*I am delighted to see strong reviews for La Fanciulla del West, which I will be seeing at Opera North in Leeds in a fortnight. It’s seldom performed in the UK, and I’ve wanted to see it for ages. Unusually for Puccini, it has a happy ending. The most well-known aria is Ch'ella mi creda, which is magnificent though far too short. Also unusually for Puccini, it’s a dramatic song of someone being stoic.
*A trifle irritated with the Guardian’s report on the National Fish and Chip award, which insists on calling it fish’n’chips. I agree with the commenter who observes that the article’s insistence on fish cooked to order is completely wrong. A good fish and chip shop will have sufficient custom that cooked fish won’t be kept standing, because someone’s there to buy it, so you won’t have to wait. Under normal circumstances, if you have to wait 15 minutes for your fish to be cooked especially for you it’s because they don’t have enough trade to be really good at it.
*Announcement of the Winter Olympic squads also brought the news that there is a Facebook page dedicated to the Norwegian curling team’s patterned trousers.
*Interesting news about the possibility of a small glacier in Scotland in the 1700s during the Little Ice Age. This isn’t a new hypothesis, but one that there’s been quite some exploration of during the last century – what’s new is the hitherto-elusive evidence.
ETA: Exciting British wildlife news! First wild beaver in 500 years in England confirmed in Devon.* There was at least one sighting in the summer, but this one has actually been filmed. That said, it is probably not the first wild beaver to have lived in England in 500 years, as there is good evidence of one living on the Thames in Oxfordshire within the last decade. Like wild boars, it looks like they’ll be managing the come back on their own (with a little help from poorly secured enclosures).
*Cabin Pressure people, near Ottery St Mary. I think this is a job for caulkhead.