Quite a few months ago now, I was cooking dinner for a dear friend, and we were talking about the wonderful pianist Stephen Hough-read his blog here: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/author/stephenhough/ - when he said 'why don't we go to the Proms together?' I accepted at once, as although I have been to the Royal Albert Hall, I have bever been to the Proms.
Imagine how excited I was when I found out that Stephen Hough would be playing...and then how disappointed when Adrian said that he doesn't like Tchaikovsky (which is what Stephen would be performing). Several months went by, and nothing more was said, so I decided that perhaps we would not be oging to the Proms after all.
I was sitting in bed on a rare Saturday morning off work, sipping tea and reading a book when my phone bingly-bongly-beeped to say that I had a text message. I read 'where are you?' I replied that I was at home. Bingly-bongly-beep! 'Fancy the proms Monday?' Monday? Monday!
I phoned work quickly and was able to take the afternoon off....so I replied and said yes please! Which left me only to shake poor Carl awake to tell him how excited I was, and fret a little about what to wear. Happily I found the perfect dress....you see my instinct is to dress up when I go out, and especially for the Royal Albert Hall....but the Proms are very informal. So informal....and yet...I wanted to look nice! I wore the dress in the picture along with a black cardigan to dress it down, and some sparkly ballet flats.
I left work at 3 (should have been there till 7!) and caught the train to London. We sat and sipped tea on the way up, which for me is the only way to travel! When we got to London we went straight to the Royal Albert Hall to pick up our tickets, and then went to a little Italian called Dino's for dinner. It is very near to the V&A...if you are ever in the area, do go, the food is utterly scrumptious. A real home-made place. I was torn between the carbonarra and the pasta with mussels, clams and cherry tomatoes...and decided to go with the mussels. Imagine my horror when I discovered liberal servings of calamari amongst my mussels, and even worse, entire baby octopusses! (Octopussi?) Happily my dining companion was more than happy to eat the offending seafood, and my tiramisu dessert was utterly scrumptious!
There was just enough time for a glass of water at the bar at the Royal Albert Hall before we had to go in. Adrian bought me a programme which I really enjoyed reading, and then we went to our seats to enjoy Prom 15 http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/2009/whatson/2707.shtml alas it is no longer available on iplayer, but it is on youtube!
I just did not know where to look! There was the splendour of the hall itself, all the rich red and tiers upon tiers of seats. Then, the people. I was glad that I had not dressed up too much after all, as most people were casually dressed. Such a mix of people! Some who had obviously just wandered over from the office, some young men, older people, one man with an amazingly long beard, a real cosmopolitan pick-and-mix assortment.
Oh, and the orchestra! The instruments were fascinating, and it was amazing, once the music began, to see it being played as well as hearing it. My favourite part was the ballet Petrushka by Stravinsky. It was the whole of the second half of programme. It made it quite impossible to sit still, I was all of a tapping foot and nodding head!
The funniest thing happened on the way home. I was holding Adrian's umbrella and balancing both our cups of tea while he went to the loo at Liverpool Street station, when I spied a man who looked a lot like my little brother. Bearing in mind it was really rather late at night, and my little brother (who is 23!) may have a beard one day, none the next, goatie the next and so on....well I was a little unsure. So I sidled closer and closer until I suddenly realised that it was my little brother! After I introduced him and Adrian, we caught the train home together!