Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ashoka Diamonds in Auckland Partridge Jewellers 150th Anniversary

Coincidence is part of life and yesterday I had an extreme example in Partridges's Jewellers in Queen Street Auckland.

I have always loved diamonds. What girl doesn't? One boyfriend diamond merchant! Sadly I was not the right faith but he was gorgeous, like his diamonds which came in little white very unglamorous packages which I was never allowed to see. 

When in South Africa with Noel Tovey, who has just been nominated for Australian 2014 Human Rights Award, I bought a tiny diamond. It was all I could afford. It was square cut but perfect. All D's. In Paris you see clothes, in New Zealand you see food but in South Africa you see diamonds. You soon get the hang of it.

I have never seen another diamond like mine until yesterday walking down Queen Street. I cannot buy but I look. There was my diamond's big brother. I couldn't resist going in to compare. It was an Ashoka Diamond, one of the finest cuts it the world. No doubt I know a good thing when I see it. All square cut diamonds are expensive as to get the rectangle an awful lot of diamond has to be shaved off.

Two other things while there the burglar alarm activated. What a drama. loud piercing alarm and lots of smoke. We were all locked in so it was scary. 

Next this NZ Herald article. The NZ jeweller is one of the few outlets in the world and Ms Goldberg was there yesterday!…

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Meghan Daum Criticising The Unspeakable in the Guardian

Meghan Daum: 'I don't confess in my work – that implies guilt'
The essay form is booming – particularly among women writers. But there’s a subtle difference between putting yourself out there and letting it all hang out. Guardian
Meghan Daum write essays on The Unspeakable and other subjects for discussion. It is her stock in trade. She writes frankly and it is written to shock. However  it appears whenever someone, like me who found the essay  in The Guardian on her mother a diatribe of hate, self indulgence and naievity  and commented on it in fairly mild language I was moderated!

I must admit I was miffed! I had spent a good half hour polishing my prose and there is absolutely no doubt I had not contravened any community standards except to say that I found this essay unpleasant and from Meghan Daum point of view unwise. I re-commented protesting but that too was removed.

If I had been at fault I should have left it there. Unfortunately I had not taken a copy. I do take copies when dealing with belief systems as these can easily be moderated. So in the interests of free speech I decided to write about this in my blog. What else are blogs for?

I decided to do some research and I found the first article above and Megan Daum's intention to write about the Unspeakable! The irony struck me immediately that whereas Ms Daum is allowed to say what she likes about her mother and grandmother I am not allowed to say what I like about Ms Daum or at least somebody in the Guardian thinks not.

So what did I say that was so unspeakable? I did start Wow! that was indulgent perhaps a mistake but I went on to say that hating one's mother and grandmother is part of life. It is the way human's evolve and that she ought to know this.  I said that I had never forgiven my parents for sending me to the local convent from which I have never recovered and my daughter has never forgiven me for making her too successful and no doubt her daughter will rebel as well. It is what humans do.

I pointed out that family death bed scenes are no longer necessary.  Death comes to all of us and we have to face it alone. The last part of life is grisly for everyone and it is best to deal with it alone. People who are dying are usually bad tempered and difficult and it is best to do this in private.

Writing about it in such a frank way is like going to confession in public and asking for public absolution. It leaves a nasty legacy for her grandchildren who will possibly feel that as their mother treated their grandmother so cruelly they have permission to do the same.

I quoted from a poem that says children inhabit a world that we cannot enter  and that was about it!

I failed to say writing a diatribe against someone dead who cannot answer is unfair and nasty. Her mother did not deserve such treatment. Ms Daum is proud of the fact she never once lauded her mother's achievements during her lifetime. Her mother probably never expected her too. Parents don't. Making money out of her mother's death which she just sat back and watched  I find unacceptable. I wish I had and now I have so I feel better. I can be frank too.


