Tuesday, 20 December 2011


I sent a Christmas Card this year produced by Private Eye which had a group of snowmen sitting around a boardroom table one of whom was gloomily intoning “Gentlemen I think we’re heading for a meltdown”. Thus we read in the Sunday Times article “Nightmare before Christmas” all about the retail bloodbath with rucksacks and thongs in the news…..Black’s Leisure and La Senza apparently on the brink. Meanwhile the Foreign Office is working on advanced plans to evacuate over 1 million Britons living in Spain and Portugal who may have their savings frozen in failing banks and be thrown from their mortgaged villas on to unswept and potholed streets because yes, the end of the Euro-world is nigh. Tragedy was heaped on tragedy as the rumbustious polemicist and contrarian Christopher Hitchens handed in his dinner pail and got two double page spreads in the Times. The Queen Mother didn’t even get that. Hitchens was quoted “The four most overrated things in the world are champagne, lobster anal sex and picnics”. All of them are highly rated here in Brighton – although it’s agreed here that lobster is, perhaps, a bit over hyped. None of this is very Christmassy all this is it? Yet I’ve heard more good singing in the past few weeks than for a long time and I’ve laughed more. I laughed at the story in Stephen Pile’s story in his Book of Heroic Failures about an opera in Wexford thirty years ago on a sloping stage covered in marbled formica. This proved so slippery that the first singer slipped fell and slid rapidly towards the orchestra pit but hung on to be swiftly joined by another singer who suffered the same plight. Locked in embrace on the brink of the stage (not in the script) they carried on singing. The moral of that story which made me laugh out loud was their professionalism was not daunted by the minor mishap of a stumble. The show went on. As our show will. And I realised as I was laughing why the whole Euro farce has been pissing me off so mightily. No sense of humour. Have you ever seen a Belgian laugh? Name a comedian from Luxemburg or Lithuania. And satire’s role in France died with Voltaire. The last words, as they should, belong to Christopher Hitchens. “Alcohol makes people less tedious and food less bland and can help provide what the Greeks call ‘entheos’, or the slight buzz of inspiration when reading or writing”. Cheers and Happy Christmas.

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