Letters the Fifth and Sixth:
From Rogers to Lady Effingham; and from Lady Effingham to Rogers
Dear Lady Effingham,
It is with great sadness that I tell you what a terrible disappointment last week’s concert was. I felt so foolish, and I hope I can once again ask your advice as to where I went wrong.
I tried to call the secretary of the Royal Symphony Philharmonia in the afternoon, but for some reason they were busy, so couldn’t meet me when I arrived. Everyone in the audience seemed to know where they were going, even though there were dozens of doors on four different levels and I didn’t know which one to go into.
This time I was more prepared, so I wrote down the pieces I was going to listen to, so that I could maybe find the CDs in the library afterwards and sing along. The Royal Symphony Philharmonia were playing Brahms’ Tragic Overture, a brand new bassoon concerto ‘Juxtaposition III’ by May Kitstopp-Pliz and a piece called ‘Symphony Number 3’ by a man called Bruckner.
Nobody seemed very happy on stage, I didn’t recognise any tunes and I was bored after the first 10 minutes. At the interval the bar was filled with people who had got there quickly, so I couldn’t get past them to get a drink, and when I tried to leave after 20 minutes of the symphony, everyone around me was very cross. They wouldn’t even let me climb over them to get out of the row that I was in.
It was much more expensive than the Blindingham University Music Society concert and much less fun. Dawson said that I shouldn’t try mixing with posh people and that you would know how to handle the big nobs.
Did I do the wrong thing, going to this concert? Is classical music really this boring? The piece by Wagner that you sent me was much more fun. Why can’t it all be like that?
I did try to find you in the hothouse on Wednesday afternoon to ask you in person, but you weren’t alone. I overheard you talking to someone, who was asking you to move into some unusual positions. I could hear you were trying very hard indeed to do as he asked, so I can only assume he was your yoga teacher.
As ever, your humble servant,
Rogers the Third Under-gardener
Oh dear. I fear you may have bitten off more than you can chew. Normally I approve of reckless abandon, but you are in need of guidance. I always remember my maternal grandfather, Lord ‘Stuffy’ Bendingleigh, telling me how his great friend Sir ‘Muffy’ Comingham, who was some years older than he, introduced him to the clubs of London, and how invaluable it was to have a friend to give one the entrée, as it were, to new social circles. Going alone as you did was brave, but perhaps foolhardy. Choose the right guide and you may go wherever you will.
I am sad to hear that you were bored by the Brahms. He is one of the great Romantic composers, always with a hint of classical strictness to give one an intellectual frisson alongside the Romanticism that provides a sensual thrill. Perhaps you should try again with some of his less rigorous works such as the Hungarian Dances or the Academic Festival Overture. One of the BUMS students might help you there – you could find it on Spotify.
Please ignore what Mr Dawson says about mixing with posh people. Of course I know how to handle big nobs – I was born to it. You, however, may yet learn.
Now – a little advice. I feel you should aim to listen to shorter works to start with, before immersing yourself in lengthy symphonies – length is an excellent thing, if you have the stamina for it, but it requires a certain amount of building-up. I should be happy to vet the programme of any concerts you might plan to attend in future. Ask Cook to submit them to me with the menus.
Should you need any further tips on relaxation, with or without music, my personal yoga trainer attends me in private every Thursday afternoon. You could perhaps observe us from the gallery, without fearing that you would disturb us.
(Lady Effingham of Blindingham)