Monday, 20 August 2007

The sound of music - and explosions

Saturday and Sunday were the days of the annual fiesta in Moratinos. As the Wednesday before was a national holiday involving the mother of God, we were at mass three times in five days. Rather a lot.

And on Saturday in the evening we were back in church to hear a concert by the Orchestra de Cuerda Granados, that is to say the Granados String Orchestra. This consists of about ten solemn people, armed with guitars, mandolins and lutes and led by a tiny person. I say this advisedly, because when they played last year, Reb and I spent some time wondering which sex the conductor was. She wears tails to perform, which does not help. However, this year we had a programme, so now we know.

The music was spectacularly awful. A paso doble so leadenly performed that it seemed scored for someone in diver´s boots. A version of La Donna e Mobile that was utterly immobile. The number that surpassed all, though, was O Sole Mio. This like several of the others, was accompanied by the lady conductor tapping on a hollow wooden block, with drumsticks, to produce an unpleasant popping sort of noise. Although the orchestra, with the exception of the boss lady, seemed to be hating it all - we, the audience, loved it and gave the outfit a standing ovation. This was a mistake, as we were then subjected to an encore which I, and several others, thought she announced as Palencia, where we live. It turned out to be Valencia, where we don´t. It was duly butchered along with the rest.

It seemed to me that maybe the packed house really knew this was all a cunning annual joke and folk were just pretending everything was OK and in tune, but we are not famous for sophisticated humor in these parts. We go in for simple fun, like letting off petards, rockets that zoom up 50 feet and explode with a shattering bang. We do this at any hour of day or night, according to whim. Personally I don´t like them and neither does Una the dog. On Saturday, after hiding under our bed all day, Una ran away during the evening and didn´t come back til seven in the morning. Reb got no sleep worrying about her. She spent the night driving around looking for her in the fields. I had been forced to drink a great deal of homemade liquor called Orujo and had no trouble sleeping through the drama, to my shame.

Victor, one of the people who comes back from out of town for the revels, told me that all dogs are frightened by the rockets, including his - despite the fact that he takes them hunting. His dogs are fine with gunfire, but scarper from the arial explosions. They know the difference. This picture is Victor, setting off a rocket despite his dogs´feelings.

Una doesn´t like bangs of any stripe. I doubt she would be very keen on someone of indeterminate sex doing grievous harm to Lara´s Theme from Dr. Zivago, on a wood block either - however much that tune deserves it. Next year I will pass up the concert and hide under our bed with her. Una, that is, not the androgynous conductor person.

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