Sunday, 21 December 2014


GOD GAVE ROCK'N'ROLL TO YOU. HANDEL: MESSIAH - Last two choruses -  Worthy is the Lamb & Amen.


Filmed in Dublin, this is Harry Christophers and his early music gang, loosely known as The Sixteen, the scene of the first performance of Messiah in 1742.

Blessing and honour, glory and power be unto Him.

The entire perfomance, near perfect, in my opinion, is on the cyber ouija-board and - if you like this sort of thing- a rewarding use of a couple of Christmas hours.

Even though the daffodils are long risen and the gladioli come again, out of turn, it is still winter. It has been dark here and Christmas, impudently colonising ancient mid-winter rejoicing, is nevertheless welcome, as is, no matter how often I hear it, Handel's joyous Messiah.
Herewith wishing us all a good health, such love as we may find and such peace as we are permitted.
I don’t begrudge them their services and I love their carols and to anyone here who is a believer I wish you a happy and a holy time, in Heaven the bells are ringing. For the rest, as mrs narcolept says, wherever you are I hope you withstand the weather, each other, the crassness of it all, and emerge safely on the other side.

Be glad, for the song has no ending.


Bungalow Bill said...

Indeed wonderful and the best that can be expected to you too Mr I.

Mike said...

Best wishes too, Mr I, and to all the regulars.

inmate said...

Wonderful.Thanks for that Mr I
All the best to you and yours Sir, or is it Mister

call me ishmael said...

Call me any name you like, mr inmate, I will never deny it.

Once upon a time at the Albert Hall I stood in a huge choir and mumbled my way through the Messiah; it was a proper orchestra and soloists but the choir - hundreds and hundreds and hundreds - had been assembled from NHS staff groups, and friends, who had been rehearsed all over the country, week after week, by amateur choirmasters. I had only previously known Hallelujah and Redeemer but after that performance I came to know it all very well indeed. My favourite version used to be by Neville Marriner and the choir of St Martin in the Fields but youtube led me to this one, which seems just a bit superior in every respect - interpretation, technique, artistry and especially in the recording; also, of course, you can watch it.

I have no authority in these matters but I guess that Christophers' baroque ubiquity and his looks may irritate purists but he has yet to disappoint my prosaic expectation.

DtP said...

I've beeb reading the obits for Joe Cocker and it's fair to say he was unrefined and just wandered about belting out songs which purists would no doubt grumble about. One of my chums is a soprano and it always kills about 10 minutes if I mention Maria Callas so she can go on a rant about how shit she was so i'm not fully convinced purists know everything.

It must have been quite funny mumbling away on the back row in the Albert Hall!

Happy Christmas, Sir - hope it's a good one.

blackholesunset said...

Merry Christmas and best wishes to all.

call me ishmael said...

Thanks, mr bhs, and I remain grateful, especially just now, for your nudge towards a more comfortable dietary ethic, affirming, amongst other things, the impact of the tiniest ripple, the quantum morality.

call me ishmael said...

Thanks, mr dick, long time no see, hope you are well. Massively over-rated, I think, Joe Cocker and, as with John Martyn - a vastly superior and more influential artist - his so-called fans were happy for him to wreck himself, as though he was doing it for them, Cunts, stupid, stupid cunts.

A former nephew once framed it well, this, whatever it is, Death as entertainment. Talking about snooker, back before-before, he said he'd much rather watch an erratic genius like Alex Higgins than an automaton like Steve Davis and there is something of that in the eulogising of Cocker. I relish his interpretation of With A Little Help From My Friends as much as anyone. Shame he didn't have any.

As I have said many times, I would rather we all lived than died unnecessarily from self administered poisons. I haven't always thought that. Once upon a time I dressed so fine....

Happy Christmas, mr dick; not too happy, mind.

SG said...

As ever your taste in music is impeccable Mr I. Alas I cannot match but given the time of year I offer this festive rejoinder:

Also I gather that the RAF are so short of aircraft that this year Father Christmas is being escorted into UK airspace by a Sukhoi T-50 (it will probably reach you first Mr I but you won't notice - it is very stealthy...).

the noblest prospect said...

