i Editor's Letter: The "grace notes" of life


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The Independent Online


I've had enough of gloom; of rising inflation, venal corporations' tax avoidance, fiddling MPs, sex sleaze, miserable Mervyn, the Qatada calamity, the police elections no one cares about and our greedy energy giants – not to mention the scary Hamas-Israel situation. I suspect you have too. I want to write about something uplifting for a change: talent.

A magnificent double dose of it was on display on Wednesday night in two different fields of human endeavour. In London, I felt privileged to witness the great Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli reducing 18,000 people at the O2 to tears with the sublime purity of a voice. No light show or dancers, nothing but a magnificent orchestra, a few clips from Fellini films, and a couple of guest sopranos to make the heart soar. Is it more moving because he is blind? Well, I never heard him sing sighted (before the age of 12). And, many fine tenors do not move me to tears.

Meanwhile in Stockholm, a Swede with an un-Swedish name who has never been given credit in Britain for his huge talent because he has never displayed enough of it here, produced one of the best strikes ever seen on a football pitch. It was part of a four-goal Zlatan Ibrahimovic exhibition that may convince doubters of his special ability.

Conventional wisdom is that in the great scheme of things neither Bocelli's voice, nor Zlatan's feet matter much compared to the news stories in the opening paragraph. But to focus in on the things that make life beautiful occasionally is not to deny the significance of "hard" news.

I like to describe the former as the "grace notes" of life that raise it beyond the daily struggle. Our thoughts will return to those serious news events again today, but many of us will keep Zlatan's goal alive in our heads, just as I will long cherish the memory of Bocelli's encores: "Con Te Partiro" followed by "Nessun Dorma". Bravo, maestro!