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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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Leaving the nest – again

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, the Offspring are about to return to university with their magic self-cleaning bedding and renewed thirst for knowledge vodka…


The Offspring completed their first year at uni in the chaos of this summer, the 2019/20 academic year ending in a morass of will they / won’t they have exams, hand sanitiser and no 2020 Euros.

A few months on and there is a feeling of them starting all over again but they will have some herd memory of big nights at the Students Union Bar from a strangely familiar yet brand new place. I suspect that is fuelled by both of them moving out of hall and into their respective Student Houses: the place where vodka flows like water and Wet Wipes fear to tread. The place that is disturbingly like real life but with seminars. Life with stabilisers.

They are not only required to tackle the uncertainties that lie ahead at their Ivory Towers but in a place where they need to do dangerous things like cooking and cleaning without parental back-up…Happily, Offspring 1 has some brand new kitchen paraphernalia to play with, brand new because none of the items came out of the shrink-wrap packaging the first time around. You know the sort of ting, obscure artifacts like saucepans and chopping boards, ones that will one day be described as “Mint” on Ebay. So, no need to stock up for him; we did need to re-kit Offspring 2 because we abandonned most of her things at uni during the retreat in disarray in the summer, courtesy of That Bloody Virus.

Either way, our hall is now stuffed to the brim with boxes and bags full of, well, stuff ready to be transported to the next staging post of their journeys…It looks like the store at a frontier post in the Old West, but with more charging cables. A combination of essentials like asparagus dishes, snow shoes and supplies of gin (infused, of course, with craft botanicals).

total chaos packing for university
Packing for uni

They are the lucky ones in terms of the relentless workings of the academic life calendar.

They missed the horrors of the GCSE / A-levels debacle, the students for whom we should all spare a thought. The same with uni students last year either set up to go on life-changing years out in industry or just in other institutions, all swept away by the virus. The same for final year students robbed of what in a non-crazy world would for most have been the formal recognition of their path to graduation.

In an albeit small way, I’m in the same boat. I was awarded my MA for Creative Writing from Surrey this summer, which seems to me epochs ago. That moment has passed now. At least there’s no need for me to wear a funny hat and trip up the stairs to a rickety stage to receive my presumably blank certificate (I already have the certificate somewhere or other at home). Now it feels like a dream, all those workshops and seminars, wondering whether that all really happened or were a sneaky part of my creative writing process.

There are many much worse things that have come out of COVID than academic inconvenience, but just sticking with that for now the combination of awkward drifting and confusion/frustration among many students has been palpable. Hopefully most have, like ours, at least been able to tap back into their school network friends to sustain them, with gatherings and shots games as Lockdown has eased; while in the best of all worlds for our Offspring they have ideally retained a grip on budding friendships made in their first year at uni…That has been made easier by social media, of course; the world in COVID 1970 would have been a much darker and more lonely place.

Nine days to go before launch for Offspring 2, for Offspring 1 we’re not so sure given the quarantine situation for some of his housemates. But it will happen and they will make the best of it, hopefully not resorting to cold macaroni cheese out of the tin with the remaining dessert spoon as I remember doing my first time around.

No conferring , except at a safe distance…

Welcome to Universities Challenge, this is your restarter for 10

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

Alan Camrose with beard
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When sloth is not a deadly sin

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, the joy of creation, if you get my thread…


Just a quick post to show that not all things coming out of Lockdown are bad. This is my daughter’s beautiful piece of embroidery of a sloth hanging about. It’s a piece of work that I have neither the patience, the dexterity or the eyesight to achieve.

sloth eating his or her breakfast in leisurely style
Relax, have a bite…

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

Alan Camrose with beard
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Groundhair Day

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, the Strimmer’s Revenge…


rusty hacksaw
A little bit more off the top, please

32 degrees C and six months since my last hair-cut: a true Lockdown moment.

Should I:

a) go to the barber and wear a mask, and the barber a visor and mask, to feel like I was having my hair shorn by the riot police;

b) leave my hair to carry on growing until I could play tug-of-war with Rapunzel; or

c) give myself up to the mercy of my wife to satisfy that crazed look of anticipation as she held the tiny scissors to the industrial-sized whetstone.

I woke up shackled to a small plastic chair, my knees around my ears, providing a sight-line for the first cut. Vrooom! The sound of a chainsaw engaging, snippety-snip the sound of garden shears approaching me from behind. The glug of Agent Orange shampoo being rubbed into my ends which were about to be split with an axe.

No mirror to protect me, and as Meatloaf nearly sings:

Hair in the rear view mirror may recede more than you think

(especially when attacked by Mrs Scissorhands).

My chainmail suit at the dry cleaners, the Jaws soundtrack thundering in our bathroom, reflecting off the tiles – duh DUH dur DUHDADADADADADADA

The feel of a swathe of hair sloughing off my head and crashing to the bathroom foor like the calving of a huge iceberg, a sinister chuckle from just behind my left ear, sending a chill down my spine as I stayed rooted to the spot in terror.

CRASH!

Another copse of mountain trees swept away in the avalanche.

Bit more on the left to level it up, bit more on the right to level it up, bit more on the left to level it up…How much was left? Would my parting eventually amount to a thin Mohican on the crest of my head where the furry tectonic plates lurched together…?

And then it was over as the massed jungle foliage that that rooted itself in my eyebrows was chopped away with a machete – what proved to be Nicola’s weapon of choice in the Hairena of Doom, or WWFluff…

Then the clouds of hair blew away revealing a work of art – more a rough sketch than the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but Michaelangelo had more promising contours to work with. A pretty good first attempt on the back of a three-minute YouTube coaching video (half of which consisted of ads for FIFA 21 – she snips, she scores! – and following a suspicious recent interest in regularly brushing our golden retriever as a way of limbering up).

The exciting thing is that in another few months time, unless I’m ambushed earlier at the top of the stairs with a suspiciously glinting blade – like Norman Bates with a detailer trimmer – it will be time to

DO IT AGAIN…

fluff ball resisting a hair cut
Snippety-snippety-snip

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

Alan Camrose with beard

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