Music, hospitals, pensions and Post Offices

Another round-up of what I’ve been doing in the last few days – other than cursing the difficulty of typing whilst I’ve still got the cast!

– Had a marvellous evening at the 130th Anniversary Concert of the Highgate Choral Society – of which I am a patron. Elgar’s Apostles was absolutely superb and hugely enjoyable. Happy anniversary and well done.

– Walked around the almost ready Hornsey Hospital. It looks like this is going to be the bees’ knees as our new local community health centre – and after all the fears and doubts I suspect the community will love it. I will certainly be using the after-hours GP service, I’m sure. It has been really carefully designed. My goodness it has had a long gestation and many incarnations since we first campaigned against the closure of the old hospital and the promise was then made to put a new health facility on the site!

I was very excited by the words of Peter Christian (doctor from Dukes Avenue) who was talking about a collaborative approach amongst GPs and involving the local community more – including give a strong voice to patients.

– Met with the local pensioner lobby, and hear their demands for the state pension to bring people above the poverty line at £165.00, funded by removing the higher rate pension relief and using the NI fund which has a lot of money in it to fund the rises in the pension.

– Went to Muswell Hill Post Office to praise their work at cutting queuing times there. Fantastic improvement – so well done to them.

Highgate Choral Society

Last night it was off to St Michael’s Church in Highgate Village for the Christmas anthems and audience carols by the Highgate Choral Society, of which I am a patron. As ever – mulled wine and mince pies and beautiful singing by the Chorus and of course the audience. And there were some lovely organ solos as well.

Particularly sweet, I thought, was that the first chorus of Away in the Manger, Ronald Corp who is the conductor (amongst many other competing titles in his CV) asked that only the children sing. And the very faint but very sweet little voices were just delightful.

The whole evening was as enjoyable as ever – and I am very much looking forward to April, when the Chorus has its 130th anniversary celebratory concert at the Barbican Centre on Thursday 2nd April. If you are interested in joining, supporting or attending – their website is

Highgate Choral Society

Sunday evening sees me at the South Bank for a concert by Highgate Choral Society – of which I am a patron. They are so brilliant and so professional that it was hard to believe that they are not professionals. A wonderful evening and congrats to all who took part in or helped organise such a fantastic concert.

Christmas carols with the Highgate Choral Society

Completely uplifted!

Went to the Advent Anthems and Christmas Carols in St Michael’s Church in Highgate Village. This was the Highgate Choral Society’s Christmas concert. It was just lovely as the voices swelled to such strength and volume; the beginning of Christmas for me really!

There are 230 members of the Highgate Choral Society – and about 130 of them were singing for us tonight. We are lucky to have such a local group with a national reputation.

I became a patron of the Choral Society earlier this year, and tonight I got talking to one of the other patrons, Lord Jenkins of Roding – who told me in the interval (mulled wine and mince pies) that he had been a councillor on Hornsey before it became part of Haringey Council. I never knew that! Anyway – well done to everyone involved – as it takes a huge amount of work to stage such an event so successfully.

Hearing the Highgate Choral Society

On Saturday evening it was off to a concert by the Highgate Choral Society at St Joseph’s Church (Highgate Hill). Apart from some Christmas choral concerts at St John’s in Smith Square, choral music hasn’t been my musical place – despite having such wonderful local groups as this one and the Crouch End Festival Chorus.

But – I was invited to become a patron of the Highgate Choral Society, so it was off to attend the concert to see and support them. And it was absolutely wonderful. The first piece was Haydn’s Nelson Mass – which was soaring and uplifting. The second piece (which everyone warned me was ‘challenging’ and not at all ‘traditional’) I really liked. It was ‘modern’ by choral standards – and the composer, Paul Patterson (who is a Highgate residents) was actually there. In eight parts, it veered from discordant to melodic and dramatic.

The choir itself must have numbered eighty or so people – plus there was the New London Orchestra, four soloists and Ronald Corp conducting. All in all, a great local evening and the church was absolutely packed out with hundreds of people.