July 31, 2009

The End of July


So it’s the last day of July.  And it’s official:  I’m behind on Pegasus.  Pegasus the Cow.  Pegasus the Cow who briefly surfaced from the ravine a week or ten days ago or something, spent about a day pirouetting on the edge and . . . I think she took a good look around, like a ground hog on Ground Hog Day, said, Ewwww, what is this?* and swandived back into the ravine again.  It’s dark and muddy down here and I can’t see where I’m going.  And the mooing echoes unhelpfully.

            Behindness is not, at present, irrevocable** and I hope in the last day or two I’ve provided a ramp out of the ravine and maybe I can get a rope on her this time and urge her away from the edge.  But I am tired and stressed and slightly frantic.***  And I have another frelling wedding to ring tomorrow.  Who needs to finish novels?  I can live off the fees for ringing weddings.†  Feh.  Far too many people are getting married this year, I’m sure it will end in tears.  Meanwhile, however, Amy phoned a couple of days ago and asked if I could ring a wedding this Saturday—Amy was my eighth and final pair of hands on a rope for the wedding I had to find a band for when Vicky decamped to Patagonia a little while back.  This is how it works:  I’m now on the list of all those ringers from other towers who came to ring my wedding.  No, no!  I’m just standing in for Vicky!  Yep.  Standing in gets you on lists.  And furthermore this is a tower I don’t know.  Oh good:  an adventure.  Feh.†† 

* * *

* Maybe she’s afraid of hellhounds.  Maybe she’s afraid of Finale.^  This would demonstrate better sense than I’ve got. 

^ I’ve told you, haven’t I, that ‘computers’ are an invention of the Borg+?   They time-travelled back to a few decades ago and nailed a bloke named Bill Gates and another named Bob Metcalfe and maybe Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie++ and as a result crucial equations were left out of calculations with the result that our computers and the internet that ties them all together are so incalculably spastic and unreliable that we who live by them exist in a constant state of confusion, distraction, demoralisation and despair.  Thus we will never pull ourselves together to invent a practical form of faster-than-light space travel and get out there to give the Borg a hard time.  Hey, you say, in that case how did we create Star Trek and stick the Borg in it?  —Remember Arthur Clarke’s Childhood’s End?+++  Of course they were friendly.

            Anyway.  My point was going to be that while ‘computers’ and ‘the internet’ were a joint project of a team of high-ranking Borg engineers, one or two maverick geniuses added special little subprogrammes to the general havoc, and Finale was one of them.  Cheez, and I used to think my homeopathic software was possessed by demons.  My homeopathic software++++ is possessed by fuzzy bunnies and playful kittens with preternaturally large eyes and gravity-defyingly long eyelashes in comparison. 


 I particularly like the semi-hysterical protests at the top saying, This article is destroying our credibility!  Someone help us!  Please!

 ++ My concept of computer history is insufficiently damned by the word ‘feeble’ so please feel free to compile your own list 

+++ Do me a favour.  Do yourself a favour.  Don’t look it up on Wiki.  Read the book. 

++++ called Radar which I personally feel is not a good choice for the purpose.  Radar:  If You Don’t Choose the Right Remedy You Will Be Arrested.  

** But ask me the end of August. 

*** Never mind Pegasus the Cow!  I screwed up Stedman doubles at bell tower practise tonight!  I almost had to fall on my sword!^  I took a deep breath and coruscated through the second call . . . and then screwed up the front work, which is part of the ordinary plain course and unaffected by calls.  Arrrrgh. 

            I was probably brain dead.^^  First there’s shoving the cow up the ramp out of the ravine.  And then I took Something Bright and Flashy in to Oisin today to talk about dynamics.  You know about organs?  That there’s no touch to the keyboard(s)?  A note is either sounded or it isn’t, and it plays for as long as you hold it down—completely unlike a piano.  You create your dynamics on an organ by arcane means—shifting keyboards, for pity’s sake, and all those stops with names like Chimney Flute and Ophicleide,^^^ and also the roller pedal thing that you need a foot free to use.  Gah.  I am not getting my head around this.  So Oisin is whizzing through Something Bright, making little pencilled suggestions and saying, well, you could do it like this, or you could do it like this, what do you think?  —Think?  

^ I know.  This happens a lot.  It’s just the high-risk life I lead. 

