It’s not King Lear…

I am fully aware that I have a rather pedestrian intellect and have access to no great wellsprings of creativity that lie within but, I think in common with everyone else, do like to have some creative outlets in my life. This has become even more important over the last pandemic-ridden months while proving simultaneously harder to accomplish thanks to the depletion of various forms of get-up-and-go and, indeed, focus. Despite the time on my hands, I have (disappointingly) not become a concert pianist and, if anything, my level of practice has probably declined rather than improved.

I haven’t exactly swamped GofaDM with new content either. However, on the positive side of the slate, in most weeks I have prepared, or at least continued, a new adventure in Generic Fantasy Landia which does require a degree of planning, plotting, improvisation and the creation of artwork of varying quality and styles. Last weekend, I did find myself attempting to sketch my own torso as the model for a statue and, to be honest, I had not turned turned the heating sufficiently high enough to make this entirely comfortable. Still, I like to think the result was recognisably a torso, though not really mine, though it did (intentionally) have two necks and no nipples. Later, during our time in GFL, I did find I was striking myself repeatedly over the head with a very sharp 8.25″ cook’s knife protected only by my Akubra Stockman’s hat. This was not a cry for help, or a slightly odd failed suicide, but was rather a practical demonstration of the quality of my decision making as Dungeon Master. With hindsight, I was placing a lot of (entirely justified, as it transpired) faith in the protective quality of my millinery. Both I and my hat were entirely unharmed by this practical demonstration and if Akubra wish to add its protective qualities to their advertising, I do have a GIF which they can use for a very modest fee…

I have now massively over-written six quizzes for a weekly Quiz Pub that a bunch of friends and I have been holding since the first lockdown. We have just passed quiz number 42, which I think shows a degree of commitment to a project, and an increasing number of memes have been spawned over the months. My ability with PowerPoint has also improved significantly, which may prove to be a marketable skill at some future stage in my career…

Finally, in the annals of “hasn’t he achieved a lot”, I put together a menu for a remote, Zoom-based dinner party each month with Quaranstein 10 coming up in 10 days time. Given the timing, it will have a Scottish theme…

Despite the suggestions at the start of the first lockdown, I have not written the modern King Lear – though I am far from alone in this particular failure. However, between Christmas and New Year, when I had limited paid work and, thanks to insomnia, a lot of waking hours on my hands, I penned a play! I may not be the modern Shakespeare but am, perhaps, an Ernie Wise de nos jours: my legs are not especially short or fat but they are at least decently hairy.

One of the (many) things that I have missed at the turning of the year was being able to see one (or even a few) Mummers Plays and so I decided that I would write my own. I felt this would represent tangible progress towards my intent to write my own pantomime, which has otherwise seen no movement in nearly three decades now. I felt a Mummers Play had some of the panto vibe but with the benefit of being considerably shorter and without the need for musical numbers or celebrity casting. The Mummers Play what I wrote is rooted in the tradition but does take a few liberties and is rather more overtly topical and satirical than I think is usual.

This Monday it was my turn to set the quiz, and in place of the usual Music Round (where I sight-read an unfamiliar piece of well-known music and play it on an unfamiliar or poorly practiced instrument to a combination of hilarity and horror), I decided we would hold a performance of “the play”. Everyone was forewarned of this alarming development and volunteers sought to play some of the dramatis personae. Well, as 9pm on Plough Monday arrived an unexpectedly (worryingly) large audience had assembled in the mighty Zoom Theatre and it was time for the, entirely unrehearsed (one doesn’t want to lose any of the immediacy of live performance) world premiere of my play.

The performance both went and was received far better than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. The cast of strolling players were excellent, all entering into the spirit of the thing and many providing their own props and costume and even providing suitable voices. As the writer, I played three (mostly) small roles and more-or-less managed the required costume changes, though rather more slowly than would have been ideal, and I do need to work on a south Manchester accent. Even the audience had a role, as my version of a Mummers Play includes a Greek Chorus (and obeyed at least two of the three unities) and so they had a chance to join (another nod to panto). Between us, and despite a minor degree of chaos at my end, we brought my words to ridiculous, uproarious, joyous life.

