Imagine my surprise, among the eccentrics and kooks, to see just how far the finery has fallen for some. Across the aisle, a white-haired and potentially elegant couple had chosen to don anoraks, Reeboks and, much to everyone’s eternal pleasure, were handing out the toothpicks. Obviously their pre-symphony caviar was lodged in the odd molar, and nothing else would do. Having thoroughly scraped and scoured the deepest regions of their oral cavities, the toothpicks were then thoroughly chewed until grey and soggy. Charming. Obviously the ideal preparation for Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.
I might have hoped that the offending articles were miniature batons, bought in some kitsch souvenir shop, but no. One had simply to look away. Unfortunately, also in my midst were first-time symphony goers who quelled their apprehensions though intermittent chatter. Perhaps it is a symptom of our times that the young cannot survive for more than five minutes without opening their mouths. All around me there was tension, wrought by not knowing what to do about these uncouth whisperers. Incredulous women, appalled at the ignorance, were furrowing brows and shooting daggers with their eyes; men attempted to suppress the tension by shutting their eyes and wishing themselves elsewhere. The offending couple, of course, did not have the requisite social graces to intuit that they were causing offense, and yet nobody did anything to stop them. This was vapidity par excellence.
After several repeat offences with no checks, I took matters in hand. Reaching a little awkwardly past a few people, I did the job of those more conveniently placed and poked one of the novices in the shoulder, thereafter giving him a finger to the lips and a condescending scowl. It was fascinating to witness the process of emasculation at this point, as the ‘fashionably’ bestubbled victim shrank into his seat. It was just the trick; not a peep more was heard. So, after a symphony of whispers and an unpleasant assault on the eye with a toothpick, I was finally afforded the opportunity of listening, at ease, to the music. Nothing like a rousing bit of Orientalism to round off a manly evening of high culture!