The Scene of the Crime


In this blogposting...
*Thomas Zehetmair
*Another Kev joke
*Six-word stories
Now read on, Macduff...

I went to the first of this season’s orchestral concerts at The Sage on Friday night, and very good it was, too. It included Haydn’s Symphony No 101 ‘The Clock’ ( - Haydn wrote 104 symphonies so is, perhaps understandably, known as ‘The Father of the Symphony’; contrary to the usual way of these things, no-one seems to know who the mother was - ) and Brahms’ Symphony No 3.

Unfortunately, it also included some stultifyingly turgid ‘lieder’ (songs) written by Mahler, which had me looking despairingly at my watch after about 30 seconds.

The whole concert, though, was magnificently performed by our very own Northern Sinfonia - for whom three hearty cheers - under their Musical Director, Thomas Zehetmair, who can brandish a baton as well as anyone.

Watching him at work reminded me of what may arguably be regarded - by me personally, at least - as one of my most embarrassing moments on the Big Blue Bus. Much worse than calling Anthea Lang (local history supremo at Gateshead Council) by at least four different names in the course of a single interview - Angela, Alison, Annette, Adrienne - or being literally struck dumb at the beginning of an interview with Lucinda Lambton (one of my all-time heroes) or the time when I subjected the phrase ‘flat-twinning’ to a particularly unfortunate spoonerism.

No doubt you can think of others.

Where was I? Ah, yes...

The Bus was on one of its periodic ‘summer holiday’ weeks; we were broadcasting from Low Newton-by-the-Sea (which God preserve) and I’d been told that Herr Zehetmair lived in the vicinity. The Sage was about a year old at the time so naturally, I invited Herr Zehetmair to come to the Bus for an interview.

Thomas Zehetmair is Austrian. He was born and raised in Salzburg, also the city of Mozart. Indeed, his parents both taught at the city’s music school, known as the Mozarteum. Thomas himself is recognised as one of the world’s greatest exponents of the works of Mozart. The depth of his knowledge and skill in performance of the works of Mozart is legendary worldwide.

Of course, I had briefed myself very badly indeed and knew none of this. All I knew was that I am not a big fan of Mozart. Just the opposite, in fact.

None of which excuses the fact that I found myself asking him Why so much Mozart, then? After all, once you’ve heard one bit of Mozart, you’ve heard them all.

This wasn’t brass-necked chutzpah. It wasn’t provocative cheekiness. It was breathtaking, know-it-all smugness of the worst possible kind. Like asking David Attenborough why all the wildlife films? or denying climate change and global warming on the basis that sunnier summers would be good for business in Low Newton-by-the-Sea.

I am blushing very deeply as I type. So much so that I’d better change the subject...

I was about to tout for dates and venues for AGM VIII when Hildie emailed me with some vital information. We’ve already had eight AGMs! Namely:
I The Keelman, Newburn.
II Tyneside Coffee Rooms.
III Sunderland Winter Gardens.
IV Birkheads.
V Tanfield Railway
VI Quayside/ Sage.
VII Tynemouth Station.
VIII Saltwell Park
Naturally, she’s right. So the next AGM will, in fact, be the ninth. Doesn’t time fly when you’re enjoying yourself?

In the meantime, your suggestions for dates/venues for AGM IX - including, of course, The Biscuit Factory - gratefully received. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

(I feel constrained to point out at this juncture that one of our most loyal and faithful truckshunters - artist Alison Best - has had her work refused by The Biscuit Factory. So I will only agree to go there if we all agree to make a nuisance of ourselves lobbying for her work to be displayed.)

Kev also sent me a satirical joke which, though possibly a little non-PC, nevertheless has some valid points to make. Neither of us accepts any responsibility for any offence caused.

Last month a world-wide survey was conducted by the UN. The only question asked was:

"Would you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?"

The survey was a failure because of the following:

* In Eastern Europe they didn't know what "honest" meant.
* In Western Europe they didn't know what "shortage" meant.
* In Africa they didn't know what "food" meant.
* In China they didn't know what "opinion" meant.
* In the Middle East they didn't know what "solution" meant.
* In South America they didn't know what "please" meant.
* In the US they didn't know what "the rest of the world" meant.
* In Australia, they hung up, because they couldn't understand the Indian accent.

Someone - and for the very life of me, I can’t remember who - has drawn my attention to a charming internet craze; stories told in only six words, no more and no less. So far, I’ve come across these...

