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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

Here Comes The Sun and I say -

Play my guitar in London, with the Olympic Games just down the road? Not likely.

The trouble with Tuesday this week was that the sun came out just as I was poised to play through some of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's 24 Caprichos de Goya, Op. 195, pieces which are probably underrated, and certainly underplayed. The sun over London is far from underrated, the problem is that it's a serious underachiever. For three months it and a grey mass of fast-moving never-ending clouds have played cat and mouse, with the sun cast as the hidden cat.

Finally it pounced, four days before the start of the Olympic Games shooting the temperature up to a fantastic 30 degrees, whilst I, in my studio hideaway, was arranging my music on the music stand. At first I thought it was a flash of lightning, or a power surge. I had forgotten how dramatic a sunbeam suddenly piercing the gloom can be. The cat had appeared, and the mice stood no chance, they were gone. And so too was my will to play through the Caprichos. Like a hypnotised victim I ventured zombie-like into the street blinking slowly in this new and unfamiliar light.

As if that were not sufficient distraction, how was I supposed to return to my Caprichos on Friday with a 3 hour opening ceremony - hyped up to be not only better than the Beijing Olympics but probably the most amazing thing since man landed on the moon - to welcome an Olympic Games projected now to be costing in excess of 30 billion dollars with 10,000 athletes taking part? Yes, I think the Caprichos will sit neglected on my music stand a while longer.

On Wednesday I went for a meeting in the heart of London, South Kensington to be precise, and afterwards walked across Hyde Park to Park Lane where I jumped onto a shiny red bus to Oxford Street. Occasionally I heard English spoken around me, otherwise it was Italian, Spanish, French, German, Arabic and other languages I did not recognise. Great are the number of visitors, and in greater numbers still they continue to arrive. Some react to the heat by half-stripping, for others it's not enough. I saw one lady dressed in jacket and scarf, presumably where she comes from 30 degrees is chilly.

Part of Hyde Park has been turned into a tented Olympic shopping mall, and in the subway underground many large posters boast of companies with connections, real or tenuous to the Games. Overhead meanwhile, shop displays, banners, and Olympic flags large and small consign all other merchandise to second place. Oxford Street proved a problem, for most tourists do not move along at a normal pace, instead they walk v-e-r-y slowly. Not looking irritated while overtaking became my concern, for would it not be extremely bad manners to those starry-eyed visitors enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime experience? For them it’s not just London, but the Olympic Games in London. And not just the Olympic Games in London but the sun out and doing its best for the Olympic Games in London. Why, this combination has only happened once before in the entire history of the universe in London.

In town again on Thursday I was stopped in my tracks at Oxford Circus where the roads were closed for the first time I can remember. Hundreds of people with their backs to me were milling around, cameras at the ready. It suddenly dawned on me I had stumbled upon an Olympic event. Within minutes a huge cheer went up and I saw the top of the Olympic torch flash by. I couldn't believe my luck to find myself by chance at that precise moment in that very place!

The prelude to the London Olympics in 1948 started rather like this week in a heatwave, but on the eleventh day it poured with rain and by the end the temperature had dropped to 9 degrees! At the risk of depressing you by stating the obvious: is history about to repeat itself? Yes maybe, as far as the weather, but in all other matters let us rejoice how our world is so improved since 1948 when it was emerging from the devastation of the 2nd World War.

I will tell you one thing. If the temperature does drop, and if it starts raining, and if I tire of watching the games, and if I am no longer curious to go and see the hoards of foreign visitors of all shapes, sizes and colours adorning Piccadilly Circus, and if I prefer the quiet solitude of my own space, then I will return to my Tedesco Caprichos abandoned and gathering dust. Once the excitement is over, and when the echo of the applause for the final competition of the Games has died away, and when the last of the doting visitors have flown back to their homes, and when London has cleaned up, shaken its collective head as if awaking from a dream and returned to normality, that will be the day when I will think of nothing better than playing the Tedesco Caprichos.

Surprised and even shocked as you may be to learn of my present state of mind, let me reassure you that I will return to pluck, strum and study energised, inspired and renewed by all I will experience in the weeks to come.
London, 28 July 2012

Printed from: http://www.carlosbonell.com/blog/?p=1437 .
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