Having acquired, more by good luck than good management, a M.Sc. in Geophysics and Planetary Physics, I worked for several years at the Meteorological Office. For my sins, I became embroiled in the murky world of computers although, to be fair, those were the days when computers occupied whole rooms or even entire floors, and were made by companies who took pride in their products "never going wrong". After a spell at the then Huddersfield Polytechnic, I ended up at Yorkshire Water. Here I observed the development of the inverse relationship between the "power and capability" and the "robustness and reliability" of computer systems.
In Autumn 2004 I took early retirement, with a view to emigrating to New Zealand so that Pam and I could live near our daughter and grandsons. At the time of writing (August 2006), we have at last been allowed to submit an application for residency - getting into NZ isn't quite as easy as getting into the UK.
I am no musician, although - I hasten to add - not by choice. My performance career is limited to a bit of choral singing, a spell swinging on a bell as a campanologist, and realising the nightingale in a performance of The Pines of Rome. The only musical instrument I can play is the "gramophone". Nevertheless, as a life-long music-lover I instead became, as one member of the Slaithwaite Philharmonic so succinctly put it, "a professional listener". Ever since my university days, I have presented programmes for recorded music societies, and similarly for long spells on community and hospital radio. The last included doing many live concert relays and recordings.
In passing I should mention that, for light relief, during the last 30 years or so I have spent my Saturday mornings torturing children. This activity is otherwise euphemistically described as coaching kids, aged anywhere from three to fourteen years old, at the Princess Mary Junior Athletics Club in Cleckheaton. Nowadays, with the almost infinite indulgence of Pam, I am kept busy - or at least "out of mischief" - writing concert programme notes and occasional articles on music, trying to write a book on the Arnold Symphonies, and of course reviewing records and concerts.
I like to think of my writing style as "conversational". This can be a bit of a problem, because although "conversational" reads better, it's not exactly what you could call "word-efficient" - I don't get through anywhere near as many CDs as most reviewers, but I probably get through more words! Almost paradoxically, considering the increasingly dire state of conversational English, I am a stickler for correctness in written English - so please report immediately to Len any grammatical or spelling errors that you find herein!
folk seem to like my style. Some don't. That's
fine by me: "provocative" is better
than "boring" any day-- - I'm bothered
only by the odd one or two who think I'm more
concerned with my words than I am about Music.
I write because I love the music. I hope that,
as Brahms said, "Any fool can see that!"
Of course, in saying this I will necessarily
be provoking the ire of that "odd one or
two". I will never forget the day I received,
within an hour of one another, two e-mails about
a programme note for Bax's Tintagel. The first
praised my "beautiful and evocative description
of the music" and asked permission to reproduce
it. The second I quote exactly as received and
in its entirety (only the quotation marks are
mine): "why did you bother writing that
crap about tintagel". In the interests
of objectivity, I forwarded the latter to the
sender of the former. The sender of the latter
I left to form his own conclusions.
Return to Classical
Music Web contributors