Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Abasing Ourselves Again

"In 1965 the people of Britain may have been poorer, smaller, shabbier, dirtier, colder, more set in their ways, ignorant of olive oil, polenta & - even - lager. But they knew what united them, they shared a complicated web of beliefs, attitudes, prejudices, loyalties & dislikes." > Peter Hitchens, The Abolition of Britain

Downhill from here...
From the tone of much of the reactionary, old-gitty discourse in today's Britain one could imagine that each time we gather (albeit virtually) for one of our tentpole events we feed the copy that came out of the copier last time back into the machine, resigned to the incremental deterioration in fidelity to a lost original.
I'm not sure this metaphor really works for me. I thought long and hard and came up with what I think is a slightly better one.
Watching the 'Coronating' of Charles in the small hours of Friday night/Saturday morning here I was reminded of the experience of having once been to see a smash hit West End show - like Cats or Les Mis - and then, many years later returning to the same theatre to witness the same numbers being performed in the same costumes amidst the same sets.


Any perception of immanent decay is subliminal, imbued with nostalgia. One perhaps misses the original cast, the ones on the LP, but not everyone is second or third tier (apart from the Archbishop) and there are some striking new performers on stage (Penny Mordaunt).
Another level to this, at least for the TV 'guests', can be suggested via recollection of Peter Jackson's 4K Ultra HD take on hobbiting. A modern production inevitably exposes some of the artifice, such that the most real sometimes also manifests as the most fake. 
For me, and I am guessing for many of my generation, the wedding of Charles and Di was peak Royalty, peak oh-so-deceptive sense of national unity. Remembering this now alerts me to the problem of mis-remembering...


Many moons ago V and I went to see a recital by Sviatoslav Richter at the RFH. The Russian master was already pretty old and somewhat error prone, yet his interpretations of certain pieces by Prokofiev and Bartok have stuck with me for life. I can return to the concert hall for a note-perfect, utterly competent rendition of these same compositions today and come away slightly disappointed. 
What am I really remembering here, the actual notes or a kind of composite myth of my own making? As one grows older one discovers that this is not a problem limited to live performance. 

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