Monday, December 24, 2007

Let's get this clear

It never ceases to amaze my family (certain members of whom are Kingsmen) just how many people misunderstand the nature of the King's Christmas Eve carol service, partly through misinformation (or lack of information) from the media. The most common misconception is that the Television Service entitled "Carols from King's" is the same as the service one can hear if one tunes into Radio 4 at 3pm on Xmas Eve, which it is NOT.

Today, I met an alternative misconception, when someone referred me to this article, saying that it was telling lies because it implied that the service was broadcast live. Well, I had a look, and this article tells no lies because it refers only to the Nine Lessons and Carols, NOT to the TV version. So let's explain:

There are TWO carol services that take place in King's Chapel and are available over the Christmas Weekend via various media. The two services are NOT re-runs of each other, they are *different*.

1. The original service, begun in 1918 (the history of which can be read on the King's College Website), is known as the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. It is, every year, sung at 3pm on December 24th, to a congregation made up partly of members of King's College, and partly residents of Cambridge City, who queue up for the privilege of attending this service. It is broadcast LIVE by the BBC (on radio 4 and the world service) and is then re-broadcast on Christmas Day by radio 3. It consists of the traditional NINE Christmas bible readings, interspersed by a selection of Choral carols (different every year) and the congregational favourites (which remain much the same from year to year, though not always identical). It is also for this service that the soloist for the first carol is chosen only a few seconds before the chapel goes live to the world.

2. The "other" service is known under the label "Carols from King's" or other pseudonyms. It is recorded in advance (usually around the beginning of December) and is broadcast on television over the Christmas weekend. This is not the same as the radio service at all: not only is it recorded on a different day with a different, invited congregation (and never broadcast live), but it is also a different structure of service, and the selection of choral carols at this service is often (if not always) somewhat different to the Christmas Eve selection.

So, if you watch the TV one as well as listening to radio 4, you will get double the dose of King's. How lovely! But if you are to choose only one, then do make it the live one (on the radio). Ever so much more exciting. Ever so much more REAL.

Merry Christmas…everyone

If you haven't had a Christmas card from me this year it is (probably ;-) ) not because I didn't want to send you one…rather that the sending didn't quite happen. So instead I shall assume that you are all reading my blog, and will take this opportunity to wish you ALL a very happy Christmas!

I come from hevin heich to tell
The best nowells that e'er befell.
To you thir thythings trew I bring
And I will of them say and sing.

This day to you is born ane child
Of Marie meik and Virgin mild.
That blissit bairn bening and kind
Sall you rejoyce baith hart and mind.

Lat us rejoyis and be blyth
And with the Hyrdis go full swyth
And see what God of his grace hes done
Throu Christ to bring us to his throne.

My saull and life stand up and see
What lyis in ane cribbe of tree.
What Babe is that, sa gude and fair?
It is Christ, God's Son and Air.

O my deir hart, yung Jesus sweit,
Prepair thy creddill in my spreit!
And I sall rock thee in my hart
And never mair fra thee depart.

Bot I sall praise thee evermoir
With sangis sweit unto thy gloir.
The kneis of my hart sall I bow
And sing that rycht Balulalow.

16th century Scottish

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Medieval jews and queer theory

The reason why I am somewhat incommunicado and busy this vacation is that I am busy working on a rather bizarre and quite wacky dissertation. I shall tell you more when it is finished!

Chez moi

Finally…I returned to Lyon. And it felt like going home! As the plane (yes, sorry, when I have a salary I will take the train…) came in to land, it was like I'd not been home for months and finally this was it. Funny, really, since it is a foreign country and my friends and flatmates from last year (not to mention the flat itself) have largely moved on. That aside, Claire and I had a wonderful few days enjoying this year's Fête des Lumières, wonderfully hosted by Alexia and Iole, and with a scrumptious dinner care of mathieu keegan and greg…we also saw Alexia's latest play, and met up with several other friends. It was lovely. That is the main point. There came a moment, sometime, when Claire said to me, Where is your home, really? (we were talking, predictably, about Oxford at the time) and I had to admit, I don't really know any more. Oxford is–and isn't; Cambridge is–but which Cambridge more? –and now Lyon? How many homes can one have? I remember once having a conversation with Pipsi, well a "discussion" because she was holding out the view that unless one had really "lived" in Oxford (by which she really meant grown up there) then Oxford could never by your home; I disagreed and said that once you'd been there three or four years as a student it would probably be just as much your home. But maybe there's only ever one home that can make you homesick, and is that a house-home, a town-home or a people-home, I wonder?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

