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The Telegraph has some seasonal drinks recipes, including hot toddy, mulled wine, wassail and others.

As it happens, the Family Robbo went to a little celebration this past Saturday evening at which Robbo sampled buttered rum for the first time.   Well, it tasted like rum.  With butter.  Heigh, ho.

No, what really got me thinking on this subject was the fact that, in a spot of family horse-trading, I’ve gotten Mrs. R to promise to come along with me to Midnight Mass this Christmas.  (And when my church says “Midnight”, it jolly well means it.)  It occurred to me that it would be a very nice little surprise if I were to have some kind of hot holiday drinks set up for when we got home, by way of a thank you.

And, of course, if any friend of the decanter has other suggestions for a spot of holiday cheer (Mrs. R is very fond of Bailey’s), I’m all ears eyes.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It is a very curious thing, but for many years now I have noticed that when the weather first starts getting cooler in the fall, I tend to gravitate in my choice of composers to mangle at the keyboard to the works of George Frideric Handel.  I don’t know what the relationship is between the time of year and the particular grammar and style of Handel’s composition, but I do know that, at least in what passes for my mind, there is a gunnegshun.

One of my favorite books this time of year is a collection of sixty of his overtures arranged for solo keyboard.  The arrangements are not especially difficult (except for his heavy use of thirds – I always had trouble with thirds – the “Entry of the Queen of Sheba” is an especial beyotch), and once I get into Handelian mode, I can sight-read them pretty comfortably and, at least for myself, enjoyably.  (I don’t know what anyone else thinks.  Once in a way one of the gels will wander in and watch for a few minutes, but I have received neither compliment nor complaint.)

The collection does present some challenges, however.  For one thing, the pages are facsimiles of handwritten staves, which are not always easy to read. (I gather they were contemporaneous with the originals.  Whether they were pirated or whether Handel himself made some coin out of their publication, I could not say.)  For another, the arranger occasionally makes a mistake, particularly with respect to accidentals, so one must be on guard.  For a third, every now and again the bass clef transmogrifies to a c-clef.  I can’t translate such a change in my head, and I’m too lazy to take a pencil and rewrite the line, so I usually just carry on one-handed until it flips back (which usually happens after just a couple measures).

All in all, most enjoyable.  And highly recommended if you are interested in this sort of thing.


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December 2011