I am always suspicious of any moderation on YouTube or the Media when comments are turned off on purpose or in this case any negative comments are removed. However this does not stop me commenting as Freedom of Speech requires eternal vigilance.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dorothy L Sayers and the Oxford Man

Up until last week I had always considered D L Sayers a bit of a joke. I had been led to believe and I did believe that Miss Sayers's characters had about as much going for them as Bertie Wooster and Agatha Christie's. By accident I came across  a dramatised version entitled Strong Poison and having nothing better to do I watched it. From the moment her central character with the unfortunate name of Lord Peter Wimsey, late Eton and Oxford, appeared in the shape of Edward Petherbridge I knew that I had been mistaken for D L Sayers knew her man.

Dorothy Leigh Sayers wrote detective novels in the 1920s/1930s because she needed to make money. She was born in 1893 in the Head Master's House, Christchurch Cathedral Oxford, her father was a minister. She went to Oxford when women didn't and although she graduated was not given a degree. When in 1920 Oxford males relented she received an MA, First Class Honours. Being a thoroughly modern young women she went into advertising and was exceptionally good at it, It pays to advertise and Only Toucan Do were two of her best and are still memorable today.

All writers write about what they know and Miss Sayers knew her Oxford.  She knew exactly what it is that makes the Oxford man so attractive to women as she lived with them all her life.  Being an advertising copywriter she realised that the general public and women in particular enjoyed detective fiction and the aristocracy. They still do but she could also have added the Oxford man on her list. Sayers probably did not realise why her detective with his silly name was so appealing.  Oxford men were her source of reference.

How do I know this? Easy I had the good fortune to actually marry an Oxford man. I have never really thought about this as it just happened but Miss Sayers opened my eyes to the fact. It is only in the last three novels when Sayers rounded out Wimseys character with the introduction of a love interest Harriet Vane that  was based on herself that I recognised the courtship rituals of this example of the male species.

Lord Peter Wimsey is so attractive because the character rings true. Well, he did to women of my age but possibly would need a bit of an update today. The protocol regarding living arrangements before marriage are now so different to life before the 1990s as to be almost unfathomable to those around today. How could a man of 45 keep his hands off the woman he wanted to marry until she had said yes and they had tied the knot? But in those days they did.

My courtship was almost identical to that of Harriet Vane and this is on the whole how it goes. An Oxford educated gentleman knows that he is superior. That is taken for granted. They just are. Possibly because they had received an education that is second to none. Not only are they educated but Oxford itself is a magical place to spend the most important and influential years of one's life. It not only imparts a great education but a delight in living, confidence and how to get the best out of life. They get used to living well and feeling special because they are. To those who they consider in the club they remain little boys all their lives with silly names and jokes which are spiced with irony which they delight in displaying among themselves. They love dressing up and going to gaudys. They do not notice ordinary people. They are not rude they just don't notice. My husband told me later I was a pair of skates on legs. I was 29 before he noticed me.

From the moment this Oxford man fell at my feet at Queens ice rink I knew that he was the man I wanted to marry or at least a man like this. He was not good looking, older than me but he had a voice and an accent that is like nectar. The Oxford accent is in a class of it's own. It is just plain sexy when it purrs in your ear.  He was a good ice dancer and even being asked for a dance was a delight. He also, like Sir Peter played the piano rather well, each day in fact but I did not discover this for years.  He also went to the opera on a weekly basis. He took wonderful overseas holidays, Davos, St. Moritz and Zermatt in winter and Italy, Greece in summer. He had a nice but unshowy car and owned a house in Shepherds Bush by the BBC  and a housekeeper to look after him. My Oxford man did not do the dishes or make his bed. He was also incredibly mean. I had absolutely no money but he hardly ever offered a cup of tea and never paid my entrance although he danced with me all afternoon.

I did not hold out any hope. I was attractive, very attractive, at one time Ken Russell the film director had said I was the sexiest thing in West End musicals. I was bright and intelligent too and if I had been a boy my father, who went to the best schools himself would have seen to it I went to Oxford. However to an Oxford man I was a middle class convent girl and therefore completely uneducated but I did have a good English received accent and knew about Darwin which I think helped a bit.

