The festival season is now well underway, and for many it’s not a festival unless you are standing up to your oxters in mud, surrounded by tens of thousands of other strongly odiferous, unwashed people with access to only sub-medieval plumbing facilities.
I take a rather different approach to my festival going. Over the past week, the Cambridge Summer Music Festival has served up a concert hall, two college chapels and an art gallery as venues. All provided a roof (often quite an impressive one), seating (though its comfort may not always have been of the very first rank), modest volumes of relatively sweet-smelling fellow festival goers and (mostly) modern plumbing.
I suspect the quantity of drugs carried per capita may have been similar at the CSMF to the more rock-based events (you know what those geologists are like!), but in Cambridge I suspect most of the drugs were both legal and on prescription (certainly, between – and sometimes during – pieces, you can feel like you’ve inadvertently stumbled into the bronchitis ward at Addenbrooke’s).
Today’s gig was in the Fitzwilliam Museum and so between the two halves of French piano music on offer, I could survey the work of Matisse, Bonnard and Spencer (among others) whilst sipping from a reviving glass of chenin blanc. I think I also managed to find a singing teacher in the same interval: a degree of productivity which is rendered only slightly less impressive when I reveal that this was my one, and only, New Year’s resolution (surely, somewhere in the world must start its year in August?).
All of this festival going brings to mind the patron saint of ushers, St Eward, who was martyred (as I recall) at a rather poorly marshalled event in the twilight years of the western Roman Empire. His death was not in vain, as ladies (and a few gents) d’un certain âge now proudly wear a sash bearing his name whilst ensuring that all are safely delivered to and from each event.