The bald headed ball boy

For some reason or other, our central heating is playing silly buggers. Perhaps it’s the fault of the plague because, in olden times (last year) they would just come on when the temperature dipped below the preset on the thermometer. Now they just refuse to come on unless I do unspeakable things to the control panel.

These acts of deliberate vandalism are completely random. I only stop when the heat appears. Then, today, they just refused to come on at all. I booked a call out with Tom, the plumber, to come and either fix or kill the whole stupid system.

Being Australian, we don’t understand central heating. When we lived in Katoomba where the temperature rarely rose above 5° in the winter, we had a wood burning stove and would only use the room it was in. The rest of the house was quite handy for storing frozen food. I would always be chopping the wood which made me feel very much like a lumberjack.

But here, in the civilised Northern Hemisphere, we have these strange things attached to the wall which deliver heat through hot water. Mind you, today we had a bit of a heat wave so there was no need for artificial heating anyway.

The improved weather meant it was also a good night to go and watch football. Which was handy because Nicktor was coming over, and we were scheduled to go to watch Ash United play Bagshot. And, for a change, we had young James for company.

But, before we headed for Ash, we had to eat. Actually, Nicktor had to eat. He claims he always HAS TO EAT. No matter how often I assure him that he won’t die if he misses a meal, he still insists on eating. Given Dr Dawn is very similar I can only assume that Young James might follow in their digestive footsteps.

If such a thing is possible.

This week we decided against the foodless Albion and went, instead, to the Six Bells.

I haven’t been to the Six Bells in quite a while. In fact, I haven’t been since the refurb and new owners. Then there was the Plague Lockdown to further limit pub visits. So, it was with an air of wonder that we entered the pub.

And I have to say that both the redecoration and the staff were pleasant surprises. Obviously the beer was good but then the Six Bells always had a decent pint. Though, Young James disappointedly, preferred Stella to anything decent on offer. I understand people drinking lager but not an inferior one.

That aside, we had a jolly good meal with beer (I had ham, egg and chips – Nicktor had my chips and I had Young James’ coleslaw) and chatter.

But all of that paled into insignificance when stood alongside the glory that was the game.

There was some humour, mostly involving the Bagshot goal-keeper who, quite frankly, as a football player, made an excellent spectator. There was no nastiness with the players enjoying the cut and thrust of Combined Counties League Division 1 football. But, most exciting was there were a lot of goals.

That may not be quite as satisfying for the Bagshot players and fans given the final scoreline of 7-0 however, we thoroughly enjoyed our evening at the Shawfield Stadium which, rather confusingly, might also be the Third Generation Services Stadium. (Third Generation Services make car parks.) Ash probably thought it more than made up for the 6-0 drubbing they had at the feet of Walton and Hersham on Saturday.

As I pointed out to Nicktor, so far I’ve seen two different home teams win in two weeks. Given we are always supporting the home team, this is a pretty good start to a season of non-aligned football. Long may it continue.

And there was no massive running track around the pitch. We were nice and close to the action. As was the bald headed ball boy who was clearly very familiar with the hedge to the left of the photo above. At one point, a ball managed to land on the top and not roll off. It remained there for a while despite the efforts of the rather portly bald headed ball boy.

Eventually an associate arrived with a pole and managed to prod the ball from beneath and, while the prodding merely moved the ball a few feet forward, eventually it was retrieved by a relieved bald headed ball boy.

All in all, a very satisfying night. Except for Bagshot.

Today, this happened

Antonín Leopold Dvořák was born today back in 1841.

His New World Symphony is one of the first pieces of classical music I remember ever hearing. Well, alongside our music teacher, Miss Goring, and her love of Beethoven. I distinctly remember her thumping out Ludwig’s 5th on an old piano during a music class. But, as far as professional performances go, The New World Symphony it was.

Dvořák showed his musical talents quite early. He was playing violin at the age of six. His dad ran a pub, was a butcher and played the zither. I guess young Antonín would have been given a lot of encouragement from a young age.

His mum, Anna, was the daughter of a bailiff and was to give birth to 14 children! Not that they all survived beyond infancy. Fortunately, though, Antonín did.

He played in Karel Komzák’s orchestra from 1858 and would play at restaurants and balls.

He started teaching and fell in love with a student, Josefína Čermáková. While frowned on these days, it was okay back then. Besides, she didn’t return his love and ended up marrying some other bloke. Dvořák settled for her sister, Anna Čermáková, which I think is just a tad weirder.

He lived in New York for a time, working as the director of the National Conservatory of Music of America. It was during this time that he wrote the New World Symphony. He was living in a house in East 17th Street which, when due for demolition in 1991, Václav Havel tried to save. He was not successful and the house is no more.

Mind you, there are conflicting reports about where he composed the symphony. It’s also believed that he wrote it in a building in Spillville, Iowa which now houses The Bily Clocks Museum. (If you want to see a version of the world’s smallest church, it’s in the museum. There’s also quite a few clocks. And it is Bily, and not Billy.)

The New World Symphony is said to be the world’s most popular symphony. Maybe that’s why Neil Armstrong took a tape recording of it with him to the moon in 1969. And maybe that’s why it’s my earliest memory of classical music.

And it’s called The New World Symphony BECAUSE he composed it in the US given he came from the Old World and was working in the New one. And there was me thinking it had something to do with science fiction.

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