So far as I can remember, this is the first time that anything I’ve written has been performed on even a virtual stage: at most, I’ve read out a short eulogy or speech I’ve prepared in advance. The combination of a group of people bringing my idiot words to life and an appreciative audience is a seriously intoxicating one. I think it is the most fun I have yet had on Zoom – and I have managed a surprisingly large amount of fun on Zoom over the last 10 months – and I stayed on a high for several hours afterwards. It did play merry hell with my sleep hygiene but was absolutely worth it! I am now seriously on the look-out for an excuse/subject for another short, somewhat comic play: though that will be the difficult sophomore play, people will now have expectations…

As the play was such a success, I thought I should publish it here – while recognising that it should (a) date quite quickly and (b) mean very little to anyone outside the UK (and probably to many within it!). Indeed, it went so well, that we are going to try and record a version for posterity (or future blackmail material).

Anyway, after not too much more than 1000 words of ado, GofaDM proudly presents the play what I wrote…

The Plague’s the Thing…

Dramatis Personae

CharacterInspiration (where relevant)
Old Father Christmas
“Prince” GeorgeBoris Johnson
The ExpertScientists
Pestilence
FamineJacob Rees Mogg
Death
The Slithy GoveMichael Gove
The DoctorDominic Cummings
The StrikerMarcus Rashford
The TurkUgur Sahin und Özlem Türeci
The CroniesA Greek Chorus of the Profiteers

Play Text

Enter Old Father Christmas...

Old Father Christmas:
In comes I, Old Father Christmas; Welcome or welcome not,
I 'ope old Father Christmas will ne’er be forgot.
'Ere but a short time to stay,
I'll show you sport and larks afore I must away.
A tale of deeds most dark that do afflict the land.
Corruption in the highest ranks soon you’ll understand.
As our players do strut and fret: behold here comes the first buffoon...
Now immorality will be exposed on this, our virtual stage, praise be to Zoom!

Enter “Prince” George...

“Prince” George
In comes I, Prince George, from England I claim to spring
Though I be a clown, with lasses I’ve had many a fling.
Children I’ve sired, ask me not to make a count.
I’m no good with detail, and don’t know the exact amount.
For naught but my own ambition will I be seen to care.
If trouble be sighted, you’ll find me in the frigidaire.!

Enter The Expert…

The Expert
In comes I, the Expert, a seeker after truth and fact
Against those that spread cant and lies will I react.
With reasoned argument I’ll share the science
A method in which all folk can place reliance.

“Prince” George
Be gone! Your expertise is not welcome in my demesne.
The sheep must accept my words, even when they sound insane.

The Expert
My honour will not allow me to quit this fray.
Do your worst; the truth must see the light of day!

The Cronies
See Prince George strap on his mighty shield of bluster
Though his sword be sharp his thrusts lack lustre.
But the Expert has no weapon but his pipette
We fear the knavish fool may slay him yet…

Prince George and the Expert fight; the Expert is killed…

Old Father Christmas
You have slain expertise, does this not your conscience prick?

“Prince” George
Ha! Not a bit! Their insistence on logic and facts made me sick!
My pie-crust promises I no longer needs defend nor discuss,
Just command them to be writ large on the sides of a bus!

Prince George exits…
Pestilence, Death and Famine enter and menace the audience….

Pestilence
In comes I, Pestilence, my fell gifts to share,
Wherever two or more are gathered, I too am there

Death
In comes I, the Reaper Grim
My harvest now I’ll gather in!
In this charnel house I’ll set up shop,
I see no-one here to make me stop.

Famine
With jobs and savings lost, the children starve
But I am famine and this makes me laugh!
So many holes in the safety net:
Loren ipsum dolor sit amet.