I've seen Mrs Prospect do a fair few Messiahs over the years. Never stood once for the fucking Hallelujah, but that must just be the Jacobean in me.

Happy Christmas Mr Smith, to you and yours.

blackholesunset said...

You're more than welcome to any comfort I might have brought your way, Mr Ishmael, however quantum.

It's a lovely piece, Handle's Messiah, and a wonderful performance.

mrs narcolept said...

I love Midwinter even in London; hoping next year we will be settled somewhere northwards in time to decorate a still-growing tree.

Handel and Bach, Schütz and Gabrieli, Britten and Rutter - I can't imagine Christmas in silence. Every good wish to all ishmaelians, especially our host and his family, not least young master Harris.

call me ishmael said...

Thank you mr sg, sometimes my skies roar to the sport of low-flying fighters, waking the dead in Sapa Flow and around the coasts but it has been quiet for awhile. I saw a flyboy, the other night, bragging about ground support ops, putting the metal to the meat, he winsomely called it; shame he missed the golden age of the Stuka, eh, fucking Nazi bastard.

call me ishmael said...

It was only partly monarchist, mr tnp, the king was gobsmacked by the chorus, stood up in disbelief and so all the creeps did, too, had no choice. God rot kings and queens, Stewarts, Hanoverians or Saxe-Coburg-Gothe, I stand out of respect for Handel and his heavenly harmonies.

Death to tyrants and Merry Christmas.

call me ishmael said...

We'll return to this, mrs n. Merry Christmas to you, mr barcolept-poundland and all the little motorcycle parts.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to wish you and your family a very happy Christmas, Mr Ishmael, and I would like it if you had a happy new year too.


Doug Shoulders said...

All the best to you and your edumacated listeners Mr Ishmael.
2015 is not due the apocalypse in my book of reckoning, but will still portend aggro all the same.

A mirage made in heaven said...

Dear Mr. Ishmael

Surfacing, briefly, from a sea of lapping morphine into a vertiginous sky of coruscating pain to wish you all the best.

Not wavering, but frowning.

Thank you for your work.

Anonymous said...

Best wishes from snowy Yorkshire which has put on a white veil with diamante. I am currently engaged in in-depth research of pubs with log fires.

The cyclists are still all hurtling round the place with no regard to ice, lorries or physics. They are potty for the Tour de Yorkshire which has perked up the tourist trade no end.

York is almost too busy to be countenanced but it is quite something to see all that brisky trade going on in the city centre. Hard work, but at least some people will make a decent living out of it. Good luck to them; there are much worse things to be than a baker in one of the new fusion tea houses. The more they make in Yorkshire, the more secure they all will be.

The very best to you and yours

Mrs Woman on a Raft (on tour)

jgm2 said...

Mr I, I hate 'The Messiah'.

The whole thing seems to consist of taking a single word or phrase and repeating it for five minutes.

Except at the end when you have 'Amen, Amen, Amen...' and so on for what seems like ten minutes.

The best bit about 'The Messiah' is walking out into the fresh air.

Anonymous said...

Happy new year Mr I., and best wishes to you and yours plus all those of Ishmaelian sympathies.

call me ishmael said...

Oh, mr jgm2, Mr Sid Madge, our erstwhile music teacher at King Edwards, would spin in his grave to hear your philistinism, others would falter at your wilful misunderstanding of the value of scripture repeated, especially in the divine Amen chorus, even the most mundane and prosaic recognise that Handel rocks. Of a morning, you and I, we would sing, in assembly,at the driection of Mr Cholmondely, I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh mine aid .........Let me not enter the New Year believing that you, despite such early advantage, remain, yet, a Godlessheathenbastard.

call me ishmael said...

Thank you, mr richard, and the best to you and yours.

I have been watching a lot of Stormont, recently, and it is a strange, heavy place, where you live, its assembly as different from those of the Welsh and Scots as could be imagined, murder its invisible sergeant-at-arms.

I hope things improve but knowing my cousins as I do I would not put money on it. All the best, anyway, and I hope things're soon stickin'-out, so I do.

call me ishmael said...

Ah, mr mirage, do take care not to become over familiar with Sister Morphine, the pain is ultimately a kinder mistress, if you can take my word for it.

