Wednesday, 12 March 2014

A miraculous strawberry and an evening at La Fenice

A picnic lunch in brilliant sunshine on the Zattere. Notice that the strawberry still has petals as well as leaves. It seems like a miracle until I notice that all the strawberries in the punnet are like that.

Later Yuri Bashmet at La Fenice - passionate and disciplined music. Music for pilgrimages? (Remember hearing other Eastern European music just before setting off for Jerusalem.) La Fenice is a phoenix that has literally risen from the ashes - burned down twice. Now gilded as all great opera houses are with the inevitable cherubs and rosebuds festooning the galleried boxes.

A wonderful Toru Takemitsu - Waltz ends the concert... then Bashmet plays a Schnittke encore. I saw Schnittke walk on to the stage in the Moscow Conservatoire in the late 80s after a concert of his work - he was wearing a grey suit. My grandchildren - if I have any - will be able to say that their grandmother once saw Schnittke)
Up in the balcony, on restricted view seats - restricted?! deprived more life - am sitting next to a young couple who have come here from Marseilles on the train ('Trains cost almost nothing in Italy - 200 euros return for the two of us'). An elderly man leans against the rails beside me so we can see everything - 'They are allowing us - usually it is not allowed.' He tells me he was born in Venice, one of the few Venetians still here. At the end, his wife, small, smart with grey permed curls, shakes my hand. "I have been to London once, years ago for a week,' the man says. 'I just walked around. It is wonderful to see, wonderful.'
We shake hands. I say he should go back. Very delighted to meet you.
As I am picking up my coat and bag he rushes back, excited, with something else to tell me.
'I am going to Rome this weekend to see Italy play England - the rugby.... it will be...' He raises his hands....
Hard to know what to say.
'Swing low, sweet chariot,' he says, and we shake hands again.

Reading and watching

  • Foot by Foot to Santiago de Compostela/Judy Foot
  • The Testament of Mary with Fiona Shaw at the Barbican
  • The Testament of Mary/Colm Toibin
  • Schwanengesang/Schubert - Tony Spence
  • Journals/Robert Falcon Scott
  • Fugitive Pieces/Ann Michaels
  • Unless/Carol Shields
  • Faust/Royal Opera House
  • The Art of Travel/Alain de Botton
  • Mad Men Series 6
  • A Week at The Airport/Alain de Botton
  • The Railway Man/Eric Lomax
  • Bright Lights, Big City/Jay McInerney
  • Stones of Venice/John Ruskin
  • The Sea, the Sea/Iris Murdoch
  • Childe Harold/Lord Byron
  • All The Pretty Horses/Cormac McCarthy
  • Extreme Rambling/Mark Thomas
  • Story of my Life/Jay McInerney
  • Venice Observed/Mary McCarthy