For this post I am going to try to eschew politics as I feel I am going to tip over the edge soon. I believe it was Harold Wilson who said a week was a long time in politics, but here in the UK five minutes can be enough at the moment to find the world you thought you knew has been turned on its head. So let’s have a break from Brexit, though like some ghastly ghoul in a B movie we know it’s going to keep coming back. Like hiccoughs. Only worse. Much worse.
Fortunately, there are parts of life that continue affirming, and often unexpected. I was about to go to bed on Friday when I received an offer of tickets to a performance of Beethoven’s 6th. A couple of texts back and forth established it was local, no charge, and in a multi-storey car park. Who could refuse? Certainly not I, but it turned out lots of my friends who had a bewildering array of entertainments booked for Saturday could, while I had just planned to be at home with MasterB. Note to self: get out more. Steph was free and not only embraced the offer of a spare ticket but offered champagne chez elle before the event. I had to pass on that as I was working and would need all my time available to get to the gig for the appointed hour.
God, I love London. I know the venues around the multi storey car park: Bussey place, the Peckham Plex, but somehow Bold Tendencies had not registered on my radar. Thank-goodness for B&J, sometime and future cat sitters who had bought the tix. We met at Frank’s Bar, a rooftop space with jaw-dropping views and a large clientele. As Steph said when she arrived shortly after I did, “Where the fuck do all these people come from?” Steph says fuck a lot.
B&J’s glasses were empty. They had been there a while. Steph and went to the bar. The queue was six deep and a mile sideways. I have no bar presence whatsoever so my expectations were low. I come from a long line of publicans, and some might think that would mean an advantage when it comes to getting the attention of bar staff, but I think it must be indelibly written on my aura that my role is collecting empties and wiping tables. Much to my surprise we were served within a few minutes, minutes during which Steph talked about the mud at this year’s Glastonbury. Mega mud.
The music hadn’t even begun and already I was in love with the evening. We culture thrill seekers were marked out from the general hoard by green wristbands. Not everyone visting Frank’s Bar via the pink art installation staircase had access to every floor. Oh no: they might be able to go to the Derek Jarman themed garden, and enjoy one of the workshops, but after that it was us, the musicians and the trains.
Once we were down the ramp and into the belly of the car park things changed. There were several workshops, and I think we made it to five. Perhaps six. Musicians from the Multi Story Orchestra talked and played us through parts of the Pastoral Symphony. The trains rattled past, and there was a moment when I dissolved in tears wishing my father, who died twenty-five years ago, were with me. He would have loved this so much.
Steph is a person who makes her own luck; a mover and shaker who you definitely want on your team.. She assessed the situation and decided we needed to reserve seats if we didn’t want to stand during the performance. Garments, including my unworn micro fleece, were placed across plastic chairs. Just time for another worshop then we claimed our places. We had six minutes to get another round in. Success.
What can I say about the performance? The conductor was wearing a t-shirt; the orchestra were in a motley array of clothing. People clapped between movements, took pictures with their mibile ‘phones. We were in a multi storey car park of 1960s (I think) Brutalist design with a train track running beside us. The orchestra was playing the pastoral symphony. It sounds like a joke, but it was sublime.
I’ve been to the Proms. I’ve been to classical music concerts in a host of settings, but I don’t remember any where my emotions have been so engaged. This was wonderful. The audience included all ages, but it was predominantly white. I need someone else to explain why.
When we returned to the top floor, the sun was setting<img src="https:// London sunset 2
You might think that was enough, but Steph still had her champagne, so we went back to her house where Simon her husband joined us, we drank Fizz, ate Vietamese food from the takeaway next door and sat up talking into the night.
I should have had a hangover on Sunday. I didn’t. Just a memory of a wonderful Saturday night.