^^ This is a problem with Friday evenings generally.  You can tell the people who have standard five-day-a-week office jobs.  They’re the grey-faced half-open-eyed ones who say, What? Huh? when you say their names.  Of course as a free lance who works seven days, I am always grey-faced and have a tendency to say What?  Huh? in response to my name.+ 

+ Especially at book conventions.  Who?  No, not me. 

^^^ It’s bad enough they’re organised under ‘Great’, ‘Swell’ and ‘Pedal’.  I’d go for ‘Pedal’.  I can cope with ‘Great’.  But ‘Swell’?  

† I wish. 

†† Next week we’re supposed to find out for sure if Public Handbell Comedy Take Two for another wedding is on or not.  If it is, I’ve told Niall he has to tell Vicky that we’re not ringing our home tower wedding scheduled for that day.

Silly Canon


This all began . . . a lot of weeks ago.  (I’m slow.)  But there was a thread on the forum that for reasons which now escape me indulged in a sudden burst of composing epitaphs for Black Bear.*  This was happening right around the time Oisin suggested I write a canon.  I sat down at the piano thinking about Row Row Row Your Boat and J S Bach, and somehow rowing your boat won.  I’m also now sort of half on the lookout for short, not too horrifyingly profound and/or literary** poems to set and mental slippage in the McKinley polity is normal so I found myself idly toying in a canonical sort of way with one or two of the epigraphs from the forum . . . and discovered they were too long and complicated.  I wanted about two lines for my canon . . . and I also already had a semi-cantering rhythm in my head—aaugh!  Too late!  You want the words first!***—so I hastily wrote a couple.  Of very silly lines.  And set them.

            And here they are.  It’s taken me this long partly because once it occurred to me I wanted to post this I wanted Oisin to look at it with an eye to my not making a complete fool† of myself, which has meant that I have to keep waiting till next Friday for my music lesson—that, and wrestling with Finale over various things. †† 

            This is only the sheet music, I’m afraid—anyone out there who sings SAT or B and has three friends who sing the others, please have a go. †††  Oisin said that I’ll get complaints about the octave leaps . . . but they’re nice straightforward octaves, not anything alarming like diminished sevenths and demisemihemiquavers or something that you have to think about.  Oisin also said that the tenor ‘beware’ is hard to sing . . . and then promptly sang it himself, so I’m not too impressed.

             But mainly this is for a giggle.  So I’m not going to worry about it.

             And . . . it’s Black Bear’s birthday today.  Just by the way.  Most of what I’ve written about writing the Silly Canon is sheer truth, but it is also true that when I realised her birthday was coming up I jiggery-pokeried a bit so I could post it today, and give her a really nasty shock . . . I mean, a lovely surprise. ‡

             Happy Birthday, Black Bear! 

Download sheet music (PDF)


* Yes.  Very weird.  As I say, I don’t remember why. 

** Special exception for people you’re married to, and Anonymous can’t complain. 

*** Well, I do, if I’m going to use words 

† A semi-fool is acceptable, and probably inevitable 

†† Arrrgh.  As per previous blog entries.  Also I’m also just slow.  Slow, slow, slow.  Well, I’m supposed to be finishing a novel too. 

††† And then record it and send me a link. 

‡ And you don’t have to download it:  you can just read it on your screen.

Guest post by Peter

Garden Party 

Somebody* has asked how I came to go to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party, and what was it like.  I went because my grandmother was entitled to an invitation, I’m not sure why.  Perhaps just because she was the widow of a peer of the realm, or because her husband had been a Privy Counsellor. (No, not a sanitary plumber– that’s got to be an old joke.**)  These used to be the monarch’s official advisers but are now largely purposeless, apart from having a legal sub-committee which is the final court of appeal for crimes committed in our few remaining colonies.  If you’re unwise enough to murder someone in the Hopeless Islands, where the death penalty is carried out by alligators kept for the purpose, your last chance may lie with these wizened old geezers in London.  They may have a few residual functions that we’ve forgotten to abolish, such as declaring the monarch officially insane.

Anyway, Granny must have been getting on 90 and was determined go but needed an escort, so I begged off work for the afternoon and went along. I don’t think anything worth telling you about happened apart from the event itself, which I was able to use thirty years later for a scene in Skeleton-in-Waiting.

This was a sequel to King and Joker, where the basic idea is that George V’s elder brother didn’t die prematurely, and so succeeded Edward VII as king and reigned as Victor I, who outlived his eldest son and was succeed by his grandson, Victor II.  Louise, the teenage heroine of King and Joker, is his daughter, and her elder brother Albert is Prince of Wales.  Louise is now grown up and married to Piers, a university lecturer on artificial intelligence and a very reluctant royal.

