Last night I went to the Royal Festival Hall to listen to the incessant jabbering of my stream-of-semi-consciousness against a background of the Philharmonia Orchestra playing Berlioz’s ‘Symphonie Fantastique’ : look at the people- two and half thousand of them- all sitting in this one box, nobody coughing, everybody successfully containing themselves; visualise body surfing over the silver-haired appreciators or shouting out a manifesto that is filmed by a co-conspirator and broadcast on youtube; imagine this happening in venues all over London, executed in synchronicity; salivate over the publicity but conclude that everybody would hate whatever you had to say coz you said it rudely in the middle of their night out so you would have shot your own campaign in the foot; look at the musicians, having individually fought their way through streets of crime on an innocent mission, smugly lugging their instruments, converging on this time and place, enjoying their black clothes and dangly earrings and smart socks, knowing the notes, feeling confident they won’t do a bum one; think of all the flacid cocks in the slacks of the men and the frozen shepherd pie portions in the freezers of the pea-green and coral-sweatered women; wonder when a Royal last sat in their box in their eponymous Hall; wonder if they felt like Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons, when everyone turns to look at her with scorn; wonder if there is an energy in that empty box and if there is what it feels like; look at the conductor, with a body language all his own, the jerks and smooth trajectory of his arms; imagine him putting on his shirt, his fears, his investments for retirement; wonder what his wife thinks of him, what she’s doing now; marvel that people can be bothered to go out, that old people aren’t scared of Embankment tube, that some people aren’t old at all but young and dismissive of X-factor; acknowledge my out-dated ageism; consider the difference between the way classical and popular music is engaged with- one private and serious-minded, one provocative and vivid; think of the irony of quiet souls absorbing the creation of a composer brimful of opium, elsewhere e’d-up dancers freaking out to the tunes of a sober club d.j; question if classical composers used samples of each other’s music; imagine them writing it in cliched, candle-lit rooms, with leeches on their backs; imagine this performance sampling contemporary songs hidden in the symphony; wonder if this might be funny for an ad or a comedy; consider branches of this idea- rap artists in symphony seats, behaving themselves, a symphony of conductors directing a sole musician on the podium; picture Mark Zuckerberg; wonder if the violinists enjoy the plucking bits; hear a theme in the music that’s beautiful, that makes sense; feel proud of myself that I can enjoy the culture of intellects; realise I’m not concentrating; feel shallow; notice a swell in the music; feel moved; allow emotions; well up with tears about Sad Things; want some more wine; contemplate carnal pleasures in Festival bathrooms; try to come up with something interesting to think about the Central Bar Area; make a game-plan for returning chewing gum quietly to its wrapper; consider if other people would find it distasteful if I tapped notes into my phone, how much hatred they would summon, even if I held the handset low, because clearly I was a heathen and had no manners and was a bit common; worry about my new tooth and if it will continue to feel it’s not welcome, like my mouth is The Other; wonder if the person behind me has an opinion about the back of my head; try to make one about the person’s in front of me; ask if the people in the black and white boxes have season tickets, if they are thinking other things, if they are leaning forward because they’re so engrossed or because their seats encourage them to do so, either by the way they are designed or by the way they are overlooked or by both but not necessarily in equal measures, even if you could quantify such a thing and whether there would be any advantage in doing this anyway; and why we’re all benefiting from looking at musicians when its the sounds they are creating by instructing their arms to make movements, that we want to hear; feel happy for the musicians that they haven’t lost their arms; wonder if they hate the lead violinist or if they want him and who’s winking at whom over a Rich Tea biscuit after the performance; wonder if the violinist thinks he’s special, wants extra biscuits, wants his tea just so; wish I could see his features; remember my lost specs are why I can’t; enjoy looking at the harps, seeing angels at them; run through mental archives of Elbow playing here, so much admiration in the space, for the lead singer, the clear acoustic quality of his voice; start to clap and hear someone do that appreciative shouting thing at the end and feel glad to be a part of that whoop.
Tag Archives: Glenn Close
Modern funfairs are the best places on earth.
Their greedy consumerism, hedonism and unbridled tackiness make them everything that’s wrong with contemporary society packed into two hours of perfection: Las Vegas in your local park.
They promise a clutch of key activities whose purpose is not-to-be-sneezed-at pure joy:
Eating trashy food
Fat, carbs and sugar are the very fuel of high-adrenalin adventure.
This (rather than lack of alternatives) is the real reason that it is virtually a legal requirement to eat a burger and candy floss at a funfair and why low nutrition/high calorie quibbles are bogus.
Not the sort that involves paying the mortgage or meeting the in-laws but wrought from one’s willful engagement in a potentially-life threatening situation that will probably turn out all right.
Nausea induced from being pregnant or drinking too much alcohol isn’t nearly as re-generative.
Being a kid
The thrill of being bumped; swallowing your heart; losing your shoe; feeling dizzy; waiting your turn; being clicked into your seat; squeezing hands with your friend; and shouting ‘Faster’.
Immediately! Because I want to! Because it’s fun!
Getting an outside seat on the flying chairs
Blameless breeze-through-the-hair-head-spinning-legs-dangling-high-decibel-Beyonce-belting escapism.
Traditional funfairs, meanwhile, are the most depressing places on earth.
Steeped in a nostalgia designed to remind one of violent modern times, everywhere you turn a desperate tableau plays out: the girl in the rain collecting up the coconuts; the bored juvenile tea-cup guy sucking on a rolly; the gigantic wooden helter skelter spurned by the computer generation.
They resonate with the memory of weeping because they are the chosen venues of a particular set of tragedies:
The first dates of doomed relationships
The promise of shared frivolity, childish pleasures and spontaneous laughter against a backdrop of noisy distraction make cutesy fairs the ideal choice for nervous would-be lovers.
Unfortunately, a relationship that begins with a giant stuffed animal and candy floss can only go downhill.
Escorting a child at dusk to a large field filled with loud moving objects and hundreds of other children negates the necessity to dress them in a t-shirt that reads, ‘Take me away with you’.
Unless you have recently had an affair with Glenn Close who will save you even more trouble by accompanying them herself.
Extraordinarily enough, suspended lumps of metal, repeatedly stressed by gravity-defying trajectories, operated by 14-yr olds Facebooking on their mobiles, occasionally break.
The moment joyful screams bathed in upbeat music become the strangulated shrieks of a mutilated reveller is one a career fairground worker both dreads and secretly hopes for.
The onset of tinnitus/madness/homicidal tendencies in the merry-go-round operator.
If the incessant spinning, bobbing horses and goofy waving of riders at sappy by-standers don’t turn a person’s mind over time, the looped wurlitzer music will finish the job.
‘They say you garotted your parents with fake leather reigns?’
‘Yes, your Honour. I work the carousel.’
The most frequently occurring tragedy of all and the hardest from which to recover: scared on the flying seats, unlucky on a broken chair-o-plane; sick on the ferrus wheel; squashed on the Waltzer; unsuccessful at the shooting range.
With a cricked dodgems neck, ketchup down the t-shirt and an ice-cream on the grass.
Long live T.V.