qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Germany in the 1730s. And then in the 1930s.

I was given a flyer during the last week or two at the Proms for a concert featuring The Bach Players in Hampstead. We decided it looked interesting enough to be worth the effort, and booked tickets. Unfortunately we've both had colds this week and Mrs Q decided not to come along, so I was on my own.

I realised once I'd got as far as Reading that I hadn't packed my umbrella, but fortunately the rain had stopped by the time the train got to London. At that point it was mystery tour time, as I ventured out to Finchley Road tube station, from which the venue (St John's Downshire Hill) was about a 20-minute walk (closer to Hampstead, but the Northern Line was not so convenient), in which I managed not to get too lost.

At the start, they announced that they had swapped round the ordering of the programme from that advertised, so in the first half we had an arrangement of some canons from the Goldberg Variations (specifically, those discovered in 1974), followed by the Peasant Cantata. Silas Wollston introduced the canons; Rachel Elliott and Matthew Brook sung the cantata. To my eye Brook has a passing resemblance to Paul Eddington and certainly gave us a variety of amusing facial expressions. Bach's sense of humour was evident as he parodied both town and country singing of the period.

In the second half, the pieces played were the Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 and the Coffee Cantata, so again a light-hearted finish to the concert. The venue was full and well-matched to the size of the ensemble.

The concert was a little later than I'd hoped in finishing, and despite making good progress and being quite lucky with tube connections, I arrived in Paddington too late for the 22:18 train (it had vanished from the display boards and a minute after arriving I heard the sound of a departing train). So I boarded the 22:30 instead. I made the mistake of sitting in the mixed first/standard class coach, which was subsequently populated by a bunch of loud beery lads. One of them began talking to the woman he was sat beside, and on evidently not immediately getting the expected response, the line of questioning became more insidious. Something about Harambe; apparently the correct answer to the question "Trump or Hillary?" wasn't Hillary; and then the inevitable Brexit question - again, Remain clearly wasn't the right answer. For me, the atmosphere was undoubtedly ugly and poisonous. Blood boiling, I wasn't the first to leave the coach, but I had a fight-or-flight moment and flight was the only option, struggling to contain my disgust and feeling guilty about leaving her behind. We had already passed Maidenhead by this time but it seemed to take an eternity to get to Reading. She had said she was leaving the train there and I hope she was OK. I've seen too many friends posting on Facebook about hate-related incidents recently and for me this falls into that category. Maybe some will say this is nothing more than you'd expect from a bunch of tanked-up louts on a Saturday night, but that doesn't justify it. I'm a sensitive soul and lead a sheltered life. For some time Mrs Q has said it has felt like the end of the Weimar Republic; now it really feels as though 1930s Germany is upon us.
Tags: europe, music, politics, travel
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