Posted by Tania Kindersley.
If you can get the BBC iPlayer, and you have a little time on your hands, and you would like to put a big, fat smile on your face, go and have a look at the Last Night of the Proms, here.
I used to go to the Proms, a hundred years ago; a very splendid old gentleman kindly took me. I still remember the first time I ever heard a piano concerto for two pianos, right there in the Albert Hall, at the age of fifteen. I also had the outrageous fortune to see Murray Perehia play Mozart, and once heard a crazy performance of the Saint-Saëns organ concerto featuring the magnificent Albert Hall organ.
But the Last Night? I know; pictures of little England at its most little English. I like a good rendition of Jerusalem as much as the next girl, but there are limits. I only went along to the iPlayer this time because Fraser Nelson had an interesting article about the whole thing in the Speccie. He was struck by the flags. Of course there was a great deal of Union flag waving, but there were also flags from Japan, Ireland, Australia, Sweden, and many other countries I could not identify. The conductor was Czech, the viola soloist Ukrainian, the music composed by Russians and Germans. Rule Britannia was sung, without irony, by a charming American soprano. I suddenly realised: it is very English, but it is not little; it is the world in one Victorian hall.
The thing is very long. I did actually watch the whole three hours, whilst pottering in my office. If you want to understand the British, go to the last thirty-five minutes of the second half. Look at the good humour and honest enthusiasm of the promenaders; look at the gentle eccentricity and happy faces; see how they patiently stand all night. In true national tradition, they will have patiently queued for hours before that.
We are a tired island, just now. We no longer rule the waves. As the last chief secretary to the Treasury wrote, in his farewell note, there is no money left. But my God, we can still gather in halls and parks and sing Land of Hope and Glory. We are rather more hope than glory, nowadays, and perhaps that is as it should be. In my more fanciful moments, I think that as long as there are fellows who dress up as Spitfire pilots and sing along to Elgar, we may yet rally. It is not so much in great majesty but in small, human absurdities that our loveliness lies.
In other news:
There are days when the internets seem full of sadness and madness, but then there are days like today when they are filled with delight. Here is what my eye has just fallen upon:
Via the always enchanting Miss Whistle.
I wish I could remember how I find all the blogs I find. Some are passed on through blogrolls, some recommended by word of mouth, some sent through the email, some discovered through a random search. I have no idea how I stumbled upon A Beautiful Revolution, but I am terribly glad I did. Here are some of Andre Jordan's cartoons that made me laugh this morning:
One more thought, on the solid gold glory of old friends:
I called my dear friend P this morning, on a whim. We had not spoken in a while. He was mildly disconsolate. We had a bit of a Creative moan at each other. I shall not bore you with the details; it is the same conversation that all people who attempt to earn their living in the arts have whenever two or more are gathered together. But the absolutely lovely thing was that by the end of the conversation we had come up with two rather thrilling ideas. From low level gloom we went to Possible Projects. We always want to work together and now perhaps we shall. 'I'll call my agent,' I said, suddenly fired with purpose. We have known each other since we were foolish young things in our first term at university. Years ago, he said to me: 'If we stick together, we can do anything.' As I put down the receiver, I thought: yes, we damn well can. Another of my old friends divides people into Drainers and Radiators. P is a radiator, even when he is slightly pissed off. I love him very much for that.
Speaking of radiators, I cannot leave you without the now traditional glimpse of these ones. I believe they are contemplating something very profound, possibly to do with squirrels:
PS. Wonderful comments yesterday, thank you. So glad I am not alone with the perfection genie.