Do the best you can, but do it

Sunday July 31, 2005

“I hereby declare this to be a holiday, Dolly,” I said, standing in the kitchen doorway contemplating a damp, drizzly, rather chilly and miserable day.

Dolly was too busy sleeping to answer. She’d already delivered her verdict on the day.

And, really, it wasn’t a day for doing much. Certainly not for going out anywhere.

I did do a couple or three necessary things. First, I had two difficult business-type letters to write, the one’s I hate and will put off if I possibly can. These I couldn’t, so I gritted my teeth and sat down to get them done.

Then I picked up the journal photographs archive task, finishing the uploads and going on to organize them, roughly, into ‘sets’. The results are [were: the page became defunct when we left Lincolnshire] to be found on my Flickr page and, barring accidents and serious omissions, bring the project to completion.

From now on I intend to use Flickr to display future photographic projects as I work on them. When I have time I’ll put a ‘recent photographs’ box in the side bar of my front, blog-style page, not on the individual journal entry pages. My impression is that hardened journal readers prefer those pages to be as clean and clutter free as possible. There’s another advantage in that, should I change my mind about a side-bar entry, I have only one HTML page to fix. I haven’t quite decided how to continue with my photoblog but I’m working on it.

My computer work done, I took advantage of the lull in what has been a series of busy days to make up for some neglect in my piano practice. I’ve been doing the daily exercises all the way through, but not with the full diligence I ought. I’ve not had time for working on more advanced stuff at all, so today I made up for it. I can now work through Bach’s Minuet in G major, BWV 114 without errors, though at a stately, slow pace. I find presently that I can’t manage anything faster than a rather slow Allegro, the sort of thing that an accomplished contemporary pianist might describe as Lento Molto. My fingers and wrists simply aren’t up to anything faster and it may be that fast is something I’ll have to live without.

This is something that discourages a lot of folks, I’m sure. We all have the most incredible, devastatingly beautiful professional musical performances available to us at the touch of a button and, if you let it do so, you can give up your own efforts in despair, thinking you’ll never be able to match them. That attitude is the most dreadful shame and has, over the years since I was a kid, led to a decline in home music making that’s now reached almost terminal proportions.

Of course most of us will never be able to match the skill and artistry of the great musicians of our time. Doesn’t matter a damn. There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when you make your own music, no matter how faltering and imperfect your performance. Can’t play it at the marked speed? Doesn’t matter. Play it slower; if you look at original versions of Bach’s keyboard compositions I think you’ll find he didn’t put tempo markings on them. He was a realistic old guy and I’d sure he’d nod approvingly at anyone’s honest efforts to play his music, saying something along the lines of “Do the best you can, but do it.”

Finally, sitting down in the evening after dinner, watching something really rather dreadful on TV, I got hit by one of those stray poetry particles I love so much. To my great joy a genuine poem formed in my otherwise empty head, and went on to find its way on to paper with very little difficulty. I’ve put it through one revision, and may do some more but to be honest I’m so pleased to find that my poor over-used and neglected muse has forgiven me and made a showing once more that I’m taking the Bach approach: “Do the best you can, but do it.”


Passage of time
I noticed, two tables away in the coffee shop
a young man, pert, touch-worthy curved lips,
a twin, my memory says, of David, forty years ago.
If it were Clerkenwell, and I had been savouring
a bacon sandwich, washed down with bright London tea,
the illusion would have been compelling, lustful perhaps.
I smiled, sighed, swallowed the last of my salad,
sniffed deeply at my black Assam, freshly brewed,
and wondered, briefly, at the passage of time.
John Bailey
July 2005, Lincolnshire


I should perhaps hasten to say that the poem has absolutely nothing to do with today’s picture, which comes from a completely separate creative stream altogether.


Boston, Aug 1,'05
A boy and his dog
Pencam photo<br



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