Peter’s Blog: Visit to the Horniman Museum

Weston-Super-Mare, June 20 2018

An infrequent visitor to CoolTan from outside London, I gained reassurance from attending Shenan’s lively and informative Self Advocacy sessions on hoarding (23/11/17), depression (23/2/18), anxiety (24/5/18) as I have suffered from all conditions, and hoarding in the past almost caused eviction from the flat which I was renting. At her I.T sessions on March 23 and May 11, I was learning about downloading images from the internet and sending photos by e mail or social media, and Twitter. Shenan explained to me what it means to follow people on Twitter, or to be followed.

I attended a session on June 7 at which I received most useful handouts about Personal Independence Payment which has replaced the previous Disability Living Allowance, and the verbal advice given to me could help me, as I am trying hard to gain two extra descriptor points from P.IP, and thereby receive the same amount of benefit which I received under DLA.

Shenan organized an outing on the sunny Thursday May 10 to the Horniman Museum where I had a really nice lunch of tea, a toasted mozzarella pesto and tomato sandwich with chips, and a slice of caramel cheesecake, then attended a music lecture about John Adams who composed Short Ride in a Fast Machine that could hardly be performed at Last Night of the Proms 1997 in view of its relevance to the death of Princess Diana not long before this. Other music of his was unexpectedly pleasant and quite relaxing, not unlike Mahler or Sibelius. The lecturer mentioned John Cage’s Four Minutes of Silence, and I jokingly said that if there were no notes or sounds, the composer couldn’t have written anything down. I was wrong. There IS a score, and it says Minute of Silence, then there is a pause while someone turns the page to the second minute of silence, and so on! It would be interesting to know if the composer was being serious or not.

I then spent a fascinating time looking at many historical musical instruments including pianos, flutes and clarinets, and made full use of the display tables where you pressed buttons and heard all kinds of musical instruments, reading information about all of them too.

I learned that postmen in Switzerland originally sounded a horn to signal their arrival, and that Mozart wrote a The Post Horn Serenade, and that when Joseph Haydn wrote his Trumpet Concerto in 1796, trumpets had around this time acquired controls making them easier to play, but did not contain valves as they do now. The Jews’ Harp sounded to me like a cross between a mouth organ and a didgeridoo, nothing like a harp that very large instrument with strings which looks and sounds very graceful. And I also learned that the first pianoforte, a major development from a spinet or harpsichord, was designed by Bartolomeo Cristofori in around 1698.

I shall certainly be going to the Museum again!

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