BBC Proms Diary 2018: Mozart and the Alpine Symphony

If you ask to do something for someone they won’t pay. Or maybe they can’t. Or maybe I just left it too late. Or maybe I should take the foot off the gas a bit. There’s assertive. There’s being a pain in the butt. Sometimes it’s easy to confuse the two. I’ve spent a long time wanting to change the system when everyone else around me recognised long ago that the system needs to be navigated around.

Elsewhere a school associate has cancer, has lost her hair and had part of her bowel removed at the weekend. In Chicago, a talented pal is playing with a band to big crowds and loving it. In Battersea another pal is recovering from a stupidly demanding bike ride and in training for it has gone through enviably dramatic weight loss.

I’m not saying one thing is tougher than the other, nor that one thing is better than the other. Just that we’re all trying our best and it’s often incredibly hard.

Mozart’s Notturno played by multiple ensembles scattered across the Royal Albert Hall came across well on the radio. All caressing and soothing as though I was walking through a dream filled with billowy white-curtains and freshly-plumped sofas. I realised I hadn’t heard any Mozart in ages – music that cuts across the gloopy everydayness we all unwittingly carry around with us. This was a musical lay-by after a frenetic, manic and sometimes terrifying day full of repetitive tasks, disappointing exchanges, failed bids and escalating ruminations. 

I skipped the Haas, finishing off a couple of emails before heading out for a skoot around nearby Mountsfield Park listening to the Alpine Symphony in the second half. Memories of cable car trips from Verbier town came flooding back.

Strauss music like the most intense and unrelenting kind of mild-altering experience – something that imposes, consumes, and commands. There’s no easy place to stop. If you begin you need to end it. But it was a little too close to the edge for me, accessing emotions and thoughts that brought tears close to the surface, succeeding in perpetuating the rumination which had been present for most of the day.

Such occasions demand the triggers are dampened, so that the surroundings can seep into the void. The view over South East London towards the horizon where Crystal Palace tower pierces the sky brought it all home: freelance life isn’t easy by any means; resilience is often demanded; there’s a grumbling fear that there will come a point in time when the crushing truth that no-one will want to work with me will be impossible to deny any longer; and the reserves will finally disappear. 

A university friend of 25 years who lives nearby provided a gentle pat on the shoulder via a What’s App message, reminding me that this was something I had chosen to do (meaning I must have believed then I could make this work and what new information led me to believe that original assertion was wrong now) and, importantly, that she had every faith. It was the first time in twenty years I had been quite so honest with her (not since I ‘came out’ to her twenty one years before).

I walked back down the hill and the road to home a little calmer compared to when I had set out.

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