One day when I was 29 I happened to mention while dancing a waltz that I knew Benjamin Britten rather well. I think I am possibly the only 19 year old girl Britten ever took home alone in the Alvis. I was even then exceptional as Britten only went for the best. This came as a bombshell and I was nearly dropped on my bottom on the ice. How did this creature know Benjamin Britten? I was rushed off to tea and dinner while this GP actually found out what he had been dancing with. I got asked out to the opera that night  and really from that moment he saw me as a person not a thing. At last I was treated if not quite like an equal then at least with respect I deserved. Dr Miles Heffernan fell in love. I was quite used to men falling in love with me. I had lots of fans who sent me flowers and chocolates but as I had given up hope on this man he had to work rather hard to catch up as there was  another Oxford man Miles G of the FO that I found equally attractive only like Lord Peter  Wimsey he used to dash off to foreign lands on occasions on FO business.

The courtship was long and pleasant. The moment that he made up his mind to marry me life changed. I got the full treatment and I was introduced to Oxford and the punt on the Cherwell with wine chilled in the water. This is a sure sign that an Oxford man means business. Glyndebourne picnics, visits to his college Oriel with an introduction to testudo,  the box at Covent Garden Opera and Ballet.  I introduced Miles to the ballet, no more standing and No Puccini! That I had seen The Ring at 16, I stood through it, was impressive. He also discovered I sang Schubert well and liked Mahler and I could skate badly. I discovered too that Miles could play the piano and we embarked on a love affair with Lieder that has never ended. No Brahms.

I found like Wimsey, Oxford men enjoy driving around the countryside looking at churches and Roman villas. I never realised there were so many. He would play the organ in one whenever he got the opportunity.

He made no attempt to bed me. I think he may have wanted to but men in those days never married women they bedded as Harriet Vane discovered. It is hard to believe these days but they didn't. Prince Charles is a good example. Men never married their mistresses. It wasn't done. It seemed to work. We had 30 years of a happy marriage much to our surprise.

The moment I became officially engaged I entered the Oxford club. I met his college friends and I was allowed into the banter. They are like little boys sometimes and not all that keen on women in general. The fuss when my husband's college Oriel had to admit women was extremely unpleasant. Oriel was the last to do so and I can quite see why.

Oxford men are very romantic. It appears that they are brought up on Jane Austen and use Mr Darcy as a guide. When you are the object of desire it is most seductive.  They break the social rules and are allowed to do it. It is their way with manners, they can be charming and daringly frank at the same time.  They have a way with words. Understatement is a favourite form of banter. They are fun to be with and one feels safe in their company. They are not afraid of taking command. This is a bit of a show and surprisingly they do need to be rescued on some occasions. You do need to stand up to them if you are not to become a doormat. In fact standing up to them is a necessary attribute if you are to become an Oxford man's Lady! Most Oxford men are afraid of Mother!

Oxford men are not only well versed in their own field but delight in knowing other fields too, the more obtuse the better.  Lord Peter enjoys and is knowledgeable about music but also campanology, Sir Peter could ring the bells. No doubt he had other strengths too, like languages, wine and fashion. My husband was the same, adored ice dancing. Loved architecture too and would drool over the subtle differences in the decoration of semi detacheds. I got a quick lesson in Greek architecture by way of Marie Antoinette's pillars in the V&A. Her husband had obviously had to teach her too.  My husband was fortunate. His MA for which Miss Sayers had to work and wait was given free gratis for completing an Oxford medical degree. To them that are chosen.

In hindsight  I understand now I was fortunate to get an Oxford man as a husband. In fact I suppose I ought to be quite proud of myself on my achievement as Oxford men are picky and can really marry anyone they choose. Oxford men know what is good and I obviously must have been worth it.  They themselves are not perfect and can be infuriating and pompous on occasions and that again adds to the charm. Like Harriet Vane I was reluctant to marry this creature who knew everything and was always right. He countered with If I get exceptionally obnoxious just say, 'Darling you are not in your surgery now'. How could any woman resist?

