I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Exams are over, thank God

Mrs LdP received “The O-Level Book - Genuine Exam Questions From Yesteryear” as a present from daughter, Occasional Speeder. Slightly disturbing, Was there really a time when we both could have tackled: “Solve the equation 2x(squared)+ x – 7 = 0, giving each root correct to two decimal places”?

I was harassed by the music exams. Have I put these into correct chronological order: Now is the month of Maying (Morley), Nymphs and Shepherds (Purcell), Messiah (Handel), Surprise symphony (Haydn), Who is Sylvia? (Schubert), Meistersinger (Wagner), Midsummer Night’s Dream (Mendelssohn), Enigma (Elgar), Peter and the Wolf (Prokofiev), The Little Sweep (Britten).

But after “In what respect do rounds, canons and fugues resemble each other and in what way do they differ? Name one example of each and write out any one round.” I closed the book, wondering whether I’m up to Tone Deaf.

POP EXPLORED, part six. The Specials. Too Much Too Young. (rec. Cool Kid). Now this is the pop I’ve been expecting. Alienation! Pinch-faced, beaky youth whinges that radio stations have denied this song exposure then launches his sheet-metal sawing voice into rap-style monotone backed by three guitars, an organ and two (I think) tambourine wavers. The lyrics are embittered:

… now you're married with a kid
when you could be having fun with me…

…Ain't he cute? No he ain't
He's just another burden
on the welfare state

but why must the music be uncongenial too? Cool Kid says this song was popular and implies it may have been seminal. OS thinks the lyrics are “very good”. I’m reminded of Hugo Wolf lieder - technically brilliant but unpleasant to listen to.


  1. I once wrote something derogatory about McDonalds' hamburgers. The response from the PR department came quickly: the 10 million people a day who buy them are proof that they cannot be anything but wonderful. (That was 20 years ago. Perhaps the figure is now larger or smaller). The point was, and still is, that they are popular. Sometimes minorities, even very small ones, are right, and majorities, well... Which leads me to question, as you did for classical, whether there is also another word for pop?

    Am I alone in being put off by a term that lumps together so much that is good and quite a lot which is awful? I am quite sure that the open and unsnobbish forum which you are providing does not exclude standards. In fact it is standards of some kind which, as a regular Stone Deaf reader I am hoping to find.

  2. Well said Plutarch – Eastenders is very popular but not my idea of a leisure activity, except that you can switch their miserable whining off

    Way to go Cool Kid – great song

    When I was a much younger person I used buy recordings as presents for my Father (the now defunct BB) and Mrs BB (Why did she have to change?) used to do the same for OS and I. Armed with a small slip of paper saying “The Human League – Dare” Mrs BB steeled herself and entered Our Price. She handed the slip of paper to a callow youth (now about 55) and he went and fetched, packed and handed her said recording.
    Compare with my experience in an independent music shop (probably out of business – a victim of the internet – Thank God)
    OB: Hello, Do you have (tries to hand relevant piece of paper to middle aged man) this please?
    MAM: (Ignores paper apart from brief glance) Over there (vague wave of arm)
    OB: Oh, can you show me where because (silly giggle – still makes me feel hot to think about it now) I don't know a lot about classical music.
    MAM: (makes no move and sighs) It is with all the other Karajan recordings
    OB: Oh thanks (for what exactly?)
    OB pretends to look through some recordings and then retires baffled – she was looking foe Beethoven!
    (BTW if this version has typos so be it - hate the way Blogger shows you how many times you have deleted your substandard comment)

  3. Plutarch: People kept on voting Berlusconi and - initially - they voted for Hitler. They were popular

    A new word for pop. Surely the distinction would be simply good pop and bad pop. My feelings about "classical" were slightly different. The word has elitist undertones which implied it was better than other types of music. Since I would run a mile from Carmina Burana, most Schumann symphonies, all Rossini, all Verdi bar the Requiem, Beethoven's songs, most organ music, etc, etc, I was always uneasy living with this seeming judgment.

    Standards are inevitably personal, so they must be seen to be even-handed and, one hopes, consistent. Since my knowledge of pop didn't entitle me to come up with judgments I am taking a crash course via the recommendations of experienced pop consumers. One interesting point to emerge is that in listening to and trying to analyse a dozen pops so far I have only found one I actively disliked.

    PB: I'm familiar with that experience you describe. I'd have to say it isn't typical. Most classical CD shops would starve if they didn't show interest and sympathy. Incidentally I rarely buy CDs online even though they are cheaper. I use Outback in Church Street in Hereford in the vague hope that my profligacy with them will help them survive.

    I hope you are happier now I've gone behind the scenes and deleted you aborted comments.

  4. I still have my ordinary and advanced level exam papers (Oxford General Certificate of Education) from 1955/6.
    I doubt vey much if any contemporary schoolteachers could manage them, let alone their pupils. I would certainly be floundering.
    And they reckon that education has not been dumbed down....?

    There is a saying knocking around somewhere to the effect that "the majority is always wrong". Somewhat sweeping, but it has some truth in it.

  5. Avus: If it were true I'd be reading The Sun and not The Guardian. There are a number of people around who would say this was a condign fate.