Prince George returns…

“Prince” George
Come to me o’ slithy Gove, cease your gyring in that wabe.

The Slithy Gove
[whispers to audience] In come I, the slithy Gove, I smarm to your face and do your lab-
ours but to slip this dagger into your back is my true desire
[to the Prince] What is your bidding, most sagacious sire?

“Prince” George
Despite my efforts, we have but horsemen three.
How might I complete the set? Fetch thee War for me!

The Slithy Gove
Gunboats to the channel I’ll now dispatch.
No European shall share our fishy catch!

The Cronies
Prince George, you kingdom is in disarray
The dead stack up like cordwood, have you naught to say?

“Prince” George
My policies have but sped them on their way,
With pre-existing conditions, they already stood in Death’s foyer.
These many dead are but of the common herd,
Their sacrifice will deliver immunity: you have my word!

The Cronies
He offers us his word, the Prince of Lies
With confused, half-cocked rulings he stupifies.

We fear for our fortunes as the economy tanks...

“Prince” George
Here, have a billion!  More will follow, no need for thanks…

Pestilence places his hand upon Prince George’s shoulder…

Suddenly, I feel mighty queer!  *cough* *cough* *cough*
I am a great Prince, or did you not hear?

Pestilence
I care not for mortal titles, your lies, your fakèd news
I shall stake my claim upon whom soe’er I choose!

“Prince” George
My cough is dry, all scents have gone.
I have no time for indisposition,
Summon now my crack physician!

The Slithy Gove
Your quack, o Prince, is purblind and in haste hies he to County Durham.
You must isolate alone, ‘til his return bearing some curative nostrum.

The Cronies
O great nation, rudderless with its shoy-hoy leader struck down:
Or perhaps ‘tis better off in the absence of the scruffy clown?

Enter the Doctor in great haste…

The Doctor
In comes I, Doctor Dom: famed for my goings and my cummings.
Be not afraid, I’ll soon return you to your Tweedledumming!

The Cronies
What can you cure, Doctor?

The Doctor
I can fix scrofula, dropsy, palsy and gout,
Galloping knob-rot I’ll soon root out!
Apoplexy, ague and gripe:
Each can I swiftly put to flight!

The Cronies
What is your fee, Doctor?

The Doctor
Ten pounds is all, praise be to the NHS our great protector.

Sorry, I had forgotten that you were a private patient
But at ten thousand pounds, for speedy service, the cost is not imprudent.

“Prince” George
OK, OK, a grateful nation will pay whate’er you will.
Just, I beg you, exercise now your skill!

The Doctor
Swallow first this pill, ‘tis but six inches across.
It kills 99% of germs, just like Domestos.
Then place these drops against your lips
Every night afore ye kips.
In a mere two weeks of this regime you’ll find
Rude good health restored and peace of mind!

If you’ll now pay my fee, I must away:
Many more opticians must I visit this day!

The Doctor exits, clutching his cash and smirking…

The Cronies
All seems lost, the country is in a parlous state.
Our millions may not save us, who’ll come to our aid?

Enter the Striker and the Turk...

The Striker
In comes I, the Striker, my skill with boots and ball has made me rich.
But I come of humble stock, when young with hunger did my belly often itch.
Come nation, unite! Throw off the chains of Mammon!
If we all pull together we can soon rout Famine!

Famine
Argh! Those with little, spend even that to feed the poor.
Even weakened Hospitality shows me the door!
I am mastered and now must flee this forum:
Infinitus est numerus stultorum!

Famine flees before the Striker and his allies…

The Turk
In comes I, the Turk, founder of Biontech
The plans of Pestilence soon I’ll wreck!

Pestilence
Not so fast, I am not finished yet! 
See, my R number rises: I am still a threat!

The Turk
We now have all we need for your defeat.
We need but time and our victory is complete!
We must follow science to complete your doom.
Then all can celebrate together, in the flesh, no need of Zoom!