An ode to the river Cam

If you had seen me on saturday of 8th week you would have observed me wearing a t-shirt that read:
Selwyn 1st ladies' novice VIII 2007
"Like a first boat, but in miniature"

Yes, it's true…I finally "succumbed," as they say, and rose to the challenge that had been tempting me since second year, of combining being a linguist and being a choral scholar with being a 'boatie', so this term I noviced, while seeing how long it took people to notice (quite a while, for those I didn't tell!). Yes, it made life rather more hectic than I'd have liked at times, but I fit it in, and it was LOTS of fun. NW1 were an excellent crew and we did really well, coming 8th in clare sprints and 9th overall in Fairbairns at the end of term.
I have finally understood why so many people give up their sleep time in order to freeze in a small contraption on the Cam…of course, non-rowers still think I am insane and have just caught the rowing bug…well, if that's what it is, I think I'll hold onto the bug for a bit longer thanks :)

On being a fourth year…

Rather unsurprisingly, it has been a whole Cambridge term since I last wrote here (only two more to go!). It's been a long, busy one–but also one of the most fun. Where to begin? My grown-up fourth yearness might have to spill over into more than one post I think!
Work wise, term has been relentless, starting with the panic that accompanied the part II oral exam followed reasonably closely by the project deadline, all muddled up with a good dose of the start of new courses. It settled into that lovely 2 or 3 essays a week rhythm, where it sat for the rest of term fully ensuring I feel less ready than I might to write my dissertation over this vacation (which must be done). That said, all papers and suchlike are proving interesting and I seem to understand most of the complex psychoanalytical theory that now accompanies them so all well so far. Choir has been going well…if a little dull at times (particularly the last couple of days learning a whole load of new music for a recording after xmas…).We're losing our dean of chapel now and getting a retired bishop to replace him for the next two terms, which will be superb. Meanwhile this last term I've been serving in Trinity chapel on Sunday mornings a few times, it's been nice to get back into serving a bit and getting out of the Selwyn bubble a bit more than usual (plus, they do sing quite well there…;-) ).
Of course the most remarkable thing about this term has been going back to university life after so long "outside the bubble". At first it seemed very strange indeed, we linguists were keen to get back into doing something a little more intellectual, after quite a decent break from the pressures of tripos…but we weren't quite so sure about the whole collegiate bubble. Coming back early to face exams wasn't a great way of breaking us into it, and it was daunting seeing the number of unfamiliar faces around college-really did feel like we shouldn't be there any more! Yet once we'd got into the fourth year mould, things got off to a really much better start. I went and pretended to be a fresher (rather successfully!)for the usual first night in the bar…and managed to meet quite a lot of second and third years, which was great! Also met lots of linguists in that first week, and one of them very aptly observed much later in term that the fourth year linguists (or the "F" crew as we are sometimes known now) have this wonderful laid back "je ne sais quoi" aura about us, and it really is quite true: despite having a lot of work, we seem to manage to care an awful lot less about it–no, that's not fair– to *stress* an awful lot less about it, than we did in second year. It's work we have to do, and we do it…and then we get on with life as best we can. We've had some lovely girly friday evenings with a bottle of wine, and although we've also been working hard, we've had time to get to know this year's college community a bit, in our new role as great-grandmothers. It's been tiring, it's been hard work, it's felt very very strange at times–but it's been a very good term, and culminated in what I think was the best snowball of my selwyn career, so I am enjoying fourth year. Let's see what the rest of it brings along…
I'm off to Lyon on Saturday morning to experience this year's fete des lumieres, and see some friends and colleagues from last year. I can't wait! More updates will follow I'm sure…