I thought this was a place for my ruminations on life and so on, rather than a holiday diary. Never mind, there are only a few bits to fill in:
A trip to the Leighton Buzzard Railway with the boys; a Prom which needs a review:
An unexpected pleasure, this - I only decided to go for certain about two hours before, and the whole thing could have been dull and uninspiring, and I'd still have enjoyed it thanks to the suddenness of it all.
But it was far from uninspiring - in fact, it may turn out to be the best Prom I see this year (I shall explain about Mahler 8 in a moment.) A quick, jolly Gimenez Zarzuela, followed by a John Harle sandwich. The outsides being two of Miles Davis and Gil Evans' Sketches of Spain - transcribed for soprano sax, rather than the familiar trumpet. The playing was impeccable, but there was a nagging sense that the edginess of the trumpet sound was missing - perhaps that's only due to the over-familiar nature of Miles Davis' originals; I don't know.
But the filling in the sandwich was magnificent. The world premier of Harle's own Little Death Machine for soprano and sopranino saxophone, synthesiser and orchestra. A recipe, one might reasonably suppose, for self-indulgent noodling. Not a bit of it - the synthesised sounds, drawing on nearly forty years of radiophonic-style creations (including more than a nod in the direction of Delia Derbyshire), were perfectly entwined into the piece - indeed, some of the upper register stuff on the sopranino sax merged into the artificially-created soundscape, creating the kind of sounds I had certainly never heard in the concert hall before. All the while, Harle's score was light and accessible, full of playful jazz riffs, and more than a touch of Michael Nyman. All this and a full performance of Falla's El Amor Brujo complete with the most astonishing flamenco voice, courtesy of Ginesa Ortega. A wonderful late summer's evening.
Then we went to Kent for a few days, via Hever Castle. Oh, you need to go to Hever. The boys and I marched confidently to the centre of the maze (there's something about mazes which fails to baffle me, but they're still fun) and had to lead about thirty or so confused souls back out again. We stayed with friends near Tunbridge Wells, and pottered around a corner of England which I really don't know that well. We went to Underwater World in Hastings, and gasped at the stingrays and sharks; we went up England's steepest funicular railway; we threw stones into the sea at Bexhill (and peered quizzically at the de la Warr Pavillion - I must go back there); we dodged rainclouds on the Friday, and managed to have a lovely time on the Bluebell Railway. Then we went fruit-picking, and came home with more strawberries and plums than even we could eat...
But I won't remember our holiday with much fondness, because I managed to drive myself into a thoroughly avoidable depression, thanks to being a little pig-headed about going to the Mahler 8 on the Sunday night. Without going into too much detail, I got myself into a position where I would have been unable to enjoy it, and didn't go - probably the right decision, but I'm still quite surprisingly upset about it. I learned this, however - the most likely trigger is still conflict caused by my blinkered refusal to see that my self-centred (I won't say selfish, though that's what I think) plans might be causing discomfort or dismay to someone else. As soon as it is gently pointed out to me that my idea of a fun Sunday has implications for others, I simply go to pieces. I clearly still have a lot of work to do here - no amount of caffiene-free diet is going to prevent that kind of thing. But writing about it helps - whether obliquely, like this, or more directly to those who understand, and I have come round much more quickly than I expected - I'm still not back to equilibrium, but I'm calm and reasonably happy, which is positive.
So there we are. Almost up to date. There was another Prom last Wednesday, which I'll review shortly, and then I'll try to keep this blog a bit more succinct.