Saturday, April 13, 2013


Emma and I had a real treat yesterday: a couple of hours of the genius of Paul Kelly in a magnificent place, Cadogan Hall, just off Sloane Square in London.  This was the third time I'd seen my favourite singer, following concerts in Edinburgh in 1999 and Cambridge last August; but even if it had been the 303rd time, it would still be a treat.  As he's written a few hundred songs, one never knows what one is going to hear - even if there are is a nucleus of favourites, and one can probably guarantee that one will hear some of those - so there's always an element of suprise.  As well as a massive amount of pleasure.

As was the case when we saw him last year, he was playing with his nephew Dan Kelly, who is a very talented musician and singer in his own right.  They started off by singing his newest album 'Spring and fall', which apparently lasted 37 minutes; and then the remainder of the two-hour show was taken up with older songs.  They kicked off this second part with the wonderful 'Love never runs on time' and then ran through a terrific variety of songs - including some which I'd never heard previously, which is saying a lot.  Most of the time the pair played together, although Paul played two or three on his own, and Dan played one of his own songs on his own.

The best audience participation came during the classics 'To her door' and 'Dumb things', while the Christmas classic 'How to make gravy' was another favourite.  Other time-honoured tracks which were played last night included 'When I first met your ma' and 'Careless', while I really enjoyed Paul singing 'You touch me down', not least because Dan's version on the outstanding tribute triple-CD 'Before too long' (which is two CDs of maybe 16 singers each singing two of Paul's tracks, followed by a third CD of the original versions of many of those songs) is lovely and has given me extra appreciation of that beautiful song.

So that was absolutely terrific.  Ending at half-past ten, the concert finished after my usual bed-time - and of course we were a long way from home at that time.  So it meant doing what I basically hate - ie having a very late night - but that was a very small price to pay for an evening of bliss - and this morning was so glorious (as you can see here through Gift Of Silence's ears just before 7.00 - and as you can also see in the chapter's final three photographs - none of which prepare one for the fact that the day is now ending with several hours of solid rain) that it was easy to get going even after having had only half the usual amount of hours in bed.  And the night ended on a special note too as I knocked off the final couple of pages of 'Smiley's people' in the couple of minutes between my head hitting the pillow just after 2 am and my drifting off smartly off to sleep.  And I might just explain why I've been reading that.

When Zarosa resumes for the new season at Newcastle on Monday, her owner Roger Vicarage won't be able to be present, which is a real shame.  However, he's got a lot of work on at present, and wouldn't have been able to make any of her three possible options this month - and his daughter Zoe, who is at university in the north-east, will represent him instead.  And what is also a consolation is that Roger has been able to see quite a bit of her this spring as he's come over to watch her exercise a few times.  And on one of these he inadvertently did me a huge favour.

Roger and I were standing out on Warren Hill on an unseasonably and untypically pleasant morning in, I'd guess, either late January or early February (and it might have been the day shown in the previous paragraph when Zarosa and Terri went for a trot the reverse way around Side Hill with their workmates after cantering) and Roger, looking at the newly laid-out strip of ground on Warren Hill, quoted from 'A perfect spy' when Magnus Pym was recalling his childhood visits with his father Rick to see the latter's (non-achieving) horses working on the gallops:

“After the pubs if we were lucky, came a dawn raid on Covent Garden for a nice touch of bacon and eggs to perk us up before the hundred-mile-an-hour dash to the stables where the jockeys put on brown caps and jodhpurs and became the Knights Templars Pym had always known they were, galloping the neverwozzers down frosty runways marked by pine sprigs ...”.

Roger and I share many enthusiasms, and it transpired that a love of John le Carre's novels is one of them.  I hadn't read any of his books for a couple of years, so I was enthused to dig out a couple.  I was lucky enough to find one of the few which I hadn't read, 'The Secret Pilgrim' and this inspired me to re-read a George Smiley novel - hence my then diving into 'Smiley's People', a book which I hadn't read for quite a lot of years and which I could thus savour as deeply as I had done the first time I'd read it.  So that was a lovely way to end the day, and a lovely evening on which to end the book - even if not the obvious time of day to do it.

1 comment:

Cat Wood said...

Hey John, went to see Paul Kelly and the Dots way back in about 83 here in Sydney. One of those boozy, smokey joints like the Sylvania Hotel. He was a legend then, and his voice as good now. Funny how in old age he ends up a Sloane Ranger!......Must have been a musical drive home in the early hours.......Baz and Sue