The festival of holy music at St. John’s Smith Square had me focusing on persecution and suffering over the Easter week and brought back memories of the wonderful concert at Milton Court early this year when the Casals Quartet played Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ. Martyrdom is a strange thing to contemplate in a city as consumed by consumption as London, but as this week reminded us we are not without our own contemporary martyrs. As has become clear, Roger Scruton has been rogered unscrupulously by an antiseptic weekly rag which seems to have lined up with Pilate in asking quid est veritas? How well the crown of thorns fits and how beautifully Roger Scruton has borne it.
We each have our crosses to bare, and they are of such varying weights. Drowning under the inordinate weight of my laundry has been a personal struggle during the Easter period. On Tuesday I put to bed these troubles and trotted off to St James’ to have a hair cut in a mood of resurrection before moving on to see what Deborah Warner had done with Billy Budd at Covent Garden. An unfortunate interlude at Lock the hatters left me in a ponderous and penny pinching mood while guzzling sparkling mineral water and cream sandwiches in the Floral Hall. How expensive the programs are at Covent Garden. It was a surprise to see that The Telegraph’s Rupert Christiansen had written the synopsis and conjectured that something underhand was a foot. How much money, I wondered, had passed between Rupert and the house? His reivew, replete with flowing praise for Warner’s mediocre production was answer enough. Perhaps this is due cause for a question in the House (the other house, the one with the green benches).
By Wednesday I was back at St John Smith Square for what I thought was some kind of musical drama by Handel called the Rival Queens. It turned out to be a program that I couldn’t quite get my head around. It didn’t really matter because I still took some important lessons away from the concert. I had already seen Mary Bevan perform with the BBC Symphony orchestra earlier in the year and she had looked rather wonderful in blue, and now it turned out she can also pull off green. It was also extraordinary to discover what people who attend Handel Festival Concerts find funny.
On Sunday I succumbed to the waves of popular praise for the BBC series Fleabag and watched the first series through. Popular praise must be praise in deed for it was good.