(In case anyone is moved to read the rest of the book I’d like you to know that I wrote the stuff about the Princess of Wales’s eating disorder before it got out that Princess Diana had the same sort of problem.  It seemed to me a natural reaction to the sort of pressure these people are under, but of course if I’d known I’d have done something different.)

 From Skeleton-in-Waiting 

. . . The form for Garden Parties, assuming tolerable weather, was that the guests trooped through to the lawns and assembled, just over a thousand of them, and stood around for a while, half-listening to the band, chatting to chance-met friends, criticising the colour-clashes in the formal bedding . . . until the Family emerged, separated and began to move through the crowd.  Piers, on the couple of occasions he’d come, had claimed to be fascinated by the dynamics of this process.  The guests were a random mass, culled from the length and breadth of Britain for disparate reasons, social, charitable, political, inexplicable.  They had no joint will but only, most of them, the individual hope of being presented to a member of the Family and exchanging a banal sentence or two.  But they behaved as though it was a game with definite rules which they all almost at once understood and obeyed.

            As Louise progressed across the grass a pathway opened before her, about a yard wide, lined by guests waiting for their chance of a greeting.  The pathway stretched only a few paces ahead but it was always there, stopping when she stopped to talk and wriggling on another couple of yards as she moved on again.  Sometimes, just as randomly, it forked and a decision had to be made, the unused path closing as soon as it became clear that she was going to take the other one.  Louise’s lady-in-waiting and equerry moved with her, usually a pace behind, but edging ahead when they had spotted one of the faces on their lists so that they could be ready to present the selected citizen to her.  One trap was that everybody in the crowd knew who you were and looked at you with the natural gleam of recognition to which you instinctively felt urged to respond.  According to Piers there was a specialised bit of brain which did nothing but remember faces;  he said Louise’s must be hyperdeveloped. . . . The others could do it too—it was part of the job. . . .

            There were moments when two paths crossed.  You would smile at Albert or whoever but then turn and talk to a guest while your attendants, with glances and minimal gestures, would organise separating paths to carry the royal wanderers apart.  Like particles colliding in a cloud-chamber, Piers said. . . .

            After the wandering-through-crowd process you sat down to tea at your unofficially official table and chosen guests were brought to sit with you for a few minutes each.  These might be anyone from people you yourself had asked to see to the unlucky daughters of skilled mums who’d managed to importune your equerry. . . .

            As the sitting-down episode ended you did a quick check with your minders to see if anyone who mattered had been missed and then there was another half hour of crowd-wandering, different because the guests tended to have separated into clumps, and then Mr Slocombe would ring a hand-bell*** and bellow for everyone to be upstanding and the band would play “God Save the King.”  The Family would re-form as a unit, move off to the doors of the Yellow Drawing-room, turn on the step, wave, wait for the muttered, understated cheer, barely audible against the burr of traffic up Buckingham Palace Road, and vanish into the temporary and partial privacy of the Blue Boudoir for a stiff drink.  Ladies-in-waiting and equerries would arrive a few minutes later, peering at semi-decipherable notes they had scribbled about the various royal encounters. . . .

 * * *

* A long time ago.  Sorry about that.   And no, Peter’s invitation to be OBE’d^ hasn’t arrived yet –Ed/hellgoddess

^ I imagine a sort of fwapping sound accompanying:  OBFWAP.

** I’m not sure, do you have privies outside the UK?  It sounds so British to me, like loo and bog.  And public convenience.  I love ‘public convenience’.  The phrase was obviously invented against the day when some poor urgent person only had a bishop available to ask the question of.  Or possibly an elderly baronet.

*** A hand-bell????? . . . I suppose it would be too much to ask that he had eleven more of them in the linen cupboard or under the bed and after supper below stairs they sat around ringing Londinium Surprise Maximus.


Bowen method for creatures great and small


If I were any tireder the Zombie Police would arrest me on suspicion.  Did anything happen on Saturday?*  It’s too long ago, I can’t remember.  But there was the quarter on Sunday and then yesterday was Glyndebourne*** and today the hellhounds and I went to see my Bowen lady** and Bowen always wipes me out.   Uuuunnnnnnh.

