Thoughts and opinions including the odd review of places.
My views are expressed here. They are nothing to do with Opera Holland Park.
Inappropriate comments will be removed, including my own.
"Noisy at the wrong times" new edition published in September 2015 on Two Roads
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Journalists: keep it simple!
An open letter to Eva Wiseman
I read your recent piece on the Guardian website ("Is there anything worse than a man who cries") with mounting horror. I also noted the nearly 3,000 outraged comments below it and, I have to say, you brought it all upon yourself. I have no sympathy, but I am happy to help you by explaining where you went wrong.
The most important thing to note - and Eva, this will stand you in good stead hitherto should you hold it in mind - this is 2015. Why is that relevant? Well, this isn't 1928, for example, when a book like "A Handbook on Hanging" by Charles Duff could be published and people "get it". And you're no Henry Root, love, let me tell you. And can you imagine what the world would say now if Clive James's line about that Chinese president "whose name sounds like a ricochet in a canyon" was published on Twitter? There would be bedlam.
You can't possibly hope to get away with writing a piece that removes the reader, by even one degree, from the absolutely explicit articulation of what you mean. Frankly, you're a fool if you believe that people, Twittered to the bollocks, can grasp the concept of your satirical attacks on the behaviours and consequences of men showing their emotions. What were you thinking? I am not interested in your protestations. Shut up.
Now I am not ready to label you a "misandrist", "misanthropist", "feminist bitch who should make me some toast", but I suggest you write more like Piers Morgan. We know where we stand with Piers. Or his mate Jeremy. Keep it simple, chuck some hate around. Indeed, it would've been so much better if you simply wrote "it is terrible that men feel they can't cry" on Twitter: time and a whole lot of pain saved (note to anybody from The Guardian management who might be reading this: cheaper, too. Just saying). Sure, there are some boring liberal types who will bleat about not having anything interesting to read, but I will say again, this is Britain 2015, love, and those people need to realise times have changed.
To be honest, I am surprised that you didn't learn from your newspaper stable-mate Marina O'Loughlin who recently wrote an absurd piece about her "favourite" restaurants. I don't wish to be ungallant, but what a silly cow she is. How could she possibly expect a First World educated population to understand the difference between the words "favourite" and "best"? Is she serious? The torrent of abuse and opprobrium that poured down upon her was also, like your experience, fully deserved. It was a Rookie error to say that many of her "favourite" restaurants were in London - she might as well have said "all restaurants in Wales are rubbish". Honestly, no difference at all, and if she thought there was, she is a fool, too. This is, after all, a world in which Germaine Greer is compared to Nazis, for Heaven's sake.
You seem to me to be a decent person. You also look clever in your photo (word to the wise, you are a woman with red hair, know your place) so please, keep it simple, say what you mean and if possible, never use words of more than two syllables. People have feelings and when people have feelings, they don't usually have a brain as well. Nonsensical to think otherwise. So, by all means wear your sympathies and concerns with pride, but keep the vocab simple and never, ever, use irony, that is so 1928.
I have news: the audience will decide the future of opera. When our season at Opera Holland Park comes to an end, I pore over spreadsheets trying to find reasons why our audience have behaved in the way that they have, and the most concentrated analysis tends to come after seasons during which our house has been full. The theory is this; if we have underperformed, we are programmed to find solutions, but if we have performed well, we are less likely to look for the gremlins that might lose us that ever-capricious audience in a trice – you are never more vulnerable than when you are successful. Sometimes, though, one can miss the obvious, or perhaps ignore it. In nearly three decades in opera, I have experienced one "boom" in the art form but an almost perpetual "crisis" of confidence, an alarmed perma-reflection on whether we remain relevant as an art form. This introspective brew is spiced by the occasional real crisis, like that recently at ENO, but we never reall…
The long awaited - and even longer overdue - documentary about the British band XTC felt to many of us who have considered them the best ever group to emerge from these shores, like a simultaneous roar of approval and a shocking great slap in the face, a sharp reminder of what we have lost now that they no longer record together. Apple Venus Vol.1 and Wasp Star (Apple Venus Vol. 2) were released in 1999 and 2000 respectively and together represented the almost perfect distillation of British popular music. I hesitate to just call it "pop" although there are almost unequalled examples of it on both these albums and right through the XTC canon. Andy Partridge's lavishly inventive songwriting, lyrical brilliance and at times almost extra-terrestrial knack for a breathtaking melody or crushingly beautiful harmony seemed to improve and grow throughout the band's 14 album career. It came to a mighty zenith on those final two records. Followers of XTC were often torn betwee…
A new report on the working class relationship with culture has been doing the rounds recently. Panic! Social Class, Taste and Inequalities in the Creative Industries (which you can find here (http://createlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Panic-Social-Class-Taste-and-Inequalities-in-the-Creative-Industries1.pdf) comes at the issue from the point of view of the working class and their opportunities to find careers in the cultural sector. I usually concern myself most with the audience aspects of this debate but this report does touch on matters that relate to that, too. The general issue was also recently making waves with respect to entrants into Oxbridge and with Owen Jones's huge Twitter spat about the class of those in the media. The Panic! report takes data from various sources and draws conclusions from it. Some of the conclusions are based on what appear to me to be oddly skewed impressions and some of the report sounds like an argument looking for a validation, rather t…