The Striker and the Turk approach the fallen Expert…

Old Father Christmas
See, the death of Expertise is exaggerate.
He doth but sleep and for this time didst wait.
Rise now and take your rightful place,
We need your wisdom as to vaccinate we race!

As the Expert rises, Death and Pestilence retreat...

The Expert
As from cumbrous death I rise, I find a world transformed.
While some will always peddle lies, the people seek the well-informed!

Old Father Christmas
Remember, gentles all, that Pestilence spreads on the air,
Drafts and distance our are allies here.
If for some more months we steadfast stay,
With summer’s lease will come much freer days!

"Prince" George returns...

“Prince” George
Be gone, old fool, your hopes still languish far away
My confederacy of dunces still holds sway.
I’ve cancelled Christmas at the 11th hour;
Mendacity and incompetence will rule while I still hold power!

Old Father Christmas
Methinks I hear a final gust of wind from that buffoon
His support is melting and, like a snowman, he will join it soon!

Be of good cheer, for our tale now all is told!
Applaud our players, whose skills at acting are manifold!

Now is time to wave adieu to bright showbiz!
Now return we all to the sodding Quiz!

© MMXXI

Harried

Last week, I attended a sort of interview which I have to admit I rather enjoyed.  This was partly down to the very fine (and free!) glass of Portuguese red wine on offer – a Brigando – but mostly down to meeting and interacting with my fellow interviewees.  Whatever the outcome of the process and my uncertain desires related thereto, I am already a winner.

One of the only three formal questions I was asked was “What community(ies) did I belong to?”.  I am always puzzled when people are introduced – generally in the current affairs output of the media – as a representative of a particular community.  I barely (and usually poorly) represent the community of one that is myself, let alone any wider grouping of humanity.  Today’s world seems, so often, to actively work to prevent the formation of communities other than the weird caricatures that find the darkest and most extreme elements of their participants and amplify them, like a Gerald Scarfe cartoon of the psyche. You will never – well, hardly ever – find such attempts to appeal to the baser side of human nature on GofaDM given that it rarely interacts directly with normal human experience at all but merely indulges its author’s rampant egomania.

It struck me that, given that I knew no-one in the city when I moved here a little more than five years ago, the communities to which I belong are those I have met when I left the comparatively safe space of my flat and with the exception of work (which lies on the far side of the Irish Sea) and the general errands of life, these have all been broadly cultural in nature.  My communities are the musical, theatrical and related scenes in the city – plus a decent pub or two (and if a decent pub isn’t culture and worth preserving, I don’t know what is!).

This post will use the title (interpreted very broadly) to draw together two musical offerings from very different vertices of whichever highly irregular polygon (or polyhedron) forms the current envelope of my Aoidean¹ life and which I have had the good fortune to enjoy in the last few days.

Generally, I don’t think of myself as a fan of musical theatre – though, as established above, I am not a good representative of my own views or tastes.  So, it was with a degree of trepidation that I went to see Six on Friday – still, it was very well reviewed and at only 75 minutes long my suffering would be mercifully brief.  My worries were entirely unfounded as it provided some of the best and most entertaining minutes I have ever spent in a theatre.  It was a veritable explosion of light, song, dance and music and some actual history: trying to unearth something of the real woman entombed beneath the ‘divorced, beheaded, died’ rhyme. It was wildly entertaining and was incredibly cleverly constructed: each wife partly fashioned through her voice, dance moves and musical style as well as her story.  And the lyrics, oh the lyrics!  There was some truly glorious use (and abuse) of the English language in their construction: phrases and rhymes I wish I had come up with (or had even the slightest chance of coming up with).  I was struck, watching the action, that old Harry 8 did seem to have something for girls called Kate (as you can see, little hope for me as a lyricist).

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The Standing O was never in real doubt!