It is better to have it, as I do, the morphine, and do without it, than need it and not have it. We adapt to pain far easier and with fewer compications than we do to opiates, well, I do, anyway. Thank you for your kind words and my best wishes to you and yours for your recovery.

call me ishmael said...

There's a great little bookshop, just off the Minster square, at the back, about three doors down on the left of one of those wee streets, known to me and mr verge and others here, if you are still there, mrs woar, full of conspiracy and esoteria and manned by some young Tatler bint.

Never been there at Christmas, just Easter, and I am envious. Risking mr jgm2's insults, what I miss most, of England, are the cathedrals, York and Durham in the North; Worcester, Gloucester, Exeter, Bath and Wells in the South West, even Coventry in the Midlands; there is nothing like them in Scotland and here, in the isles, architecture is stooped and huddled against the wind, frightened of God, frightened of itself; St Magnus's 12th century cathedral a threadbare, woebegone place, a Godlessly ecumenical shithole, sanctimonious and po-faced, peopled by sourfaced charity bandits.

I hope you heard some song in the Minster, had a thought for the Jews at the Tower and took some cheer in the Shambles, with the Blessed Margaret Ogilvie.

Happy New Year, mrs woar.

call me ishmael said...

Thank you, mr vincent, and the same to you and yours.

jgm2 said...

Mr I. The music teacher was Mr Whelton when I was there. I was in the choir for a year where we learned, amongst other things, Handel's 'Zadok the Priest'. I quit when the cunt gave me a detention. For swearing. I called somebody a 'lucky sod'.

I took the hint.

Not about swearing but about being in the choir.

Mr Cholmondely was the headmaster though. Mosquito pilot during the war apparently. Quite liked him. Metalwork teacher was BAT who had the same 'teaching notes' he'd had when he was a kid and whose idea of imparting knowledge was to make sure your notebook was a facsimile of his. Fucking useless. The cunt's probably still there. And Phipps, the poison dwarf. Horrible cunt.

Still enjoy a good sing-song on high days and holidays, weddings, funerals etc.

I'm afraid I am a godlessheathenbastard when it comes to the Messiah though. They did it at the kids school one year. Fucking awful.

call me ishmael said...

Aaye, I had forgotten BAT, he was a miserable smear of a man; Harry Brown took woodwork and there was nothing to chose between them, Harry, too, was meticulous about our notebooks, couldn't work woodl I now know, to save his life.

More about happy schooldays, further on up the road.

I was never in the choir but at Mr Madge's direction sang at carol services in the church at the top of Vicarage Road. Put me off Benjamin Britten for life. Nicholas was born in innocence and pride and leaping from his mother's womb he cried, God be glorified. Jesus fucking wept.

call me ishmael said...

Thank you, mr doug shoulders. I feel that Apocalypse, almost by its very nature, arrives unheralded, we shall see.

SG said...

I'm with you on the subject of cathedrals Mr I. Salisbury to add to your list. There are also some astonishing 'parish' churches. I passed through Wilton Nr Salisbury at the weekend and noticed theirs, built in the Romanesque style with a magnificent campanile. Doubtless built with ill gotten aristocratic money but at least they had taste. I say this as a godless heathen. Next time I shall visit rather than just pass by. More power to your elbow and pen in 2015 Mr I:

call me ishmael said...

Many of the churches are falling out of use due to Godlessheathenbastardy among the parishioners and the C of E are leasing them out to businesses. I know Norman village churches in England which rival my local cathedral, here; I think the rural parishes are still surviving but the provincial city churches are emptying; people should go along for an hour or so on Sunday and bung them a fiver, just to protect the built environment, they'll miss it when it's gone.

Salisbury, Heath the Cottager, he lived in the close, there, didn't he, in a grace and favour boy-knocking shop. I did visit once, before before, back when I was too stupid to appreciate it;there's a Turner painting of it, isn't there. I'm sure it is tremendous, they all are. I have come to hate the great country houses and stately homes for those reasons you mention but the churches and cathedrals still beguile me.

jgm2 said...

Aye, Harry the Plank, another one who was good for fuck all. Had two great big ceramic jars of Mercury in the workshop for the whole seven years I was there. No idea what they're used for in woodwork.

