Tuesday, 29th August, 2023 [Day 1261]

So Tuesday has come round again, which is a day to which we always look forward when we meet up with the ‘gang’ in the Waitrose cafeteria. I must say I am quite pleased to get the Bank Holiday out of the way so that now we can get on with the normal rhythms of life. But the British feel pretty hard done by as there are no more public holidays between now and Christms which is quite a long stretch. I think some families may make a little thing around November 5th/Bonfire Night although the americanism of ‘Trick or Treat’ seems to have undergone a creeping takeover in the past two or three decades. Today, though, we had normal kind of discussions which are sometimes music based between one of our group whose son works in the recording industry whilst with another we talk about vaguely Labour party politics as she has campaigned for them in the past. When we parted, we did a bit of shopping and then got home to prepare for my Pilates class, later on in the day. This week we were going to try a somewhat different pattern as I had decided to go there and back by car which would save at least half an hour of walking time. Then, in order to keeo Meg ‘company’ whilst I was out of the house, now that we had got our DVD player working to our satisfaction we put on a DVD of Bryn Terfel and Cecilia Bartoli in concert at Glyndebourne in 2000. In theory, this should have worked all right but the best laid plans of mice and men..when I got to my class, there was nobody in the studio as our instructor was on holiday. As I have not managed to attend a class for some two weeks now, I might have known about this week’s holiday as the class would have been reminded of our instructor’s absence. So having paid my car parking fee for a couple of hours, I returned home and we cooked ourselves a lunch that was so much earlier than would normally be the case on a Tuesday. Yesterday evening (or it may have been the wee small hours of the morning) I had made a counter offer to get 8 opera DVDs for the sum of £26 with postage paid. This offer had been accepted by the vendor and they were all operas which Meg and would have enjoyed in the past so we are more than happy to play them again when we get them. There is a theory behind all of this bout of purchasing in that whilst I am out of the house doing my Pilates (which I am loathe to give up as I have been doing it for about twelve years now) then Meg may well be able to enjoy a little concert whilst I am out of the house and this will help to provide some diversion.

We had a quiet afternoon this afternoon in our Music Room to which we often retreat to provide an alternative to our main living room. I have also ordered a couple of relaxing DVDs, one being Mozart arias and another being more contemplative Renaissance type music but these will not arrive for a few days yet, given the Bank Holiday and the vagaries of the postal system. I read a rather interesting article about John Eliot Gardiner, the pre-eminent baroque music specialist who has almost single handedly brought some of the finest performances of baroque composers to the attention and admiration of the wider English public. But he is now in his 80’s and has indulged in behaviour (being rude, if not abrupt, to singers who do not meet up with his own exacting musical standards) which is now out of kilter with the times. In the past, the great conducters could be ruthlessly autocratic and they largely got away with it as their intemperate outbursts were excused because of their ‘artistic temperament’. But ‘The Times‘ article written by a critical admirer, argued that these ‘old school’ conductors are now the dinosaurs of the musical industry and behaviour in which they indulged in decades gone past is no longer tolerated. An amusing, but terrible, story is associated with Sir Thomas Beecham who certainly did not mince his words. On one famous occasion, his impatience got the better of him amd he shouted at one lady cellist ‘Madam, you have between your legs an instrument capable of giving pleasure to thousands of men – and all you can do is scratch it’ The lady cellist left the stage in tears and I think was never heard of again after this public humiliation. I suppose the story is true and not apocryphal but who knows? This afternoon, Meg and I indulged ourselves yet again with listening to the Joan Baez concert recommended to my ex-Pilates friend a few days ago and she (and we) enjoyed it. I still have to find out if I can get a permamnent recording of this retransmission on our own PVR but I think the technical knowledge of a son and heir might be called for to help me out in this. As Groucho Marx used to say ‘A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.’

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