Friend references, reclaiming classical music and embarrassing pet bodies

My brain’s been on overdrive today, so as a consequence everything is a bit fuzzy, and whizzy. And strangely stripy. It may be all the sugar I’ve been eating – pretty much to the exclusion of all proper food. Not to be recommended (often).

I wanted to put as a sort of placemarker, so I can find it again, a link to an awesome article I read on the Telegraph website today by pianist James Rhodes (on Twitter @JRhodesPianist). It was linked to the other day by one of my friends on Facebook, and after reading it I felt like high-fiving the guy (I settled for saying thanks on Twitter, and hence am still enjoying my freedom). The gist of it is that the Classic Brit Awards are not only embarrassing and twee, but that this is incredibly damaging and a pretty cynical attempt by the organisers to package “Classical Music” into an unpalatable chocolate box for easy marketing and a quick buck at the expense of, ya know, genuine merit. Exactly what we don’t need, if there’s going to be any hope of convincing the as-yet-uncertain (and I’m convinced that this IS possible) that classical music (and I’m convinced there should be a better name for it) is relevant, exciting and generally awesome. We want people wanting more, not turning off and throwing up.

Anyway, rhubarb, rhubarb. The link to the article is here: James Rhodes’ Classic BRIT Award smackdown of awesomeness*. Also, the equally excellent blog by Paul Morley, who inspired JR to open the proverbial can.

For my money, which there is none of, I’d sweep the whole lot of the current Classic BRITS stuff into a “Light Entertainment” category in the BRIT awards. And yes, that does include my “new pals” Blake – they’re great at what they do, but I think they’d be the first to admit (if they’re honest, at least) that what they do is not classical music.

For the money left down the back of the sofa/in old coat pockets**, I’d try and rally everyone who is keen to genuinely democratise and promote classical music to the masses – get everyone together over a pint and try and coordinate an approach to get the word out. I think I’d invite Captain H to give the keynote speech – give him a rum and let him have the floor.

Cpt H is a real ship’s captain (more correctly a Skipper, but who’s checking?) He’s built like Mr T, is an ex-fisherman, once made a full Christmas dinner on the boat whilst re-enacting Moby Dick***, and – despite having been more into scrapping and getting mullered whilst growing up – loves classical music. He often played it during survey trips, and we’d talk about what I was doing at orchestra, and favourite pieces that came on the radio. I asked him if he wanted to come along to a concert, and he was there like shot. He sat on one of the side balconies overlooking the stage, so he could watch the orchestra in its controlled chaos, and probably so he could look down people’s tops, knowing him – but he loved the music and he has been back quite a lot. His enthusiasm and 100% unpretentious love of great music could drawn in a crowd of the most suspicious phobics. Failing that, he could be deployed to physically carry people into concerts – a modern day Naval draft minus the kosh and the king’s shilling.

I don’t think Captain H would have come anywhere near one of my concerts if he’d for one minute thought that what we do was in any way related to the sort of thing on display at the Classic BRIT Awards. Luckily, he’s a sensible sort, and we got to him first.

I’m currently planning to do a sort of docu-video-blog guide to the orchestra, talking to people at rehearsals – collaring pros and amateurs in each section and asking them all the “stupid” questions  (and maybe a few sensible ones) about their instrument, the culture of playing it and how they got into it and so forth. Maybe I should get Captain H to present it 🙂

* Not the actual title. But true.
** This can be more than expected. In fact, I once bought a motorbike jacket on eBay for a couple of quid and £5 postage. In the front pocket, I found a tenner. Dreams really do come true, folks.
*** It was a little-known “Author’s Cut” edit which, when prompted with “And the crew said…” the crew had to punctuate with “Arrrrrgh! Bollocks!”


Anyway, that was longer than I intended. I guess I’ve got unfinished business there, but I can come back to it another day when I’m not quite so incoherent and high on sugar. The original point of the post was to humour my friend Nick, who decided to write me an “awesomeness reference” that I should use to convince people to give me more work. I quote:

Jess Woo is dynamic, professional and forward thinking in her approach to counting stuff in the sea. She is totally awesome (like, dude!) and always presents an innovative take on aqua bits and pieces. Basically she rocks. Now give her exceptionally well paid work, because she should only have to work three days a week whilst then being able to play and sing. And she’s got the best smile in town.

Um, thanks, Nick. I’ll be sure to quote the hell out of selective samples of that!


Last (and in every respect, least) a cautionary tail tale. One of my cats, who shall remain nameless to protect what remains of her dignity, is not keen on using the litter box, preferring the luxuriant soil of the flower beds or, if I’ve not put the cover on it, the veg box (try the carrots! They’re lovely). She is also prone to fighting with random cats who sometimes wander into the garden after dark, so when she started clamouring to get out of the locked cat flap yesterday evening I ignored her, assuming that a rucus was imminent. Later that evening, I went up to the bathroom, passing cat X, who looked at me reproachfully. (If she was trying to communicate disappointment or shame, I couldn’t have known. Every cat I’ve met looks at me that way.) Standing in the bathroom doorway, the stench hit me as the light came on to reveal the bath mat, crumpled up and pushed into a corner covering the deuce that X had so frantically been trying to get out to drop.

Amid my disgust, I found myself more than a little impressed that she had a) used the appropriate room to do the business and b) shown initiative in covering it up. If only I can get her to hop on the loo next time we may be onto a winner.

Suffice to say I learned my lesson, anyway.

2 comments on “Friend references, reclaiming classical music and embarrassing pet bodies

  1. I seem to remember a pic you sent me once about a toilet add-on … For cats! Remember the hilarity at the time but now … Perhaps missed a trick there 🙂
    Happy birthay by the way! Loving the blog and totally agree about classical music!

    1. Yes, that’s right – think I took a snap in Pets at Home and texted it to you! Maybe I should have taken it more seriously 🙂 Thanks for the birthday wishes x

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