Saturday, 3 July 2010

Dear Ivor....

I have no idea what, if any, connections there are between Ivor Novello and the city of Bournemouth, but I do know that this week I will judge the Ivor Novello Award at the Musical Festival here. It seems a perfect place for this competition to take place. The old town and more especially the area where my utterly charming hotel is situated is humming with gentility, and brimming over with 1930's charm.

Bournemouth is also the definitive English seaside resort, looking to the future with it's business, sparkling glass walled skyscrapers, yet retaining the air of a time when folk were resevedly quiet, polite and beautifully mannered. The sentiment of all those gorgeous Novello songs positively hangs in the air. My personal favourite Novello song is 'Love is my Reason for Living', which I have on a CD of my first singing teacher Betty Middleton, recorded when she was about 75, and which has the same gloriously stylized and vaguely old fashioned manner as walking down the villa clad road from my hotel to the festival venue. We really could gather Lilacs along this road, in any given spring.

I ate in a hushed dining room, on a single table set with silver and starched napkins, whilst other somewhat elderly couples almost silently ate their meal, only speaking to congratulate the chef, via the discreet waiter. There was not a 'foreign' dish on the menu. It was a choice of fine, plain British cuisine, which included my perfectly cooked Plaice, green beans and tiny new potatoes.

My coffee was served in the parlour, whilst sitting on immensley comfortable Chesterfield furniture, and displayed on a doillied tray with a delicate blue and white china cup and saucer. It is positively fragrant with the life and ambience of Ivor Novello, Agatha Christie and Noel Coward.

I take my time in describing this too you simply because it is such a pleasure to be residing in such civilised surroundings. Don't get me wrong, most festivals accommodate we adjudicators in perfectly good hotels, but this is extra special, and so conducive to quiet relaxation after a long, long day of listening, writing and entertaining the troops so to speak.

Sometimes I feel real regret at the passing of common civility, a little gentility, and beautiful manners. Sadly I guess this is one area where the circle will not become 'full'.

So, therefore, we must make our own quietness in which ever way we can, and let go of the life we don't like or want, and fulfil our own circle.

'Every blessed one of you feels better for that burst of laughter' Ivor Novello

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