There was other stuff I was going to write about today but those great bombastic anthems are still ringing around my head, from watching it on the telly last night, so I might as well stick with that.
I’ve always watched the Last Night of the Proms. It just one of those things that has always drawn me in. Mostly I tune in for the second half, when the party atmosphere reaches its zenith and the hits come fast and loud.
Last night’s was a good one. Ruthie Henshall sang a Mary Poppins singalong medley and Roderick Williams beamed his way through ‘Rule Britannia’ in a most amiable fashion. The conductor speech by Sakari Oramo was as smiley and top-lip-sweaty as is required and the Promenaders bobbed and weaved as only they can.
As usual, I really enjoyed it.
Am I not Irish? Shouldn’t all that rousing British patriotism rile me just a bit and make me want to switch over and watch something else instead?
Well, no. It never has.
And I am Irish. In fact, I'm about as Irish as they come.
I don’t for an instant see why any of the flag waving and patriotism should alienate or threaten me. It’s my neighbour country, partying-down and singing some of their big songs, waving their flags and strutting their waistcoats. They’re having great fun doing it and I’m having great fun watching them.
What wins me over most is the positivity of the whole thing. I love positive things and the Albert Hall is replete with positive people on that evening. They love the music, the silly traditions, the pomp, the circumstance. It doesn’t have to be my ‘thing’ for me to enjoy it. I just do.
This all goes to something I was thinking about myself over the last few days. I always tend to react positively to stuff whenever I can. If it’s bad, it’s bad and there’s no getting away from that but, if something is even half-good, I will tend to focus on the half-good part and run with it. It’s a thing I like about myself and I also think it’s rather a good thing. I see a lot of people, out in the social media world (and in the real world too) who seem to sit quietly in wait of something negative to come along and then it is their meat and drink. They tear at it and chew it until they find they nourishment there. Then they retreat and wait for the next negative thing upon which to sup.
I don’t envy them. I’m glad I am the way that I am.
One year, back when I lived in London, Patricia and her sister Una and me took a journey to the Albert Hall to watch the last night promenaders go in to the concert. There was a great vibe outside and we really enjoyed seeing everybody in their garb.
When most of them had gone in, we set off around the circumference of the hall to head back home. As we passed a rear exit door, it swung open and attendant stuck his head out. We were the only ones around.
“There’s some room up on top,” he said, exactly like a bus conductor might.
“It’s two quid in and it’s standing only, I’m afraid.”
We took it, of course we did. We watched the whole 1992 Last Night from the highest balcony in the room. The overview was simply tremendous. Kiri Ti Kanewa performed that aria from La Wally. You know, the one used in ‘Diva’. She sang ‘Rule Britannia’ too. It was a tremendous, memorable evening, made all the more special by the shock and surprise of actually getting in.
It was twenty two years ago, last night.
So thanks for letting me in, London. To the concert and to everything else too.
The best of times.
The worst of times.