Creaking branches… Flat tires… It lunges!
Shadows lengthen. Sun sets. Broken promise.
Their eyes met. She knew. Goodbye.
The baby’s blood type? Human, mostly.
She smiled. His wallet was empty.
Won’t open… raining. Solar-powered umbrella.
Married for money, divorced for love.

I’ve tried very hard indeed to dream up a few of my own but it’s not as easy as you might think. Try it.

Post comments on this blog or email me:


Sid said...

At the last agm a lady passing by stopped and spoke to you. You introduced her to us, and gave her at least two work titles that didn't actually match what she did.
It turned out she was in charge of the Heritage Centre at Gateshead. The conversation quickly turned to holding an agm there, even though they don't have a cafe. Was her name Angela...anyway she said she could rustle up coffee and biscuits. How about taking 'Angela' up on her offer and have the agm there, before she forgets. She gave you her number...

Alison said...

Hello all
Further to the Biscuit Factory debate - I think you should consider it as there is a lot of excellent North East art and the catering is good. I wear my 'Biscuit Factory Reject' badge (like a lot of other artists) with pride! There is a lot that needs to be done promote the huge pool of North East talent in the Arts and the more people involved the better and hopefully one day things will change! I am extremely sad that The Art Works has closed as that was one place that was opening doors and the vision was a good one.

Kind regards to all


Leroy La Strange said...

Yo Ian,

I saddens me when I see the old Blue Bus.......... Memories of award winning shows alas no longer with us.



Ian Robinson said...

Believe me, Leroy - it saddens ME, too :(

Val said...

Blimey Ian, We were at the Sage Friday night!! What a shame I didn't see you.

I know exactly what you mean about the Mahler - I found those songs on a cd my husband got with a music magazine he subscribes to and was filled with dread! But I made myself listen to it a few times. It shouldn't be such hard work to have to force yourself but a couple of the songs did grow on me. The Brahms was lovely - made more so by moving for the second half, from the side balcony into the dearer empty seats in the centre [level 2] to escape from the man with a distracting cough/grunt spoiling the quiet bits. Or maybe it was the free glass of red wine we ended up sharing after a mix-up with someone's order!

We usually get tickets for 6 of the Classical Subscription concert series from September to May.
When we book the tickets it looks like our diaries are quite empty but this weekend has been a feast [as opposed to famine]I'd read about the Durham Sinfonia [now called Orchestra North-East] playing 2 concerts this weekend - Durham Cathedral and the one we were at this afternoon - St George's Church, Jesmond. I had to go as the first piece was Borodin's Prince Igor Overture which I'd studied for Music 'O' Level [shh...40 years ago]Tchaikovsky's 4th symphony was just gorgeous. The church is beautiful [I was christened there and bawled my eyes out - having no religion now maybe I was trying to tell them something?] Interval had fantastic home made cakes by the ladies of the church. Before and after we ambled through a very autumnal Jesmond Dene.

Coincidentally....looking for pics of Jesmond Dene on 'flickr' stumbled across a photo of an Alan Turing slate sculpture from Bletchley Pk.
The whole link doesn't show but it copy and paste seems to work ok.

Sorry to go on a bit - this has turned into a blog of my own!

mim said...

Hi Alison,
I'm with you there are not enough places to showcase talent here in the NE. I'm really interested in textiles and embroidery and do a lot of stumpwork but you hardly ever see exhibitions round here. I love the Biscuit Factory.
Ian do you have a model of the Blue Bus? I got mine by default--on Ebay. The man who won it was not a local man --but then I'm an adopted Geordie--but he put it up for auction and I thought it should stay in the NE and I won it!

Love Margaretx

Ian Robinson said...

Val...I'm afraid they haven't yet invented a drug that would render anything Mahler wrote even bearable, let alone enjoyable. Sorry.
You're absolutely right about 'Prince Igor' and Tchaikovsky's 4th, though. I'm really jealous. How do you find out about concerts like those?
It's a sahme we didn't catch each other last Friday. I've got subscription tickets, too. It's Dvorak's String Serenade and Barber's Adagio on Thursday. Will you be there?
Margaret...Actually, no I don't have model Blue Bus. In fact, I'm quite ashamed to say there are quite a few mementoes I left the BBC without. So no ice-scraper, either. I DO, though, have a Mike Parr mug. Remember those?

Leroy La Strange said...

Mike parr ??? the third best show on Radio Newcastle,

1. Robinson n Wappat.
2. Julia Hankin.
3. Mike Parr.

Those were the days, Halcyon days.