I was at the Royal Festival Hall yesterday to play the organ for a couple of graduations, diligently taking note of the instruction not to smoke at the console. I could name a couple of likely candidates at whom that particular instruction might have been aimed, but it would probably be unwise of me to do so on the wide open web.

I made good use of the gaps between my playing, though, sending off the new carol for the Parliament Choir and sorting out several bits of administration that had fallen behind thanks to my impromptu delay on Sunday evening. The journey home passed without incident so normal service has hopefully been resumed, though I remain cautious in terms of my timings for getting to London precisely because of the possibility of events such as Sunday’s.

Yesterday evening I was back with the Parliament Choir to play for the latest rehearsal for Gerontius. We are either at or very near the stage where we can really get to work on the details, and I am sure that our performance will be very fine indeed.

Back in Somerset I am getting straight into some more writing, another carol and something else for a competition, trying to take all the problems I have faced on manuscript in the past months, all the lessons I have acquired and am still struggling with, and work them out in a new piece. I have always tried to advance my language in a small way in every composition so as not to become one of those writers who simply churns it out.

Besides, keeping a helping of scepticism about one’s own ability seems to be a very wise thing to do, for just as I subscribe to the view that we learn from failure more than we do from success so I also believe that the more we know about something the more we realise we need to learn in ever greater detail about it. When people announce their own “great and unmatched wisdom” it really is a sign that they need instead to stay very quiet indeed and begin the learning process in earnest.

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