Friday, 29 July 2011

Putting my feet up...

metaphorically speaking.
Actually I went to The Summer Exhibition
at the Royal Academy
with my friends Bridget and Belinda.
We had a spot of lunch first.
We were just too late for breakfast but one of our party
fancied the eggs Benedict from the breakfast menu,
and a polite request for it was successful.
All was going swimmingly until
 music started abruptly, 
from a speaker positioned at ear-shattering level.
It was frantic, moody, pounding piano.
Chopin perhaps.
The Sonata No 2 in B flat minor would give you an idea.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love Chopin,
but not when it's an unordered side dish
(chilli con carne in this case)
for my ham salad.
The mood of the room changed instantly.
Indigestion threatened.
We frowned and muttered amongst ourselves for a bit
and then we asked if the music could be turned down, 
or even better, off again.
The response was inconclusive.
Meanwhile disembodied applause rang out across the dining room
as the performance at the invisible concert ended 
and Chopin morphed into Mantovani.
No better really.
A bit like getting treacle pudding 
dumped on top of the ham salad.
More beckoning and firm but courteous words
from Belinda, and the matter was settled.
Silence fell. Bliss.
We were not lynched by the other customers demanding
that the music be turned back on.
We heard only the murmur of civilised conversation
and the clatter of forks and spoons*.

Then we went into the mercifully silent exhibition.
It is interesting to imagine the potential 
for dissonance between say,
Tracey Emin and Purcell,
Elizabeth Blackadder and Mahler,
Edmund de Waal and Glen Miller.
At the very least music would surely start to impact
on your feelings about the piece.
It would intrude.
And that's what it did to the food.

* the title of Richard Corrigan's cookery book.


  1. How unsettling for you and I'm glad that your request was granted. I dislike reading blogs that startle one by playing music that one was not expecting. Are you feeling less disgruntled yet?

  2. Okay, I clicked the link to the Chopin (I like him, too), and I totally get why you needed silence instead! :-) Who thought of playing just that, just then, just there?! A cookery book. I've heard of that but don't know it, but I'm off to find out more!

  3. We had one day last month in London to visit the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy - and it was closed for the Spring Ball! We visited the National Portrait Gallery instead by way of compensation. Next year we'll try again!