From Blindingham Hall: Rogers discovers the Proms

From the blog of Blindingham Hall, jointly written by Catherine Rose and me… I recommend reading from the beginning…

Letters the Third and Fourth:
From Rogers to Lady Effingham; and from Lady Effingham to Rogers

Dear Lady Effingham,

I have to write to thank you for your kind words and advice. I did enjoy listening to Portsmouth Point, your Ladyship. It was all frothy and energetic and had that tune that kept jumping low to high. Well, when I say tune, I can tell there are lots of tunes happening, but none that I can sing. Perhaps that’s just because I’m not a very good singer, or perhaps the tunes are too complicated for me. But no matter – I enjoyed the music and that’s the main thing, isn’t it?

I’m afraid I was too shy to interrupt you while you were sunbathing on Sunday, but when I told Vauxhall the chauffeur, he seemed strangely interested. He asked me if you were going to be sunbathing in the buff, but I said no, in the walled garden.

I followed your suggestion and looked up The Blindingham University Music Society on the internet. I tried typing in BUMS into Google and got some frankly unexpected results, but once I’d typed the full name in, it all became much clearer. By chance they were putting on a concert last night called ‘Friday Night is BUMS Night’, which I’d always misunderstood before, but this time I took the plunge and went.

None of the other servants would go with me, so I was very brave and summoned up all my courage and rang the secretary of the orchestra. He arranged my ticket and even met me when I arrived.

I can’t list all of the pieces I heard. Everyone else seemed to know what they were called, and most of the audience seemed to have a piece of paper listing them, but I didn’t know what that was. There was one piece at the end where everyone waved their flags and sang along, and seemed know the words. I think it was ‘Land of Hopeless Tories’, which surprised me, because I thought everyone there was dead posh.

Everyone seemed to be having a good time and I’m looking forward to my next concert, next Friday. I’m going up to London to see the Royal Symphony Philharmonia. I don’t know what they’re playing, but I’m very excited and I wanted to thank you for giving me the confidence.

Mr Dawson tells me that you’re always happy to bend over backwards to help a young man and when I said that you’d helped to stiffen my resolve he sniggered in a way that I didn’t quite understand.

Thank you once again, your Ladyship, and I remain,

Your most faithful servant,

Rogers the Third Under-gardener

-o-o-0-o-o-

Dear Rogers

Congratulations on your first foray. I am delighted to read of your success. Allow me to elucidate a number of your points.

The list of pieces is called a Programme. It can be advisable to buy one, as it is supposed to tell you what is going to happen and sometimes carries charming photos of the participants so you can tell who is who. However, they can be filled with pitfalls such as steaming heaps of jargon and lengthy articles about the works which obfuscate rather than enlighten (I like a bit of obfuscation myself, but only among friends).

As I believe I mentioned in my previous e-mail, you were in fact attending a ‘Last Night of the Proms’-style concert. The Last Night of the Proms is a concert that is given every year at the end of the BBC Proms season, usually at the end of the first week in September. It is a completely bizarre occasion, unlike any other normal concert, and gives everyone the wrong impression as to what classical concerts might generally be like. Many organisations copy the style in order to seem accessible and approachable (I must say the BUMS secretary sounded extremely so. I should watch out for him if I were you).

You must also rid yourself of the idea that ‘everyone there was dead posh’. My dear man, if you think they were posh, you have simply no idea what ‘posh’ truly means. (I’ve always thought it was short for ‘port’s out, shove it home’, but I may have got that slightly wrong. I blame Cousin Hugo.) The people at your concert were just wearing all their nicest clothes and talking in a way that gives the impression they know more than they actually do.

I must say that I think your idea of going up to London is very adventurous and I do trust that you will take care. My long lost son Jeck (now happily found again) was a trombonist in the brass section of the Royal Symphony Philharmonia for a time, and I understand they have no limits, not just in terms of their talent and brilliance. Their party piece was Wagner’s ‘The Ride of the Valkyries’ – you can find it on Spotify to give you an idea of their style.

If you need guidance about the content of the programme, I should be happy to take you through the particulars. I shall be in the hothouse end of the conservatory on Wednesday afternoon (which, as you may realise, is Mr Dawson’s day off). Please don’t mention this to Vauxhall – he should be confining himself to sorting out his big end, and you may tell him so from me.

Yours sincerely,

Ophelia Effingham

(Lady Effingham of Blindingham)

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