Sunday Salon – Views and Reviews

Three books, a BBC television comedy and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra rounds off the season with two very different concerts.

Kill Joys by Martin Stratford

Twelfth in the  Havenchester Crime series

Private detectives Alec and Julie Tanner have a good team and their colleagues’ skills are vital in solving cases and saving their lives. There is more going on than anybody on either side of the law realises in delightfully dark plots at odds with a respectable hotel, a pleasant village and a museum that should only be of interest to lovers of literature. Can a feud between two families be resolved by two young lovers or are they putting themselves in danger? The action increases in pace and an innocent woman finds herself in a nightmare situation. Events move rapidly to the denouement in a deliciously complex plot spiced with the author’s usual dark humour.

 

Fancy Meeting You Here  by Jim Webster

A relaxing book to dip into, with tales and thoughts of Jim Webster who has farmed all his life near the Cumbrian coast. Poignantly we gather that for a farmer governments come and go, Brexit or no Brexit, people with little idea about real farming or local conditions can come along with new regulations and policies. For a sheep dog there are no worries about politics, but Sal has set views about what the sheep should be doing and what humans should be doing and when. There are pleasant walks and even a recipe for no cooking apple chutney. Whether you live in the countryside or have never set foot in a field, you will enjoy this book.

 

More Glimpses by Hugh W. Roberts

I enjoyed the first book and this is another great selection of stories. Topically the last story is about plastics, has a solution been found? Yes, but only at a terrible cost. Each story is delightfully unique; a new slant on fairies at the bottom of the garden, a wedding bouquet like no other, royal shopping and some very tiny dark tales.

I read these three books as e books downloaded onto my Kindle. I posted the reviews on Goodreads, but they have all been rejected by Amazon. Two of the authors I have reviewed before with no problems; but out of all the long list of guidelines to adhere to could this be the one I am breaking?

To contribute to … Customer Reviews…  you must have spent at least £40 on Amazon.co.uk using a valid payment card in the past 12 months.

As Amazon allows us to buy books for as little as 99 pence this seems unfair to authors and readers.

Now for some comedy. I love a good half hour television comedy and there have been some very different series, gentle, dark, clever that we have enjoyed or are enjoying at Chez Beachwriter. Just finished last week was ‘Don’t Forget The Driver’ co written and starring Toby Jones. An exquisite six episodes of dark and gentle humour about Peter, a coach driver, who lives in Bognor Regis with his daughter and nearby his elderly mother. The first episode opens with Peter on his mobile phone to his identical twin in Australia; he stands on the beach in front of the webcam – Facetime the hard way – the Australian family spot something on the beach, which turns out to be a dead body…

Every character is subtly created and each episode takes us on a different outing, with the first a trip to France, returning with an extra passenger…

Another trip full of Japanese passengers interested in culture finds a very serious gentleman asking Peter to help him understand Shakespeare and iambic pentameters. The confused conversation ends with Peter saying ‘Okay Mr. Pentameter’.

The last episode finishes poignantly with Peter diverting his coachload of school band pupils to the cemetery.

https://www.comedy.co.uk/tv/dont_forget_the_driver/

 

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Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is Classsic FM’s Orchestra in the South of England. Classic FM is a commercial radio station which is often good except for irritating advertisements. Over the autumn, summer and spring the BSO play a few Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees at the Bournemouth Pavilion. A Classic FM presenter introduces popular pieces, with of course some jokes, mention of the weather, the seaside and interesting tit bits about the composers. The last concert on Saturday 11th May was ‘Hall of Fame’ with four pieces guaranteed to be enjoyed by various ages. The theatre was packed. William Tell Overture was followed by that great tradition of half the orchestra retreating while the men (and a woman ) in black stack chairs, manoeuvre the grand piano onto the stage and hopefully remember to lock the wheels in place. The chairs and music stands are repositioned and I always wonder if the musicians will end up with their right parts of music.

The second piece was Beethoven’s Fifth Piano concerto. After the interval the stage was reorganised again while the audience went out for an ice cream. In the second half the Carmen Suite was followed by the 1812 Overture as finale, a Classic FM favourite for finishing concerts and loud enough for someone near us to open their bag of Malteasers.

