Lining your own clouds

I believe silver is the popular choice, despite the difficulties of hallmarking and the danger to aviation.

Many readers may feel that my life is pretty cloud-free – and most of the minor clouds that do occasionally occlude the azure perfection of my vista are of my own making or relate to worrying about things I cannot affect or problems (sorry, opportunities) I  am unable to solve (apparently in common with my seven billion closest friends).  I do occasionally ponder moving to a marginal constituency so that my vote might actually have an impact on the outcome of an election and so that the political parties might feel they have to woo (or indeed bribe) me – but it is quite an expensive and personally disruptive route to political enfranchisement.  Anyway, this post is not intended to represent a serious attempt at satire, but merely to introduce some diary material in a slightly oblique (maybe even interesting) way.

As I have mentioned before, de temps en temps I am required as a condition of my servitude to “the man” to visit the Surrey town of Woking.  I am sure Woking must have many fine features to commend it, but thus far it has kept them concealed from me – and I have even journeyed as far as Old Woking (which does boast a decent restaurant, but this alone is not enough to save Woking in my estimation).  To line the cloud of these excursions, I usually contrive to visit London to have some fun after the working day is done.

Last week, I headed on into Waterloo for a visit to the Southbank Centre.  It has become my custom to partake of a rapid supper at Canteen, ranged deep in the bowels of the Royal Festival Hall.  Their food is perfectly decent, not expensive by London standards and swiftly served: on previous visits they have also offered two points of bitter for the price of one.  Perhaps fortunately, this offer has now ended as it does add an element of danger for the single chap en route to a concert, even one who can boast many years of highly competitive bladder control (as I can).

My original thinking was to go see Gustavo Dudamel conduct some Mahler, but unsurprisingly it was sold out so I took a chance on Boris Giltburg at the Queen Elizabeth Hall next door.  Not that much of a risk as the young pianist (very much the unfashionable side of 30) had excellent reviews and could also boast an unusually broad range of somewhat geeky interests for a professional musician.  I think the workings of chance were my friend and I enjoyed the better concert at the SBC that night.  The piano playing was truly staggering – the lad has clearly made it a lot further through Hanon’s The Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises than have I (then again, I’m still working on exercises 1 and 2, and on current form the human lifespan will have to be very substantially increased if I am to ever trouble exercise 60).

After a good 1.75 hours of playing some seriously difficult repertoire – his hands were literally (in the correct sense of that word) a blur – with a bare 20 minute interval for ice cream, Mr Giltburg then played three encores to a very appreciative audience.  So, not only a better concert than at the RFH but better value for money: value I further enhanced by sitting in the front row of rear stalls rather than the back row of the front stalls – saving £7 by being 6 feet further from the stage and all of those 6 feet were mine in extra legroom (so I was doubly the winner).  Concert Halls have yet to learn the value of legroom from the airlines – for which my legs and wallet are grateful.

As I’ve mentioned before, I will make someone a very good maiden aunt.  As I was watching Boris play, I couldn’t help but worry about the poor chap’s back – for much of the time it was dreadfully rounded and I fear he is storing up problems for later life.  I now worry that my own piano playing is further rounding the shoulders already suffering from years of desk work and cycling.  I (and Boris) need to find a hobby which curves the spine in the opposite direction – though I struggle to bring such a hobby to mind.  Any ideas?

Still, this blog was supposed to be about making the most of chances that life throws your way, rather than fretting about my vertebrae – it seems that I am always looking for a cloud to fill my linings.  Is it (long past) time for therapy?  Or just more marsala in my cocoa?

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6 thoughts on “Lining your own clouds

  1. matathew says:

    I see that your class of 45 amazing followers has been set homework again: I (and Boris) need to find a hobby which curves the spine in the opposite direction – though I struggle to bring such a hobby to mind. Any ideas?

    The pursuits which spring to mind are shooting grouse (highly destructive in my opinion) and the more constructive, but time-stealing, pursuit of ceiling painting – not by using Dulux Magic White, but more this sort of thing:

  2. Stuart Ffoulkes says:

    I hadn’t really seen myself as the new Michelangelo, but I’m willing to give it a go. I haven’t really attempted anything in the visual arts since the 3rd form, but surely I must have improved in the intervening years. I shall fish out my sketchbooks, would you be willing to offer up one of your ceilings and book your ticket to posterity? You could be in on the ground floor (as it were), go down in history as the Pope Julius II de nos jours!

  3. Stuart Ffoulkes says:

    By the way, describing my followers as “class of 45” does make them appear rather elderly, even if they were very precocious in their youth. I myself am probably class of 84, or perhaps 87 – I’m never entirely sure whether to use Matriculation or Graduation – which suggests my disciples are roughly 39 years my senior, which in turn makes for a worrying age profile.

    I think they could safely be described as a “set” as I believe we can define the members of the said set without having to look beyond the precepts of first-order logic (thus keeping paradox at bay).

  4. matathew says:

    Yes, I think English punctuation could take some cues from mathematical notation – but, never mind set theory, we need look no further than BIDMAS (a.k.a. BODMAS) in elementary maths. Thus 1. I see that your class of (45 amazing followers) has been set homework again.. Not to be confused with 2. I see that your (class of ’45) amazing followers has been set homework again. Looking at this closely (as we train those learning elementary maths to do), we see that sentence 2 is grammatically incorrect. As you know only too well, my writings are oft quoted as models of grammatical correctness, so sentence 2 is clearly gibberish. So I must have been conveying the sense of sentence 1. QED

  5. Stuart Ffoulkes says:

    Your answer makes me wonder whether it is possible to create any humour using only the first-order predicate calculus – I shall work on this a little project…

    However, I will admit that my mis-reading of your words did require an implicit comma to be imagined between 45 and amazing.

    Talking of punctuation, mathematical notations and the English language, one of my favourite moments of my career (to date) was using De Morgan’s Laws to rearrange the drafting of a legal document to improve both its economy and clarity. As a result, I discovered that lawyers were not trained in the predicate calculus – which does seem a weakness.

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