Sunday, 29 July 2012


We picnicked at Guiting Power on Friday night, before the opening concert of its annual music festival: not exactly Glyndebourne-come-to-Gloucestershire, but pretty perfect on a sunlit evening. On previous occasions we have used the one and only table, stationed by the swings, but this year it had been spirited away - I spotted it, across by the Hall: though we were there early, I felt that its removal might not go unremarked. Anyway the rug was all that was really needed.

Probyn Miers, Chairman of the Festival committee, thanked the audience for turning out despite the "competition" elsewhere. But was this really necessary, given the quality of what was respectively on offer - at Guiting and in the Olympic stadium?

In the intimate surroundings of Guiting Village Hall, Joanna MacGregor gave us characterful takes on two contrasting Beethoven sonatas - the Pastorale and Waldstein; and then joined with the Heath Quartet for the always thrilling Shostakovich piano quintet. High definition performances. In Stratford East - we caught up with the ceremony on the iPlayer this afternoon - Danny Boyle laid on his spectacularly quirky melange of Britishness to precede the athletes' parade etc. - an incredibly-long drawn out affair, which must have exhausted everyone in the arena, participators and spectators alike. It was certainly amusing in parts, but it tired me out, watching it even with the benefit of the fast forward facility.

At the back of my mind was the ever-resent [I'm leaving this typo: too good to change] thought: this ceremony has set us back £27m. Jonathon Porritt, Chair of the London 2012 Sustainability Ambassadors, happened to be dining here last night: he was at pains to set the minds of those of us present at rest about the Games' overall... sustainability - given that we accept the Olympics are a good thing in principle.

The Romans were appeased by panem et circenses, bread and circuses: for us it's circuses, sponsored by McDonalds. Those without bread will have to await David Cameron's Hunger Summit.

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