Prowse, Latin - another one who was good for fuck all. Learned about a dozen different tenses in a term. The future plu-perfect? 'I will have loved..' Or something. What the fuck?

Amavero, amaveras... or some such fucking nonsense while skating over the critical importance of subject and object in a sentence. He must have mentioned it once I suppose but fucked if I can remember it. My son had the same problem with his Latin teacher at St Cakes. I s'pose because it is so obvious and second nature to them (Latin teachers) they don't stop for one moment to realise that there is no point learning screeds of vocab and verb-endings until everybody is crystal clear about the importance of subject and object in a sentence. The lawyers and doctor's kids never seemed to struggle with what the fuck was going on though. Funny that.

Neither does my son now that I sat him down and explained what the fuck is going on. But what use is that for a young kid in the class who has no parent to turn to and has to learn it the hard way? Ie themselves.

He has a Physics teacher at St Cakes who is a fucking Oxygen thief. I went to see her about one particularly egregious piece of 'homework' but she was 'ill' so I went to the head of department to ask him what the fuck she was doing printing shit off the internet without at least making sure she could do the answers herself. He looks at the question. Hums and haws a bit and then does it. Fine. I can do it too. But it's not a question for a 12 year old. Which she would know if she could actually answer the questions herself. But when you haven't clue then one question is as good as the next.

When I caught up with her a week later, there she was with the HoD's answer on the desk in front of her. The same one he'd done in front of me. Same handwriting. Same red pen.

She knew exactly what I wanted. Ie to see her answer the fucking question herself but the HoD had given her the heads up.

The cunts all covering up for each other. In incompetence as in noncery. Doctors, MPs, policemen, teachers, lawyers, judges, every cunt covering up the most egregious idiocy, incompetence and outright criminality lest they be ostracized and fitted up themselves.

call me ishmael said...

I had a nephew, mr jgm2, who attended what had been Moseley Grammar and thirty years ago I used to look at the teacher corrections and suggestions on his homework and want to weep - verb, subject, object, apostrophe, semi-colon, they were all meaningless to Chris's teachers but it no longer matters; just listening to the PM programme, Uncle Eddie prattling about the hospitals strugg-a-ling and what the govament are gonna do about it, the worthless, pompous, self-regarding prick.

Gorra run, off out to see that Turner film. More Vivat later.

SG said...

Ah yes Mr I - 'Grocer' Heath. Your reference to his residence in 'The Close' reminded me of a wee vignette from Mr Meades' Encyclopaedia:

"Arundells became the home of and, after his death, an insipid shrine to the former cottager Sir Edward Heath who, taking advantage of a loophole and a thick estate agent, managed to secure the freehold of a house of which the Dean and Chapter had intended to sell only a twenty-one-year lease. Unlike [Sir Arthur] Bryant, Heath was not taken in by Nazism. He had attended the 1937 Nuremberg Rally and was unimpressed: but then, he hadn't been the centre of attention. He was less fastidious about Mao's China, his 'consultancy' with that tyranny made him a fortune. Sadly the money bought him neither love nor even friends. He was to be found playing darts with squaddies in Salisbury pubs or eating enormous restaurant meals with his mute bodyguards. (He vainly assumed that he was worth assassinating)."

call me ishmael said...

Now, I never knew that, a tragic, Tory queen screwing the Church of England on a property deal; worse than the real queen. Who is the encyclopaedist, Meades?

SG said...

Jonathan Meades:

His most recent book is an account of his childhood and adolecence in 1950/60s Wiltshire. A gem in my humble opinion - "An Encylopaedia of Myself"

call me ishmael said...

Oh, yes, thanks, he's on the telly, betimes, sombre and sardonic and glowering, I remember, didnt know he wrote books, dunno how anyone does that. I vaguely understand painting and music but writing books, now, in this instantaneous world, seems unrewardingly laborious, especially books about oneself; who gives a fuck about another one's self? But I will, on the strength of your recommendation, take a look, mr sg.

SG said...

Yes - worth a look Mr I. I am not a fan or great reader of autobiographies - but Meades is, to me, an iconoclast and kindred spirit - his 'Encyclopaedia' is just that and far from a work of introspection.