Sayers written description of Lord Peter Wimsey is bang on but both TV offerings are not quite right. The problem is that both gentlemen are actors and neither of them went to Oxford. Both although trying their best just do not have IT. They lack the charm, and most importantly the voice that is absolutely essential. Ian Carmichael hails from Hammersmith and Petherbridge from Bradford. Not their fault. Perhaps a young Colin Firth in his Mr Darcy mode would be better casting or a young Hugh Grant.  Grant went to Oxford and Firth has an academic family. It is hard to be or even act an Oxford man if you ain't one. In contrast the Harriet Vane of Harriet Walter is spot on. I don't think this Harriet would have said Yes to either of these Wimseys! They didn't deserve her but she would have  said Yes to mine!

I now have respect for Dorothy L Sayers. She was a pioneer. One of her novels, The Nine Tailors  is considered to be one of the four best detective novels of all time, one other on the list is The Hound of the Baskervilles and it deserves to be. I wish I had found her sooner but better late than never. She gave me the opportunity to relive my courtship and my lover which I might never have done without her. For the rest of you if a Lord Peter Wimsey comes along grab him.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Frederick Ashton the Tragedy of Britain's choreographer of the 1950s

I have never really liked the choreography of Frederick Ashton. To me it was always second rate. I grew up watching it as I grew up with and watching The Royal Ballet.  I have been going to the ballet on a regular basis since 1953. True Ashton is a British choreographer of note and he had all the opportunities, like Fonteyn he denied many perhaps more talented choreographers the chance to show their creative ideas but this monopoly was possibly his downfall.
Because of circumstances Ashton never had dancers who had the technical ability that is available today that could really showcase his work. Ashton had Margot Fonteyn who was a ballerina and super star and because of her personality had the ability to blind an audience into overlooking the fact that her technique was less than adequate. All of the major Ashton ballets were choreographed for her to make her look good and he did. He did it brilliantly, Fonteyn looked marvellous but Ashton had a limited pallet of possibilities as Fonteyn was just not up do doing the choreography that would do Ashton justice.
It was only when Ashton was freed of the Fonteyn stranglehold that he started to progress and show what he could do. Fonteyn was unavailable for La Fille Mal Gardee and he was able to use an underrated ballerina Nadia Nerina who was technically far in advance of Fonteyn that Ashton gave a glimpse of what he might have achieved.
But it was too late. Fonteyn's 40 year hold on British Ballet aided and abetted by de Valois and Ashton has meant that although revered and lauded during his lifetime Ashton's work although the best example nee the only example of its day is now a curiosity, like Gilbert and Sullivan. His work is charming, tricky to dance, but charming. Margot Fonteyn was charming.
Danced well, as it is today, Sylvia is a revelation when danced by Nunez and his masterpiece Symphonic Variations by Stephen McRae and Cojocaru but the choreography lacks bite. It is like a warm cuddly dressing gown all show and no substance because the dancer it was made for was not up to it.
I think Ashton knew this. It is his tragedy. Sometimes being very good second rate is just not enough when you know that had circumstances been different you could be up there with the greats.

I worked with Frederick Ashton when I was in Petrushka for it's first performance given by The Royal Ballet in 1957. My partner and I were the first and only children, I was 13, allowed on the stage as Dame Ninette de Valois would not sanction it. It was then that I realised the Royal Ballet was ruled with a rod of iron. There was a hierarchy in place that it was almost impossible to overcome. Serge Gregoriev, Diaghilev repetiteur was one. He wanted children, he got children.
We were a novelty and enthusiastic and Ashton who could see a good thing took us over and walked around and played with us and he enjoyed it.  Unfortunately Gregoriev did not see it Ashton's way and put a stop to it, quite rightly, the wicked magician should not be playing with children but for those few days I got to know him a bit. He was nervous as a performer but he took direction and did as he was told. He actually apologised for not being able to be with us.

