Tag: Jethro

The Organ (ii)

Jethro, Going Postal

Wind

The accompanying image is taken from Dom Bedos’ ‘ l’art du Facteur d’ Orgues’ (1776), and shows, among other things, a single organ-blower, operating one of three ‘feeders’ – or possibly, pumping two of the levers together, while an Organist, using a Manual and the Pedals, is keeping a vigilant eye on the blower. There is a square-shaped ‘Conveyance’ to take the wind towards the pipes. Not, as it appears to be, on the wall, is a figure showing how the movement of a Pedal, through a series of levers – pull-downs, trackers, backfalls – will open the ‘Pallet’ (the dark block ‘b’), a sprung, leather-covered valve, that will allow wind into the ‘Windchest’, and to the relevant pipe, but with a ‘regulator’ interposed (‘17’), to act rather like the smoothing condenser capacitor in a power-supply, Again, as far as I know (‘despite Brexit’) the pressure is normally expressed in ‘inches of wind’(as it were, the Voltage), measured by the water-level in a simple U-tube manometer. Often, in a pipe-organ, the large amount of floor-space taken up by the instrument is because the Reservoir will be a very large set of bellows, the upper surface covered with cast-iron weights (often proudly bearing the Builder’s initials), perhaps assisted by a set of steel springs.

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The Organ (i)

Jethro, Going Postal

As, everywhere, yet more low-churchmen and liberals do what their Protestant forebears did in the sixteenth and seventeenth Centuries, cast aside as worthless and despised ‘kists of whistles’ and ‘rags of Popery’, and Organists are often seduced by salesman into doing away with real Organs, in favour of gleaming Electronics that seem to promise so much more flexibility, variety, compactness…, fearing that perhaps the day is not now far off when the Church Organ will have gone – as (very nearly) have the Theatre Organ and The Cinema Organ, and that people will not know what the Organ was, nor will have experienced one, I ventured to pen this (O, excellent Going-postallers) that you might know something of this ‘thing’.

‘Horrid Victorian things’, I hear you cry: ‘foisted on far too many innocent villages by the Tractarians, displacing the rustic bands of which Hardy so tenderly wrote.

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An Old-fashioned Nurse

Jethro, Going Postal

On the same day that a national newspaper carried the notice of my wife’s death, the front page had a headline to the effect that ‘Midwife Mistakes’ were responsible for many infant deaths and disabilities; now, two months later -to the day- a national paper returns to the same topic, but concentrating on the brain-damage aspect. She could have forewarned both the R.C.N. and Westminster of exactly this probable outcome, not least when Midwifery training was stripped of its requirement to be preceded by General training. She had, herself, been a Midwife, having first trained in General Nursing, and once having achieved ‘State Registered Nurse’ status (a relative had got her into The Royal Masonic Hospital), she went on to ‘U.C.H.’ to train as a Midwife. Training at both places was demanding (R.M.H. Matron: “You go to the lavatory, Nurse, in your own time, not when on duty!”) with lectures having to be attended when dropping with sleep after a full shift on the Wards. Nurses, then, had to do all those menial tasks now considered far beneath the dignity of ‘Nurse-Practioners’ with Degrees: vomit wiped up, bed-pans or bottles brought as soon as a patient’s bell rang, beds made impeccably, two when drugs were given so that someone else could check the dosage – and, indeed, the drug – was right…dead patients laid out (in, of course, respectful silence), dying babies given emergency Baptism… To have a patient have a bed-sore meant a carpeting in front of Sister – if not Matron – ,as it was a sign of neglect of a Nurse’s duties, and, besides, ‘prevention is much better than cure’.

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‘Meregate’?

Jethro, Going Postal

Driving back, for the umpteenth time, along the A30, and then the A39 – I’ve been doing this with monotonous frequency if not regularity in the quest for i. a house and then ii. work done on it – I passed, yet again, something that never fails to lift my spirits. Just a mile or so from Winnard’s Perch (although the sign has dropped its final ‘h’ becoming ‘Winnards Perc ’) – which, as I’m sure all you students of language and dialect know, derives its name from the Redwing, a bird only seen so far South-west in exceptionally harsh winters, when it seems barely able to survive, hence the Cornish simile for anyone poorly, sick, or failing ‘wisht as a winnard’ – just a mile or so, as I say, I saw once more this phenomenon that never fails to lift my spirits, sometimes even bringing an involuntary smile to my cynical and time-worn countenance (not quite yet ‘wisht as a winnard’). The road dips and winds quite sharply, and if you’ve got to ‘Halfway House’, pondering yet again, ‘…but between where and where?’, you’ll have missed this jeu d’esprit.

Jethro, Going Postal

But what is this ‘something’, you ask, that continues to bring me such joy? Is it a Dolmen, a Cromlech, or a Fougou, a stone-circle? Something, perhaps as talismanic as ‘the great vision of the guarded Mount,  which pace Milton, ‘looks towards Namancos and Bayona’s hold’? No, no, others of you impatiently cry, it is – it must be! -a Logan Rock, but one that actually still rocks, no impious Naval hand having dared dislodge it!

