Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Let Music Be The Soul Of Discretion

An invitation to a meal at the house of musicians is fine, provided you are a musician yourself. If not, you are in for a rough ride. I am not. I deal in words, not notes.

Musicians have words too, of course, but a lot of their words deal with the character assassination of other musicians, particularly conductors, and then, a long way after, with music. I love the idea of juicy gossip, but as I don’t know the subjects personally, although quite a few of them are well known, even famous people, my interest soon wanders.

As these particular musicians are polite, friendly, generous and kind hosts, for the first thirty minutes the conversation concerned itself with the topic of left over berries in the freezer and what to do with them, arising from serving a token shot of cassis in the first bottle of bubbly. This in turn led to discussing home made wine and its uses in the house, particularly for bleaching and disinfecting purposes.

By now our host was raring to go; I could tell he was keeping a tight rein on himself.  Still on the subject of home made wine, he told us how he had recently been given some elderberry wine which seemed rather strong. As it is not easy to determine the alcohol content of home made wine, our host sent a bottle for analysis to a laboratory. In due course the answer came back. “ I am sorry to say that your horse suffers from diabetes”.

Lunch was delicious. Musicians eat and drink well. Beloved and I were rather slow and our hosts finished their courses long before us. When we apologized, John said: “that shows the difference between freelancers and those in fixed employment. Freelancers learn to chew and swallow vivacissimo”.  Beloved always was on a regular contract.

After the meal I took Benno out into the garden, I could hear gales of laughter coming from the open windows. By now the conversation was very firmly established in the world of performers of classical music, names falling thick and fast, each anecdote leading to the next.

When I got back inside, a well known violinist, a foreigner living in the UK, aspiring to being the perfect English gentleman in speech and manner and famous for his interpretation of Mozart, was being discussed. The soloist had been asked, at fairly short notice, to play a Mozart concerto. A colleague, also a soloist, but not a great friend, asked how it had gone.

“Terribly, dear boy, terribly”.
Sensing a triumph over his colleague, the second soloist asked,
“ Oh dear, were the critics there?”
“Yes, unfortunately, they were”.
 Ever more solicitous, the second soloist said,
“Do you happen to have a copy on you?”
The famous man pulled a sheaf of them out of his pocket.
“Here they are, quite terrible”.

The other read them, each critique glowing with praise.

“What do you mean, terrible, these are very good indeed”.

The famous man sighed.

“The grammar, dear boy, the grammar”.


  1. Is this real? Are you surrounded by such witty and erudite people? Sounds like a good play to me.

  2. Ah, dear Friko, you had me chuckling throughout ... 'sorry to say your horse suffers from diabetes' was my favourite ...

    So much to observe and enjoy when one is a student of human nature - as you clearly are.

    I bid you good day with a smile on my face. Thank you!

  3. Tabor - Absolutely; every word is true. The lunch was only yesterday.
    I am not sure about witty though. When you have heard them talk like this for years, the glamour fades.

    Bonnie - A student of human nature, it's the best I can do on these occasions. They're lovely people, all of them, Just a bit limited.

  4. Yikes! I'll be very careful if we ever dine together. Best start reading and taking notes now if I'm to do better than your fellow guests. I loved the picture of the fellow pulling out the sheaf of reviews!

  5. The poor horse - I had to almost pick myself off the floor after reading that evaluation of the homemade wine. I'm afraid I will be quietly chuckling to myself all day.(And boy, can that get one into trouble). Grinning.
    ATB! (Means All The Best)

  6. I used to make fun of Oxford dinners, so I know the glamour can fade. But it still makes jolly reading.

  7. A very funny post, Friko! I, for one, would never consider your life boring - not with stories like that coming out of it. Fabulous!

  8. Yes, the wine story was very funny. I agree with Deborah. How can you say your life is humdrum?

  9. This reminded me of a BBC plot. So funny about the wine. I think I've had that wine a time or two.

  10. friko - music - it astonishes me that it comes from a place where names and fame and technique and reviews don't exist, it passes through people, and finds itself enmeshed even lost in the fickle and erudite parlance of people who leave it behind in the unlikeliness of reputation and posturing. steven

  11. Friko, I have just treated myself to this tale of the musicians lunch, and also the views of the spring blooms under moonlight.

    Each was wonderful, and again shows me what a fine writer you are. What you decide to put into words never disappoints this reader. Many thanks. xo

  12. Funny Friko! My husband used to play old time string band music and I learned to take a book along to the gatherings. I love the music but after the first hour or so it was nice to have other diversion. (I am hopelessly untalented with musical instruments.)

  13. Interesting and funny post !! I really enjoyed reading this !!Thanks Friko for sharing.Also please visit my New Blog About Paranormal Studies of India.Click on the Link to view it Unseen Rajasthan Paranormal

  14. A very funny post!
    Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment.
    Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
    they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
    - Marcel Proust


  15. very Noel Coward dear tres drole!

  16. Pondside - I don't understand, why would you have to be careful? I wasn't being unkind, was I? I love these people, after all, Beloved is one of them.

    Rusty - thanks for your comment and such a fun one, at that. Hope you didn't get into trouble because of me.

    Duchess - and if the making fun is gentle and amusing, t doesn't really matter. But have you noticed, the only people one can make fun of are those in whose circle one belongs

    Deborah - I never said my life was boring, just boring to some whose lives are really exciting and busy. (Okay, just a bit boring)

    Fran - blimey, another one; humdrum is as humdrum does. and I do humdrum. you should come and see the next time you pass through on your way to Tenby.

    Nancy - I admit I laughed when I heard it. But BBC plot? No, nothing happens except for anecdotes being told.

    steven - oh dear, you don't know the half of it. Musicians have a wonderful talent without which I wouldn't want to live, but they are very much just ordinary people; and yes, there is a lot of posturing.

    Frances - thank you very much, I am glad you enjoy my musings on things in general.

  17. Vicki Lane - I love music and can easily sit through a concert. The bit where it gets boring for me is afterwards when the whole performance is dissected or at other times, when individual musicians are torn to shreds; there are times when a performer is lauded and they all agree how wonderfully s/he played.

    Unseen Rajasthan - thanks for your comment. I have been over to look at your new site and will do so again.

    guild-rez - thank you for visiting. I love that quotation. Let us be the gardeners who make our own soul blossom.

    her at home - thanks, hah, there must have been something in this post I can't see. This is just how things are around musicians.

  18. I did feel for you, having had many a similar experience myself - also not being musical. Beautiful anecdote at the end, though.

  19. Hehe - I love playing music but am something of an ignoramus where the classics are ocncerned. Still, the jokes were good.

  20. Hi,
    It has been awhile since I visited many blogs.
    Decided to do a quick visit to say hello to as many blogs as possible tonight..
    Nice to visit your blog its been ages, I am sure it will not be so long again especially now my life is getting better.
    I went out this afternoon for the first time since 19 August 2009 and it was brilliant.
    Lovely to feel my world getting bigger again after all this time in bed.
    Have a good evening and a pleasant day tomorrow.
    Please visit Steve @ The Wheel Of Fortuna

    Important we support him in the first weeks of his bereavement.

  21. Dave King - is your life full of musicians too? Nice people, just a bit one-track. But I daresay poets and writers can be a bit like that too.

    Argent - No doubt you have many tales about gigs and riffs, and guitar or piano solos. And why not, if they are as funy as the ones you reproduce on your blog.

    Herrad - I am glad you are feeling a bit more the thing and have been able to go out. Good luck.


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