            I don’t usually take the hellhounds to see Tabitha.  I usually go a little early and do something creative on the way like stop at the supermarket and check for offers on champagne, or cruise Waterstones†.  But I don’t leave hellhounds in the car;  I’m way too paranoid about dog thieves, and as I’ve said here before, young lurchers are very popular.  So we went straight there and had a brief Ecstatic! Gambol! on Strange! New! Ground!  —you’d think I keep the little frellers locked up in a closet, the way they go on.  And then I lifted Darkness back in the car and tottered†† indoors.  Tabitha was going to do both of us.  And Chaos would, of course, help.

            I brought Tabitha out to meet hellhounds because she was going to be twiddling Darkness while I lay inert and hallucinating on her table:  part of the Bowen system is that they do something to you and then go away for a minute or several while your body decides what to do with what they’ve done.  It tends to put me under almost on contact††† and I lie there having lovely experiences of other realities, periodically illuminated by Tabitha reappearing and doing something else.  Today to my back and environs.  I really feel I’ve been sufficiently punished for my indiscretion about high heels to the opera almost a month ago and I’m considering suggesting that fair is fair and it’s time Darkness started lifting me into the car occasionally.  Today’s other realities were rather more ornamented by sudden starbursts and Catherine wheels of pain than usual.

            During my first intermission I heard the front door open and close and then . . . a familiar sounding bark.  One single, not-very-alarmed bark.  A sort of ‘hmm what have we here’ bark.  A second similar after a brief interval.  A third after a slightly longer interval almost sounding as if he’d contracted for three and so had to fulfil the commitment.  Then silence.  I lay there in my semi-coma, semi-thinking okay, this is good, if someone ever did try and steal them, at least Darkness would bark

            Tabitha came back in giggling.  Darkness may be the warning system but Chaos is the welcoming party.  Hi!  Can we play?  I’m a really nice armful.  Let me show you.  –He’s really strong, said Tabitha.  Ahem.  Yes.‡  Then she did something else to me and I drifted away again.  There was no more barking.

            Darkness and I barely made a short round for the afternoon hurtle post-Bowen, much to Chaos’ chagrin.  But Darkness, who is generally the better eater of the two of them—well, let’s say the less bad eater—has been decreasingly willing to go to the effort of eating the last week or so and is generally just more pulled-in on himself and wary, which is not Darkness’ natural temperament.  And he came very nearly bounding out of the dog bed tonight to eat his supper standing upAll his supper.  I can’t remember the last time he didn’t lie down first.  And then eat three mouthfuls and look put-upon.  Of course he’s also immediately showing a distressing desire to play tug-of-war games and I’m having to play the Big Meanie.  But . . . progress.  Yaay. 

* * *

 * Besides worrying about Sunday’s quarter peal

 ** There are thousands of Bowen sites out there now (including a few in ‘about’ on this blog) but here’s an interesting article about a test study:  http://www.thebowentechnique.com/content/research.htm

*** http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/jul/24/lelisir-damore-review , although he’s suffering a slight case of critic-itis:  L’Elisir is not a scathing portrait of anything, Dulcamara^ is fine, and his sidekick is supposed to be silly.  Duh.  Lighten up, Tim!  —I am interested that the replacement soprano was flown in at the last minute:  there was a lot of stage business that she sure got her head (and feet) around in a hurry.  I assumed she was an on-site understudy, and had been through rehearsals.^^  Now this is almost funny:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/opera/5901533/Opera-LElisir-damore-at-Glyndebourne-review.html   He wants to slam it because it possibly dared try to take L’Elisir seriously.  Is it a requirement of being a critic that you’re dyspeptic?  Last night’s opera was adorable.  Trust me. 

^ Last time I saw L’Elisir I wasn’t a homeopath yet.  Every time I hear Dulcamara’s name now I start moseying off on the homeopathic remedy.  One of the games you play in college is deciding on a remedy for each of your tutors:  the choices are not always polite. Last night was a dulcamara-y night too.  http://abchomeopathy.com/r.php/Dulc

^^ At Glyndebourne prices, they ought to be able to afford understudies for the understudies. 

            Staring at the audience is almost as gratifying as listening to the music, at least for those of us who don’t live like that.   There was one incredibly elderly lady we saw at tea, bent almost literally double, tottering along on her cane, wearing an odd sparkly cardie thing that I would buy in a minute in a vintage clothing shop.  We decided that she’d sung in the chorus there before the war.  The First World War.  And has been coming every year since, having given up singing after her fiancé’s wood-canvas-and-baling-twine RFC plane was shot down.+  She is also possibly the Countess Flatfootflooziewithafloyfloy who donates a new production every year:  she was certainly well-known to the staff.  Peter and I both noticed the startling absence of frilly young things on smug elderly gentlemen’s arms:  Peter opined lugubriously that wealthy elderly gentlemen are feeling the economic crunch too and are taking their wives to the opera this year.

