Will is a happy bunny! Yvonne is sitting beside him at his desk doing her English language study and chatting on QQ (the Chinese equivalent of Skype/Messenger). She’s visiting me for Christmas.
We first started writing to each other in October 2008. We’ve averaged 3 or 4 emails a week which isn’t bad considering that translation is involved. I went to visit her in Changsha, Hunan Province, in June for a couple of weeks. We had a wonderful trip to the Wulingyuan mountains (a world heritage site) for four days as well as getting to know her city.
We are both finding learning each other’s language a challenge though Yvonne is zooming ahead of me. She insists that I speak English to help her learn quicker. My Chinese is very very basic and proceeding slowly with evening classes nearby augmented by computerised language learning via Rosetta Stone. All a big challenge for someone not very good at languages (failed ‘O’ level French at school).
June seemed to be the earliest time I could be strong enough to travel. I had my hip replacement operation at the end of February and was hopping around on crutches for a few weeks. Happily I didn’t need the 6 weeks off work as was suggested but was back full time after a couple of weeks. Everyday I felt I had a new challenge. In March I wanted to be able to get to the memorial service for Ken Smith (my former colleague here at the LMC) who died suddenly and expectedly on 3rd January. He visited for coffee just before Christmas and had us rolling around with laughter as usual. He’s greatly missed. The memorial service was wonderful and the All Saints was absolutely packed.
By the time mid June came around I was fit enough to walk almost any distance (and we did quite a bit of walking in China thanks to my titanium bits) but I waited until July before trying to skate again. It felt vary precarious for a few weeks. But with Emma’s guidance, Vivienne and I fulfilled her new year’s resolution of doing our first competition after the operation before the end of the year. In fact it was early in November at the Oxford Adult dance competition. Sure I was still rusty and not back to where I was 18 months ago when I stopped, but at least it was a marker of getting back to normal. Now we’re starting to lifts again (although Vivienne says it’s still a scary experience)!
Even now, 10 months on, I still notice my right leg/hip getting stronger every couple of weeks. Thank God for the NHS. The nursing care I received was first class. Nothing was too much trouble despite being rushed off their feet. Bless them.
The operation did stop me from taking part in a couple of concerts but in July we did Verdi’s Requiem – possibly the best concert we’ve done. Mozart’s Requiem and Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass followed in November, our Christmas carol concert this month and two Messiah’s in the Royal Albert Hall. March brings Bach’s B minor Mass which I find extraordinarily difficult. It was particularly special for me to be in the choir for the Messiah with Yvonne in the audience together with several friends. While sound-wise the RAH is not the best place, it still is a wonderful building and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra were wonderful.
At the LMC it’s been a challenging time. For over a year now we’ve been going through a re-visioning exercise with every programme under scrutiny. It’s certainly been a tough time for all sorts of bookshops with the British Borders going under and the UK’s major Christian distributor being in financial trouble. Metanoia has 18 months to turn around so I have my work cut out for me with the wonderful help from one of our trustees Simon.
There have been more staff changes of course. Vic, Kathy and Janelle returned to Canada last month after 7 years and now the house feels very quiet. In February Ed and Phyllis also go back but the new host couple with previous connections arrive around then. Perhaps it’s my age (I now have a transport Freedom Pass) but saying goodbye to the Thiessens was very hard. Thank God for Facebook as a way of keeping in touch.