Reprise 1 of 5: Allan Sherman comedy songs

While I ponder what next to write about here, I thought you wouldn’t mind if I mined my back catalogue to keep you entertained. I’ve over 7,400 blog posts to choose from, and in making the selections I’ll stick to humour or culture as I’m sure that’ll divert you from current topics.

It was in 2019 that I posted five of American comedian Allan Sherman’s comedy songs. They are all funny. With most amusement for me in listening to the The Bronx Bird Watcher.  I’ve listed them all below.

  1. Hello Muddah Hello Faddah
  2. America’s a Nice Italian Name
  3. The Bronx Bird Watcher
  4. The Streets of Miami
  5. Makin Coffee

Soprano arias No.3 of 5: One fine day from Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly

One of the great operatic moments of all time, the soprano aria Un bel di vedremo [One fine day] from Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly. The song is of hope, that one day Lt Pinkerton will return to his Japanese wife, only later does she learn the shameful truth. This is tragic operatic story telling at it’s finest, and this aria must surely be one of opera’s finest.

I’ve chosen this version with Renata Tebaldi because both of the wonderful interpretation, and blissful singing.

Soprano arias No.2 of 5: Vissi d’arte from Puccini’s opera Tosca

It’s not possible to list five soprano arias without a contribution from the incomparable Maria Callas. This, the second of my chosen soprano arias, is Maria Callas singing Vissi d’arte [I live for art].

The aria is from Puccini’s opera Tosca, among the most tragic of opera libretto’s. More about the opera and the lyrics can be found HERE. Once you read about the story and about La Callas, you’ll understand the integrity and purity of Maria Callas’s performance.

Soprano arias No.1 of 5: Puccini – O mio babbino caro

Having posted 5 comedy moments, now for the opposite. Five famous tragic soprano arias. The first of the five is O mio babbino caro, [Oh, my dear father]. The aria is from the opera Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini. I’ve chosen a recent performance of the aria by the great American soprano Renée Fleming.

Should you want to know more about the aria, and the lyrics, the HERE is the place to go.

Thankful for my gardens

Having a front and back garden to our house is a saviour to the relentless message that we should stay at home and limit our outdoor exercise.

Yesterday, as it wasn’t raining, I spent a goodly while in our gardens. The activity was to cut our grasses down before they start sprouting their spring growth. I was sad to cut down the Calamagrostis ‘Karel Foerster’ as it’s lovely erect habit is fine whatever the season.  I was delighted to see evidence of my hard work in bulb planting early last autumn.

So, having gardens front and back is a joy to have. Photo courtesy of the RHS.

Joy in finding an Eric Ambler spy/thriller I’ve not read

I’m mostly a creature of habit in my reading choices. It’s the familiarity of the plot lines, the writing style, and the genre that I feel comfortable reading. I do experiment in my reading, and I’m grateful for recommendations.

For light reading my tastes extend to murder mysteries, but those that are too descriptive of the the murder are not for me – no Patricia Highsmith,, more of Donna Leon, Ruth Rendell, PD James, H.R.F. Keating and the pre-war writers, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, where modern technology would’ve rendered the stories improbable. I’m always looking for new crime writers – as I reported HERE.

Back to the main topic. I also love thrillers, with spy thrillers being preferred. Naturally I’ve read, and re-read all of John Le Carré’s oeuvre. I loved The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers – a cracking story, about which I wrote HERE. Camberley and Lightwater Libraries are my book sources. It’s here I’ve found another Eric Ambler spy/thriller, it’s Cause for Concern, that I’ve just finished reading. One of his books is in my list of top ten – see HERE. I must source some more of his books from the libraries, because there are lots of ’em I’ve not read.

The Atlantic Wall in Hankley Common

While writing a short article for a newsletter, I mentioned the Royal Observer Corps underground monitoring post inside the Pirbright ranges. Looking at the Defence Training Estate [DTE] website for more info, which I sadly didn’t find. We are, though,  blessed, if that’s the right word, with lots of military training estates land in and around us.

I thought you might be interested in what I found in the DTE’s Home Counties Public Information Leaflet. There are a couple of places I’ll be keen to visit, when possible of course. One of which is the Atlantic Wall – see more about it HERE. I’ve included a photo of it, which you can click on to expand.

Many training areas are the homes of archaeological sites. These include bowl barrows and a variety of other tumuli. Many, once common, Second World War pillboxes and bunkers scattered round the Estate have survived because of their location, and are now in the process of being listed.

Few visitors will know of the Atlantic Wall built in the heart of Surrey. This wall, complete with the evidence of the breaching methods, still stands erect on the slopes of Hankley Common. Built during the Second World War, it was used to train D-Day troops in the art of attacking Hitler’s fortifications. Visitors may think and reflect on how many lives were saved because of the thoroughness of the Armed Forces’ training and in doing so realise why training areas are required.

There are 2 war memorials located within the Estate. Bramshott, forever synonymous with the Canadians and the site of their Great War Hospital, is the home of one of their most important war memorials. An avenue of red maples and sugar maples has been planted alongside the A3 road. This is a regular site of pilgrimage for many Canadians, and all visitors are requested to show the normal respect due to such a site. The avenue replaces the original memorial, which was demolished during a non-military road-widening scheme. Visitors should include the Bramshott village church in their itinerary, as 318 Canadians are interred in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery which forms part of the church grounds.

Military hardware is to be found on many of the Home Counties sites: a remnant of an Abbott self-propelled gun (of Cold War vintage) is to be found in the Longmoor area, alongside 2 Chieftain tanks. These weapons are still used as training aids and visitors should look but not touch. This especially applies to children: though attractive, these old vehicles hold many traps. They were never designed as playthings or climbing frames; they are dangerous.