Music: July 2004 Archives

Prom No. 6

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I must be getting addicted. It's a few years since I last went to a Prom and now I've been twice in two days. Even on the day of rush hour tube chaos. OK, so I took the bus and listened to the conductor's story of woe - Routemasters are being phased out this year, and his route, the number 9 is due to finish on 3rd September if not sooner, at which point he loses his job. On another recent occassion I saw a number 73 that, instead of a destination showing, simply stated that it was the last week of its life. Obviously I feel sorry about the job losses, but I just love Routemasters - you can jump on and off them at traffic lights and it seems much more efficient having someone else check tickets once the bus is underway. Yes, I know you can't get wheelchairs on them but I'm going to miss them. I'm sure a modern redesigned Routemaster could have both a tilting floor and an open back. Instead we're going to get these horrible bendy-busses that'll take up more "real estate" in Central London and increase congestion. Still, it seems I could buy a Routemaster for as little as £2000 if I had somewhere to park it, and then go on a summer holiday with it!

However, I digress. The Prom tonight was the world premiere of piece by Chinese composer Zhou Long, a Liszt Piano Concerto and An Alpine Symphony by Strauss. For the first time ever, I went up into the gods - well the Gallery as it's called at the Royal Albert Hall. Prommers can be an odd lot, and even on a half empty day like today, you had to get there early if you wanted a good position by the rails. It seems many of the regulars up there bring full picnics, and quite often lie down for the entire duration of the concert.

On the way back, using buses because there were still tube "issues" I had what I must call a Douglas Adams moment. I'm of course referring to the story that first appeared in So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish (and latterly, again in The Salmon of Doubt) about the packet of biscuits. I shan't retell it here, and if you haven't read it yourself, then chastise yourself immediately and head for your nearest bookshop at your earliest convenience. Anyway, I'm sitting on the middle of the backseat of the bus and a women gets on, munching on an apple, which does make me a little irate. It could have been something smellier, but as a rule, I dislike people eating on public transport. At her feet is a Sainsburys carrier bag that obviously contains more fruit. I return to my book, but suddenly hear the obvious sound of some fruit-shaped object rolling around the floor. I look down and see another apple near the woman's feet. I look at her, and then the apple. She's still munching away on her first apple, but the one on the floor is bouncing around with much noise, so she can't fail to be aware of it. I'd lean down and pick it up, but it's a piece of fruit so she wouldn't want me handling it, and it's right by her foot two seats along from me. I return to my book. Next thing I know, it's slowly rolling past me, and is now bouncing down the middle of the bus's centre aisle. I could have stopped it, but if she was showing no interest, why should I? Oh well. Too late now. It'll be a bit bruised, and it's been all over the floor of a bus! Who'd want it? The woman should have just picked it up when it first fell out of the bag. It's her own fault. Obviously, I now have to keep track on the apple's whereabouts, much in the same way you do an empty bottle if it's rolling between the seats on a bus. It's somewhere near the centre doors of the bus (this isn't a Routemaster you'll gather). Then the woman, who's finished her first apple, puts the core back into the Sainsburys bag which she then begins to inspect closely. She was obviously going for the second apple, which has now vanished (it looks, from where I'm sitting, that the bag now only contains a banana). She looks around her feet, and around mine for the apple. Then back in her bag. I feel as though I should say, something. But what? Am I supposed to admit to watching her apple roll past my feet and down the centre aisle of the bus? That's tantamount to saying that I just "couldn't be bothered". But I thought she knew it was rolling around all over the place, and simply couldn't care less herself. Now I know that this isn't the case, it's too late; I'm culpable. I decide to play dumb and continue reading. But now we're at the bus terminus - well Kings Cross station, which is much the same thing. I walk to the centre doors to get off. And there, right by the doors, staring up at me, is the apple. It's only a Golden Delicious, but still... Now the woman's getting up to come to the doors. She's going to see me standing by the apple and know that I did nothing to stop it. The doors open. I make a dash for it, never once looking back.

OK. Not exactly up to Douglas Adams standard. There's no payoff to the embarrassment. But it's quite close, I'm sure you'll agree.

The Proms

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I paid my first visit to the Proms for a while today, seeing the BBC National Orchestra of Wales playing various pieces including Elgar's Enigma Variations.

I'd entirely forgotten that the opening variation, C.A.E. (which is actually a portrait of the composer's wife) was lifted lock stock into the soundtrack of the first Matrix film.

Naturally, we "prommed" for the princely sum of four pounds. Is there a better bargain to be had in London? There are a few more this season that I really would quite like seeing including appearances by Wynton Marsalis and Yo-Yo Ma, as well as pieces by Tan Dun.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Music category from July 2004.

Music: June 2004 is the previous archive.

Music: August 2004 is the next archive.

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