Friday, 22 June 2007

Oh, bloody hell

Oh lord, I so hate fixing concerts. Well.... certainly at this point of maximum stress when you get to the end of your list and you still haven't got enough singers and the date is getting closer and closer and you send out increasingly desperate emails to increasingly distantly known people and some of them still just don't answer at all and and and. It must be grim to do it professionally, where you do all the organising and don't even get to perform -- which at least you do, when you're an amateur, and fixing things you can sing in yourself. At which point it does at last seem worthwhile. Thank goodness.

Professional music really does sound like a dog's life a lot of the time. Well, I suppose in essence the perks aren't much better than those you get as an amateur, and the cons are very large cons -- the endless travelling, the constant pressure, the scrimped rehearsal time, the uncertainty... Yuck. Anyway. One of our tenors -- and we only have three, because of only having three each of everything -- has gone down with this week's nasty throat bug. What a bugger. Actually, it's probably worse for him: when you look forward to these things for ages, it often turns out that you get six months in peachy health and then some disgusting lurgy strikes just as throat-related fun was on the horizon. Yah, and boo, and sucks.

I've got behind with my book listings: it's actually quite hard work to write down everything I read. If I simply zap through a children's book in an hour or so, I don't mention it here, but I suppose, actually, a reading diary would be illuminating as a food diary if I didn't mind finding out what an addict I am. I'm currently reading a book online, which is wretchedly inconvenient: it's by the unwieldily named Lois McMaster Bujold, who seems to be recommended by most of the other people on the couple of mailing lists I'm on. Going well so far, but I'll post when I'm done. A couple of weeks ago I read Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, which had some fancy reviews. It's essentially a fairly stream-of-consciousness account of how she felt when her long-term partner died suddenly of a heart attack (this is on the cover blurb and therefore Doesn't Count as a spoiler). It was honest and candid and all that, but not, to be brutal, terribly interesting. Maybe I don't bottle up my own feelings enough to admire someone else for unbottling theirs. The fact that struck me most -- callow youth that I am -- was that she'd named her daughter 'Quintana'.

I've just reread Scoop for the umpteenth time, having recommended it to our reading group. It's one of the funniest books I know, and doesn't pall with re-reading. Amazingly, the satire has dated very little. It has a lot more heart than earlier works of Waugh's such as Decline and Fall and Vile Bodies, I think: Boot's relationship with -- have I got this right? -- Katryn is really rather poignant. But the sheer number of things the novel takes digs at is really pretty remarkable. It's in my list of my top ten books, which admittedly has never managed to shrink below fifteen and currently stands at twenty or so, but there you are. If you want to give Waugh a try, I'd also recommend A Handful of Dust, which has the distinction of being both very funny and one of the saddest stories I know (I'm deliberately quoting from Ford Madox Brown's The Good Soldier, which touts inself as 'the saddest story I know' and rather overplays its hand, I thought -- it's rather fusty, and never worked at all for me.).

I can't remember whether I said: we solved the last-minute alto crisis by going back to the top of the list and starting again. Genius. That was A's suggestion, of course: I was in too much of a flap to think straight. What's especially unhelpful, you know, is that it's never the same voice part twice. I've had a soprano crisis, an alto crisis, a tenor crisis and a bass crisis, at different times. Aaaargh. Imagine fixing a whole orchestra. (No, actually, I can't. Or mustn't. It makes me hyperventilate.)

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