This last weekend, I returned to Cambridge once more – staying at Sidney Sussex college, which is very central. It did bring back memories of my own first year in college, which was similarly situated albeit in the dreaming spire adorned arch-enemy of my weekend destination. Ostensibly, I had returned to enjoy a few of the delights of the Cambridge Summer Music Festival – but did manage to tack on some additional fun.
The jazz component of our title was delivered by Ms Jacqui Dankworth and “her musicians”. Not perhaps my usual cup of tea, but really quite entertaining. Ms D may not have had a great relationship with her mother but does seem, nonetheless, to be turning into her (a state of affairs which, I seem to recall, Algernon Moncrieff described as the tragedy of her sex). She also has a condign mastery of the breathing required to sing – something which I rather lack. Despite somewhat more than 48 years on this planet, my breathing is still surprisingly poor – and this may be exacerbated by my gymnastic ambitions. Having abs (and, indeed, a core) of steel is vital when hanging from the rings, but is less useful when trying to provide the oxygen supply needed for a decent vocal performance. This may explain why so few opera singers have been gymnasts (and vice versa). Despite this obstacle, I did have great fun with the groupetto and Handel’s O sleep, why dost thou leave me? during the singing lesson I managed to slot into the weekend. I did, however, begin to suspect that my singing teacher’s choice of breathing exercise was more designed to use the student as a human fan than prepare my body for the rigours that were to follow.
Hands were delivered from many places over the weekend. There was some fine piano playing with Debussy in the mercifully air-conditioned Howard theatre and a rather toastier concert in Gallery 3 at the Fitzwilliam Museum over Sunday lunchtime. There was also the laying on of hands as my massage therapist once again attempted to return my ageing body to some semblance of its lissome prime. Once again, my actions – in this case the content of post 500 – generated some surprise: despite being clearly telegraphed (née promised). The session also generated some rather fruitful ideas to work into my pursuit of dating excellence – of which more will follow in later posts – and a further challenge for me to take on: of which more in the paragraph which will shortly be arriving into platform 3A.
In the narrow vestibule where a chap awaits audience with his therapist is a modest range of reading material. This comprises a sizeable joke book, a thinner volume on cycle maintenance (this is Cambridge, after all) and a very small selection of (now) rather aged magazines. I felt that the magazine selection could usefully do with a refresh and it seems it is down to we, the clientele, to take this project in hand. Ancient copies of Punch or Countrylife would be, frankly, too dull – so I have taken it upon myself to bring a more interesting offering each time I visit. I am looking for the most obscure, limited readership, magazines possible. These should have nothing at all to do with Cambridge or massage, but should be suitable for a family audience – I shall need my first example by early(ish) September, so a helping hand by way of a suggestion or two would be terribly useful…
All-in-all, a very enjoyable weekend – though one experiment should not be considered a success. The weekend, as the week before it, was really rather hot. As a result, I thought I would attempt a currently popular fad in an attempt to maintain my feet at a comfortable temperature. I have noticed that many folk eschew the sock with their summer footwear – and I talk here not of the undeniably wise choice to ensure that sock and sandal are never seen dancing cheek-to-cheek. No, I refer to the sock-less foot being ensconced in deck shoe, plimsoll or trainer. So, despite my advanced age, I decided to attempt this myself and chose a canvas shoe (a pair, in fact) as my weapon of choice – feeling that the canvas would be more forgiving to my tender pedal extremities and would also allow them to breathe. How wrong I was, terrible damage to the edges of my little toes and many a toe-knuckle quickly followed this brief flirtation with fashion. I am left chastened, with a mild limp, and a new found respect for the humble sock and its important role in my life. I’m not saying I will rush out and buy a darning mushroom, but never again will a mock a sock. Huzzah for hosiery!