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Category: Music

Driving home for Christmas (from uni)

In a year where Dancer and Prancer have been temporarily subbed by Tracker and Tracer, it has been good to welcome home the Offspring back from their unis in time for Christmas.

Offspring 2 made her way back in the Mini in a flurry of tyre pressure and dead battery warnings to make the journey just that little bit more exciting. Followed by me driving back a shortish distance round the M25 with her to her digs to pick up the stuff that she’d:

  • forgotten
  • changed her mind about its usefulness until next year
  • changed her mind about how cute it would be to have it at home base
  • decided to torment me about trying to fit in the car (making me pleased she doesn’t ski)
  • all of the above

Less Driving Home for Christmas, more 2000 Miles.

Offspring 1, based in the Midlands, was given one shot: popping back to his uni for spare earphones is not going to happen…

His pad was like the door in the Advent Calendar that it’s best to leave closed. My reflexes as Bin Czar (see previous) allowed me to dodge the fifteen sacks of rubbish that the four guys had managed to skillfully accumulate over the weeks, transforming from trash into art.

Student kitchen

More rank than a military parade. The bin men have sensibly disguised themselves as posties on bin days.

Offspring 2, not to be outdone on extremes, regaled us with the resurrected chicken, the one that had been left for weeks in the fridge by one of them at their lair. Offspring 2 claimed innocence, so she can be let off this time, including from the rampage of the revenant. The same fate will not befall the Christmas lunch turkey. That was an unexpected blip in the fascist stormtrooper work details set down by the housemates aiming for the tidiest and most wholesome student digs in history.

Very low bar, and I remember limbo dancing under that standard when I was at uni.

Age provides perspective and in my case self-knowledge.

The great thing about university accommodation is that the door can be shut on it from a parent’s point of view with a flick of the rose-tinted spectacles- a point of view eagerly adopted…Now it’s the why are there six open tubs of butter in the fridge conversation and that the smoked salmon has been taken out to make room for the cider. The bonus Santa sacks of washing lovingly saved up to be brought home at the end of term brought a tear to the eye.

Christmas will iron out all of those things out and create a smooth and seamless festive period, as seamless as those bags of rubbish. Great to have them home.

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

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Putting the band back together

We drove down to the South Coast at the weekend for a concert. The last time was for Mark Knopfler, this time it was for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Glyndebourne, not the Brighton Centre. A stretch for the coast, I’ll grant you. An afternoon of sitting in the gardens, eating a picnic, drinking mocktails and listening to classical music in a COVID-secure way. Not far off normal life (I’m not referring to the mocktails as the aberrration), but with the new-normal tweaks of a one-way system around the premises, two metres between each pod of audience members and far enough away from the end of the woodwind instruments to settle the nerves. No need for black tie since it was an afternoon concert; awkward for the token wearer but he seemed fine with it.

And to the orchestra. A palpable feeling that the band was back together, that they had been let out to play and would have lashings of ginger beer later and party games. Sheer relief at being able to sit in front of a crowd of people again albeit some the size of a Twitter thumbnail in their line of sight.

Sweet Home, East Sussex

A tight eight-piece band with periodic light aircraft accompaniment. It was like the Buena Vista Social Club with a bassoon. Their black suits, a couple of them in black hats, white shirts for the men, it was like an audition in the grounds for the next Blues Brothers film:

“It’s 49 miles to Glyndebourne, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes and some clarinets. It’s dark and we’re wearing sun glasses. Hit it!”

Elwood (and Jake) Blues,
musicians

For me, the music proved to be a mixed bag, Beethoven’s go at an opera – Fidelio – plus some crowd-pleasing Mozart, and some Jonathan Dove (the mixed bag). Short pieces, like flash fiction: a conversation, a Countess interrupting an argument, dancing in the dark (not Springsteen). Seven pieces inspired by the Glyndebourne gardens, with – I very much liked the image – the inspiration of Mozart rippling through the trees into the music. A faintly jazz-like feel to some of the pieces, a sketchy slightly repetitive feel to the rest. Overall, a brilliant way to spend some time, COVID or not.

Why in particular? The relief in the orchestra was mirrored by the joy in the audience. My feeling is that they could have played Mahna, Mahna by the Muppets and we would all have felt great and applauded loudly; sadly, Animal wasn’t there on his crazy drum kit. We were determined that it would be great, and happily it was. The rustling of the trees in the breeze and the twittering of nearby birds beautifully complemented the music and the feeling of being OUT. Something that was not a compromise, something that we wanted to do, something that looks like we’d wandered into another drive-in by mistake. Not that last bit.

What time does the movie start?

A festival without the mud and with a selection of cheeses. We all need to find those moments of escape, however they come packaged.

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

The Blues Brothers' 40th anniversary — read all Sun-Times coverage of 'the  best movie ever made in Chicago' - Chicago Sun-Times

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