I made my first visit of the year to the BBC Proms this weekend, a wonderful institution that has been going on for over one hundred years. And by the crowds that queued to get in, it seems that it is still in wonderful health. You would think that with the world and the country in turmoil, things like classical concerts would be the last thing on people’s minds. But no, the Royal Albert Hall was packed to enjoy a programme featuring Beethoven’s ‘Erioca’ symphony.
I love to see new crowds enjoying culture when they could quite easily stay at home and watch Big Brother 81 or X Factor 56 but, and I may be at risk of sounding like an old man here, I wish they would respect the institution a little bit more.
Next to me was an Asian man who had the audacity to set up a camcorder on a tripod in order to record the concert, before he was politely told to put it away by a steward. It still didn’t stop him snapping several hundred photographs of people and the orchestra while the concert was under way, or indeed to film some if it!
Then there were plenty of other people who couldn’t stay away from their mobile phones for more than a minute at a time, despite the fact that a fairly loud announcement before the start of the concert asks for mobile phones to be switched off. It makes you wonder what could possibly be so important that you would feel obliged to text during the performance of such a wonderful work of art, as well as to affect the enjoyment of others. Perhaps they wanted to find out who had been voted off Big Brother?
Much more fun to see were the crowds surrounding the Round Pond in Kensington Gardens and to watch the wild birds surrounding the crowds while bread was distributed. And to see the starlings hopping around with bread in their beaks while being chased by pigeons. It was like something out of Benny Hill. Funnier still was one young girl picking up pigeons to look at them!
For me, nature wins over humans every time.