We were allowed to watch the ballets from the wings. This is the only way dancers could learn the ballets before video. One night I watched Fonteyn dance Symphonic Variations. She was dancing with Permin Trecu and Brian Shaw. Dancers talk during ballets and I vividly remember two things about this performance, the amount of sweat being shed by the dancers, this was almost enough to put me off ballet and the fact that half way through Miss Fonteyn announced loud and clear that she had had it and that she could not go on! This was countered by Mr Shaw saying equally loud and clear Oh yes you can darling! and they did but they were exhausted. You notice we gave everybody a title in those days and I still do it!
Now with hindsight it was a bad mistake to put all of his eggs in Miss Fonteyn's basket. Miss Fonteyn like all super stars was a prima donna and looked after her own interests. It has meant Ashton has been relegated to the also rans of ballet. Useful at the time but in time forgotten. A lesson to us all.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Soul Restaurant Auckland and the single woman!

Soul Restaurant Auckland NZ
Reading an article in the UK Guardian about 'How to Complain in Restaurants' I remembered my night out in Auckland.
I am a gardener, I am a senior citizen who rarely goes out these days, although in my youth I patronised some of the best restaurants in the world but today my impaired digestive system no longer allows me to enjoy fine dining.
At a restaurant above where I live I had long admired their display of hanging baskets and for a long time I imagined how nice it would be to sit under these and have a meal with my daughter who can only visit once a year. I should dine simply but she could eat and drink anything on the menu.  The hanging baskets are magnificent. So booked a table for two for an evening out. One I should never forget and indeed I shall never forget it.
I have been aware that a woman alone or in pairs are often given the worst table going and this night was no exception. We were greeted as if we were an inconvenience and rushed into the back to a white bare noisy room far away from the hanging baskets. I could have been in a school dining room. When I asked if we could be seated under the hanging baskets or even near them I was told that this 'was not possible'. I had booked well in advance.
We were seated in the middle of the room and 'rushed' into everything. My daughter chose the most expensive meal and it turned up within a few minutes, Coffee and desert came in with in ordinate haste. It was as if we were an embarrassment. The bill was presented without being requested Within an hour we had left.
I have never, never been so disappointed in my life. I made no complaint and the bill, because of the haste of service, was much smaller than it could have been. I had champagne in mind!
Not all your customers go for the food. Some like me go for the ambience. Perhaps those not lucky enough to be seated under the baskets should be given another treat rather than the bare white noisy room far away from the beautiful flowers and view of harbour. I eat better at home each night. Perhaps women should stipulate where they wish to sit when booking and say that it is for a special night out and they do not wish to be hurried.
I should still like to dine under the hanging baskets but for me it possibly will remain a dream. In Auckland give Soul and the hanging baskets a miss and eat at the Sky Tower Orbit Restaurant where I have never been disappointed. Wonderful view for all and wonderful food.
Since reading this I decided to complain only to find the said restaurant has no email address so I wrote my complaint on the booking form! I wonder if I shall get an answer?

18 September 2014 Update

I did hear back from Soul. I had a very charming letter from the owner  Judith Tabron who explained why it was not possible to ensure that I was seated under the hanging baskets. It is supposed to be first come first served but on my night it most definitely wasn't. There were plenty  of empty tables when we arrived. She said she was surprised and I believe her. She was also not amused that her staff had hurried us out. She could tell this from the computer  records. She has offered me a voucher so that I can go and have a meal under the hanging baskets which is what I wanted and in November the new ones will have arrived. So I will and I am looking forward to it and I shall report back.

