When I say I’m learning Estonian, people (even Estonians) often ask why. I have a number of answers at the ready, depending on who’s asking and whether I think they really want to know. My shortest response is: why not? If they are looking at me as though I’m mad, I might add that I’ve … More Why Estonian?
Last night I discovered what happens when you combine Graves’ disease with hay fever. The results weren’t pretty, and I rather wished I hadn’t looked in the mirror at around 10pm. The offending eye is now back where it belongs, leaving me with something akin to a hangover. But the experience was a reminder of … More Delving into Graves’
Looking through some old computer files the other day, I came across a talk I gave at work three years ago, on International Women’s Day 2015. It’s odd to re-read it – especially the end, as I didn’t expect I’d have “retired” (if indeed that’s what I’ve done) a year later. But I think the … More Keep calm – play Brahms: a talk for International Women’s Day
6 years ago, in October 2011, Ellie Knott took me to Transylvania. We had been travelling to Europe together for years: from Disneyland Paris, through the red-light districts of Lyons, Cologne and Berlin (“mother, don’t stand on the street corner”), to cocktail bars in Madrid, Krakow and Aix (where “Madame et Mademoiselle” became “Mesdames” around … More Where the rooves have eyes: 2 days in Sibiu
I auditioned for a choir today. The last time I subjected myself to such an ordeal was in 1978, on arriving at university, so I wasn’t entirely comfortable at the prospect – involving singing scales, a pre-prepared extract from the Bach piece in the choir repertoire for this term, and some sight-reading and aural tests. … More A question of identity in a Bach chorale
My first encounter with the Polish community was around the age of 8 or 9, when I shared my primary-school desk (one of those old-fashioned affairs, big enough for two and with holes for ink-pots) with a Polish boy called Jon Mikes. Contact with people from central or eastern Europe was unusual then – the … More Solidarność! Why I went to Harlow on 3 September 2016.