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Wednesday 15th was very different; the end of the main season at the Lighthouse Poole, being broadcast live on BBC Radio Three with chief conductor Kiril Karabits. Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, a great choral drama with the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and three top soloists. Elgar was a Roman Catholic and based the work on Cardinal Newman’s poem of the same name ( no, I haven’t read it ). One hundred minutes which seemed to go by quickly. Part one finds Gerontius, American tenor Paul Appleby, on his death bed and the priest sends him on his journey. In part two his guardian angel, mezzo-soprano Alice Coote, appears and eventually he sees God for the briefest moment with the chorus building up to the famous climax ‘Praise to the Holiest in the Height’. His guardian angel then gently leads him off to rest in purgatory, which doesn’t sound too bad.The whole work is a great drama with plenty of spine tingling moments, obviously a piece still popular with modern audiences whatever their beliefs. Kiril Karabits allowed a long moment of silence after the final chords of ‘Amen’ before lowering his baton.

https://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/17644256.review-bso-the-dream-of-gerontius-by-elgar

https://www.facebook.com/Bournemouth-Symphony-Chorus-252826548066372

 

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Friday Flash Fiction – Final part of Tomorrow

If you missed part one last Friday, catch up here.

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2019/05/03/friday-flash-fiction-tomorrow/

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On the news the next day the police were asking for a couple to come forward who were believed to be witnesses.

Beth was waiting for me in a café, the other side of town from the shooting. ‘I don’t even know your name, but I can tell you’re a compassionate man, you understand people.’

She was quite attractive, in a homely sort of way, but it was the sadness in her eyes that affected me and I almost felt like the man she imagined me to be. Was it possible to atone for everything I’d done. I’d never killed my wife in cold blood, like the gunman, but I had killed…

‘Are you okay? I don’t think you policeman are as tough as you like to think.’

His eyes, as if he was looking into the gates of hell… I pulled myself together, I was definitely losing it.

‘Sorry, I’m upsetting you. Tell me about your family Beth.’

She talked and I held her hand platonically. She paused.

‘I’m supposed to be meeting a friend for an early dinner, my mother’s picking the children up from school, we were going to the concert hall, but she’s ill. Are you one of those detectives who loves music?’

‘Yes’ I lied automatically.

‘You’re welcome to the other ticket, it’s Verdi’s Requiem, perhaps something deep and stirring would be good for both of us.’ She suddenly laughed. ‘Rather ironic, we were supposed to have the Day of Judgment yesterday.’

‘I’ll come with you.’

My brain was ticking over, there was lasagne verdi and wasn’t there a Verdi who wrote operas? I could nip into the gents and get on the internet with my mobile, find out more.

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I paid for dinner with my laundered money, then we rushed to the concert hall, it was starting at 7pm. While Beth was in the Ladies I bought a programme and scanned it hurriedly. Four columns of Latin, that shouldn’t take long to sing. I started reading the English translation. I had been lulled into feeling like a new man, but the words leapt off the page.

The day of wrath, that day will dissolve the world in ashes… how great will be the terror, when the judge comes…

I closed the programme, just words, made up like an opera….

We had good seats, in the middle, a few rows back. The stage filled with a large orchestra, behind them were banked an enormous choir. Everyone was clapping and they hadn’t even played anything yet, four soloists walked on.

As they started singing I followed the Latin words as best I could, I soon realised they kept repeating every line, how long was this going to take? I tried to relax and let the music wash over me, but suddenly the orchestra were playing wildly, the choir was crying out, and I could feel the vibrations of the bass drum like a death knell. Beside me Beth clasped my hand and trembled with the thrill of the music. But I trembled with terror; at that moment I knew it was true, there would be a Day of Judgement and I would never be ready.

The programme dropped from my hands, I had no idea how much time passed, as that terrible theme was repeated. Then everyone was clapping and Beth was leading me out. She leaned up and brushed my cheek.

‘Wasn’t it wonderful, there’s no need to be ashamed, shedding a few tears. That’s strange, it shouldn’t be dark outside yet at this time of year, must be a storm coming.’

She slipped her arm through mine, I tried to blank my mind, slip back to normality, but as we stepped outside the sky was black, not the clear black of night, but dark rolling storm clouds. I looked up in abject terror as the sky rent in two, then cast my eyes down. Beth was no longer beside me.

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For more dark stories dip into this book.

Only 99 pence or $1.29

 

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon, the occasional blog that brings you all the arts.

Today a rattling good story, two very different theatre experiences and a concert.

She Who Goes Forth by Audrey Driscoll

I posted this review on Amazon.co.uk, but it was rejected! I also posted it on Goodreads, giving it five stars.

Whether you are young or can remember setting out in life on your own, you will connect with France our heroine in this ripping yarn. She is the new girl and nothing in Luxor, Egypt is as she was expecting. France finds herself with a complex set of colleagues and like anyone new does not know what is going on. But with her trusty cello by her side she does not let much daunt her. Although this novel is a fantasy, it portrays real people at an interesting time in history. We are not sure at first what is truth, what is France’s imagination or what part others have played in the strange happenings. Then events start to happen fast and there are terrifying page turning moments as France’s life changes forever.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2792704117

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Whatever your taste in music, drama or films; going out to a live event is always an experience.

