Monday, 2 August 2021
Nick and the Proms
I'm writing this in the week that the 2021 Proms season has started. I've already reviewed one concert with two more later this week and several others during the next few weeks. And it's all a bit memory-laden.
Two years ago Nick was admitted to hospital on 03 July and died on 20 August which, of course, coincided with the Proms. I was booked to review eight. Amazingly - when I think back - I managed to get to seven of them. I would spend most of the day at Nick's bedside in Lewisham Hospital and then head off direct to South Kensington from there, hoping desperately that there wouldn't be an emergency at the hospital during the couple of hours I needed to turn the phone off. Some of the concerts fell after his death, of course, and it was therapeutic to have congenial, uplifting work to help me through those surreal early weeks.
So being back in the Royal Albert Hall now reminds me of all that and, I suspect always will. But Nick, the Proms and I stretch back much further than that. They were some of the first concerts we ever attended together when we became friends in the early 1960s. I was 14 and he was 16 when we met. Classical music was always the glue. When money was short and children small we listened on the radio. Then we went back to attending in person. And in the last ten years or so, along with the other reviewing and journalistic work I do, I've become a classical music reviewer - a logical development, I suppose.
Even three years ago when Nick was ill, not usually able to come with me but reasonably with it, he'd listen on Radio 3 at home. Then I'd phone him in the interval and we'd have a "How about that?" conversation about tempi, interpretation and tone about what we'd just heard.
I am, therefore, delighted to be back there now because Covid, and management of it, hasn't quite managed to kill the things I love. I mull all these memories. And it's odd: it doesn't make me feel particularly sad - just grateful for so many good things in years past and ever more determined to raise a worthy memorial in the form of The Alzheimer's Diaries.
The book currently has 196 backers and is 55% funded. Please, if you possibly can, pass the word on to others so that we can get the outstanding 45% in place and see the book published as soon as possible.