Monday, July 25, 2011

An Evening's Enmtertainment

Friday, 22 July

Again this year we attended the concert in Rainford of the Rainford Band. They are a very good band and have received numerous awards.

It was a picnic concert, so to speak, held within a very large local barn. You brought your supper with you and ate before the music began.

We dropped the ball this time, having forgotten that until the last moment, and by the time we remembered and got in touch with David and Julia, they and the four others coming with us had already arranged among them an entire gourmet feast.

The others were Annalie, a German general practitioner who lives near Julia and David, her “partner” Peter, and their friends Fran and Colin, a married couple (presumably).

(I don’t understand why people here simply no longer believe in marriage, but I think it has to do with unwillingness to take the financial and legal risks marriage entails – although the law here imposes some quite similar risks upon couples who merely live together. I’m unhappy about this, and it puts a certain distance between me and some quite likeable people, a distance I’d much rather weren’t there.)

Anna Spedding,
Principle Cornet
Anyway, it was a wonderful concert, theme music from popular movies. One soloist managed to make her cornet sound actually sweet, rather than, well, brassy. Another soloist did much the same on the horn (meaning, of course, the English horn).

And for the finale, the much-awaited patriotic selections from the last night of the proms. The U.K. and the English flags were passed out for us to wave, and on our feet, the wildly enthusiastic audience sang sea songs, followed by Jerusalem and Rule, Brittania and finally Land of Hope and Glory (to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance), with full vigor and voice (to the extent that David was hoarse the next day). I just love it!

Well, most of it. There’s one I don’t care fore and we didn’t sing, although it was printed in the programme, I Vow To Thee My Country:

I vow to thee my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:
The love that asks no questions, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best:
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price.
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

I’m sorry, but I can just picture the cynical elite of any given nation smiling to themselves at such sentiments, held by people too na├»ve to have any idea the real purpose of their sacrifices, which is almost always to make the rich richer.

Our American patriotic anthems lack the rousing quality of British ones. I mean, God Bless America and America the Beautiful are more stately and grand than rafter-ringing. The rousing ones, like certain Protestant hymns, are more fun to sing, aren’t they, giving much visceral pleasure while catering to national and/or religious pride.

We didn’t get much chance to get to know the others in our party, but we could tell they were all very amiable people, enjoyable company.

So we had an altogether delightful evening.


Anam Cara said...

I would have loved to join you for the finale! I love Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory.

margaret said...

I love it. I remember singing it cluelessly in school assembly but the last verse gave me such hope that there was something beyond England, beyond Golders Green and the Northern Line, beyond woolly jumpers, homework and long waits at bus stops “And there's another country, I've heard of long ago, most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know; we may not count her armies, we may not see her King; her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering; and soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase, and her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.” Looking back I think I thought it was Middle Earth, hobbits and all :) but mostly Aragorn being all kingly and kind. I suppose if I had come across it as an adult after hearing the quip that the average Victorian had the British Empire for God and Queen Victoria for the BVM I might have felt differently.