Have you heard the latest `Knock! Knock!' joke?

Tinselly sounds and festive fun with the Bournemouth SO.

Christmas came to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra suddenly, without warning, as it always does. We'd long forgotten about those dreadful motorised nodding gnomes in the shopping precinct opposite the Poole Arts Centre - they seemed to have been there since September. There we were, having groaned our way through yet another Brahms symphony with Herbert Von Mogadon in the morning, and were taking our places after lunch expecting much of the same, when suddenly we heard a familiar voice (we hadn't bothered to look up at the conductor's rostrum), "Good afternoon, everyone." "Good afternoon, Ron," came back the feeble response from a band fazed by Mogadon's endless soliloquies about the meaning of an F sharp. In true panto fashion, the conductor tried again. "Good afternoon, everyone." We suddenly found our party hats. "Good afternoon, Ron!" - this time fortissimo. Ron Goodwin was here. At a stroke, it was Christmas.

As further evidence of this there was a memo on my chair from the management. Was I going to present my pre-concert talk, "The use of sonata-rondo form in Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and its implications on modern society", as advertised? This was from a new member of staff who had failed to appreciate her predecessor's sense of humour.

There is something reassuring about the Ron Goodwin Christmas Show. The music is the same year in year out, but coming face to face with Little Donkey after 11 months on the battlefield in hand-to-hand mortal combat with the great classics is as comforting as one's fireside arm chair. Anyway, the jokes are different from last year (they come from the year before) and there is always a novelty item.

This year it was a spectacular arrangement of O Little Town of Bethlehem. As the whole programme is decorated with tinselly, tinkly festive sounds, we have one of those fiendishly clever electronic keyboard things which at the press of a button reproduces - with uncanny accuracy - a vague, approximate impression of a harpsichord, a piano, or an ice- cream van (I'm told it's meant to be a celeste). It can also transpose into any key. If you can't be bothered with all those black notes, just stick to the white ones and the micro chip will do the rest. That is, if it's in a good mood - it has a habit of throwing an artistic wobbly for no apparent reason. Ever since the poor keyboard player once unwittingly detonated "Cosmic Explosion" during Silent Night, we've always waited with bated breath.

For O Little Town of Bethlehem, it was supposed to be a harpsichord (for the olde worlde touch), twanging away on top of a triangle (for the festive touch), a harp (for the angelic touch) and earth-shattering kit drums and thumping, pounding electric guitars (for the devotional touch). Having thus set the scene, the rest of the orchestra launched forth with the tune, all in a merry F major. Except for the harpsichord. Even though the wretched player was hammering away in state-of-the-art F major, the synthesiser had decided unilaterally to transpose up a semi- tone into F sharp - and there was nothing anyone could do about it. O Little Town of Bethlehem thus emerged in what sounded like a newly discovered arrangement by Stockhausen.

If our favourite Christmas event is the Ron Goodwin Show, coming a close second is the "Seasonal Concert with Carols" that we do in Quires and Places where they don't want the Ron Goodwin Show. Its success hinges on the Guest Presenter. This character is usually found by our management sticking a pin in the Radio Times and coming up with some nerd off Blue Peter or Saturday kids' TV. The best ones are those who have to narrate Peter and the Wolf or some such thing, can't read a note of music and don't know a double-bass from a dustbin lid.

This was a vintage year. To add to the fun, not only could the presenter not read a note of music, but the conductor was from East Europe and didn't understand a word of what the presenter was saying anyway.

Even though Santa was kind to me this year, the first rehearsal of Goldilocks and the Three Bears (special commission) remains the highlight of my Christmas. The presenter looked nervous. "Don't vorry," said the conductor. "Jus' say, ven I do zis," pointing a finger.

"Wonce upon a toim..." (our presenter was Irish) "Goldilocks was walkin' t'rough a wood on a foin sommer's day..." Skippy, whistly music on flute; the conductor pointed... "when she came to a little cott..."

"Stop! No! Zat wos fur ze first wioleence. Start again."

"Wonce upon a toim Goldilocks was walkin' t'rough a wood on a foin sommer's day..." Skippy, whistly music on flute, then a sexy, slinky tune on the first violins... "when she came to a little cottage. `Oi wonnder if anyone's in?'" In an inspirational burst of improvised method-acting that would have been the talk of any drama academy, the presenter here beat his fist upon the air, pretending to knock upon the door. This was followed by the sound of the vibraphone imitating a doorbell.

"Is there nobody in? Oi'll troy agin." (Didn't I tell you? The script is up for the TS Eliot Prize.) Failing to appreciate the composer's inspirational masterstroke with the vibraphone, the presenter pounded the air with his fist again.

"No!" interrupted our frustrated conductor. "You press ze finker in ze eer - two - and ve make ze dink-donk." Satisfied that he had thus clarified the situation, he then said, "Ve do again."

"Is there nobody in? Oi'll troy agin," and with touching obsequious obedience the presenter put a finger in each ear, as instructed, presumably expecting the vibraphone to activate some special detonating device. Just as well he misunderstood really. Had he really put two fingers in the air in what was supposed to be a "family show", it would have been a black day for orchestra-audience relations.

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders