Ficklish Blog

Sunday, September 07, 2008


So, it’s Sunday and I have some work to do. That’s bad news, I know. It’s not bothering me too much, though – because I’m not actually doing the work. I made an executive decision not to go into the office (being at work on a Sunday? A bridge too far) and that I would write my briefing paper in my pyjamas at the dining room table.

Unsurprisingly, it hasn’t yet happened. My capacity for procrastination has expanded and refined since university. I now have tools at my disposal so spectacularly distracting that had they been in my life ten years ago, I would not have a degree today. Actually, it’s not that remarkable: so I’m watching TV on my laptop while surfing various interesting websites, no big deal, nothing out of the ordinary. Still, my paper is really not getting written.

Today I have spent way too much time trying to work out how to correctly pronounce the word ‘hadron’ so that I can talk about this at dinner tonight.

(It’s really nice of my friends to continue to be friends with me).

I’ve also been reading about the history of the Proms. DJ Ill and I went to a Prom last night, first time for both of us. It’s a long and well-loved tradition and has long been on my must-do list of quintessentially London activities.

They’re held at the Royal Albert Hall, another place I’d not yet visited. It’s big and round and beautifully ornate and it was all very exciting. The concert was lovely – the Royal Scottish National Orchestra playing Roussel, Thea Musgrave, Debussy, and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor featuring this guy as a soloist.

The overall experience was just what I hoped for – excellent music in a beautiful setting, a crowd of prommers standing en masse in the middle of the floor and up in the gallery, soaking it up. No clapping between movements, strange chants at particular moments, everyone in high spirits, it was fabulous. That last link? Read it, seriously, it’s brilliant. Englishness at its absolute best:

"What you must never do is push in," says Trueman, a voluble twentysomething in thick glasses. "That's the sin against the Holy Spirit. That will not be forgiven. We queue.

Oh, yes you do. That whole article delights me more than I can say.

DJ Ill and I were a bit pathetic – unsure of how the whole Prom thing worked, I actually booked us seats a couple of weeks ago. While I was very happy to be able to sit in comfort and enjoy the music, I think I’m going to have to go back and try it the other way next year, to have a properly authentic Proms experience - taking my chances in the queue and frolicking with the hardcore.

Going to things like this is part of what I love most about living here. I’m reading this hilarious book at the moment, called - get this - London: The Novel and enjoying it immensely. It’s blockbusteriffic – certainly not the most literary of masterpieces, but a cracking read nonetheless. The historical content is woven into a saga-style story of several families - from Roman times to the present and all the eras in between. It’s helping to fuel the sense of delight that shivers through me as I walk through the streets of the city – knowing that this is where all kinds of fascinating things have been happening for centuries.

A friend and I went to the Tower the weekend before last – she hadn’t been for twenty years, I hadn’t been for ten. It’s been standing there for the better part of a thousand years, which is hard to wrap your head around. In the Jewel House, there are lots of sparkly shiny things that Kings and Queens have worn for centuries. I’m a Republican, for crying out loud. I don’t even believe in the monarchy. And yet, when I’m looking at the coronation spoon and hearing a helpful aide explain how it dates from the 12th century and is used to anoint each monarch with oil (which is concocted according to a special secret recipe known only to the Royal Chemist) after they’ve taken their oath, I can’t help but feel a little giddy.

There’s so much more that I haven’t even seen yet. I can’t wait to find out more. And who can think of writing a briefing paper when there are so many interesting things to read about?