It was also a joy to see an all female production, with a live band, and where – at least in this fictional setting – real women were able to show they had a life which was not just as adjunct to their common husband and even allowed them to reclaim some sisterhood.   Given the huge part of our historical education (both formal and otherwise), in the space not consumed by the Nazis, that is taken by the Tudors it is sad how little I knew about any of the six after Anne Boleyn: and I have an interest in history.  So, my evening of fun was even educational!  I wonder if there are wider lessons for the teaching of history: out with David Starkey and in with empowered women singing and dancing their way through the 16th century…

If you thought the previous night out was somewhat tangentially linked to the title, buckle up for my tales of Wednesday night! This had been programmed into my diary the instant I found out about it, as the Out-take Ensemble are one of the best things about living in Southampton (even if several of them now commute from Bristol – and beyond – and one of them seems to have “gone native”).  They have introduced me to whole new and strange wings to the palace of music that I had never previously imagined might exist.  They bear a heavy weight of responsibility for my heading to Leith during this year’s Edinburgh Festival to see something from the proper (adult) festival’s contemporary music strand – the first time in my 15ish years of going to the festival that this has happened.  I had a ball watching and listening to Anna Meredith’s Varmints in the Leith Theatre.  It is always a good night when the composer is on stage dressed in a silver cape (though there could be public health issues were J S Bach were to attempt it: I’ve seen his work re-composed but decomposed might be step too far) and the orchestra joined her in unusual metallically-garbed splendour: such a pleasant change from the usual monochrome formality of an orchestra.  Perhaps the wider classical music world should try it?  I will admit that the rather strong aroma of canine excrement that pervaded the streets of Leith as I waited for my bus home was not what the Proclaimers had led me to expect, but was only a very tiny fly and the vast ocean of ointment that was my evening out.

Wednesday night’s wide range of experimental offerings did not disappoint. The evening started with Carolyn Chen’s Adagio – where the audience do not get to hear any music at all, though the performers can hear excerpt(s) from Bruckner’s 7th.  The emotional heft of this is delivered through the facial expressions of the three players who somehow managed to do this without corpsing (a feat not achieved by many in the audience).  Oh to have been a fly-on-the-wall during rehearsals!  This piece must count as performance art as much as (or more than) music and I highly recommend image-searching the “score” (as I just have).

Appropriately, the second piece was Alex Glyde-BatesTropography which begins as a multi-sensory diptych between spliced-together close-ups of an actress playing Jean d’Arc in a silent movie (and who I feel could have done good work with Adagio) and a virtuoso violin player.  Later the piece becomes a triptych as human non-verbal vocalisations are played in: ranging from a singe baby to a whole crowd, perhaps at a sporting event.  The emotion from Jean, the violin and the vocalisations sometimes came together in synaesthetic harmony and at other times their conflict produced feelings of full or partial disc(h)ord.  I find myself wondering if a third sense could have been brought into play but recognise this would be tricky: perhaps a sequence of timed snacks (there was a large tin of Quality Street available) or a cunningly constructed multi-flavoured gob-stopper?

Ben Oliver’s BmB – I will reveal that the ‘m’ stands for ‘means’ and the two B’s refer to the same neologism, one with which I will not sully this blog (there should remain at least one refuge) – would count as a more conventional piece (but only relatively speaking) scored for the whole ensemble and electronics.  It was written in response to the work of Thomas Tallis and, in particular, his 21 year monopoly on the publishing of polyphonic music in England by Harry 8’s daughter, Liz (1).

Embarrassingly, I have forgotten both the name and composer of the next piece for tuba and electronics.  I recall that it was an unusually long, effectively-solo piece for the tuba and involved a lot of aspiration and some notes of startling depth: certainly any risk of shipping striking the venue were significantly reduced though any passing cetaceans might have been tempted to join the audience.

Harry Matthewsactively listening to me brought out – not for the first time in experimental music I’ve seen – the element of “play” in the word “player”.  While there is a score, the players working/competing in pairs can take the piece in many possible directions.  I’m assuming that no two performances will ever be the same but that each is always a conversation between each instrument pairing.  I love that music can bring this element of play into performance but in such a different way to jazz improvisation.  I’ll admit that I’m not sure who the “winner” was in each pair and we did not get to see the final itself (or perhaps they play both home and away legs?).

