In training

Not in my case for the Olympics – I fear I may have left it a little late, despite my natural athleticism (well, I was never picked last for any sports team – close to last, yes, but never actually last).

No, I am training myself for the orgy of going out of an evening (and often the afternoon and late morning too) that is my annual trip to the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe.  At my age, a little preparation is important before any major period of exertion – even if most of that exertion is sitting down, there is still the whole issue of being up past my normal bed-time.

Luckily, Cambridge is here to help, with this last week seeing the start of the excellent Cambridge Summer Musical Festival and also playing host to the Cambridge Comedy Festival.  As a result there have been plenty of nights out for the author – and even my car has seen some action given the rather wet evenings that were very much the norm until the summer arrived on Saturday (not sure how long its planning to stay, but I’m trying to be Zen about it and live in the moment).  This has had an impact on blogging activity and I trust you are suitably grateful at the reduction in output.

My musical highlights, other than a surfeit of Bach with Floriligeum, would be the guitarist Stewart French and the pianist Karim Said.  In the case of Mr French, it is partly the solidarity one feels for a fellow Oxford mathematician, but more seeing a classical guitarist up-close brought home to me just how difficult an instrument it must be to play well (and play it well he certainly did).  It looks to be absolutely agony for the fingers of the right hand at least, though perhaps years of practice would help with that.  He also showed that the guitar is not a bad substitute for the harpsichord – which makes a certain sense as they are both plucked string instruments – and is a darn site cheaper and, as a further bonus, a guitar already lies within my possession.  Only 10,000 hours of serious application (well, according to one M Gladwell, Esq.) stands between me and one of my earlier blogged dreams!  The even more youthful Mr Said has performed the minor miracle of making me re-consider my dislike of the later Schoenberg (yet another shibboleth shattered) with his excellent introductory talk prior to performance of the Opus 25 Suite for Piano.   That piece would certainly bear a second listen, and I fear may act as a gateway drug to Opus 26 and beyond.

Comedy-wise, I’ve tried to see new acts given the extremely reasonable prices of the CCF – £10 for 2 acts (even if they are practising material for Auld Reekie) strikes me as a jolly good deal in this day and age.  My top recommendation would be “The Trap”, a three-man sketch team (collective?) – I’d never heard of them until last week, when I caught a 30 minute sketch show they had done for Radio 2 on the iPlayer (thanks to a couple of recommendations I saw on Twitter) which was far better than the vast majority of radio sketch fodder.  I tried to see if they would be on in Edinburgh – but no sign in my Fringe brochure (though they are appearing!) – and then I spotted that they were a late replacement for another act at the CCF.  Serendipity: more than a dodgy film from the early noughties!  “Bad Musical”, the live show I was lucky enough to catch, was an absolute scream – some very clever wordplay and silliness galore.  Searching the web it would seem that they are far from new, and have appeared in several examples of radio fun I’ve enjoyed over the last decade which just goes to show what a very poor witness I would make if ever called upon to testify (though some of their names do seem slightly familiar).

So, I feel my going-out “muscles” are now becoming well-conditioned ready for the fray.  Based on last year, I probably ought to do something about beefing up my ankles – we don’t want a repeat of last year’s swelling incident.  Perhaps it’s time to trying brushing my teeth whilst standing on one leg again  – well, it seems to be that or playing around with a giant rubber band according to the fount of knowledge that is the internet – if you hear a crash, you’ll know things have not gone entirely to plan…


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