I did suggest that Soul reserved a small area under the baskets coffee for those unlucky enough to have to use the back restaurant so at least they can enjoy some of the ambience and if you do book and it is a wonderful restaurant just remember it is first come first seated and do not take any other answer and get there early.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Skypath vs Residents, How to bring the residents and cyclists together - a Suggestion

Sleepy heritage area Northcote Point is in for a shock. The Cycle Skypath is coming whether the residents want it or not. The Auckland Harbour Bridge has no lane for pedestrians or cyclists. The Point is the only way the cyclists and pedestrians will be able to access Skypath. The powerful and vocal Cycle lobby wants to build a Skypath over the Harbour Bridge to allow them to cycle to work and who can blame them. The Mayor is in favour and $100 thousands of dollars have already been allocated. This project has been done virtually in secret. As yet the residents have not been notified The official line is that this is not a council project although the council is paying for it. It was voted for in council. Three  councillors voted against it. As it stands it is not practically feasible.

Never mind that Northcote Point is classified as a residential area the Town Planning laws are to be overlooked  because of the precedent that the 1930's bus station was turned into a cinema when cars were a novelty, no off street parking required then and so began a Town Planning nightmare for the residents. What has happened to Northcote Point over the years would never be allowed to happen anywhere else in NZ today. Businesses here require no off street parking whatever the size if they are on the site of a Victorian business. Skypath is not on the site of a Victorian shop.

It appears Northcote Point is to be swamped with Skypath's patrons cars as there is no off street parking allocated for this major transport hub. In these already over parked streets space for at least an extra 1850 cars a day is required if the patronage figures are correct. A glance at the map above shows that this cannot be done even if every household parks off road. Many of them cannot do this and what if a household has a second car? This has to be accommodated too. The few residents of the Point who knew of the scheme complained but the Skypath's public answer is that the residents have no right to the street parking and they have a point.  What is sauce for the goose etc. means the residents have as much right to park as the Skypath patrons, sort of first come first served  and residents are on the spot. If they choose to leave a second or third car out all day who is to stop them.

The problem started in the 1980s when the cinema, much improved was allowed to continue, 350 seats with no off street parking, then came a 30 seat restaurant which turned into a 50 seat restaurant, an antique shop, a  busy popular cafe, no off street parking required, added to a row of shops, a tavern, the Memorial Hall and the overflowing Tongan Church, Senior Citizens Meeting rooms, there is also a conference centre on the wharf that shares parking with the ferry and on occasions 100 cars can be expected for weddings etc. when all were are in use even if not together the parking spaces on Northcote Point become as rare as hen's teeth. Customers of the businesses who have never been obliged to provide suitable off street parking, complain about the long walks. The residents on the whole put up with it because Northcote Point it the sort of place where anybody would like to live. It is pleasant, friendly and beautiful.

Tragically the Point's only exit and entrance is at one of the 15 worst bottle necks in New Zealand. Queen St is a straight road with few turnings that runs down the Point which leads to the dreaded Onewa Road which is the only entrance onto the motorway into Auckland over the Harbour Bridge for a good section of the North Shore. In the morning the residents of the Point are locked in. From 7 am to 9.15 am only 11 cars every seven minutes are allowed to turn right to join the traffic headed for the Harbour Bridge. It is a very long wait not helped by cars from nearby areas who queue jump instead of joining the long procession from their own district. At the moment there are no cyclists to make matters worse but over 1000  cyclists will be expected to use this entrance if no other path can be found. It will be chaos of massive proportions.

Whoever owns the cars, parked cars on both sides of street will mean the main road will be down to two lanes  congested with cars and the 1000+ cyclists that are expected every day. A dangerous mix. In the side streets, that will have to be used too, the roads will be down to one lane. No room for a cycle lane. In any case the pedestrian crossers are in for a long walk. 

It has been calculated because of the huge increase in use that the exit to the Onewa Rd will take up to an hour and in the future when 34,000  (!!!) are expected to use this facility the exit could take up to 5 hours. There is no way the Onewa Rd exit can be rebuilt without a major upgrade removing most of the residential district and Onepoto basin and covering it with concrete. Skypath can be scathing about the Northcote residents who are being accused of being NIMBYs but in fact they are only protesting about becoming prisoners because of the parking and traffic. They already live with a bridge that carries 400,000 cars a day and puts up with all the businesses in residential streets.

