Sunday, August 26, 2018

Off to a concert in Fowey...

Fowey – Tuesday, August 21 at 18.30 local time.

I’ve arrived in Fowey for a chamber music concert at a St Fimbarrus church (the town church for local Prots, I should imagine) and I am sitting in the courtyard of The Galleon just around the corner supping a beaker of ‘house red’. The beaker, sadly, is plastic – this is the week of the Fowey Regatta and, the barmaid tells me when I was presented with my plastic beaker and wondered whether I might not get one made of the more traditional glass and no pub within ten miles serves any drink in glass. It’s plastic or nowt. I suspect that had I arrived not in levis and an F&M blue shirt but in ermine and pearls and ordered a bottle of 1963 Chateau St Vitus (an exquisite vintage I’m told), they might have pushed the boat out a little and suspended their ‘plastic glasses’ rule. But I didn’t, so they didn’t. Modern life, eh!

The concert, by a German band from Cologne – the Chamber Philharmonia of Cologne – will be playing the Vivaldi, Mozart and Paganini. I’m rather hoping it will not be Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which are very pleasant piece, but were ruined for me by incessantly hearing them in cheap London wine bars in the 1990s. They are up there with Ravel’s Bolero (which he once confessed he wrote as a joke for people who don’t like music), Handel’s Zogan the Priest (Zogaz? Zodor? Sodor? Look it up, cos I’m not going to), the Water Music by the same dude and that piece by Elgar from his Riddle Symphony Brits love to listen to when they want to cry (which isn’t often, but, you know, occasionally when needs must and they have to persuade folk on the Continent that ‘they bloody well DO have feelings and it’s an insult to claim otherwise!’)

Anything but Mozart will do me and as for Paganini, well, I know nothing, so again, surprise me.

I arrived over an hour ago to make sure I would find parking, did find parking rather more easily than I expected, and so have the pleasure of sitting here writing. Hmm, what else?

. . .

Been getting on with a blog entry I will eventually publish about Ernest Hemingway’s first published novel Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises. My entry will be about how I don’t think it’s ‘a masterpiece’ as is claimed in the blurb on the back of my edition and how I don’t think Hemingway is ‘a writer of genius’. Whatever the lad told himself, however many theories he has about writing, however much he wanted to cut a dash with all the modernist pals he befriended, then ditched as soon as it suited him at Gertrude Stein’s Saturday soiree, a ‘writer of genius’ is able to produce rather better stuff than what his first novel consists of – of which his first novel consists? Discuss.

I have been beavering away at completing the piece since the middle of July, and been castigating myself (quietly – my wife isn’t in the slightest interested in my literary pretensions, so schtumm, schtumm is the working principle). Having a great deal of time to do write such things is a double-edged sword in that the longer you have, the longer you take, and it is not easy to when you sit down to write something like that not to be sidetracked into such essential tasks as sourcing the etymology of the word ‘bumf’ and scouring the internet for the definitive answer to whether the word ‘dosh’ (as in ‘money’) really did begin life as Jewish merchant slang in Manchester or whether it has a less noble provenance.

To be fair, I’m putting in a great deal of effort into it and, well, there’s no other way of putting this, teaching myself how to write. By that I mean – after all even this blog entry is ‘writing’ – that as far as I am concerned ‘writing’ is something like 9/10s thinking and only 1/10 getting words down on paper. As someone who could, given half the chance talk the hind legs off a donkey and who has for the past 44 years ‘dealt with words’ as a reporter, then sub-editor (US copy editor) much as a bricklayer ‘deals with bricks’, I don’t find the ‘getting words down on paper’ particularly difficult. It’s the thinking – the organising, the train of thought, the ‘argument’ so to speak, the making sure the reader reads what I want her of him to read – which I don’t find easy. So I’ve got to learn.

I won’t rehearse here what I want to say in that entry, but I will confess that it is a perpetual exercise in cutting back. At one point I had reached over 7,000 words and still hadn’t got down even a third of what I thought I wanted to say, and realise I was pissing in the wind. I didn’t though start again, but courtesy of the magic of word processors began re-writing. That is all well and good except that the exercise demands rigorous editing to make sure you don’t repeat yourself several times.

What else? Well, nothing. It is now 19.08, the concert starts at 19.30, the ‘box office’ opens at 19.00, so I must consider winding down. I shall not post this just yet, however, but return to this establishment (as in pub) afterwards and add a little more, especially whether our musical guests from Cologne have eschewed cliché in the form of Vivaldi’s Four season, and settled for real music. Actually, as I imagine none of them knocked around in cheap London wine bars in the 1990s, they might be unaware that I – who did – am so scornful of the Four Seasons. Hold that thought. Chin, chin (the Italian version of ‘pip, pip’.

. . .

I had intended to return to The Galleon after the concert to finish this off, but as it was I fell in with an Irish friend of my brother-in-law and his partner who had also both been to the concert, and although we did return to The Galleon, there were other things to do and talk about. (If I remember, we had several glasses of wine/beer/gin - each to his/her own - and we sorted out the world admirably, although as is usual after such occasions I can’t at all recollect what our admirable solutions to its major problems were. But never mind, I’m sure there are others.)

The first part of this entry seemed rather sparse and after not completing it while in Fowey, as planned, I was going to complete it the following day, but by then I had lost the thread and still haven’t found it. So this must stand alone.

There are three more concerts coming up at St Fimbarrus, but only one interests me, a piano recital. Think I’ll go, but first I want to sort out where might be best to park in the late afternoon as it was all a bit of a pain last Tuesday. And with that I’ll wish you all a bon mot.

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