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Life Chez Dee Episode #54: A Cultural Weekend

It’s been rather a cultured weekend of arts and music. When I use the term cultured here I simply refer to how I interpret the use of this phrase. If someone were to be described as cultured I’d immediately assume a knowledgeable and learned person, of good taste and having a love of arts and music. I’m well aware that there is far more to the meaning of cultured but when I write I’m assuming that this is the way it will be interpreted, but as I lecture the boys in how they should never assume or make assumptions then I thought I’d better clarify this rather than assuming the reader is on the same wavelength as I.

I think I’m prompted to clarify this, given a discussion I had with William some time ago about what being cultured meant. We disagreed somewhat … and I’m putting it down to his age, given the argument he gave, and also due to the fact that he would naturally contradict me anyway … he’s my teenage son! We did have a lengthy discussion, but given that I’m debating this topic with he who would argue black was white, I’m not sure that this didn’t skew the argument somewhat.

My opinion was that being cultured was about being knowledgeable, having a love of arts, galleries, museums, exhibitions, literature, theatre, ballet, opera and such. He asked if that included gaming and therefore popular culture. My opinion was that this was not what I would regard as culture. I agree that there is an interpretation of the word culture which would include modern trends, what is enjoyed by today’s society. But no, being cultured would not include spending time gaming. This is where we disagreed, with me summing up my argument with “for goodness sake, please don’t say this at any University interviews you have!” In any event, it set me on a mission and with that I went home and booked for us all to go to the ballet. You’ve never been before I said, and if nothing else you should go and experience it … and in any event, you’ll like the music. And therefore, I booked for The Nutcracker … I knew it would be lovely, easy to understand for Oliver, wonderful music, and give them both a cultural experience. And it was, and even more wonderful was that William and Oliver did enjoy it …. so opera next for their next cultural experience!

And so I go on to tell you about my weekend of culture, which in no way, shape or form, did it include gaming. The irony is that my weekend of culture began with a fabulous evening of music at AKS Lytham with a “Night at the Movies”. William was playing trumpet, as LSJO were performing, as well as the concert band, swing band, choir and soloists from AKS. Nicky Greig, who is the MD of LSJO (Lancashire Schools Jazz Orchestra) for those who don’t know, is the brass teacher at the school, but William has known her for a couple of years now having played in LSJO. He’s actually moved up to LYJO now, but given that he’d gone on the band’s residential only recently, and given that we don’t live very far away from where the concert was being held, then he joined them for this event. To be honest, he doesn’t require much persuasion to play; he absolutely loves it. And so, I would say that, although William still has a passion for gaming, he is rather cultured in his knowledge and love of literature and music.

The evening was fabulous … even though there were many pieces played which I didn’t know the names of, I recognised them the minute they were played. We were treated to all sorts … The Muppets, The Incredibles, Austin Powers, James Bond, Bohemian Rhapsody (albeit the Michael Buble version of Crazy Little Thing Called Love) The Sound of Music, Bugs Life, and many more. The quality and standard of music from all who performed was phenomenal, and I have to say that the girl who sang a solo from Ratatouille blew me away, and I have goose bumps even now just writing about it.

I’m sorry that Oliver wasn’t with us to enjoy the evening, as I know he’d have loved it, but he was off on cub camp and likely having a wonderful time there despite the weather being so atrocious.

Saturday morning we went to the Snowdrop Gathering in Stanley Park. A service organised by The Snowdrop Centre for bereaved parents. It is a time of reflection for those who have lost a child, some recently, some years ago. A time to listen to music and readings, listen to words, light a candle and just be … with others who understand … with those who need no explanation of anything. The Edward Dee Fund supported the Snowdrop Centre by funding more snowdrops to enable them to continue their planting of these in the park. It was so lovely that thanks for this were given in the service, and I felt privileged to have been asked to do a reading at the service too.

I met with so many there that I knew. Some bereaved, some not. I was introduced to the Rev Clive, and Rev Helen, hospital chaplains. Kate, who was training in the ministry was there shadowing Helen; Kate of course I knew through both toddler groups, and through music which all her boys are so involved with and are so talented at. I’ve known Kate for some time now as our paths have crossed so often from William playing in bands and orchestras with them at one time or another.

I spoke at length with the dignitaries who were there in their numbers. Mayoral representation from Fylde, and Blackpool took over two rows of seats. It was so lovely to chat in particular to the Deputy Mayor of Fylde Richard Redcliffe, who was incredibly complimentary and supportive of the work I do.

After tea and biscuits, a couple of photos, and a quick catch up with Len, Barbara and Gill Curtis, we bid them farewell and went for a sit down in the café. Armed with some balloons which had been given out at the service, I tied them to a café chair whilst we ordered a drink. One of the waiters asked if I’d been to a party. Rather than just saying no, I again, as I so often do used this as an opportunity to answer honestly, that I had been to a service, which had been organised by The Snowdrop Centre for bereaved parents … I, and most who were there, had all lost a child. I asked if he lived locally in Blackpool, and as he did I went on to tell him about The Snowdrop Centre, Donnas Dream House, and indeed The Edward Dee Fund, handing him a leaflet for him to read too.

We made our way then over to Palatine Library, where I’d booked for us to have an afternoon with “Jane” … Jane being Jane Austen. We were treated to a variety of readings from her novels and her letters, even her teenage musings. We listened to extracts from her biography, as well as other historical anecdotes of her time. I think my favourite passage still has to be the opening words from Pride and Prejudice … the conversation between Mrs Bennet, who is so determined to make it her mission to see her girls married well, and Mr Bennett’s complete disinterest in the matter.

The event was well planned and the pieces well thought out, and delivered beautifully as they were read and acted in the most engaging way. Afterwards we were fed with lovely sandwiches, tea in china cups, and a variety of dainty cakes on plates, and a lovely simply embroidered napkin to use. White but edged with colour, to match an equally simple design, mine was a snowdrop, which was quite appropriate given that earlier today we’d been to the snowdrop gathering in Stanley Park

I was going over and over what I had listened to … I was so drawn to hearing what she had to say, in her letters, in her books; she was incredibly observational of characters and feelings, and was able to articulate this incredibly well. I couldn’t help but think that she may have been the blogger of her time.

I’d never been in Palatine Library before, but I’m certain it won’t be my last visit. It was large, spacious and modern, if not a little too warm even for me. So warm and unusually, it was even warmer on the ground floor than the floor above … probably due to the underfloor heating. Goodness knows what that must cost, but I’m sure it would help them to save money if they stopped putting that on …. Even with my limited science knowledge, I knew that the ground floor shouldn’t really feel warmer than the first floor.

Both Justin and I thoroughly enjoyed the event. We’d had a lovely day, no children, doing what we did, before we had the children, meandering from place to place. Inspired by our afternoon with Jane Austen, and taking advantage of Oliver being away on camp, we booked to see the new film version of Emma … which of course I loved. What’s not to love, wonderful drama, wonderful costumes, wonderful characters, transporting you into Georgian society … and throwing a few dashing young eligible men in the scene for good measure.

And so it was a lovely end to a lovely day, thank you to all who made it so … including Jane who sum’s things up quite nicely when she writes “You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”

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