I am pretty certain that both the words and Vaughan Williams’ FOREST GREEN tune for the popular carol O Little Town of Bethlehem are safely in the public domain. The words were penned in 1868 and the tune, based on a traditional English folk song, was first published in the English Hymnal of 1906.
It is one of the songs I have planned for our online carol service on 20th December but I’ve been working on it for the past couple of weeks because I want to allow others from the church to join in so that our – COVID-19 safe – online service feels as much like the experience of a physically congregated service as possible.
I’ve been uploading the work in progress tracks as private entries on my Soundcloud account. I’ve had a couple of versions of O Little Town up already but today’s revision attracted an automated copyright notice from a choir I’ve never heard of. It leaves me feeling a bit miffed because the source is in the public domain, the performance is entirely original, the track is private except to those I share it with (so I thought) and it now introduces a hiccup for those who might want to use Soundcloud’s online player to listen and back their participation.
Hopefully, the evidence I have submitted to dispute the claim will be processed swiftly but it reminds me of the risks of letting mindless automata take action.
The UK’s plan for Christmas is that, from 23-27 December, you can form a special ‘Christmas Bubble’ with two other households. Christmas rescued? Sadly, not quite as far as I can see.
The key limitation is that your bubble must be an exclusive group of up to three households. If your parents are in John o’Groats and your parents down at Lands End, you could spend most of the allotted period travelling between the two locations, sharing germs at motorway services but barely having time at either end. Assume a more reasonable distance and you still have complications: unless you and your spouse are both only only children, visiting both sets of parents bars any of your siblings from seeing either of them (an exclusive bubble of no more than three different households across the five day period).
As the UK has a device range of family set ups, there must be millions of families facing vastly complex choices where all sorts of loved ones must be given the cold shoulder as far as physical presence goes. Even in the Les Dawson world where you are trying to avoid the mother-in-law, that’s the mother of someone near and dear. If I were a government being ‘led by science’ I think I’d be inclined to say “stick to your tier rules”. As it is, I think we’re going to have a lot of rejection, a lot of law breaking and a lot of disease spreading.
I wonder if a lot of the people who made that decision are in a position where they can selfishly work out a way they can please themselves. I’m pretty sure they haven’t applied themselves to the pernicious mathematics of exclusive sets. May the promised vaccinations be enough to draw us out of this sink towards Easter.
As with last weekend’s Korean ‘trip’ this was again a virtual visit but, gosh, isn’t the internet amazing sometimes. We have a dear friend in Brazil who spotted my posts about the virtual holiday last weekend and asked if we’d like to share a meal online. They are only 3 hours behind GMT so we managed to find a time that would work at both ends, agreed a meal (spaghetti bolognese – easy for us to create a version of at both ends of the connection) and enjoyed a lovely opportunity to catch up.
It’s not quite the same as being physically present (not least because it’s damp and chilly here and over 30°C in Rio) but it is an excellent example of one of the ways in which internet technology has been a real boon these past few months.
My labours in the shed have started. The first task is implementing a system known as ‘french cleats’. A long board is cut along its length with the cut running at 45° down from the front to the back. The top piece can be fastened to the back of anything as simple as a plate of wood to as complex as a fully assembled cabinet and simply hung in place. Gravity performs its magic and (if all goes to plan) the hanging item is securely held in place by the interaction of various forces.
It was a slower process than I was hoping, with lots of messing around to work out how to secure the board I was cutting before unleashing the power of the circular saw. It got easier after the first one, when I could use its back to rest the next one on. The saw blade is set so that it only just goes through the work piece so it is a relatively small scar on the back, which will be screwed to the studs of the wall in any case.
All things being equal, I’ll get them up in place tomorrow and then I can start hanging tools and storage containers on the wall and make maximum use of the vertical space.
Back in August, we decided to buy a shed to go on our patio. Getting a covered storage and work area for “dirty” tasks like woodworking and gardening is a real boon. There was a small metal storage unit in the garden but it wasn’t enough to stand up in and, by the time we got even part of our practical tools into it, too full for ease of access.
In theory, it should have arrived in 4-6 weeks after ordering, so I set to work on relaying the patio to give a good base for the shed. I got that done and waited…. then started chasing. In the end, it has been more like 12 weeks and I was getting impatient. I know that COVID-19 has made a bit difference to all sorts of things but the suppliers could have done a much better job of keeping us updated.
Anyway, it finally arrived today – delivered and installed. I’ve already started to fill it up but there is still space to work inside. Over the next few weeks, I need to configure it to be a practical area and then use that to start progressing other projects I have in mind, like installing a gutter on the shed and putting a cover over the space at the side of the house to make it suitable for all-weather working.