Ben Edwards, Clive James, David Coulthard, Dupré, Eddie Jordan, Gary Anderson, Howells, Joubert, Lee McKenzie, Martin Brundle, St Mary Abbots, Stonehenge, Suzi Perry, Sweelinck, Sweet Was the Song, Woodhenge
Apparently the winter solstice took place this morning at 4:48, at which stage I was already in the car and on my way to London. If you didn’t happen to be up at that time, let me assure you that it was dark and that Stonehenge looked suitably majestic as I passed it around fifty minutes later, although all the cones at the side of the road to stop people parking on the verges at that time of year detracted somewhat from its beauty. They say, though, that is was Woodhenge, just a little further back from the A303, that was to the winter solstice what Stonehenge was to the summer, but even so there is a gentle joy to being able to follow the rhythms of the year in so much more involved a fashion now that I am out of the perennially grey capital much of the time, and whether you judge your year by religious feasts, solstices or equinoxes (which tend to coincide with those feasts anyway) or simply by the colour of the leaves in the trees, there is a reassurance to it all.
Coming along these days with reassuringly annual regularity seem to be the performances of Sweet Was The Song, and there is another of these tonight at St. Mary Abbots, at their service of 9 Lessons & Carols, alongside other works by Joubert, Howells and Sweelinck, and also the tantalising opportunity to hear me try to get back to grips with a Dupré organ work I have not chosen to play for a while.
It seems that Formula One is on its way to Channel 4 next year, which I think is good news. The Beeb simply cannot afford it any more and the word is that they sold all the decent stuff to Sky a few years ago precisely in order to keep it out of the hands of C4, who wanted it. As a result of that C4 will have to deal with the unholy mess that is highlights here and full races there, but they have apparently undertaken not to break up any race footage with advertising, which is a positive step. If they can dispose of the presenters who think that they rather than the drivers are the celebrities then so much the better. In other words, drop Eddie Jordan and Suzi Perry, who both appear to be a complete waste of space, and bring Lee McKenzie, who genuinely understands the sport, forward from the pitlane to do the front-of-house work. Bring back Gary Anderson, who has a brilliant way of making difficult technical issues easy to understand, and whose dropping by the BBC was baffling, but definitely keep David Coulthard in the commentary box. As for Ben Edwards, his contrived “lights out away we go” will never live in viewers’ hearts as much as Murray’s “and it’s go, go, go”, mainly because, as Clive James said, Mr. Walker always sounded as though his trousers were on fire. He is knowledgeable, though, and articulate, but I really yearn for Martin Brundle to return from the Dark Side. Maybe in a couple of years, once Sky have got bored, C4 will be able to show the whole lot live and uninterrupted, and then we really will be motoring.