So what is to be done? The cyclists want access to their Skypath and the residents do not want the parking or traffic. So why not be creative and come up with a solution. An answer that suits residents and cyclists. Simple.

The Point, its roads and residents can easily be isolated. Only cyclists and residents cars are allowed. All other cars with the exception of the disabled are to be excluded. This can be easily policed by cctv cameras as it is in London. Already this is working in Auckland, cross into a bus lane or forbidden bridge and one gets a $150 fine. The local Transport Police are just down the road too so parking infringements will not go unnoticed. The Transport police are literally on the spot.

That means the residents and police can  more easily access the Onewa Road in the morning rush hour and the cyclists get a clear run to the Skypath and back in the evening. No fear of being knocked down by congested traffic or an opening car door. The pedestrians who want to walk anyway will have just a kilometre more of exercise to get to their cars or they can take the bus.

As the Skypath spokesman pointed out the residents have no right to parking and therefore neither do the businesses on the Point who have been hogging the parking for years and making use of a Town Planning anomaly to their benefit. They knew when they bought their businesses  that they had no parking to offer so if it is removed it is their problem. Their patrons can still access the shops on foot or by bus as a better bus service will be necessary to ferry pedestrians down to the Point.  The cinema can provide a parking permits rather like the toll system at Warkworth. Where the Skypath's other customers park is up to them perhaps in the nearby Northcote shopping centre or a specially built Parking building in an appropriate zoning. 

I feel sure this solution would appeal to the residents of Northcote Point and to the Skypath enthusiasts as well. Initially I was  being ironic but you know this is a good idea. A happy outcome for all.

Monday, June 16, 2014

How to produce Berg's Nightingale for YouTube by yourself

How to Produce The Nightingale by Alban Berg for YouTube

This shouldn't be difficult. The song, Die Nactigall by a young Alban Berg is just 1 minute 45 seconds long and is one of those songs one just has to sing. I know Art Songs are out of fashion and almost off the menu but they are magnificent and in life there is only time for the best as my late husband and accompanist would say. Benjamin Britten also loved Berg and encouraged me to get to know the composer's work so regardless of the fact that I knew at the start that I should not have a vast public, to obtain maximum view Bookbinding, Butchering and Darwin are required but I live in hope of a few.

The general public and my friends have no idea of just how long a little task like this takes or the skills that are required so after a disappointing early response I thought the world should know just how time consuming and clever one has to be to achieve the above just in case anyone should wish to try the same. I love YouTube as it is a place where one can be creative and try things one could never usually afford to do. It is a place where one can make mistakes but just occasionally one gets it right and it is so gratifying. Of course you have to learn how to do this and I was lucky because I got in at the beginning in about 2007 when iMovie was at its easiest and best. I leaned how to video edit on iMovie 2 and eventually reluctantly upgraded as it was gradually withdrawn. It was too good to be free.

I even started a Channel to teach others how to do this but what with YouTube losing my legacy channel and the fact that I seem to be in a minority when it comes to video editing and the fact that today it is just not possible to start from scratch on an easy application. Today one has to begin with the hard stuff and Premier Pro and Final Cut X are daunting and take forever to do what iMovie 2 did in minutes.

So how did I do it? Today because of the copyright situation one has to own every frame of your video that means no songs after 1923. Alban Berg's was written in 1906. It was a song I did not know so first I had to find and download the sheet music which I did from Petrucci Music Library.

I do not play the piano and I no longer have a tame pianist. To learn a song to  professional performance means practising it every day for at least a couple of weeks and this is where brilliance of Garageband comes in. This is a free Midi app. After Miles died I had no accompanist. I lost husband and accompanist and as we had sung every morning for 30 years this was a blow. Then came Computers and Garageband . For years I just used it using the loops and the one night I need to change a few notes and I thought if I could do this perhaps I could write out the piano accompaniments to my Schubert Songs. I did and this is the first song I did. Note the wonderful uncompressed sound and warmth of the recording on tape which is no longer available today.

