Given it’s billing as “Renaissance choral music”, Prom 6 wasn’t a concert I necessarily gravitated too. Still, given that it was a late night Prom I did rather like the idea of snuggling up with my teddy bear (Simon’s away on training this week – I’m home alone) and listening in on Radio 3 to see whether I’d enjoy it.
I’d hoped that the friend who would be visiting in between Prom 5 and 6 would understand the importance of the season and slip away quietly and swiftly. As it was, we soon realised we hadn’t seen each other for a year. Consequently there was much to catch up on. The late-night Prom seemed seriously less important in comparison. Our time together was long overdue and an absolute pleasure.
Soon after he went – the beginning of the concert had been and gone, so too the impetus to tune in – both Cromarty and Faero (our fluffy cats, in case you were wondering) were observed in the corner of the living room scratching furiously. Such action could only mean one thing. The murderously expensive flea treatment both Simon and I had administered late last night hadn’t worked as well as we might have hoped. I went to the kitchen to retrieve the comb. Both cats trembled in the corner.
In the midst of combing the cats’ fur, carefully decanting my “findings” into a tray of washing-up liquid, I received a text message. “Just finished at the late-night Prom. Wow! It was fantastic.”
My heart stopped for a moment. I had to remind myself that I loathed the music on offer at the late-night Prom. Why would it be such a big deal I had missed it on account of a friend’s visit and the major but forgivable incovenience of a flea infestation. I explained I had missed the event, wondering whether my brief text would communicate my disappointment at not being present at such an apparently amazing event.
“You can always listen on Listen Again!” came the reply.
It’s not the same, I thought to myself. The moment has passed.
Therein lies one of the secret things about the Proms not many people confess to. Yes, theoretically, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t hear it live. You can always catch up online or hear the repeat a few days after on Radio 3.
But, there’s a perceived collective experience to be indulged in either attending or listening to a live concert. Similarly obsessive people reading this will concur that if you’re not listening live it really doesn’t count. Thank God I’ve reserved Thursday as my night at the Royal Albert Hall. I’ll be roping off a special area in the gallery especially for me. There’ll be a picnic and a small(ish) bottle of wine and maybe even a book if I’m feeling especially indulgent and belligerent.
And for those of you who’ve been reading for a long time, it won’t take much to realise that in this respect the Proms shares one key similarity with another live TV and radio event .. the Eurovision Song Contest. If you miss it live, it really doesn’t count. Given the efforts that many put into such an event (composers, technicians, researchers and presenters) that admission really does seem like quite a shame.