Well, that last entry was a case of speaking too soon. I kind of knew, as I typed it, that I was tempting fate. There was a definite mid-week wobble in the son-in-law department. Thanks to the commenters; he’s had many, many courses of medication over the years and nothing seems to make any difference. Except - well, who knows? Sometimes he's fine.
However, to be more cheerful… I know I tend to write about our students’ little mishaps with the English language, but this week our music and drama department put on two performances of Purcell’s short opera “Dido and Aeneas” and the students were just FANTASTIC. One or two staff members, including me, have been going along to sing in the chorus and it’s been such fun. The music is lovely and the choir and orchestra, mainly music students, put their hearts into it and sounded really excellent. The soloists were spectacularly good. Our Dido has a sweet, rich voice that flows like cream, and the others were almost as impressive. When Dido is dying of a broken heart – Aeneas having left her, instructed to do so by an evil spirit pretending to be Mercury – she sings such a beautiful song and every time I heard it - “Remember me” - in rehearsals or performances, my eyes welled up.
This was mainly because of the beauty of her singing, and partly because she was so young to die… which I know is silly, because the Dido in the story wasn't really 20 and our Dido isn’t, of course, really dead… and partly because, a mum myself, I kept thinking how proud her mum and dad were going to be when they heard her. Motherhood makes one sentimental. But anyway, it was a wonderful, uplifting experience.
Often in college I pass rooms in which young men are bashing the daylights out of drum kits or twanging away at electric guitars as if trying to loosen the hinges on the classroom door. And my inner music snob mutters away, “Call that music? It’s just a lot of noise.” So it’s been lovely to see all those young singers and instrumentalists mastering – and really enjoying – this music of Purcell, who died at the age of 36 in 1695. At my age, 50 years is beginning to seem not a very long time, and 300 years is just 6 times 50. The music bridges that gap without difficulty.
My head’s still full of it: a much-needed transfusion of joy.