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Is the love affair over?

January 10, 2010

I’ve spent the early evening guzzling red wine and preparing chicken kiev.

There’s really nothing to it. Slice a chicken breast lengthways so you’ve got a sort of pocket. Mix some butter with garlic and herbs. Stuff it in the pocket. Wrap the breast in cling-film. Stick it in the freezer to harden up the breasts a bit. Roll both in egg and breadcrumbs. Fry for a couple of minutes and finish off in the oven quite high for five or so minutes. If I can remember the steps to write them out, this guilty pleasure can’t be that difficult to make.

Whilst making our evening meal I ended up thinking about a variety of key personal issues. Number one was to what extent one childhood experience had left an indelible mark on me as an adult despite the fact I’d long since forgiven my schooltime chum (assuming forgiveness really was necessary). Number two was considering how long it would take to deal with the financial impact of Christmas. And number three – possibly uppermost in my mind – was whether or not my love affair with the BBC Proms was over.

It was a tortured process trying to answer the last question, possibly because I was listening to the Vienna Phil’s performance of Brahms 4. Brahms’ music, though utterly enveloping, communicates to me at least how tortured composer was. Sure the end is always uplifting but the journey there can be gut-wrenching.

I could tell listening back to the Vienna Phil’s performance that it was a brilliant performance. The strings were spot on, producing a lush sound as they explored Brahms’ tortured harmonies. The wind sparkled. Brahms came to life. The crowd roared in appreciation at the end.

Even though I recognised a brilliant performance from last year’s BBC Proms, it wasn’t until Radio 3 presenter Iain Skelley announced it was the night before last year’s Last Night of The Proms I realised I had been in the arena – and pretty close to the front too.

From that moment on I started thinking not about the concert nor the enthusiasm of the crowd, but about the meal I attended with some Prommers at a Polish restaurant close to South Ken tube. It was as though the sparkle of the Proms had escaped me. It was as though the Proms itself had suddenly lost its edge.

Maybe it was the wine but my mind started leaping around a bit. There was a time when hearing the Royal Albert Hall acoustic would transport me to memories of long hot summers, long held aspirations and unconditional love for public service support of culture. There was a time when I could taste that excitement in my mouth when I heard the acoustic on the radio. All I could taste this evening was a buttery mix of dried herbs and raw garlic with a faint after-taste of cheap Merlot from a box.

I hope my love of the BBC Proms isn’t dented. I hope even more my love for Radio 3 hasn’t diminished either. Only a few weeks ago I was explaining to my boss how I reckoned I was totally “plumbed into” Radio 3. It all feels a bit different now. I was expecting a bit more from a repeat of a Prom concert. Call me demanding. You wouldn’t be the first.

Maybe that means I’ll be listening to the Proms on the radio this year. Maybe I’ll consume my classical music in a different way this year. But right now the idea of not being enthused about the BBC Proms or Radio 3 feels a little bit like I’m having to tell someone incredibly close to my heart they’re close to my heart no longer.

You might want to bookmark this post and remind me about it later in the year.

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  1. cyberguycalif permalink

    Jon ever since I have followed your blogs you have talked about the Proms with real passion and excitement, and I can not even think of that passion and excitement fading in you.

    Just because you did not feel the same way about a certain music as you had felt in the past doesn’t mean anything.

    Think of it like sex, no matter how many times you have sex in your life, nothing will ever be like the first time. Doesn’t mean it was good or bad, doesn’t mean another time will be better or worse, all it means that no other time will be like the first time.

    No one can talk about the proms like you can and then all of a sudden not want to be there again. You even talked about how excited you were just to be in line to buy a ticket, now if that is not passion for something I do not know what is.


  2. I would be very VERY V-E-R-Y surprised if that particular love affair was over.

    You are the man who sniffs Proms brochures, remember. You like to despise people whose mobiles go off during the concerts. Who cough during the quiet bits. Who drop their cameras with a clatter, heaven help us.

    You wouldn’t be affected by these things if it wasn’t a very deep-seated element of the Inner You.

    It’ll all come back naturally in the summer I’m sure.

    • We shall see.

  3. I suspect it is just part of the ageing process.

    Do you find yourself often re-evaluating things which were once certainties to you?

    If so – it’s just old age sneaking up. I got there before you.

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