As a contrarian, I’ve chosen images where the only Harry is on the score…

The final piece was commissioned by the Ensemble from a female Australian composer (once again the name of both the composer and piece – which was something like fade to hum – is lost beyond ready recall in the grey mush between my ears) and scored for keyboard, electric guitar, rocks – so I guess it counts as rock music – and voice: both humming and, briefly, speaking.  The unfolding of the piece clearly depended on the players’ heart rates at times and at others felt conversational.  I wonder if the spoken word elements – which provided added appeal for both dog-lovers and plumbers – were part of the score or were brought by the players from their own lives.

As always with the Out-take Ensemble, the barrage of ideas for what music can or could be just fills the brain with exciting possibilities and ways to think: while, as it transpires, entirely erasing important details about what was actually performed!  I may need to take notes, in at least one more sense than was the case.  I want to hear/see it all again as I now have a feel for the whole shape of each piece, I will experience the elements and details of each piece differently.  This is the annoying thing about so much new and experimental music: there tend to be few (if any) recordings available to indulge my inner Teletubby, “Again! Again!”.  I have found that YouTube is sometimes our friend (if we have managed to retain a few key facts about the piece) though the small screen of my laptop is not the ideal medium from which to digest such big ideas.

For those of you lucky enough to be in London on Tuesday night, rather than languishing, like the author, in the cultural desert of Terminal 1 of Dublin Airport, there is a chance to catch many of the pieces – and some others – at the Harrison near Kings Cross.  This is going to be a rather intimate space in which to fit the ensemble, their instruments, varied electronica and an audience – so it should be worth going just to see if they can manage it!

Two nights out, less than 48 hours apart, both involving a Harry (one physically present and with, I presume, a less problematic romantic history) showing that even after all the long millenia of human music making there is still new and fun territory to explore: long may it continue!

¹  It is possible that I have invented this word, but it follows all the rules of the language in which I am operating and I’m leaving it in!

Back to the bean bag

Last Saturday, I once again visited London – missing out on further opening festivities at Studio 144 (my persistent inability to be in two places at once is growing increasingly frustrating) – for the second time in this, the briefest of months.  Needless to say, there were Southampton connections to all of my planned activities – along with the usual seeking out of novelty to bring you, dear readers, (slightly less un)original content.

The first reason to head to the capital was to see Angry! at the Southwark Playhouse, which was directed by a friend.  This has proved a rather tricky beast to describe and it has taken me a full week to arrange my thoughts into a usable (and shareable) order.  To start with, it is not a single play or narrative but rather six individual, gender-neutral playlets of varying length and tone.  The are two actors – Georgie and Tyrone – one female, one male; one white, one black.  After the thumping opening music has boosted a chap’s heat rate to dangerously high levels, they appear together (for the only time) confronting each other.  Thereafter, they take alternate playlets: for my performance Georgie starred in 1, 3 & 5 and Tyrone in 2,4 and 6 but this alternates from performance to performance.  While the playlets are written to be gender neutral, we the audience bring a whole cruise ship’s worth of personal, historical and societal baggage which means that the specific actor appearing in each has an impact on one’s emotional response.  This is particularly strong in 1, where for me the confrontation was around the male gaze – and my insecurity about never having seen the film Bambi – but which would have been quite different with Tyrone on stage.

My feeling is that the first three playlets are (or could be) set in the real world whereas the last three are set in a counter-factual or fantastical world – and it is (just) possible that they share a common world.  Playlets 2 and 4 are brief and tend to the comic, albeit darkly comic for playlet 4.  Playlet 5 has the feel of a dream where each time the protagonist re-examines the light, it changes and with it the whole scene changes (my mind was probably alone in wandering towards Bagpuss).  Playlets 3 and 6 are the longest and have the strongest narrative element.  Playlet 6 is particularly heart-rending – and most obviously speaks to current world events – and because of its powerful, emotional charge, along the fact that it comes last and I’m human (unless and until you can prove otherwise), represented the majority of the impression which I was left with when the play finished.

