Friday, 9 November 2012

A great week and not just for the Obamas

It’s been a funny old week. And not because of its curious, and exciting, political events which I’ve covered already, but even at a purely personal level.

We don’t tend to go out much on weekday evenings. Danielle works ostensibly part-time though – she has a hospital job – at an intensity worthy of most more than full-time positions. I commute daily to London, a tedious sapping of energy, which I shall be delighted to stop next month when I move to a new company with the good sense to have most of its staff working from home unless they’re needed at meetings.

The result is that we tend to go out only on Wednesday evenings, to a local bridge club. Otherwise we tend to collapse on a sofa, a cat on a lap, a dog curled up next to us and let a film or one of the better series that abound on TV these days, wash over us.

So it was unusual for us to add two further outings this week.

The first we felt was unmissable. The Luton Music on Mondays club has twenty or thirty concerts a year, and this Monday they’d invited back ‘Symphonia Academica’, the ensemble backed by our local University of Bedfordshire. It’s a fascinating group: talented musicians who reproduce the effect of a full symphony orchestra, but with only one instrument per section: one cello not a bank of them, one flute, one horn, and so on. That’s as much as the stage in the Library Theatre can accommodate and it produces a musical experience I’ve talked about before: grandiose in the scope of the pieces it plays, intimate for the size of the place.

Symphonia Academica: power with intimacy
It was particularly gratifying that in multi-cultural Luton, we actually saw one black face in the audience, which as a rule is drearily monochrome white. It was also a relief that we weren’t, for once, the youngest there, which is a slightly disconcerting experience given that we’re on the threshold of our sixties.

The second event was yesterday: an evening of a stand-up comedy with Jenny Eclair. Now it’s often said that male comedians in this country do little more than rely for laughs on having turned the air blue by their obsession with bodily functions, lavatorial or sexual. Having seen Jenny Eclair, I can firmly declare that at least one female comedian is right up there with the most outspoken of the men.

Of course, I’m above all that kind of coarseness. Which is why I spent the evening doubled up with laughter. My one problem with stand-up comedy is that although I enjoy it enormously while it’s happening, I can never remember any of it afterwards. I can’t quote any of it to you (and, to be honest, I’m not sure I could anyway, not in a reasonably sober blog like mine). On the other hand, I won’t forget any time soon the sight of Jenny striding around the stage with her hand firmly clamped to her crotch, urging the women in the audience (about 80% of all the spectators, I’d say), to try the same thing in various possible delicate situations they might get into in public, and promising them that it would have powerful impact. Which I can well believe.

Jenny Eclair: great entertainment if you don't mind the air being blue

The show was in Harpenden, a terribly nice (pronounced naice) market town only a few miles from dear old grotty, proletarian Luton. Jenny Eclair kept calling the audience ‘Harpenden’ but I suspect that if she’d asked where we were from, as a previous comedian we saw there did, she would have discovered as he did that most of us were from Luton. I find it a delicious irony that this is the case, underlining the fact that Harpenden is in fact just the prettier suburb of Luton up the road. Its inhabitants wouldn’t like to hear anyone say that but, hey, I’m not here to protect their sensibilities.

Anyway, it was a great evening. As was the concert on Monday. Even the bridge on Wednesday was fun though we played abysmally. All in all, as satisfying a week, at our level, as Michelle and Barack’s at theirs.


Anonymous said...

Whoa slow down on all the excitement! Sounds like you and your wife had a lovely week. Comedians can be funny. Have you seen Russell Peters? He does the race thing flawlessly with equal offense for all! Not to mention he is a home grown boy, went to the same high school as my hubby. Anyway, great post as always, really enjoyed!

David Beeson said...

Thanks Aries - and I'll look out for Russell Peters. I do find Canadian stand-ups among the best I get to hear, so I'm looking forward to it...