            Oh, and the bloke on my other side started talking to me while we were waiting for the second act!  I’ve always been someone that people ask directions of, but is my face going all friendly in my old age, and not just harmless?  Here I thought my last several operas have been so chatty because I was there alone.  Fie.

+ The RAF didn’t come into existence till 1918:  I just looked it up.  I also have my resident history lesson sitting next to me at the table:  Peter’s father flew in the RFC and . . . hey!  Peter!   Write me a blog entry!         

http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/home.do  For you non Brits, it’s boooooooooks.  I try to use Waterstones rather than amazon because it’s also a real store where you can go fondle the merchanise. 

†† Bent almost double, although I have never sung at Glyndebourne.  I’ve told you, haven’t I, that after about ten years of being married to Peter I found I remembered the ’40s well?^ 

^ I’m 57 this year.  You do the maths.  

††† I’ve never been hypnotised.  I’d be tweeting like a bird before she got her shiny toy out and started waving it at me.  I’m so clearly a brilliant subject I keep thinking I should try it some time to go to the dentist.  Unfortunately I’m a coward of darkest French’s mustard hue. 

‡ One of the other mysteries about last night’s audience was where were all the gym bunnies?  Granted the absence of frilly young things, but not everybody present had sung there before WWI.  I was talking to Hannah about this today^:  doesn’t anybody just, you know, have a life with physical activity in it any more?  Bell ringing?  Hellhound lifting?  Riding dressage on a horse that needs holding together?   Not at Glyndebourne last night. 

^ Thank the gods (and goddesses) for Hannah in my life for many, many reasons, but near the top of the list the last few years has been this menopause thing.  She doesn’t get to eat either, and she has to work like a coal-heaver to stay fit.  Since she lives in Manhattan however she has special dispensation to have a personal trainer and still be a normal human being.  She sent me a photo of herself recently at the Prix Goncourt or some damn thing with six other editors and a stray dog and barring the dog she was probably twenty years older than any of them:  and she was also the only one with arm definition.

Unfrelling Glyndebourne*


 I lead such an exciting life.**   So today was our third opera at Glyndebourne, http://www.glyndebourne.com/ , which is our annual holiday equivalent in terms of price—since it includes not merely two wallet-bendingly excellent tickets but dinner, half a bottle of champagne*** and a taxi.†  And it happens at the end of July to celebrate our end-of-July anniversary, which is when I picked up the eccentric Englishman I knew slightly at the Bangor, Maine airport for a minor weekend of literary dalliance eighteen years ago, looked at him coming through the airport gate and said to myself, Oops.  Here is trouble.  The rest is history.††

            The precise date of that meeting at the airport when the lines of fate wrenched themselves from their moorings and yelled, let’s boogie!, is the 26th, yesterday.  When Vicky first suggested the quarter peal for Peter’s OBE on the 26th my first thought was crumbs†††, if we were going to Rusalka I could say no.‡  Three months ago or something—have I told you this already?  I’ve told somebody this already—when we were buying the tickets, the end of July choices were Rusalka and L’Elisir d’Amore.‡‡  And Rusalka was even on the 26th.  We’ve seen both before.  Peter had a slight preference for Rusalka . . . but I decided I couldn’t face that morbid, masochistic and misogynistic fairy tale‡‡‡ on my finding-my-husband anniversary.  So we went for L’Elisir d’Amore, which is a comedy, and can be very good fun if it’s done well and you aren’t too blistered about plausibility.§

            . . . And I’ve spent the last three months worrying that I’d made a terrible mistake.  I’ve been worrying harder since the new Glyndebourne Rusalka opened to tumultuously positive reviews.  The L’Elisir is a mere revival, and I haven’t even seen a review, although it opened last week.  And then we got there tonight to the news that the lead soprano is ill§§ and we were getting an understudy.  Can this evening/marriage be saved.

