Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A is for Agnetha

I've just been to see Mahler 5 performed at the Albert Hall, and I feel incredibly privileged to have been in the audience. I went as the guest of Ellie, and we had superb seats. The orchestra was American, which means loud, bright, hard-core, deeply exciting brass playing. Mahler 5 features the Death In Venice sequence, which is possibly one of the most beautiful symphonic movements of all time, ending with one of the longest suspensions!  The famous section is performed by just  strings and by the end, as the tears were dripping down my cheeks, I began to wonder whether there was ANY point in woodwind instruments at all! All those blonde, vapid women had to sit there holding their flutes, looking a bit bored, wishing they were anywhere else in the orchestra. Ha! 

The joy about the Albert Hall is that you can spend hours looking at the scenery; those fantastic golden organ pipes stretching into the heavens, the funny little mushrooms hanging from the ceiling, the statue of Henry Wood proudly watching, silently conducting... 

Ellie announced, to my great surprise, that she is the owner of a very important archive of photographs taken by her Uncle Chris during prom concerts in the 1960s and 70s. Amongst them is an astonishing photograph of Jacqueline du Pre, which I've told her she must have copied for her sitting room wall. Obviously if you're having one done, you might as well get two, and I've told her about a very worthy Highgate-based du Pre-loving charity. I could hang it  next to my photograph of Lorca!

I'm in a bit of a haze today. Last night ended up being a late one. Fiona's party featured the best cupcakes in London, probably the best wedges of camembert coated in breadcrumbs in the capital, and a grand total of six former pupils of the Northamptonshire music school, who it was just fabulous to hang out with.

We went back to Highgate with John Grant and listened to ABBA for three whole hours before watching the ABBA in Japan special that Matt Lucas lent me last year. It was pure heaven.

350 years, and one day ago, Pepys waved goodbye to his mother and sister-cum-servant, Pall, both of whom were being banished to the country, by all accounts for being stupid... and women.

In the afternoon, Elizabeth and Pepys went to his Uncle Fenner's house and en route they bumped into a French footman "with feathers" who'd apparently been searching for Elizabeth and wanted to meet her the following day. Pepys was, understandably, suspicious. You marry a French woman, and get France thrown in! 

Uncle Fenner's house was filled to the rafters with Pepys' relatives, and, unsurprisingly, the mother of all family rows broke out, which saw Pepys seething his way back to Seething Lane!

A day later, Elizabeth went to visit the French footman. Pepys still had no idea why, and he became increasingly jealous throughout the day.

He went to see his Aunt Kite, who was on her death bed, and wanted Pepys to act as executor for her will. He used his diary to make a note of her wishes, so that he could whip it out if challenged! 

When Pepys finally got home, having dodged rain showers in various theatres and pubs, he decided to ignore his wife to punish her for meeting the French footman! We're still not told why she went. He was too busy ignoring her to ask!

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