Sunday, 12 August 2012

Prom 41

Tiger's good nature with the Proms is wearing thin.

It cannot be a result of the hours we have packed her into the sunken pit of a windowless, airless orchestra hall. Nor the way I have haphazardly thrown stale picnic foodstuffs at her, gathered at speed from the Co-op reduced bin in an en route gallop to the railway station. Nor the way we have subjected her to a company of 500 blissed-out scholars of nineteenth-century choral works and told her to keep quiet.

I blame the trains.

Travelling back and forth from the shires to Euston on London Midland. It's such an emotionally exhausting experience. You're either waiting to be prosecuted for something naughty with your ticket or made to stand up until Watford with your only source of consolation being to glower resentfully at people with fat bottoms and hand luggage occupying more than their fair arse use seat allowance.

But there is the rumbling of the malcontent. We plot beforehand on what would reward Tiger for enduring a weekend gruelling promming. Give her a horse. Not possible, says Dig. Take her to look at pictures of horses. Aha! The British Museum obliges! Then we can feed her a bowl of pasta. Job surely done.

She cheers up a bit, so it works. I suppose it's a remedy of sorts for you too, if you are musically suffering, enthused by horse, and like pasta.

But then the respite is over. The clock ticks round to the appointed hour. We must introduce Tiger to Shoenberg's Gurrelieder. The growling starts.

But this is the best one, I plead. It's a big narrative romantic. Not like one of his compositions when he went a bit funny. This is the one when he was so pissed off by the audience, he refused to turn round and acknowledge them. See? It comes with vengeance and spite delivered with the romance. Just up our street!

Who couldn't love such a brilliant story? Set in a castle, battling it out with all human failings of power, love, revenge and murder. That's only the start. Blasphemy, cursing, the rising of the bones of the dead, rattling chains and anguished spirits whipped mercilessly across the sky. You hear bones and everything! And an old man speak-singing! If that package isn't wonderful, I don't know what is. Honestly, isn't it all much more viscerally engaging than two hours of We are the servants of the Lord?

But the growling doesn't stop. So I am forced to deal with Tiger like any normal parent would, whose 12-year old is about to wreak havoc with a stomping fit in front of a paying audience of the general public.

I pretend she is nothing to do with me, then I scarper and hide in the toilets. After ten minutes I creep out, sidle up to her and try to placate her with promises of after-show nirvanas if only she shuts up for the next one hour fifty minutes (without interval). She can have anything, basically. I stop short only in promising her a horse to keep in the bathroom.

Dig, who has studied proper parenting, takes over, gives her the programme, and whispers that neither of her sisters can have the programme because it is all hers.

That is a much better strategy. Divide, rule, and conquer. Now go and listen to a little bit of Gurrelieder and tell me if you think you'll like it just as much as me, or just as little as Tiger.


sharon said...

Glorious stuff. For a wider audience the spoken/sung parts may have been more accessible translated to English. At school we studied some liede pieces by Franz Schubert, one sticks in my mind particularly - Das Erlkonig (The Erl King). It's from a poem by Goethe but we learned to sing it in English. Bits of it stick with me still and it's a very very, indeed extremely, long time since my early teens! Might appeal to the gritlets, if not the music then the poem itself.

Grit said...

thank you sharon! you can bet i will follow it up, dedicated and enthusiastic educator that i am. xx