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Despite the logistical cock-ups that scuppered my evening in Stevenage, I've none the less had a great day. A friend of mine was having a birthday lunch down at Crystal Palace, but first, in her strange determination to strengthen our resolve, she took us through the park, which has cute ruins and sphinxes, and some of the most hideously brutalist chunks of architecture ever to need graffiti to cheer it up. There was the stadium thingy where Bob Marley played ('When it still had floorboards') there were the old statues with their heads lopped off and there was the genuinely intriguing and convoluted maze... we got lost in it of course. But we found the centre eventually with its animal symbols, carved advice and trees and benches and 8 pointed star surrounding a shamrock which in turn surrounded a five pointed star... We decided to ignore everything about the Girl Guides being founded near here and this obvious* commemoration of that fact, and turned it into a rain-soaked demi-occult adventure. By the time we were out of the park, the sky was clearing and a huge but delicate rainbow shimmered over south London. We admired it for a moment, then ran towards warmth, wine and veggie pies.

Conversations that followed were fascinating; alternative in things right now include sound baths. As far as I can tell these are based around getting your chakras cleansed by listening to someone playing appropriate instruments. Not convinced personally, but I can see how hearing a certain kind of drum beat might make you feel 'earthy,' and translate into a stronger sense of lower stomach, hips and deep rhythm, whether or not one calls it a chakra and connects it to yoga. But then, maybe I am just talking about dance.

The conversation moved on to Eurythmy and a person called Dalcroze, whose method teaches music expressed through rhythm and movement before visual recognition of the notes. We were then introduced to an interesting theory, though I don't recall if it belongs to Dalcroze, that contrary to the belief in music as a kind of charming but unnecessary spin-off from language, language might have developed from music. The theory seems to be that as babies got bigger, Mums had to put them down in order to forage but they would make sounds so that the little ones knew they were nearby. From these sounds/noises/songs music grew and then language. It would make the lullaby one of the first forms of human expression.

Meantime, another of our number, who had previously told us that his home in Lincolnshire is far too quiet, suddenly revealed his recent adventures in community archeology. Apparently he found a child skeleton with its lower legs mown through by the foundations of a house; hopefully not his house (or child, come to that) though I didn't enquire. In two weeks time, he hopes to have more information.

Today didn't go as I had planned, but it was still very pleasant - and it was fine to see the birthday girl grinning at all the smiles and talk and good food, not to mention a particularly impressive cocktail of elderflower cordial and vodka.

Tonight, all four of the cats are sitting around me, and though I am missing the friends I was meant to see this evening, I feel content and very cat-loved. Tomorrow it's time for Brum.

*Not obvious to me. I was never a girl guide and never wanted to be one.



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