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Paradox

Jethro, Going Postal

Jethro’s First Paradox: runs somewhat like this: ‘It is the slow driver who’s in front, the fast driver is always at the tail-end.’ There are other, more famous ones, such as Zeno’s ‘Achilles and the Tortoise’, for instance –   Achilles is in a race with the tortoise. Achilles allows the tortoise a head start of 100 yards, for example. If we suppose that each racer starts running at some constant speed (one very fast and one very slow), then after some finite time, Achilles will have run 100 yards, bringing him to the tortoise’s starting point. During this time, the tortoise has run a much shorter distance, say, 10 yards. It will then take Achilles some further time to run that distance, by which time the tortoise will have advanced farther; and then more time still to reach this third point, while the tortoise moves ahead. Thus, whenever Achilles reaches somewhere the tortoise has been, he still has farther to go. Therefore, because there is an infinite number of points Achilles must reach where the tortoise has already been, he can never overtake the tortoise; then there’s Aristotle’s paradox of Place: if everything that exists has a place, then Place too must have a place… and so on into an infinite regress, and Russell’s, based on sets, ‘Think of the set, which we call A, which contains exactly ‘all sets which do not contain themselves’. Now, we ask ourselves: does A contain itself? If we try to claim that A does indeed contain itself, then we run into a contradiction, because we just said that every set belonging to A ‘cannot’ contain itself. But if we try to claim that A does not contain itself – which is the same as saying that A does not belong to itself – we’re no better off, because we constructed A such that it contains all sets which do not contain themselves, which would include A.’ Having had something of an interest in Theology, I like Tertullian’s: “The Son of God was crucified: there is no shame, because it is shameful. And the Son of God died: it is wholly credible, because it is unsuitable. And, buried, He rose again: it is certain, because impossible.” [Crucifixus est Dei Filius, non pudet, quia pudendum est; et mortuus est Dei Filius, prorsus credibile est, quia ineptum est; et sepultus resurrexit, certum est, quia impossibile.
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“We’re all socialists now…”: Coda

Jethro, Going Postal

Archbishop William Temple

   “Socialism is the economic realization of the Christian gospel.” [William Temple]

   “I would not have you exchange the gold of individual Christianity for the base metal of Christian Socialism!  [Charles Spurgeon]

It must have all seemed so simple and straightforward to him at the time: the Church of England was finding it difficult to fund the education-system it had set up, or inherited, and the Government wanted to do more in Education; there was also a widespread sense that if, as the Prince of Wales had said ‘Something must be done!’, it was the Government which must do that something. If parents had a choice between a Church School and a ‘Board School’ there had long been somewhat of a cachet about the former (so they chose it – and still do, if they can!): do away with this invidious distinction, let Government money fund much-needed modernisation of the Church’s schools. After all, almost all Members of Parliament were, in some sense or other, Christian…what could possibly go wrong?  Besides, as he somewhere said:  ‘The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.’ Where Balfour’s 1902 Act had caused disquiet (“Dissenters and Doubters objected to state funds being used to support denominational schools, including those of the Church of England but more especially those of the Catholic Church. ‘… there was outcry against “Rome on the rates”. Gillard: Education in England), Temple’s national stature and cross-denominational appeal could neutralise that acidity…

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“We’re all socialists now…”

FJ, Going Postal
[Sir William Harcourt, often attrib. to  King Edward VIIth.

‘Economies of scale’ are often urged upon us as reason – almost reason enough – for amalgamating, enlarging, homogenising organisations. In business, I suppose this unexamined premise was, for instance, what fuelled all the mergers and take-overs of the post-war decades. I can still remember being puzzled when Guinness had advertisements in ‘Punch’ proudly announcing their take-over of Callard & Bowser: why ever should a venerable and highly successful brewer become involved with sweet making? To stay, for a little, with confectionery, in my childhood you could buy chocolate bars made by Cadbury’s, or chocolate bars made by Fry’s – distinct and different; there was cocoa from Cadbury’s, cocoa from Rowntree’s, cocoa by Fry’s; even, I found, wonderfully silky and rich cocoa by Van Houten; when it came to jelly for one’s birthday party, there was Hartley’s or the rather superior Rowntree’s, which contained the juice of the specified fruit, not merely flavourings and colouring. A little later on, I was to discover and appreciate the subtle but quite distinct tastes of Bass and Worthington to say nothing of Whitbread, Simmond’s EIPA (wonderful when well-kept by a decent publican!): then came Allied Breweries and the Watney’s inspired ‘caskification’ of beer (to those who said, but ‘what about the oak?’ the reply was that the stainless steel cask was lined with oak…). At much the same time, all the distinct marques of cars were being obliterated: you could get an ‘MG’, but it was much the same as a Hillman, or an Austin, a Wolseley was the same as a Riley… and they all came from Cowley. Cadbury was to become Cadbury Schweppes (fizzy chocolate, anyone? Gin and cocoa?) and more recently has sold out to a vast American conglomerate whose tasteless processed cheese for some inexplicable reason we used to devour as children. There might have been ‘Economies of scale’, but there was reduction of choice, elimination of difference, discarding of craft, and sheer bigness on all sides.

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