Last night I planned to sit in my hotel room in Leeds and read a book – just couldn’t read. I was aching from all the carrying I’d done, and all the noises around me, hotel ones and student ones from the huge accommodation block next door where I’d deposited my daughter earlier, kept me wide awake until well after midnight. We reunited for a food shopping trip this morning, and an emotional goodbye, before the trip back to The South for me. Missing her already.
I did watch The Last Night of the Proms sat on my hotel bed, and audience-less, found it rather moving. The programme included many varied items featuring the South African soprano Golda Schultz, who was sublime; Nicola Benedetti who was a stand-in, yet played The Lark Ascending with such subtlety; and the young Finnish conductor Dalia Stasveska who was interesting to watch and took the Elgar at a fair clip. Many of the pieces had been adapted for the smaller sized 65-piece BBC Symphony Orchestra, and I enjoyed the different takes on the solos in the hornpipe as the leader and principal flautist duelled each other, the Sea Songs always being my favourite part of the later stages. It was the other co-leader’s turn this time, so I didn’t see my mid-1970s Croydon Schools 1st Orchestra alumnus Stephen Bryant leading this time. I didn’t much care for the new Jerusalem musically, but understood the premise behind it perfectly. Let’s hope we can return to live audiences and the hoo-ha they bring next year, but this year’s last night offering was particularly apt. I’m glad the Beeb changed its mind on the words, omitting a verse of Rule Britannia instead, and then having it and the Elgar sung by a small group from the BBC Singers – see it was easy!
I was sad to hear of the death of Sir Terence Conran, whom I very much admired. I can remember my first visit to the new Habitat store in Croydon, which had a creperie in it! As sixth formers, when we finished early – crepes were often the order of the day when we went into town, then we lusted after the bean bags and all the fun bits.
In 2016, I reviewed his copiously illustrated memoir My Life in Design which was fabulous.
Read my full review HERE.
My review of Hari Kunzru’s new novel, Red Pill, was published at Shiny New Books this week. Kunzru never writes the same book twice and always makes you think! This first person story of an blocked author needing a break, and hoping that a writer’s retreat in Berlin might unlock it only for it to make him paranoid was intellectual and gripping!
Read my full review HERE.
It had been a draining week, even before the trip to Leeds. I can tell – as I didn’t finish reading a single book. First week back at School, the strain of maintaining social distancing is telling. I’m wearing a mask in communal areas, and being support staff, I’m keeping myself to myself as much as possible the rest of the time. The socially distanced chairs in the staff room will only seat a handful, and we have hot drinks hubs, so there’s little social interaction. It’s strange, but we’re managing – and the pupils are loving being back.
But I did finally get my hair cut! Having had it short for a couple of years of course it grew out and put on the inches literally between February and now, I’ve opted to return to sitting just off my shoulders length again with lots of layers.
P.S. I was shocked by the number of non-mask wearers at the service station we stopped at on the way up (Welcome Break – Leicester Forest). Horrible! On the way back I stopped at a Moto one (Trowell) – and there was a lady with a basket of masks and spray just inside – Much better! But they shouldn’t have to do this – we need some fines to be handed out to get the message to the die-hards, else it will be lockdown and long queues at the supermarket again.
Hands – Face – Space!