Monday, 10 August 2009

Shout the Devil and Trasure Island in Space

This morning, Sunday August 9th, I had one of the moments of confusion when I awoke before getting up when dreams and reality become merged and one is not sure what is which or which is what.

Saturday was a good day, relaxed without the pressure which I generate upon myself before a trip.

The highlight of the day was a performance of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, perhaps one of the most popular classical pieces in the world for its romanticism and exhibitionistic artistry, played by the National Youth orchestra, whose 160 members aged 14 to 19 have completed a summer school rehearsals for this performance and the rest of the evening programme as Henry Wood Promenade Concert number 31. This was the first concert by the N.Y.O‘s new young Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko aged 33, having been educated at St Petersburg and rose to prominence in 1994 when he became chief conductor for the State Academy and resident conductor for the Petersburg Opera and Ballet Theatre. He came to Britain in 2004 to conduct the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and was one of the directors to sign a manifesto proposing that school children should be given free entry to a classical music concert to encourage their interest and participation in the music. It was therefore not surprising that he became an ideal choice for the National Youth Orchestra. My prediction is that he will become a long term star on the world’s concert platforms long after I am writing!

The soloist was Stephen Hough born at Hoylake in Cheshire bringing back my time in the county and living at Bromborough in the Wirral, just as the Proms also brings back my first year at work at the age of sixteen when I bought a season ticket for the first 20 concerts of the Proms. Aged 48 he is a Professor of Music at the Royal Academy as well as a Composer, Transcriber and Soloist.

The Proms Internet site continues to improve year upon year with the ability to download the full programme for seven days. Although now hearing the concerto again on the i player while writing this afternoon I did not linger to hear again the two other works by Lutostawski and Resphighi, although they did provide opportunity for all 160 members of the orchestra to play at the same time.

I half watched two films. One in the morning with a mixture of disbelief and amazement was called Treasure Island in Space, closely followed the original story with the same names except that it was Long John Silver and the Space Pirates. This was an Italian production with some arty modern music. It was a hoot.

One of my favourite films is The African Queen with Humphrey Bogart as the drunk making a living in Africa and Katherine Hepburn as the sister of a missionary who gets caught up in the first World War and who together successfully blow up a German gun boat which patrols a large lake after a series of great adventures and hardships which brings the unlikely two together.

Thinking that the late night showing on a free film Channel called Shout the Devil meant a Satanic horror I then discovered that it is a pale version of the African Queen with Lee Marvin as the drunk adventurer with a an attractive daughter, Barbara Perkins, who takes a shine for Roger Moore, an English remittance man who jumps ship on his way to sheep farm in Australia and after an elephant shoot, well the film was made in 1976, gets caught up in the German British conflict in Africa as part of the first World War. The film has a serious side as the local German commander kills the baby daughter of Roger and Barbara in an attempt to find the two men and what they are up to. Lee Marvin gives up his life at the end of the film in order to enable Roger to rescue his daughter who has been taken on board the German gunboat which is in hiding being repaired and where Roger has previously boarded in disguise and laid a time bomb at the request of the British government, and which goes off seconds after the couple escape from the ship.. The German local commander also escapes but Roger is able to kill him before he kills them and all ends happy ever afters.

The weekend was full of sport with claps of one minute before every game for the life of Bobby Robson. I cannot help thinking that the Football authorities are using Bobby to cover up the shortcoming of the wages and life style of professional footballers in these times when hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs or been unable to obtain a first job on graduating from first degrees and professional training courses.

The County Cricket championship has reached the crucial part of the season when the outcome can be determined by the next couple of games. Somerset have now played one more game than Durham who still have a lead margin of 22 and have to play them at the Riverside. All the others except Hampshire who Durham play at the Rose bowl in penultimate match have played the same number of games as Durham. Hampshire 66 points behind the leaders so even if they take maximum points from their extra game and win against Durham twice, Durham still have an overall winning margin. Lancashire who Durham play next need to win to keep the possibility open but even if they do Durham will still lead by some 30 points. Notts are also still there with 30 points to make up. Notts visit to Durham in September will settle the outcome between them and Notts will want to avenge their humiliation at Trent Bridge. All in all Durham remain in a strong position

England will want to do more than avenge their innings drubbing at Headingley within there days. The opening and middle order failed for the second time in three days. Nottingham pair Chris Broad and Swann hit a spectacular 120 partnership before lunch to day to give the crowd something to shout about. Ian Botham suggested that for the next match the bowlers should open the innings, given that they have to score a third more runs in this series than the recognised batsmen.

I must admit I went to sleep at the interval of the game between Newcastle and West Bromwich at the Hawthorns. The Hawthorns suggests a rural or countryside atmosphere location but having passed the ground my memory is of a stadium located within a poor area of an economic struggling West Midlands. I cannot remember why I was passing the stadium at the time. Newcastle started well enough and overall and command of much of the play. However they only managed one good shot on goal which is not surprising given that they have sold off their main striking power of Owens, Viduka and Martens and the Spanish young man brought in against Keegan was rightly dropped after poor showing in his first games. This leaves well intention local lad Carroll a good man but at lower level and Ameobi was Ameobi, unpredictable and more likely to squander any chances than take the opportunity. Joey Barton was brought on for Carroll in the last 20 minuets which says everything. At least they did manage to equalise the opening goal by West Brom who always looked dangerous when they countered Newcastle moves which always failed to reach someone in the box or then came quickly to nothing. They are likely to survive but on this showing mid table is the best they can hope for.

I had a peek on Ipswich under Roy Keane playing at Coventry who beat them 2.1 which confirms my suspicion that Roy has a long way to go before he achieves his ambition of being a top flight manager. On Saturday Norwich were smashed 7.1 at home which caused mayhem in the East Anglian community and the former English team captain Spen who has become Director of Football at lowly Notts City saw his team win 5.1 in their first match and where he has told the coach manager and the football world only promotion into division 1 is acceptable. I suspect that the Championship and the lower divisions are going to be more interesting this year than the Premiership which Chelsea and Manchester United look on paper a cut above Arsenal and Liverpool. The interest will be to see if Manchester City who have bought well for £100000 but could not lure John Terry, have bought their way unto the top four. For the rest including Sunderland their is Premiership survival and the cups to play for.

This appeared to be the confirmed position when Chelsea as FA Cup Winners played Manchester United as Premiership winners in the Charity Shield at Wembley. This was a good match with Man U scoring first and then Chelsea equalising and then taking the lead until the dying seconds of extra time when Wayne Rooney got the equaliser. I had switch off by then and only found out when I decided to find out what was on and later and discovered the penalty shoot out had commenced. Chelsea won this and will take heart under their latest new manager, an Italian.

I took the car to buy rolls for the trip and a cake and some fruit. Shirts were ironed and there was much playing of games with the best effort on Spider patience so that 888 games have been won out of 910, some 97% with the latest run 62 and 241 the best. There was also some telephone calls and emails.

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