Confessions of a lovesick schoolboy

My teenage years, the 1950s, were spent at the all-boys Wellingborough Grammar School, in Northamptonshire, England. More than half a century later, in the spring of 2016, I was asked to contribute some reminiscences for presentation to the 50th anniversary reunion of the nearby County High School for Girls. Here is what I sent.

You girls! I look at your school photos now, and they conjure a different age: you were sweet, wonderful, mysterious beings, in those pastel-coloured summer dresses and those little white socks. In the spring, London Road and the Broadway bus stops after school looked like clusters of butterflies … Continue reading

Chopin: eternal Romantic

 

Bach is like an astronomer who, with the help of ciphers, finds the most wonderful stars. Beethoven infuses the universe with the power of his spirit. I do not climb so high. A long time ago, I decided my universe would be the soul and heart of man.  Fréderic Chopin

When Susan and I were interviewed once for a radio show about professional couples—couples who work in the same profession, that is—we were asked about our individual musical tastes. Susan’s choices matched her way of thinking: rational, logical, carefully structured, controlled and tasteful of emotional expression—Bach, Mozart, Beethoven. Mine were more of an emotionally flamboyant kind: Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, the Romantics, Chopin above all. Continue reading

Those dancing feet

Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts. For it is no mere translation or abstraction of life. It is life itself.–Havelock Ellis, The Dance of Life.

Come and meet
Those dancing feet
On the avenue I’m taking you to
Forty-Second Street.–42nd Street
, by Al Dubin and Harry Warren

If you only knew me to look at me, and tried to work out what I did for a living, the notion of a career in dance is not the first conclusion you would jump to. So when people discover that I’ve spent my life writing about dance, one of the first things they ask, in somewhat incredulous tones, is: Were you ever a dancer? Continue reading