Monthly Archives: December 2014

New Year’s Eve

The world parties tonight, and for good reason: we have survived 2014, and there is the hope things will improve for 2015. Given our track record that may not be a big hope, but we have to have something to hold on to. So tonight we party, as we try to forget missing airliners, floods […]

Urban Renewal

It’s an urban oasis, a place of peace and relaxation. Hard to imagine the belching smoke and noise that once filled this area. The first time I remember hearing about Dortmund was as a young boy, reading about the Second World War and the Allied bombing of the Nazis’ industrial base. Dortmund was a prime […]

The Emperor Has No Clothes

I’ve come to the conclusion that I have missed my calling in life. I should have been a sculptor. Anyone who knows me will find that a shocking statement. It is widely acknowledged that I cannot draw a straight line with a ruler; stick figure drawings are beyond me. In primary school when we had […]

Tinkling The Ivories

I learned to play piano as a child, though using the word “learned” might be stretching things. I wasn’t willing to practice – probably because I didn’t like the music I was being asked to learn. As an adult I understand the importance of the musical tradition, but back then I might have been a […]

Education Museum II

It is located in a former church, which isn’t that surprising. As I have previously noted, when Ypres was rebuilt following the First World War there were a lot of churches that had been destroyed that were rebuilt just as they had been once the conflict started. A century later there is no need for […]

Education Museum I

Sometimes it is the smaller, less advertised museums that can be the most fun. In 2009, when I first visited Ypres, Belgium, I went to the In Flanders Fields Museum (and returned there this year). Included with the admission fee for that museum was admission to a couple of other smaller institutions in Ypres. I […]

Believing The Hard Things

Christians celebrate Jesus’ birth today, and the rest of the world joins in because everybody loves a party. Not that he was actually born on December 25, but any day is good enough. There are historical reasons why this particular date was chosen, but I’m not going to provide a history lesson today. You probably […]

Santa’s Flight and Santa’s Fight

It was 1983, which meant there was still a news wire in the radio station newsroom. I was working Christmas Eve and was keeping watch for breaking new stories. It was a quiet night, except for the recurring item from the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD), which was tracking Santa Claus’ flight across North […]


For some reason a piece of what should rightly be considered Easter music has become an annual Christmas tradition around the world. For many people the season would not seem right without taking in a performance of Handel’s Messiah. I think we have four recordings of G.F. Handel’s most famous oratorio on compact disc. We […]

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

I am a fan of the books of J.R.R. Tolkien, have been for almost 50 years, which pretty much means that I am not a huge fan of the three movies spawned from his first novel, The Hobbit. I just saw the last installment, The Battle of the Five Armies which opened in movie theatres […]