This is is Stephanie Blythe, of whom more in a minute. First my Sunday afternoon trawl through the week’s idiocies.

Well, there was the public sector strike that turned into an extra shopping opportunity and an easy day to fly into Heathrow. I noticed a lot of PCS banners in the news reports. Many years ago I was briefly a member of the PCS.  It wasn’t exactly a closed shop.  I joined because I’d learned from the experience of my father’s death in an industrial accident that access to a union-funded lawyer can sometimes make a big difference: a bit of compensation or the brush-off. Anyway I soon unjoined the PCS after the unpleasant experience of crossing a picket line. What I remember chiefly is the chippiness of union activists, a unattractive mix of resentfulness and eagerness for a fight.

There was a lot of chippiness about this week. People were taking offence all over the place. One failed job promotion candidate is threatening to sue because he was described as ‘Dr Pangloss’. And then there were the serial offences of Jeremy Clarkson, whose decriers would quite like to have him taken out and shot, only they don’t like to say so. They should realise  Jeremy Clarkson does everything with one eye on the ratings, and they should also lighten up. There’s a lot of talk these days about Sensitivity Training for non-PC dinosaurs but it seems to me there’s a far greater need for Desensitivity Training. Get a life. Get a blog.

My barrel-scrape award this week goes to Calum Best who is famous for being the son of a deceased footballer. Calum was launching his new fragrance but failed to muster a quorum at the shopping mall so he had to have his photo taken with the (unnecessary, as it turned out) crowd control operatives. I think I should have my own fragrance. Something with a strong bass note of mildewed remainders. I must talk to my agent about it. We could call it Eau de Desespoir.

But now for something uplifting. Mr F and I went to the opera last evening, by which I mean we went to our local cinema for Live from the Met. Time was when we would have been live at the Met, but those days are gone. Frankly this was far more satisfactory. A 1.20 Euro bus ride, 25 Euro a head for an HD transmission, and our own cucumber sarnies during the intermission instead of an 11pm Manhattan dinner. The opera was Handel’s Rodelinda, a typically ludicrous story set to sublime music and starring two of our faves, Andreas Scholl and Renee Fleming. The find though was Stephanie Blythe, a mezzo-soprano we had never heard before. She is, I will own, a difficult stretch for any love interest, but the voice… Here is a taster.

So there we are. World class music, Voltaire, picnic notes, plus the usual gratuitous sneering, and all in one blog post. I honestly don’t know how I do it for the money.

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