Rethink Health - December 2011

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Health Cultivator Extraordinaire

I collect healthy enterprise. I have a file of examples, waiting for the day when I include them in a book or website to show what I mean by health, and illustrate how much of it there already is - mostly unrecognised. We all need good, heartening news as often as possible.

This one is too good to file away for later. He is the quite outstanding Gareth Malone, choirmaster. If you have not yet seen any of his televised projects, look out for them - you are missing a treat.

Singing is primal to being, not just to human beings. Quite what it does or how, eludes me for the moment. But music in general is transformative - it takes you into a larger world of which we are otherwise only dimly aware. And singing is the most immediate form of music that most of us can make.

Gareth has several times gone out of his way to find the most difficult or relevant groups and environments for his projects. They have all, so far as I know, risen magnificently to his challenge. All over the country there are new communities flowering out of work he has done with them. 

The South Oxhey choirs are a recent case in point. South Oxhey is an ordinary  suburb grown up in the former countryside around Watford. Gareth went in there, called forth three choirs, got them to perform in St Alban's Cathedral and since then Heaven knows where. Their Christmas concert happened a few days ago in Hatch End, close by my former primary school. I'm sure it was wonderful. He remains their patron, but they now run themselves - the best sign of health there can be.

Gareth himself is reassuringly normal and rather unassuming. He seems unaffected by his success, and flatly refuses guru status. He is a very capable musician, of course, and good communicator - in both directions. So far he wears his celebrity very lightly, and long may he do so. 

I shall watch his career with keen interest - and, so far as I can, the progress of his spin-off communities. I am hoping there are many, many more like him that I don't yet know about. Because it would not take a very large proportion of such people to infect us all with vivid life.

If you know of others, please tell. 

By the way, and for what it is worth, I managed to pass Grade Five music theory recently, which qualifies me to enter for Grade Eight practical piano in March. It has certainly helped my playing, which must come as a great relief to my neighbours. I've even been asked back to give another recital at Hassop in April, so how's that for an oldie?


I hate to think how much of my life I have spent trying to get sense out of an electricity company call-centre. We have been gradually moving everything over to Ecotricity (, who were very helpful in setting up the FIT account for our solar panels. They are extending their scope gradually and now do renewable gas supplies and can cope with small businesses as well as domestic accounts.

They may not always look cheapest, but apart from their business strategy they excel by not having a call-centre. If you need to talk to them, you get through to the account executive or specialist you need. Full marks to them. They deserve lots of customers, as well as an entry in my healthy enterprise file. So long as neither changes the way they do their business!


Bang on schedule, the ritual warning of measles outbreaks has made its annual appearance. I cannot remember how far back this goes, but at least 5 and maybe 10 years.

Actually measles in very uncommon now in this country. Vaccination is worthwhile because you can choose to give it when the child is well, which minimises the dangers. The disease is unpleasant but not dangerous if caught when you are well, but it is very infectious and you are not in control of outbreaks, which may coincide with a bad patch in your child's wellbing.

The single vaccine works for life, effectively, since adults (whether vaccinated or not) do not seem to catch it. 

MMR is ill-conceived because the victim must cope  simultaneously with two other diseases, one of them equally challenging, which Nature never demands. But if a child has received singly any two of the MMR vaccines or diseases, MMR is a safe option for further doses - which are only necessary to protect against mumps, or boost rubella and mumps. 

Most of you know all this but we still get many phone enquiries, so please bear with the repetition.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I still think that old greeting is the best. It's what we hope for, anyway. 

I'm off now to continue composing "George's Theme" and preparing for the great annual gathering of a family on whom otherwise the sun never sets. 

We'll be in touch again once it's all over, and before Pamela and I go to Norway in search of the Northern Lights.

Whatever the Season holds in store for you, enjoy!