. Here’s a picture of the RéAura. This one, a replacement for the faulty original, was only used once. I’ve been quite honest on my Gumtree ad about not recommending this for those with darker skins but I hope I get a buyer to at least pay some of the huge initial cost of the machine. If you fancy buying it, just message me.

This is my problem: sadly I’m not one of those people who is sent huge amounts of free review stuff, largely because I insist on absolute honesty rather than spinning a product. I’m happy to talk up a product if I like it. It’s so much easier to be honest when one is outside patronage or sponsorship deals. Of course, this means I have to buy all those products myself and I am now completely broke. Poor woman.


Chamber music

Unusually for our “advanced” dog class, bitches outnumbered male dogs today. This, and spring that, so I am assured, is in the air made for some interesting behaviour. The girls all strutted their stuff, pausing briefly for a flirty sniff or a licky kiss but largely just getting on and showing how excellent they are. They did it slowly, languorously, as tendrils of smoke linger in the air on a summer’s evening.

The boys, however, were driven mad by wafting female pheromones. Even the best trained, most obedient dogs were being silly.  I could not get Oscar to stop his pathetic display of  flopping on the floor to lick the spot where a girl had been sitting and generally regressing to the state of a petulant yet lovesick teenager. I spent most of the class yanking him up into a sitting position trying hard not to hurt is soft fluffy neck. Dogs and humans are not so different.

His lack of concentration resulted in my lack of concentration. It wasn’t a great class today.


Another evening, another concert. This time was the turn of the BYMT Woodwind chamber groups. I was gratified to see that MsDD’s group was on first and that there was a capacity audience than enabled me to perch at the side ready to duck out as soon as MsDD’s group had finished. No-one noticed except the Director of BYMT, who did not look pleased.

I remember when we lived in the Western suburbs of Paris I sang for a while with the adult choir of a local music school. We performed at an end of year concert for mums and dads and I was shocked at the people who turned up only to see their child’s segment, departing straightaway afterwards and thus denying other children an audience. Previously I’d thought this terribly rude and not the done thing at all. But tonight is Monday and MsDD had a huge amount of homework to do, including catching up after her Duke of Edinburgh expedition. So we did the unforgivable thing tonight. Deary me.


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