Writing out the piano version took about 3 hours, then I had to translate it from the German, I have to own the translations. Orchestrating it and this took considerable longer because one has to get it to sound good on digital. It was two weeks before I was satisfied with the key and orchestration and tempo and it took about a week to record as I have had whooping cough and this did not help. Some days I could sing it and some I couldn't.  This song was very difficult to make sound good on small speakers. Mixing can take hours too and sound mixing is an art in itself. It sounds terrific on high quality speakers and through earphones but even on my best computer with excellent small speakers it does not sound great. The range of the song is not favoured microphones. This is annoying because I know the vast majority of the audience will only hear my song on small speakers. Ah me!

Next the visuals. Here again one has to own or have permission for every frame. I do not have or have access to footage of nightingales so at first I tried the image effects answer. For this I use Motion. This is a very complicated application that allows one to manipulate video. I played about for about a week but the results did not  do justice to the song so I looked for some nightingale footage on YouTube as none was available for free use. There was only one channel. Bram Siertsema had taken some glorious HD footage of nightingales that one could die for. I had no way of getting in touch other than a video comment but I just asked him if I could use it to sing too. To my delight he said yes.

Usually I have to go out and take live footage my self which has meant learning how to use a HD SLR video camera.

The only way to get the footage was to download it  legally from YouTube as a full Quicktime Movie. This I did using YouTube Video Converter. Then I had to load it into Premier Pro for editing. The footage was in daylight so I had to send it to Speedgrade to change day into night. Video editing can be intensive and take hours and hours but the problem comes when one has to render. Rendering takes hours and hours and sometime hours more. A short  heavily edited 1 minute 45 sec can take up to 45 minutes or longer if not tackled in the right way and I have a super fast set up. If you get it wrong and I was unsatisfied with the sound mix and still am the rendering time is horrendous.

Then off to Photoshop for the graphics.

 Back to Motion to have the titles and Motion effects put on and more rendering. Then one has a final check, render and off to the Flash encoder to get it ready for YouTube. Another 2 hours can be spent doing this. Off to DropBox which plays .flv's to see what it looks like and then fingers crossed the YouTube upload. If I don't like it I have to do all this again till I do.

Then it is a lottery to see if I get a matched content notice. Being in public domain and well out of copyright doesn't mean you don't get one of these. A dispute can mean three weeks of wait or a demand to take the video down. This happens first and you argue later.

And then at last it is time to publish to your friends who are blissfully unaware  of the work involved. Proust once sent copies of his famous novel to all his friends who it seemed had great difficulty opening the envelope. I know just how he feels. If lucky I shall get about 50 views for this but Berg is worth it. One day I tell myself my work will be appreciated. I know of no one else who could do all of this, except one who could if he had the time. Maestro Wenarto is the only other person who I know who could do this if he chose as he too has the creative vision  however if it required 32 fouettes he might be stumped.

Why do I bother to go to all this trouble? Th skills needed to produce this short video are considerable and out of the question if one had to pay the going rate. I reckon about $50,000.  Because these songs need to be sung. Unless they are sung they will be lost in time and that is a pity because they are wonderful when the songs of the Beatles have vanished as they will  this song will still hold it's place in the musical hierarchy. Thanks to the computer and the magic applications I can sing and interpret these songs in my way.

Why don't other singers do this? I have found it is no good waiting for someone to do this for you and yet singers do.  They sit and wait when the tools for them to reach a huge audience are there to be used. Sometimes I do it for others and that gives me pleasure too because in a way I give them their posterity like John Prichett below. He wrote many West End revues and musicals and yet the song he wrote for me is the only one on YouTube. A moving picture is worth a thousand Wiki references. I am so lucky being able to do this.