Heat treatment

The regular reader will be aware of my desire for this blog to gradually supplant Heat magazine (and its ilk) in the affections of the British (and, indeed, global) public.

The bread-and-butter of such magazines tends to be prurient gossip and ‘papped’ snaps of the stars of soap opera (very much the lowest form of opera) and reality television (ditto, mutatis mutandis), or so I believe: I am only willing to go so far in the name of research and ‘reading’ such material would go well beyond my self-imposed boundaries.  I have chosen to eschew this approach, mostly because I am unlikely to recognise such folk even were I to see them or hear them discussed.  Instead, I have tried to bring a more cerebral slant to the genre, by making brief mention of the famous that I have encountered in my otherwise (deliberately) rather unexciting life.

These last few days have been particularly fecund, with a brace of eminent scientists spotted.  On Saturday night I saw Sir Aaron Klug at the baroque gig at Peterhouse and then, on Monday night, both Steven Hawking and I enjoyed Maureen Lipman as star and director of Barefoot in the Park.  Last night’s comedy with Alex Horne, whilst a lot of fun, did not obviously support an eminent scientist in the audience – though, I should perhaps make clear that I would not necessarily be able to recognise every pillar of the scientific community in the relative dark of an auditorium (and few, if any, wear a white coat when out on the razzle).  I have moderate hopes for tonight’s bash with the Endellion String Quartet, but I’ll keep you posted…

Prior to Mr Horne’s bathrobe-clad antics, I enjoyed an excellent performance of Mendelssohn’s Octet by the CUCO String Ensemble at lunchtime.  I had little opportunity to spot the famous, as I was surrounded by very well behaved primary school children (who were the only people in the room younger than Herr M when he penned the work).  I first heard this piece lying in the sunshine in a park in Crouch End (N8), utilising the then new miracle of a portable MP3 player: it seemed more practical (and significantly cheaper) than bringing eight string players with me.  This was also the first time I heard, and took an unfavourable view of, a work by a particular French twentieth century composer.

Last night these events led to me musing, in the manner of Deep Thought, whether a programme comprising the Quartet for the End of Time, Chronochromie and the Turangalîla Symphony would be considered “needlessly Messiaenic”?

To put your mind’s at rest, I have had somewhat of a rapprochement with Olivier’s canon since that first park encounter: I loved Visions de l’Amen and quite fancy hearing the Turangalîla Symphony (and not only because it shares the name of the feisty female lead in Futurama but as I’ve heard it is quite the experience).  Still, lest you fear I have taken all leave of my senses and will shortly be indulging in arboreal osculatory excess with M. Messaien (or his cadaver), I still think he should leave birdsong to those issued with feathers and a syrinx.


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