Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas, snakes and ropes

Got back from Harvard on Tues morning - straight into conference call with Chairman of our collaborators in Beijing, then meeting someone from Harvard in London, then Hong Kong Association Christmas Lunch, meeting with another Chairman, staff drinks and finally went with Daughter and Grandson to Comedy of Errors at the National. An excellent production starring Lenny Henry.

Following day set off with Daughter to Cornwall to be with my mother for the anniversary of my father's death. We stopped off for the night in Salisbury - staying in the Red Lion which traces its history back to a hotel built in 1220 for the workers on the (third) cathedral there.  They think it may be the oldest purpose built hotel continuosly in use in the UK, and perhaps in the world(?) On the way down we were listening to wonderful choral evensong from Portsmouth Cathedral and watching the most amazing sunset in the clouds.

Thurs we went to 730 communion in Salisbury Cathedral and then looked in on the great JR Lucas en route to Cornwall. John was as ususal fascinating, discussing philosophy, theology and life. He points out that the Woman of Samaria says "we worship on that mountain" whereas a redactor/inventor would presumably have had her say "Mount Gerizim."  We stopped for lunch at Exeter and saw the Cathedral, getting to our family house at a reasonable time.

Friday evening we had the customary party with my sister and all her descendants (9) as well as a friend on my sister's who is also a violinist and inherited an Amati (I think Nicolo although slightly patched but still sounding great).  Played some old favourites (arrival of Queen of Sheba, slow movement of Bach Double Violin Concerto) and loads of carols.

Back to Cambridge via Sherbourne Abbey which was also really beautiful. And had tea with Martin Rees before celebrating son's birthday. This morning 8am 1662 communion in the church of King Edward Saint and Martyr.

As a Christmas offering I offer this fable from Questions of Truth:
A philosopher, an engineer, and a simpleton—none of whom could swim—were trapped in a cove with sheer cliff faces. They split up, but the tide kept coming in. Rescuers lowered a rope with a safety harness. The philosopher said, “Ah, this looks just like a rope, but I might be mistaken—it could be wishful thinking or an illusion.” So he didn’t attach himself, and he was drowned. The engineer said, “Ah, this is an 11 mm polyester rope with a breaking strain of 2800 kg. It conforms to the MR 10-81 standard,” and then proceeded to give an exhaustive, and entirely correct, analysis of the rope’s physical and chemical properties. But he didn’t attach himself and was drowned. The simpleton said, “Ah, a python! I’ll attach myself to its tail.”

A merry Christmas to all!

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