Tuesday 20 April

Apologies for late posting: I got distracted and then too tired to write. Recently I have been involved in making a podcast relating to the Gold Lyre of Ur Project. All will be revealed when it is finished, but initially today I was engaged in correspondence to do with that. It is enormously exciting, as anything like that has been dormant for so long because of lockdown. No live performances, no lectures, and I think the appetite is fading for Zoom talks. So many of these events were social activities, not merely a little intellectual stimulation.

I was also researching GCSE testing, as I have committed to assessing a student of German. And it impinged on me how enormously challenging it is going to be for the teachers this year, when they have had so little face-to-face contact with their pupils. In languages there is no speaking or listening element, only reading and writing, and the teacher has to go on the pupil’s performance over the year. So much will depend on the level of online teaching and the pupils’ co-operation. I am sure there are going to be some very strange results this year. It worries me that in future the CV will show GCSE taken in 2021, and there will be a sharp intake of breath. These extended periods of lockdown have had devastating effects on schoolchildren: possibly only gradually we will see to what extent.

It was warm and sunny, and very dry again. I spent some time in the garden, the grass is not growing, and is beginning to look rather sparse. I had a chat with the neighbour and their lockdown puppy “Rain”, it seems a dear little thing and not too over-excited when catching sight of our cat. On Friday I have a gardener coming to do a couple of hours which is a very exciting prospect. I have said for some time that I cannot do it all, but actually finding a jobbing gardener is pretty difficult. However my neighbour has come up trumps with a recommendation.

I watched “My Yorkshire Farm.” Amanda Owen with her 9 children in Swaledale on a hill farm. As the annual Muker Show was cancelled and they were all so disappointed, they organised their own fell race for the children. It was great to see how self reliant the children are: they made a Start banner, medals for the winners, planted flags for the course, baked buns for afterwards. I am sure it is not an idyllic existence, it is bitterly cold and bleak in winter and the animals still have to be fed, but in August on a sunny day, it looks pretty nice, especially swimming in the tarn. The children had not been in school for 5 months, and the final shot was of them throwing around bits of school uniform to find anything which might fit.

I heard “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” today. I walked into the church at my wedding with this being played on the organ, not at quite such a cracking pace, it has to be said.

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