Yesterday, Mrs Wordofward and myself were all cultural and went to the BBC Proms in the Park. It’s the world’s largest classical music festival and is now in its 117th year (although I’m pretty certain it wasn’t called ‘BBC’ proms a century ago). To my shame I had missd the previous 116 Proms so it was time to rectify the situation.
The idea is to basically have a mass picnic while listening to live classical music. The whole shebang is hosted by Ken Bruce and Terry Wogan and is broadcast live on BBC2. As you may have guessed the crowd was older than at most festivals – the average age was about 40. It’s the first festival I have ever been to where medical emergency crews outnumbered security.
We arrived just before 6pm in time to catch Deacon Blue sing. Which was a surprise as I had assumed they had all died years ago. We wandered around and eventually found a gap and spread our blanket. We then unpacked our picnic which consisted of a half eaten crepe, some Haribo sweets and lots of cans of beer. Damn we’re classy. Deacon Blue had finished by this point and we lay back on the grass to enjoy the Overtones (an acapella band), followed by the cast of Rock of Ages doing some classic 80s rock tunes. Which was actually pretty fun although I still don’t want to see the play.
These acts were just warm ups while everyone got settled and inebriated. Then an orchestra belted out the theme tune to Indiana Jones. I’m not too highbrow or ashamed to admit that John Williams is one of my favourite composers. The legendary Sir Terry Wogan then arrived on stage to compere the evening and generally take the piss out of everyone. The highlights were many and I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed everything. Lang Lang was awesome and tinkled the ivories with gusto. Katherine Jenkins was superb and smokingly hot. Rolf Harris was fun and legendary and had a wobble-board. Some fellow I had never heard of called Russell Watson sung some opera tunes and was incredible. (Now there are some words I never thought I would write as I don’t really like opera.)
In short the whole eveing was a massive drunken delight in a park. I wasn’t so keen on the next bits though. As a finale, Westlife played. I’m sorry but I don’t like Westlife. I would have preferred Deacon Blue to come back for Christ’s sake. There then followed a live link up to other proms in Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as the Royal Albert Hall. Suddenly the evening turned into Nationalist Karaoke Night. Everyone was waving Union Jacks and sang ‘Jerusalem’, ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘God save the Queen’. This is all very well, everyone was wasted and loved it, but it just struck me as odd. Maybe it was because most people were older and they expect that kind of thing but I just didn’t get the link between BBC/classical and a Britain-is-awesome love-in.
Don’t let this final bit put you off if you are thinking of going though. Lying on a blanket in Hyde Park listening to classical music while drinking Pimm’s, beer, and wine is a magical way to spend an evening. There were even fireworks at the end. You can’t dislike anything that ends with fireworks. Give it a go.