Sausage, egg and chips (and friendly hellos)

I have fifteen minutes whilst the OH prepares sausage, egg and chips for dinner.

I’m hoping for the chunky chips (vegans look away now) soaked in beef dripping. I fear we may end up with French fries. We should stop ordering the French fries. They’re so spikey in the mouth.

It’s been a phenomenally busy day. I’ve spent five hours in the kitchen next to the radio making the final push for a big website (see later) I’m working on for a very special client (I don’t think they read this blog).

I’ve listened to endless podcasts, found a delightful acoustic version of Tanita Tikaram’s Twist in my Sobrietyand watched one of my cats throw up on the hallway carpet and then proceed to defecate on the front door mat. At least he had the good grace to move to the doormat. He’s been brought up well.

Monte Carlo

Tickets have come through for the festival. Already. I only put the request in the day before yesterday. Prompt replies are such highly-prized things.

BBC Symphony Orchestra in Monte Carlo, plus Capucon trio and Signum Quartet. Some of the programmes are unknown to me. It’s three days rather than the usual two (I’ll be doing a Trondheim and taking ‘necessary supplies’ in the hold baggage to keep costs down).

Hoping I can get my passport replaced before I go out there (the website says no more than three weeks, but I imagine there’s a bit of a rush on at the moment).

Hoping also that those who need to can coalesce around avoiding a no-deal otherwise I’m going to face a similar challenge to the Aurora Orchestra in Belgium heading back from their 29th March gig.

My flight back to Gatwick is on Monday 1 April. Irony.

Websites and People

I’m doing as much podcast work as I am website work at the moment.

Yesterday was spent editing down two sessions from last week’s ABO Conference (there are two more to go), talking to a new website client, following up with a pal at Disney Corp. and continuing on the website build.

I notice how quickly I can go in ‘deep’ on a piece of work now, even if its only for 15 minutes or so. These short chunks of time spent doing stuff I value creates an achievement-driven self-affirming virtuous circle of loveliness.

By focusing in on stuff or people I’m reminded of the things that bring me pleasure and those things I coincidentally happen to be good at. It’s like being present with own perfect line manager every working hour of the day.

Unexpected friendly hellos

Inevitably, come the concert last night – Ian Page’s Mozart exploration at QEH and the reason for the most recent TG Podcast – I was shattered and surprisingly fraught.

I recognise when I’m tired mostly when I notice I’m picking over things that have happened and those yet to happen, familiar behaviour in search of an self-medicated intervention.

Met up with a pal – a radio producer – had a natter about this and that (mostly me) and then proceeded to the QEH where I bumped into a former BBC colleague from the ‘Savile Crisis’ days, and a chap from the ABO. The conversation is always brief at these kind of occasions (how can it not be?) but warm. That warmth is as gratifying and appreciated as the art created on stage.

And yet we never talk about that, do we?

We never talk about the joy that emerges in the concert hall foyer when the atmosphere created by familiarity and regularity results in something equivalent to a friendly wave from a neighbour across the street.

Picture:  Simone Hutsch on Unsplash

Pictures at an Exhibition: Concrete Dreams at the Queen Elizabeth Hall

The Concrete Dreams exhibition runs as part of the programme of events celebrating the re-opening of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, occupying backstage artist spaces with archive material both physical and projected, tracking the venue’s 50 year past.

It’s a scintillating experience for those of us with a weakness for memos typed in triplicate, architectural drawings, and hand-written ticket sale ledgers. I kid you not. They were writing down individual ticket sales in a ledger in 1968.

The lovingly-presented exhibition takes the visitor through the new artists entrance, into the old green room, and up into wood-panelled dressing rooms and cell-like bathrooms. The exhibition concludes with a clever multi-layered projection and choreography in the Purcell Room that reveals the QEH’s surprising heritage.

The part-guided backstage tour, part multimedia exhibition is an enjoyable one (though be aware that the close proximity of the big projections in the Purcell may well induce a bit of nausea) that goes some way to illustrate the important role Southbank as a whole (not just QEH) has played in the cultural life of London and the south.

Archivists have been working on this project for two and a half years now and are rightly proud of their achievements. They're also keen to point out there is a lot more material to be discovered, something that reminds me of the extent to which we take the Southbank for granted.

Concrete Dreams exhibition is open to the public from Tuesday 10 April. A weekend of music, dance, workshops and talks celebrating the history of the QEH runs from Friday 27 – Sunday 29 April. More details at

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Inside the refurbished Purcell Room and Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre

A refurbishment that successfully retains the QEH’s original design aesthetic, celebrating the features that shape the building’s identity. Concrete has never looked quite so good. I like a good set of refurb pics – permanent records of an untarnished architectural endeavour. Artistic vision fully realised, preserved in a moment potent with anticipation and brimming with pride. Pictures of concert halls without an audience make the location irresistible – moments when concert halls are seen in all of their magisterial beauty.
Inside the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London – wood french-polished, concrete treated with latex poultice. Tasty.
Concert halls don’t need to be opulent. They don’t need to be spaces with gilded edges, velvet cushions or busts of composers dotted around. They are locations for special events. Their interiors should be not like any other you would normally step into. The senses need to be come alive when you step inside them.
The Purcell Room feature the most comfortable concert hall seats in London, possibly even the UK.
Both the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room return to use in early April. Pictures have been released today along with the list of works that have been completed that give the venue a much-needed refresh. The restoration includes: fully refurbished and updated auditoria; refreshed and redesigned back of house areas; a new artists’ entrance; a revamped foyer able to hold 1000 people. Improved access, and new ventilation, lighting systems
The newly restored QEH foyer can hold up to 1000 people
Concrete has been restored using Arte Mundit, a latex poultice more commonly used on classical sculptures and stone conservation projects. New timber lining to the Queen Elizabeth Hall stage will improve the acclaimed acoustics for performers on stage. Aluminium and leather seats have been re-upholstered by hand.
New dressing rooms backstage at QEH
Artists and performers get new accessible dressing rooms a brand new artists’ entrance and a backstage bar.
New artists entrance
Backstage area for the artists
I’ve always had a soft spot for the Southbank and especially for QEH. I love the Brutalist architecture (not many do), and I adore the elegant simplicity of the interior. The restoration – work carried out by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBStudios) with Max Fordham, Arup and BAM Construction – celebrates the elements which make this such a special destination. The project was funded by the support of the public, Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, plus National Lottery players, corporate partners, trusts and foundations and individual major donors. Chineke! Orchestra opens the Queen Elizabeth Hall with a concert of Daniel Kidane, Benjamin Britten and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 on Monday 9 April at 7.30pm The first event in the Purcell Room is on Sunday 29 April. Fifty Poems from Five Decades will celebrate the opening of both QEH and Purcell Room.  All pictures credit: Morley Von Sternberg

Review: Lutoslawski Jeux vénitiens \ Symphony No. 3 \ RCM Symphony Orchestra \ Franck Ollu \ QEH

Lutoslawski Jeux vénitiens
Debussy Nocturnes
Lutoslawski Symphony No. 3
Roussel Bacchus et Ariane, Suite No. 2

Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra
Conductor Franck Ollu


Taking some time to reflect on a performance seems preferable to rushing a review hours after the orchestra has left the platform. There’s a chance to let the more memorable moments bubble up to the surface – far easier than the process of straining to make out the original meaning of the notes you scribbled down surreptitiously (or maybe not so) in the auditorium.

So it is with this review of the Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra who performed works by Lutoslawski, Debussy and Roussel on Wednesday 6 January 2013 as part of the ongoing Woven Words festival.

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