Friday, 27 April 2012

Is classical music really just for the elderly?

I was lucky enough this week to go to a concert given by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.  I say ‘lucky’ because they were playing in a local town, which meant I got to hear great music without the pain and expense of having to make a trip into London.  

For me, although I love listening to classical music, I do so enjoy studying the musicians.  There was the lady with the elegant dress who kept such a straight back through the whole performance.  There was another who sat in a more dynamic pose, resting on her tall, shiny stilettos.  There was the man who couldn’t help smiling while he was playing, almost lifting out his seat with enjoyment.  The pianist was fascinating.  If I hadn’t been able to see her hands actually moving along the keys I’m not sure I’d believe it was possible that a real, live person was actually making the music.  

But, for me, the percussionists will always be good value.  Nothing amuses me more than someone playing a drum that’s almost as big as a bear.  I was sad when at the end they all stood up and there was a man with a triangle that was sat off to the side and I hadn’t seen him.  I mean, how often do you get to see someone play the triangle?  I was also really pleased to see so much use of the cymbals in this performance.  Too often these guys have to sit there all night, turning the pages all for one go at the crescendo of a piece.  Not this guy though, he was banging and crashing all the way through.  It was great.

The only real sad thing was that the audience was made up almost entirely of people over the age of 55 years old.  We saw 5 people under 15 and although there may have been more, they were certainly in the minority.  Equally lacking was anyone in their 20’s and those in their 30’s were sparse, usually accompanying an older parent.  It was good to feel so young I suppose, but it felt we were out of place as much as we might at a JLS concert at our age.  I remain curious.  Are concert halls in London still full of students and young people?  Was it just representative of the demographic in the town here?  Do they not enjoy a night out of people watching? Let me know your thoughts.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Is alcohol really a right?

I know it was a few weeks ago now that the price of alcohol was in the news again.  However, stumbling across an article on the BBC ( really got me thinking about it further. I found the article fascinating.  On the one hand it reminds us that we really don’t know much about what goes on in all the countries in the world (unless I am the only one who didn’t know how ‘dry’ the States still is), on the other it got me wondering how relevant ‘Footloose’ still is today. 
On the whole though, I wonder why the UK seems to think that alcohol is a right for everyone.  Every time there is a discussion about the problems of alcohol abuse in the country there is a call for increased prices in order to restrict access.  This comes from those concerned for our health and of course the costs associated with it, which ultimately affects us all.  This I understand completely and I do think we need to listen to these people before we end up with real restrictions on access to alcohol similar to those used in parts of Scandinavia.  

Nevertheless, whenever there is a call for price restrictions, it seems there is general outrage and concern that not everyone will be able to afford their regular fix of this drug.  Surely we do not consider alcohol a human right?  I know there was much jeering when a politician tried to express that access to the internet was a human right.  In a way though, that’s easier to understand.  Have you ever had to try finding something like the number for an electrician in a power cut?  These days, so much is on the internet there is an argument to say that you would be disadvantaged without access to it.  However, if the health counsellors are to be believed, not being able to drink much is a good thing.  So why do people get so upset about it? 

It makes me wonder what would happen if we were declared a ‘dry’ country.  Some of the US counties in the article are large areas, compared to the UK.  Would we have riots like last summer?  How much money would we save for the NHS compared to the taxes lost?  Would it just be a nicer, calmer society on a Saturday night?  Would we all become caffeine addicts instead?  Of course there are already many people in the UK that choose not to drink because of religious beliefs or due to health reasons (chosen or forced) and I wonder what the percentage is of drinkers vs. non-drinkers.  I am sitting here curious to know what level of support there would be for a 'dry' week in London, for example.  It will never happen but I'm curious.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Not enough chocolate in the house...

The last two nights the little one has decided not to sleep.  No apparent reason (which is more annoying) so he is fine during the day.  It is just me who is grumpy and keeps dropping things.  *yawn*

It has been a stressful few weeks here and this blog has suffered through lack of inspiration.  I was hoping that as of yesterday things would've calmed down and I would have time to get back on with things.  However, I have a feeling my brain is still asleep upstairs.

During the last few weeks I have been reading a lot of interesting, very serious, very brain-consuming books, fretting over husband's job situation and dealing with the little one on my own for a few days.  All of this has taken up a lot of spare time and in particular 'brain time'.  Add to that entertaining a little one with nursery and playgroups on Easter break and I've not had too much time to myself let alone to think, ponder and write.

Keep your fingers crossed that everything settles down for me soon, that the little one sleeps and that the sun starts shining soon.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Ant Annihilation

Despite enjoying learning more about Buddhism recently in my kid’s religion book, I showed little mercy and understanding for the several ant families that I swiftly exterminated from my kitchen floor yesterday morning.  Whilst I was there on my knees with ant spray in one hand and kitchen paper in the other, my son handily pointed out any runaways that I’d missed in my ant annihilation.  He was bravely standing off the ground on his kitchen step, mind, having got well into the kitchen before we noticed the floor crawling.

I did have a fleeting concern though, about the lesson I was teaching him.  Usually I admonish him for stamping on ants in the garden (he has never seen anyone do this before, but did it to the first ant he saw after learning to walk) and putting the ladybirds ‘to sleep’.  I am abnormally brave with spiders in the house – taking them outside and grinning inanely saying things like ‘oh, silly mister spider must have got lost, off out to the garden with you’ whilst trying to stop myself convulsing with irrational fear. 

So, yes, they were in the kitchen, and I had no idea how else to stop them storming the kick boards and feasting on the crumbs that inevitably live on our kitchen floor, but I did wonder how the my son will react next time he finds one in the garden.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Social Grandparents

I recently had a birthday.  Not a big one, nothing too special, but I think the last time husband and I properly went out for dinner (and by ‘properly’ I mean I actually wore a dress and heels) was for my birthday last year.

This year, I guess I had hopes that we might make it out again.  However, what I forgot is these days, grandparents are busy people.  Both sets of available grandparents had parties to go to on the Saturday night and then needed Sunday to recover and Sunday night to get to sleep early for work on Monday.

Something doesn’t feel right about this.  I’m in my thirties and have zero social life.  Any time I want to go out I have to book in a date about a month in advance to fit in with the oldies’ packed social calendar.  Some are so busy working, socialising and having fun that they are never around.  This is a problem that is rife these days.  I have friends who are desperate to go out as a couple but only get to do so on Wednesday evenings or in an afternoon as the grandparents are far too busy Friday and Saturday nights. 

I seem to recall my grandparents being retired.  They did the garden, read the paper and if they went out, it was to meet friends in town for a cup of tea, or a doctor’s appointment.  They were dependably ‘in’ at all times.  In fact, I seem to remember my Mum being in a bit of a tizz if the phone wasn’t answered.  No answer meant they couldn’t hear it from the garden or, if it was raining, they were clearly lying on the floor half dead.

Of course, I am pleased that the grandparents are getting out and enjoying life, especially now they are free of their own children.  I look forward to that part of my life.  But, I wouldn’t mind being out after dark on a Saturday again sometime this year.