A friend won two tickets to see a concert put on by the Barrier Reef Orchestra here in Townsville. It was called Essentially English and featured the works of ten English (or almost, hence Essentially English) composers. Since my friends boyfriend “would rather die than listen to that crap,” I went along. It was an afternoon of decadence, where we had champagne on arrival (and at the interval, and after the show) and pretended we knew all about the music, touted as “a sparkling afternoon of musical gems from England’s finest composers, that will remind you of an English summer.” I have to say that Greensleeves sounds so much better performed by an orchestra than it does when played by the Mr Whippy (ice cream) van that prowls the suburban streets in summer luring kids out of their homes to demand overpriced pig fat ice creams (but yes, I did love them once). The orchestra’s version was even better than the way it’s played during the credits of Lassie. We were allowed (or forced) to participate during one piece – some story about the English and Scottish hating each other so they decide to build a big stone wall and as soon as they’re finished the Vikings come along so the English and the Scottish throw all the stones that they had just built the wall with at the Vikings, driving them away, but then they have no stones left so decide it would be easier just to live in peace than rebuild the wall. I think it was called The Stone Wall. Anyway, it was all pretty good. Except one fairly new piece that everyone was raving about and I thought it was awful – it just sounded like every instrument was out of tune and they spent half an hour just warming up. I’d say the name of it, but I can’t remember it … unfortunately. There was also a newborn that didn’t much like the atmosphere. And a seven year old thumb-slurper (I have never heard/seen someone suck their thumb so loudly/revoltingly) who kept complaining to her mother that “the songs are taking too long.” Those three annoyances aside, it was a great evening. Now I am ready, and almost eager (I did say almost) to start the week.