Lights Down


Months back – having discovered ‘relevant complexity’ in Saint Saëns Organ Symphony no 3 – I booked two tickets for the Royal Albert Hall.

After a long old week, neither me or the missus fancied it much. I tried to offload the tickets to my folks – nothing doing. So I asked my daughter if she wanted to go? ‘Why yes’ she said brightly.

Pace 6pm. And smartly dressed, armed with a bag of sweets, we set off. After a nice vanilla ice, we took our seats and had a good look at the splendid scene. Huge dome, red plush, gold fittings – and the enormous great organ which massively towers at one end of the Royal Albert Hall.

We reckoned that organ was about the size of our house; the illuminated organ ‘loft’ about the size of her bedroom. But a good deal tidier I pointed out to her; and a good job too or the organist would never find his music. She was not amused.

Then lights down, orchestra in, conductor up and away we went. Berlioz to get the players warmed up, then onto Saint Saëns. But my little one was nodding. A pale face, tired eyes, fiddling with her little shoulder purse – she was knackered.

A whisper: ‘How long to the organ?’ 12 minutes I said. A minute later ‘how long to the organ Dad?’ Five minutes I lied. Five minutes later: ‘how long to the organ?’ Two minutes I gestured silently.

And her eyes gently closed and she was asleep. Moments later BAHHHM! And the roof of the Albert Hall nearly blew off. Her eyes snapped open. ‘That’s the organ’ I said.

She stared wide eyed. And then the lead in her eyelids weighed them down again. And silently she slept through one of the loudest crescendos – on one of the largest organs in the world. Just a twitch of her brow at the final booming finale which made your tripes vibrate.

Proud of her. She did great. A memorable night out and a good chuckle. We were both shattered. But sometimes you have to dig deep to get the best from life. A night out with my big brave girl was a performance I’ll remember forever.

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