The Proms: An Extraordinary British Tradition

united kingdom flag tied to a wooden bench

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

The Proms begin today, July 19, perhaps the quintessential British cultural event, held each year in several venues in London between July and September, though most notably at The Royal Albert Hall.

The word proms is in fact a shortening of the term Promenade Concerts, a cultural phenomena which had its origins in 18th century London, which took place in pleasure gardens where the spectators were allowed to move around the orchestras. The word promenade is a borrowing from the French language, meaning to walk.

Music for the masses

In the 19th century this style of concert moved indoors as well, leading eventually to the establishment of ‘The Proms’ on August 10 1895 at the Queens Hall, Langham Place by the well known impresario, Robert Newman.

The idea was to offer the experience of classical music to the general public, with lower ticket prices in an informal setting. It has to be said that the idea worked, with a comprehensive schedule of performances spanning over two months.

Too English?

However, the Proms do have their detractors. For instance, I have heard it said more than once that they are too English. Whilst there is certainly a great deal of flag waving, a cursory look at the famous ‘Last Night of the Proms’, will reveal flags from all over the world.

What is more, much time and energy has been put in to diversifying the content, with the inclusion of world music, as well as folk music from all over Great Britain and Ireland.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

 

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Poem: ‘Dark’

Dark

Rook on the roadside straight ahead
you step aside casually
only just avoid my wheels.
Is that why I smile at the mirror
see you promptly step back
to continue to pick and prod
and pull at roadkill entrails
some straitjacket driver provides?
Like the crow, the raven, the jackdaw—
few are as bright as you, so dark
in colour and reputation

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Poem: ‘English Blue’ (for the fallen at Hastings and beyond)

stickingridge

Walk with me
into the grey breaking dawn

where that sticking ridge of blue –
an English blue

rolls on into soft distances
and strange dancing names

Stand with me
by those set whispering stones

in a steadfast line –
a sore English line

of rasping pipes and howling socks
mouthing our memory

like a warning to tomorrow
a land forlorn to all but itself

Then help me to bury him
not on some crying strand –

in firm English land
where hallows’ calls are grounded

our grief laid open
in the whitening bones of heroes

on this high scoured hill

 

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019, 2011

first published in ‘Poetry 24’ June 23 2011

The Matthew Flinders Connection: May Church Flower Festivals in South Lincolnshire, England

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There used to be an event, commencing in the late 1950s, famously called ‘The Spalding Tulip Parade’ in south Lincolnshire, England.

Every year much time and money was spent on creating a series of floats decorated with tulips to parade around the small Lincolnshire town, sponsored by local and national businesses. Tourists flocked there every year from many parts of the country and beyond.

Sadly those days have long gone now. However a ‘vestige’ of this former glory still remains in the numerous church flower festivals which still take place in early May.

I was particularly impressed this year by Donington’s flower festival. The explorer and cartographer who essentially mapped Australia, Matthew Flinders, was born in Donington in 1774. Recently his remains were discovered and there is a move to bring them back to Donington – you could almost feel the air of anticipation at this prospect.

Strong Links

Today many strong links remain with Australia; there are numerous visits from ‘down under’ too, both sides very keen to keep up and improve the cultural associations.

Let’s hope his remains return home soon and that a tasteful setting is created for the memory and legacy of the great Matthew Flinders of Donington, Lincolnshire.

Toussaint_Antoine_DE_CHAZAL_DE_Chamerel_-_Portrait_of_Captain_Matthew_Flinders,_RN,_1774-1814_-_Google_Art_Project (1)

By Toussaint Antoine DE CHAZAL DE CHAMEREL (1770 – 1822) (Mauritius)Details of artist on Google Art Project – XQFjQ8PX1C_hwA at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23601763

Lychgates – Signs and Symbols

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Lychgates, also sometimes called resurrection gates, are a curious English (though not exclusively) phenomenon.

The name derives from the Old English word lych, or lich, meaning body, referring to entrance to the churchyard though which the body of the deceased was carried. This was seen as the beginning of the path towards resurrection by being buried in holy ground.

In medieval times, signs and symbols carried a lot of weight as most of the population were illiterate. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to think that signs and symbols don’t carry as much weight today. We just have to read and understand them.

Milly Reynolds Crime Fiction Author – Happy Saint George’s Day

horsechestnut

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Milly-Reynolds/e/B0056IY4OE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
http://www.amazon.com/Milly-Reynolds/e/B0056IY4OE/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1366716704&sr=8-1

English crime fiction author, Milly Reynolds celebrates England’s national day, which, rather conveniently also happens to be Shakespeare’s birthday.
Milly’s books simply could not be more English!
So, to anyone who thinks about England, has English roots, or who would like to recognise the positive side of this small country, which has contributed so much to the world – have a great day!

© copyright David F. Barker 2013

Milly Reynolds’ new book out soon on kindle

Web

This is the cover of Milly’s new book, ‘Death for Art’s Sake’, soon coming out on kindle, and later on smashwords.
Eighth book in the Mike Malone series, this time Mike finds himself drawn into a macabre murder, all in the name of art…!

image © copyright Milly Reynolds 2013