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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I see old people!

I went to a concert of 60s and 70s music the other night. It was advertised as being a concert made up of the original bands and artists, but there were only a handful of originals there, the rest of the band members were ringins from a different, more modern era. I have a fairly good recollection of music from that time but even my memory didn’t stretch far enough to remember some of the artists on stage and I can’t recollect many of the songs they sung. However the crowd that was there obviously did recollect the songs and proved it by belting out each chorus while gyrating as best they could considering the creak of arthritis that filled the air and the beer guts the men were toting with them.

I spent a fair bit of the night gazing at my fellow audience members, as I often do when I go out, and it was frightening to see how many old people were gathered in one spot, under the same roof without being anywhere near a retirement village. It was then the first awful thought hit me – I was one of them. Sure I wasn’t the oldest member of the audience, but I wouldn’t have been the youngest either. I was surrounded by my generation, with all its wrinkles and flabbiness and fake tans and pot guts. Trust me; I did not like that thought at all. That thought made me shiver “like bad news on the door step”... ah but someone has already used that line.

The only thing scarier than an older audience dressing up like they did in their teens and getting all groovy with each other, is watching musicians in their 60s and 70s attempting to swivel sexily while croaking out the songs that made them famous. It is either awesome or embarrassing that they are still on stage at this time of their lives and I’m leaning toward embarrassing. There is something about the effects of emphysema and the use of a cane that detract from their overall performance.

Now I have nothing against any of these performers in their heyday – although there weren’t many that performed the other night that I actually followed in the 70s. But some music just doesn’t cut it when performed live by aged musicians. We aren’t talking Bach or Strauss here – classical music can be produced at any age, one only has to read the tabloids to follow the careers of virtuoso musicians from 8 to 80. We are talking full on rock and roll, which, when performed live, requires all the relevant hip jerking, sexually explicit grinding motions that normally accompany it. Not to mention the jumping up and down and around the stage. It is painful to watch someone 60+ attempting to make those same moves.

I went to the concert with a friend of mine. She had bought tickets for herself and her husband but he refused to go once he had seen the list of performers. Whatever I thought of the entertainment, I enjoyed the night out catching up with my friend and the other people on our table (total strangers) added a bit of comedy to the evening. She never stopped talking and he never stopped trying to shut her up, in between the chatter and the shooshing they drank copious amounts of alcohol and regaled us with stories from their youth.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wolf Hall

As soon as I saw this book on the library shelves I felt some slight apprehension. It is a very thick book and I wondered if I would ever finish it. My uneasiness only worsened when, glancing through the pages, it dawned on me that this was an historical novel and I don’t usually like historical novels. Luckily the story line was set in a period of English history that I don’t mind reading about – the time of Henry VIII.

When I curled up in bed that night and began to read Wolf Hall the first thing that struck me was how easy it was to read. The language flows in an almost poetical style and, although you get the sense of olde Englande, it is actually easy to understand. Following who is talking can be slightly tricky at times and Mantle’s use of person sometimes confused me, but overall I enjoyed the actual reading of this novel.

The characters were well described and even the lowliest of them was quite interesting. I especially got pleasure from the consistency of the characters’ behaviour as a few of them were with me throughout the entire story and it was nice to know they became reasonably predictable.

Nevertheless this book takes some reading and about half way through I started to lose my attention span and wish that either the story had been told in a shorter version or some of the peripheral bits had been left out. I began to get bored and found myself sneaking peeks at the last few pages of the book. Despite my growing lack of interest I managed to finish the book and I’m glad I did.

Reading this book did mean doing some research, although it’s not a necessity and the story can be enjoyed without knowing the historical detail. However I did look up several of the characters including the main man Thomas Cromwell and Anne Boleyn’s sister Mary. I didn’t even know Anne Boleyn had a sister until I read this book! I also reacquainted myself with some of the historical facts from that time as my high school history lessons are buried deep in the whorls of my brain and not easily retrievable.

I can recommend this book to anyone who gets pleasure from reading historical novels or anyone who enjoys good characterisation and plot.

The next novel I plan to read is The White Tiger and I will let you know how that goes as soon as I tackle it!