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
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most searched for movie in the UK in 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson has had two UK number two singles but never a number one...yet

Arts and Entertainment
Clara Amfo will take over from Jameela Jamil on 25 January

Arts and Entertainment
This is New England: Ken Cheeseman, Ann Dowd, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in Olive Kitteridge

The most magnificently miserable show on television in a long timeTV
Arts and Entertainment
Andrea Faustini looks triumphant after hearing he has not made it through to Sunday's live final

Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Shenaz Treasurywala
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?