Sunday morning when I walk down for the newspapers on my own is always my opportunity to engage in some indulgence as I listen to certain classical tracks I have on my aged iPhone. Today the first track along happened to be the overture to ‘The Marriage of Figaro‘ and the first time I heard it when I was aged 14 in the music room at Thornleigh College, Bolton (the school which I attended whilst my mother trained to be a teacher). The music teacher, a stocky Glaswegian built like a tank, told us that the syllabus had just been published for the ‘O’-levels we would take in two years time. We were informed that although it was a sparkling 7 minutes worth, we had better get used to it as we would study it in detail for the next two years (which was the length of time deemed necessary to prepare you properly for the GCE ‘O’-level in Music). This was thought at the time to be one of the most demanding ‘O’-levels that there was, on a par with Physics. My memory may not serve me correctly but I suspect that at the time we had to know the score in some detail and might even have to engage in some composition as well. I know that when I changed schools the following year (when my mother had returned from her teaching training course) then I had a massive culture shock as I moved from school with an average plus reputation in music (we did have a school orchestra, choir and brass band – of which the brass band was by far the best known and the most prestigious) to a school where the only music was a lesson in singing for the 11-yr olds taught by an obscure little teacher in a back room somewhere. Later on, I listened to the aria ‘The Queen of the Night‘ and the film ‘Amadeus‘ on the life of Mozart had a brilliant scene win which the incradibly high, not to say shrieked nature of the soprano part was transmogrified into the face of his mother-in-law. A similar psychological transformation takes place in the same film where the voice and image of ‘The Commendatore’ is transformed into the face and image of Mozart’s own stern father. The Commendatore is a military hero, the father of one of Don Giovanni’s conquests, who is slain by him in the opening scene of the opera whilst the closing scene is the statue of the Commendatore who comes to life and drags off Don Giovanni to the flames of hell) You really have to see the whole opera to appreciate the drama of all of this. On my way home, I was ‘overtaken’ on the road by one of my acquaintances who I used to see quite regularly when we were members of the same Pilates class together. She was on her way to the hotel at the top of the road where she has worked for the past few years. She had her hours progressively reduced from five hours to two with the same volume of work expected in the two hours. She had had a new boss who was threatening her with disciplinary action for some of dispute she had had over time off over holidays – so eventually, she had decided to leave. It does make you a wonder whether this a microcosm of what is happening in the overall economy where (some employers at least) very much have the whip hand, but I found it all rather saddening.
Eventually, Meg and I drag ourselves off to the park, really in search of some of our regular park friends who we have temporally abandoned whilst we patronise the Waitrose coffee bar. We did not run into any but we did run into several interesting dogs and their owners. One of these was a ‘labradoodle‘ (a cross between a Labrador and a poodle) which really is quite an interesting looking dog with curls of woolly hair and quite a striking physique. Another hybrid puppy cane along ( a cockapoo?) and the owners happy chatted whilst the dogs enjoyed each other’s company. All very touching, really.
This afternoon, the weather looked gloomy but not actually raining so I took a chance and decided to get the lawns cut before the football started at 5.00pm. Fortunately, I got the lawns cut in time, the mower (and myself) cleaned up, a cup of tea prepared and was sitting in my chair one minute before kickoff. As we might have expected, plucky little Wales was completely outclassed by a very dominant Italy but by keeping the score down to 1-0 victory for Italy (although in truth it should have been several more), Wales managed to quality (on the basis of one win, one draw and one loss) in the pool stage and will then progress to the knockout stage of the competition – where I do not think they have ever been before so that are quite happy bunnies tonight.