Thursday, 25 July 2013

Du côté de chez Knowles

For years as a student of French (among other things) I thought that Proust's Du côté de chez Swann meant 'from Swann's point of view'. Chez can mean either 'at the home of' or, in the academic world, 'in the thoughts or writings of'; "chez moi" can mean either 'at my home' or 'in my view'. German bei mir is ambiguous in the same way.
<etymological_note need_to_know="nugatory">
It's probable that the use of 'by me' as meaning 'in my opinion' was first popularized by German immigrants to the USA, who found it easily memorable because of its simil- arity to their own bei mir.
I (think) I was wrong (there's no knowing what puns are lurking in the Proustian undergrowth). There's a more mundane explanation*; but my title means "From Knowles's point of view".

WCS Tour to the West Country

The tour was a great success in many ways – musical, social, personal.... About half of us met at the Café Rouge on the first night, and began to get to know each other. The evening ended at about 10.30, when student life was just starting. The rooms were well-appointed (some better than others), but the ones overlooking the road, or adjoining the neighbouring pub weren't very restful. There was about an hour of peace between 3.00 AM (when the carousing stopped) and 4.00 AM (when the gulls started). Cooked breakfasts, when we found the cafeteria, were lavish and varied.

The first concert was at Buckfast Abbey. The choir vastly outnumbered the audience – I'd guess there was one unattached punter for each of our camp-followers (perhaps a dozen of each). But one of them thought we did well enough to merit an email to Linda (which we didn't know about until after the Truro concert).

The church at Lostwithiel
The concert at Lostwithiel was more of a family affair The Vicar, and father of the treble who sang Pie Jesu, was a college friend of Alex's (our MD). And because of the local interest there was a bigger audience (not as many as I expected though, with a three-line whip from the Vicar,  say 30-40).

The Truro concert was our best performance. Even Bobby Shaftoe worked. By that stage I think Alex had given up on the basses, who got the syncopations right in the first two lines but went back to singing on the beat in the third and fourth. Still, it was rhythmical! The voice parts were reinforced by Philip (Vicar of Lostwithiel) in the basses (with the occasional alto phrase when he liked their tune), his daughter Beth (?)  in the sopranos, and Nick – the organist – in the tenors.

That's the bare bones of the tour. But the best part was the chance to get to know people who were nodding acquaintances until the tour. For example, I found that my son and Anne Iles's were at Reading School together, and that we had sung the Fauré Requiem (mentioned, incidentally, here [just look for the red text about halfway down]) in the same parents and boys choir in the early/mid '90s.

Ho hum. Many thanks to everyone, especially Rhoda (for some reason many of my photos feature Rhoda peering confusedly at her mobile!), Alex, Nick, and Josh. Here's to the next. Now I must return to The Book which needs another few months' work. (And if you want to know what that is you should have been in the Seymour Arms on Sunday night when Helen was reading my blurb and asking some pertinent questions! Bless her – she feared she might have offended me; but all's fair in self-publishing. )


*Some readers may have noted in yesterday's post that a circumflex in French is often a sign of a missing s. Côté is related to our 'coast'. Proust's Du côté de chez Swann refers to a lake with paths on each side. Swann was the owner of a neighbouring property, bounded by one of the paths.

Update 2017.09.04.23:00 – Added picture, and clarification in blue.

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