The Pavilion, Bournemouth

The Pavilion has been celebrating its ninetieth birthday, not the oldest theatre in the country, but it has seen off two winter gardens and survived several attempts at closure or change.

The actual birthday night was celebrated with a trip back in time, three hours of varied entertainment for less than £10. A municipal orchestra was recreated and rose from the orchestra pit. This was followed by amateur silent film of Bournemouth in 1929 and newsreel films accompanied by the fantastic Compton theatre organ, which can also pop up and down and can make the whole theatre vibrate. At the many keyboards was Donald Mackenzie who plays its sister organ at the Odeon Leicester Square.

http://www.donaldmackenzie.org.uk/

After the interval was a showing of my favourite old musical, 42nd Street, made in 1933 when movies had made a great leap forward from silent to large scale musicals. The first time I watched it was when the lovely Art Deco cinema in Christchurch was having its eightieth birthday in 2011. On that occasion Mark Kermode, film critic from the BBC, introduced the movie and declared how great it was that the little cinema was still using real ( reel ) film. Shortly afterwards the cinema went digital; modern technology has to be embraced to keep these places busy and functioning…

Meanwhile back at the Pavilion I enjoyed the film again, great music and a show business story that is still relevant, the fat bloke with the cigar and the money was Weinstein. As the film finished the organ rose from the pit with a resounding chord and played the National Anthem and yes we did all stand. Happy Birthday followed to round off a good evening.

Lighthouse Arts Centre, Poole

 The Lighthouse opened in 1978 and has a concert hall, theatre, studio and cinema. We went to the theatre to see ‘Dracula The Bloody Truth’ a family friendly show with the premise that Bram Stoker stole a true story.  Exeter based Le Navet Bete are committed to creating hilarious, physical and totally accessible comedy theatre using creative and engaging storytelling. The four chaps played many roles between them, including all the ladies. Their timing was brilliant as they mistimed everything, knocked scenery over or spoke each other’s lines. By the end of the first half, most of the set had fallen onto the stage. It was hilarious for the adults, but even better, the theatre was filled with the genuine laughter of children.

http://lenavetbete.com/shows/dracula/

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, has not been based in Bournemouth since it moved to the Lighthouse; it plays its main season of concerts there and some are broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 – make sure you have your mobile phones turned off! But it still plays some concerts at the Pavilion and also in other towns all over the South West of England, as well as spreading out its members to work with schools and care homes.

Even if you are not interested in classical music you probably have an idea what happens at a live concert and you would be right…   audience sits down as orchestra come on and start tuning, leader of orchestra comes on, more applause, conductor and perhaps the soloist comes on; even greater applause and they haven’t even done anything yet, but they look smart. If there are choir seats behind the orchestra and no singing planned the audience can sit up there and get a great view of the percussion section, although I always worry the huge cymbals are going to go flying backwards into the audience as the percussionist strikes them with gusto. I have never tried these seats as it involves lots of clambering around watched by everybody else in the auditorium and it would be embarrassing to trip. On broadcast nights you can watch the radio presenter chatting away silently to the microphone in his little booth at the side of the stage…

https://www.lighthousepoole.co.uk/about/

But every concert can be different and there is plenty to watch. Serious concert goers who all know each other, school parties, restless children and inevitably some people who fall asleep; even the most ardent music lover can find their eyelids, or worse, their head drooping as a busy day catches up with them and they sit in warm comfort soothed by the music… and what of those going for the first time? At one concert, as we all filed up the shallow steps to the exit doors at the back, I heard a woman behind me saying to her chap

‘I feel like I’ve been run over by a tractor.’

You have no soul, it was fantastic.

‘Don’t ever bring me to a live concert again, I don’t mind listening to Classic FM on the radio…’

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At a recent concert nobody knew what to expect and the conductor gave us an introduction so we would be prepared. It was the third symphony by Armenian composer Avet Terterian. Two soloists played small wooden instruments called duduks. The piece started with total silence for a good few moments which was surprisingly moving; do we ever hear total silence? This was suddenly broken by the drums. I noticed some of the orchestra had ear plugs and a lady up in the choir seats kept her ears covered the whole time. The duduks, far from being overwhelmed by the orchestra, played piercing notes that took you back to ancient lands. There were other periods of silence and sweet lyrical parts. I could not describe the symphony, but I loved it. There was rapturous applause at the end; it had been an experience.

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