January 24th, 2019


marching music

Some big bangs of late. Yesterday there was the surprise thunderstorm. I was surprised because I’d been watching the large pale moon, still up in the early blush of dawn from the office kitchen window, fetching my first pot of tea for the day.

So I was startled when, only about two-thirds of the way through my tea (back at my desk), there was a mighty crack and rumble. Then another. I get up and go to the window (I have no windows where I sit, I’m not a window person) and it’s as dark as anything.

The weather just cannot stop being weird.

Happily, it was neither as hot or stormy as threatened last weekend, because it was Symphony under the Stars, in my local park. Top orchestra, for free, and only a bus ride away, so basically I just had to pay for snacks (it was a bit of a Parramatta picnic, as I saw I wasn’t the only one who had pretty much just grabbed a bag of chips and a bag of grapes from Woolies on the way).

Snapped up my near usual spot, this time free of hyperactive kids, though the increasingly drunk and loud twat three blankets behind us started to grate after a while.  

And it was marvellous. As always.

Yes, it was an unashamedly populist programme, but it’s a free concert for plebs, and it’s meant to be more of an outreach, you know this stuff, you’ve got this, type vibe rather than sternly and forbiddingly improving (so the beard strokers can just stay in their Eastern suburbs enclaves).

Ok, so maybe it errs a bit too much on the side of patronising (as my hometown is now populated by university educated white collar poor, as in teachers, IT drones, university staff, government officers, legal clerks, etc.) but it’s meant to be fun. I’m always happy to put a name to a piece I know from a film or an ad or a Loony Tunes cartoon (so much of my classical education, in fact, all of it, oh dear). So, Peer Gynt by Edvard Grieg, got it.

They also played some straight-out film soundtracks, including pieces from The Mission and Harry Potter, but it was the three pieces from Star Wars that really delighted. The absolute joy that rippled through the crowd when the Cantina notes sounded out, the thrill of the Imperial March and the unadulterated squee of the theme music – and I mean un-adulted, as in hearing it made me a kid again, forgetting everything that came after.

They also played some old classics, including the William Tell Overture (Gioachino Rossini), and it was a delight to watch the entire string section sawing up and down in unison as we romped over the oh so familiar notes. And then, of course, the big one, the now traditional (because there will be a riot if they don’t) 1812 Overture. With cannons on stage, going off. And fireworks. Boom boom boom (I posted some upside down because it was dark and I was too excited video at Twitter).  

Tuesday I actually had one of my days off (I’ve missed the last six or so) and went up to Lithgow. Himself promised old-timey buildings, and this it did have. But like many towns where the main industry has gone, it was all social services and charity shops. There was a very nice rose garden in the park, though, and it was crammed with war memorials. It sort of felt like (and I dare say it was) as though all the young men had walked away 100 years ago and had never come back.

I got to walk my new boots through puddles. And I found a couple of crumbling Ellis Peters books. That’s about it for highlights. Unfortunately, Himself’s idea of a day out is to march from one end of town to the other very quickly in the hot sun (and I’m breaking in new boots) and get back on the next train. Barely time to pick up a drink at a shop on the way and no time to get near the head of the queue for the one cubicle in the ladies (he was fine).

For someone (me) whose idea of a day out is sitting in a café somewhere with a book, the whole no breakfast, no morning tea, no brunch, no lunch, forced march thing was a bit of strain, I must say.

So, having half my day off still to hand, I slump in the couch (it’s decades past its use-by date so slump in, not on, is the correct usage) I figure, well, I’ll catch up on some tv then. Nope. Interwebs and cable all goes out. Well, thank goodness I bought that emergency Ellis Peters book, then.

I suppose I finally got my cup of tea and a book, but man, I had many miles to get it.


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