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This 'house believes... - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
This 'house believes...
I've never had the opportunity for a celebrity haiku before, but last Saturday (29th October) furnished me with the following:

Michael Portillo
Swinging a black umbrella
After the funeral.


It's kind of a cheat, really, because it wasn't exactly an unexpected sighting; he was one of the speakers at the memorial service for Maurice Cowling, at which Peterhouse choir (combined for this occasion with Jesus choir) were singing. Though to be fair to myself as novice celebrity-spotter, I didn't even know who the memorial was for (much less who the speakers would be) until we got to Great St. Mary's.

Portillo was (as you'd expect) an entertaining speaker, furnishing the congregation with some amusing anecdotes about Cowling as a tutor ("I will never forget his final words to me: 'bugger off'"); Peregrine Worsthorne was less listenable, maundering on at great and incoherent length. Michael Bentley (a fellow member, with Cowling, of the Peterhouse school of history) was more bearable and mercifully short, though gave an overview of Cowling's work which was slightly baffling in that it seemed to be largely praising the denseness and obfuscation of his prose (as signifiers, apparently, of some kind of Greater Mystery).

The general theme of most of the speakers -- as of Cowling's work, from all accounts -- seemed to be railing against Liberalism as the root of all evil. Talk of "turning back the tides of Liberalism" is talk that I'm not used to hearing in my somewhat rose-tinted bubble; and it made me raise my eyebrows a few times, and grit my teeth a few times more. Probably good for me, then. There's things I want to say about my irresponsible side's sneaking romantic admiration for some of the trappings of Toryism (and that side's corresponding guilty discomfort when seated on the hard moral bicycle-seat of Liberalism), but I can't articulate them anything other than flippantly at the moment, so perhaps I'll wait until I can phrase them more intelligently.

There were moments of respite from all the right-wing rhetoric, though: somebody from CUP read a mildly interesting extract from John Henry Newman's The Idea of a University, which our illustrious Vice-Chancellor quotes in and out of season, and which I keep meaning to read (and I have no excuse since it's all on the web); and of course the choir sang, and while the choice of music may well have had political overtones, I can't hear them when I'm listening for harmonies. We did Tallis's If Ye Love Me (again), and Psalm 90, the one with all the obvious and well-known bits about death in it.

~

At the risk of sounding like some strange combination of a gossip column writer or a grumbly old woman, though, I was dreadfully disappointed with the way the choirs dressed. We'd been told "wear black", which isn't particularly detailed advice, but surely it's obvious: it's a memorial service, you're not a key participant as an individual, you wear something smart and subdued. You'd think. But instead (with one or two exceptions) we had a motley ragbag of black asymmetric skirts, puffball skirts, off-the-shoulder jumpers, sparkly tops with shoestring straps, pinstripe trousers, velvet jackets with bright silver buttons, hipsters, trainers, stilettos, glittery sandals, knee-boots, bared midriffs, and goodness knows what else. However cool some of them may have looked individually, the overall effect was just messy -- and wholly inappropriate for the occasion. I may just be an old square, and feel free to ignore me ... but for god's sake, it's not that hard to find a pair of black trousers that don't show your thong, your belly-button piercing, or your muffin-roll (or all three), or a black skirt that doesn't scream SIENNA BOHO CHIC GOTH L@@K!, and a plain black shirt/t-shirt/jumper. Is it. (Yours, etc., Disgusted of Romsey.)
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Comments
taimatsu From: taimatsu Date: November 3rd, 2005 05:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was once almost prevented from singing in the Festival Hall because I was wearing a plain white polo-neck rather than a plain white blouse. Fortunately someone had one of the latter to lend me.
From: besskeloid Date: November 3rd, 2005 05:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
we had a motley ragbag of black asymmetric skirts, puffball skirts, off-the-shoulder jumpers, sparkly tops with shoestring straps, pinstripe trousers, velvet jackets with bright silver buttons, hipsters, trainers, stilettos, glittery sandals, knee-boots, bared midriffs, and goodness knows what else.

Serves him right.
juggzy From: juggzy Date: November 3rd, 2005 05:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay! Celebrity haiku!
sion_a From: sion_a Date: November 3rd, 2005 06:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's giving me a horrible urge to construct a Michael Portillo double dactyl….
sion_a From: sion_a Date: November 4th, 2005 01:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wavier Xavier
Michael Portillo he
lost Enfield Southgate to
young Stephen Twigg.

Counterintu'tively
'fessing to youthful bi-
sexual dalliance
proved him no prig.

(Yeah, huge cheats in the second stanza, but "[con]fessing to youthful bisexual dalliance[s]" is a straight quote from his Wikipedia entry.)
emperor From: emperor Date: November 3rd, 2005 11:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Argh. surplice+(not-cassock). Just Say No, FFS.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 4th, 2005 07:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
True, but in the absence of a Sensible Solution, you'd think people could just make an effort to look neat! At least it's not so much of a problem for the chaps, there's only so far wrong you can go with "suit and tie" -- though some of the ties were a bit bright for a memorial service...

Harrumph. I am just old and curmudgeonly, don't mind me!
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: November 4th, 2005 12:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh but you are so right

It should be possible to find something black and inconspicuous. [4 Yorkshiremen]Kids Today Don't Understand That It Isn't Always About THEM.[/4Y]

OTOH I do recall a woman, 15 years ago, kindly saying to a worried and then bemused foreign undergraduate, in my hearing, "But of course you DO have a white blouse for choir". :-)

Pslam 90 to what setting, pls?
j4 From: j4 Date: November 4th, 2005 07:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Oh but you are so right

Pslam 90 to what setting, pls?

Just a fairly standard chant, & I can't remember whose -- & I've handed that music in and it doesn't say on the service booklet. :-/ Sorry!
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