The staging is relatively simple, with interesting use of lighting – which I am convinced showed shooting stars at one point (or I may have imagined that).  The acting was strong and powerful.  Embarrassingly, I don’t know enough about direction to comment on it – but it certainly seemed to work well with the staging in the round.

Even now, I am still trying to decide whether there were any links or common themes between the playlets, but I am starting to be convinced that there weren’t.  This made the play an odd experience with dramatic shifts in tone, but without any obvious reasons for them beyond that we are now in the next playlet in the anthology.  Each playlet was very dense with language and so there was something of the poetry collection about the whole piece.  Given how much thought it has forced me to devote to it over the past week and the range of emotional responses the playlets generated in me, I cannot deny that it was a very powerful – sometimes distressing – 90 minutes and I am really glad I went: something which I might not have done without the personal connection.  However, I can understand the mixed reactions it has received.

The rest of my day was less challenging emotionally as I raced up to King’s Place to catch a pair of concerts staged by the hang player (and percussionist) Manu Delago (who I first saw at the Turner Sims in Southampton) and some of his friends.  These were both beautiful, evocative sessions falling into a space somewhere between jazz, modern classical and experimental music.  The second was in the glorious space of Hall 1 with a very conventional concert layout.  I think Hall 1 at King’s Place may be my favourite venue for chamber music – having wrested that crown form the City Recital Hall in Sydney (and being a lot more geographically convenient).

However, the first concert – Inside a Human Clock – was a single piece lasting exactly an hour (OK, 59 minutes and 48 seconds – but it does show what good time professional musicians can keep, in marked contrast to the author) and was staged very differently.  The audience sat in concentric circles in the middle and the musicians (or most of them) moved around the outside of the circle.  For some of the participants, this was quite a long walk – or so I thought, until I remembered that Manu quite often drags his friends up an Alp (on foot, with their instruments) to perform, so it probably felt like an easy option.  Within the circle of chairs was a huge pile of bean bags which the audience were also encouraged to recline on during the concert: sadly, no-one was offering peeled grapes…

I was only the second arrival and the staff manning the hall must have seen something in my eye or demeanour that suggested that I might be “up for it”.  I shall continue to insist (until my dying day) that they encouraged me to hurl myself, with wild abandon, into the pile of bean bags: it was not, repeat not, my idea!  As you might imagine, I was all too easily led astray and can assure you that my leap into the pulse-filled unknown was just as much fun as you would imagine.  The only slight downside was I then found myself slightly trapped in a sea of beanbags and only through wild flailing was able to free myself – or at least regain a somewhat upright posture.  Clearly, I spent the actual performance reclining on a great mound of bean bags like one of the more debauched Roman emperors (no horses were harmed in the making of this post).  Eventually, a few others joined me in my bean-bagged splendour: I am nothing if not a trend-setter (so, very much a void).  The concert itself was a really unusual and enjoyable experience, and captured something beautiful in the idea of clocks and the passage of time.  It was possible one of the rare occasions I came close to mindfulness, rather than just being full of mind as it my normal state.  I loved the format of the gig but can see that it would be difficult to practically perform a work requiring a full orchestra: while double-basses did circle us slowly, I think  a harp, celesta or the timpani would have struggled (then again, we do have casters).

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Heliogabalus reborn?  He certainly has all the selfie-taking ability of an ancient Roman…

Needless to day, I now believe all concerts should be savoured while reclining on a sea (or at least small lake) of bean bags – science just needs to come up with the silent bean (it already has the musical bean covered: both in the wind and percussion sections of the orchestra) – and am seriously considering replacing all my chairs at home with beanbags.  Future visitors chez moi, you have been warned!