There’s a first time for everything and today’s novelty has been playing The Teddy Bears’ Picnic as an organ voluntary, something which conjured up images of Reginald Dixon at the Blackpool Tower but which segued tidily into the Buxtehude jig fugue in C. This was for a memorial service at Mary Abbots, where it feels as though I have spent all of my time since Sunday morning. The various musical treats included Parry’s My Soul, There Is A Country (yesterday) and Stanford’s Nunc Dimittis in A (today), both exquisitely sung by a group of singers who made some listeners positively purr with satisfaction.
In breaks between rehearsals and services I proofed and sent the two carol arrangements for the Parliament Choir. It remains to be seen how well It Came Upon The Midnight Clear will work, as I imagine it will be better in performance than in rehearsal, but The Angel Gabriel has some charm, I think, and could well be farmed out to see if anybody else fancies a stab at it over the Christmas period.
This week, apart from (hopefully) dotting the housey ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s, it will be back to the Carta Cantata, for I would like to have a decent run at this prior to the weekend. Everything seems to be in order, though, especially as I had set November aside for any carol arranging and that is, of course, already done and dusted.
Despite only following the sport at a safe distance these days, I have been less than impressed by the news that two Formula One teams have recently gone into administration, taking the grid down to 18 cars just in time for the US Grand Prix, a country F1 needs to impress after the debacle of 2005. I have suspected for a while that the sport has been dying a slow death, gimmicks such as DRS and the shocking double-points-finale idea alienating purists and confusing newcomers while those in charge, having taken their toys to the greener fields of pay-per-view, cannot figure out why fewer people are watching it.
Leaving aside the issues of this self-professed non-political sport being used as a vehicle for promotion by such as Putin and other notables, there remains the gross inequality of the financial arrangements throughout the field. Of course, F1 should be a meritocracy, and the prize money should reflect that, but is it really fair that Ferrari get a sum bigger than either Marussia or Caterham’s budget simply for turning up? Not in my book.
In 2010 the promise of budget caps and a fairer playing field brought four new teams to the sport. USF1 rather torpedoed its own chances by failing to build a car, which you might have thought was necessary, while HRT (yes, really) folded a couple of years back. Now Caterham (which was Lotus, but not the current Lotus, which was Renault – keep up at the back!) appears not long for this racing world and Marussia, having survived, as Virgin, a car with a fuel tank too small to finish the race, look set to follow.
This latter case is all the more sad as they scored their first points in Monaco after a stunning drive from Jules Bianchi, who still lies in a hospital in Japan after a sickening crash a few weeks back. If – if – this team survives until the end of the year it will secure the prize money that Monaco finish earned them, having beaten Sauber and Caterham over the year, but it is anything but a given that they will be around that long.
So the rich get richer and the poor fall away, but, for a sport which thinks it is the pinnacle of open-wheeled racing, that is not good enough. Long gone is the time when F1 was about drivers going as fast as possible, and that’s a grave error in my move. Now it is all about managing the car, tyres and various systems. If only somebody with a broader view than you-know-who could manage the sport itself it might forget about style and concentrate on the substance it needs.