            Yes.  It was brilliant.  It was exactly what I at least wanted:  gorgeously sung—the tenor was to die for and the understudy still stole the show—and cleverly staged with a good set that made sense§§§ and lots of very sharply played, well timed business.  It was charming.  It was delightful.  I loved it.  I can’t even think of anything to carp about.¤  And while when it’s this good it looks easy, both the main roles are actually a bit tricky to bring off:  Adina is another of these heartless flirt types and her conversion may come as a ‘miser leans against wall and becomes generous’ moment;  Nemerino is a gullible nincompoop and what sensible woman would want him?  But they can be made appealing, and these singing actors did so, with the help of their cast, orchestra and director.  Big yaays all around.   Big sigh of relief from a certain spiffily dressed¤¤ American in the audience sitting next to a brand-new OBE in a black velvet jacket.

* * *

 * My mods have actually started a thread in the mods-blogmom-and-hellgoddess zone discussing the number of times lately that ‘frell’ has appeared in my post titles.  Very funny, guys!  Ha ha ha ha ha very ——– funny!  

** And tomorrow I have to get up at what passes in my case for the crack of dawn, because my semi-detached neighbour’s New Boiler Man is coming to rip the ugly shiny totally eye catching and out of place VENT out of the wall and BRICK IT OVER and I need to be awake^ to let him in.  This is going to be worth even getting up early for.  Not only is the vent ugly and eye catching etc it stinks.  It’s one of these things that when you buy an old house you look at something—like your neighbour’s heating vent sticking into your garden—and think, how did that happen?  Why didn’t my cottage’s previous owner say ‘vent your horrible boiler in your own garden’?

            Now if only I could do something about the tacky and hideous shed roof that sticks up over the top of my wall from the next garden over toward the church.  We’re all in a ‘conservation area’ so theoretically you aren’t allowed to put up eyesores, but this is only a serious eyesore to me and I’m sure if I went round and complained they’d say ‘bite me’.  I’m still considering planting one of the tree-eater roses and flinging several times fifty foot of thorny stem onto said roof.  That would be a much more desirable view from my office window. 

^ And presentable.  Which is to say dressed.  Well, covered.   I hope articulate isn’t required. 

*** Of course 

† Not only on account of the champagne, but it does play a part. 

†† Including the 3rd of January following which is our wedding anniversary.  We celebrate both. 

††† No not frell!  Crumbs! 

‡ This is of course spurious.  Vicky would merely have rescheduled.  But it was still a nasty shock. 

‡‡ The Fairy Queen is also playing, but Peter won’t sit through early twiddly operas like Handel and Purcell.  I like Handel and Purcell operas.  

‡‡‡ Dvorak is a funny old bloke.  I tend to love folk music and fancy composed music derived from or inspired by folk music, which is no doubt why I like a lot of Dvorak’s stuff.  But he sure went for the yucky:  poor old Rusalka becomes a vengeful death spirit, luring humans to drown, because her human prince betrayed her, sort of, and the first one she gets to bump off is said prince himself, who either hadn’t betrayed her or didn’t mean to, and would rather die in her arms than live without her.  Then how about the tone poems based on other Czech fairy tales:  the Noonday Witch, in which the mother inadvertently smothers her baby to death, or the Water Goblin where he kidnaps and rapes a human girl and then kills her baby by bashing its head against her mother’s door when she manages to escape him long enough to run home.  The Golden Spinning Wheel at least has a happy ending if you don’t mind a spot of murder and mutilation along the way.  What is the matter with this guy? 

§ If you’re going to get into opera, you really must shake your strong attachment to narrative credibility.  This is Peter’s great stumbling block as the husband of an opera nut.  He can’t.  

§§ Peter was figuring out the probability, based on size of theatre against size of population, that somebody in the audience was coming down with swine flu.  I suggested that the indisposed soprano had it which meant that the entire cast had been exposed, which meant. . . . 

§§§§ Yes, all right, within the above bounds of lack of narrative credibility.  But there were no snake pits like the cross-dressing Cabaret-escapee pub owner in the Peter Grimes I just saw at the ENO.  And as far as narrative credibility goes . . . L’Elisir makes no less sense than the average Hollywood romcom, and more than a good many.  Boy yearns after girl.  Girl couldn’t care less till she thinks she’s lost him.  Boy comes into huge sum of money and could have any girl.  But he doesn’t want any other girl.  Happy ending.  One of the things I like about L’Elisir, in my tedious feminist way, is that Adina is the one with money and power, and she buys Nemerino’s commission back . . . and yet it doesn’t seem to occur to anyone that this may have emasculated him.  It just means she loves him.

 ¤ . . . Yes I can.  But it’s not worth it.

¤¤ If flat-heeled

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