Susie Rushton: A music festival without the mud

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

By Saturday lunchtime the festival goers had become restive, and, at the Golden Galleon chippy, the queue was far from orderly. Sharp words were exchanged about a request for extra napkins. This isn't the laid-back festival vibe I remember of my teenage years. There had even been scenes of mild hurrying as we struggled to make the 11am start on the main stage. If this were Glastonbury, there would have been no problem: you simply amble up to the performance you fancy the sound of; watch from a distance for 10 minutes or so; depart, in search of food/alcohol/something stronger.

Aldeburgh Festival, while clearly a different proposition to Glastonbury, is also in some ways more of a challenge. Narcotics are not available; if the music happens to be boring, well, you must sit still and endure it. Silence and concentration are required. Coleen Rooney won't drop by in a helicopter, but, rather more disconcertingly, you might chance upon Melanie Phillips at a remote coastal pub. And performances start on time. Late arrivals to the Snape Maltings concert hall, Aldeburgh's Pyramid Stage, are ushered to the Late Box, a cubbyhole close to the stage, which was festival-founder Benjamin Britten's preferred seat. It is supposed to be haunted by his ghost, too, which was discomfiting knowledge as we watched a performance of the very last piece of music he composed, for string quartet, in 1975.

And everybody knows you can find odd things in a far-flung field at Glastonbury, but surely nothing as uncanny as Sarah Lucas's carbon-fibre shire horse and cart, which stands next to the reed beds behind the Maltings, the cart surreally loaded with enormous concrete marrows? This part of Suffolk is densely populated with YBAs and the foyers and ticket halls at Aldeburgh were a fringe festival of genitalia, that subject being one of the favourite tropes of contemporary art. What did the silver-haired crowd here make of the giant penises, pubic close-ups and, in the case of another Lucas installation, bosoms fashioned from pairs of tights and cotton wool? I think they dug it – for what else but an extraordinarily broad-minded audience would have enjoyed the headliner on Saturday night, a computer-enhanced performance of a Pierre Boulez composition by the London Sinfonietta? As the orchestra played, the three flute soloists were looped back via a chap tapping away at a MacBook Air, the impressionistic sounds from the instruments cut through with electronic chimes. It was experimental, difficult and quite long, and the Aldeburgh audience, who don't need mud or grass to have a good time, loved it.







What does it mean when men wear red trousers?



Out of the city for the weekend, I counted only five men wearing red trousers, although on Saturday night I did spot a shameless chap who not only sported burgundy-coloured chinos but also slung a red cotton sweater over his shoulders – if the evening turned chilly, was he really going to "do the double"? Fortunately I didn't hang around to find out. Ever since I glanced at the highly-entertaining street-style blog www.lookatmyfuckingredtrousers.blogspot.com last week, which documents the trend, I can't get through 24 hours without noticing several more examples of the male fashion crime du jour.

Why are so many men wearing red trousers? Theories abound. It does appear to be a dress code among ex-public schoolboy types, who are terrible copycats and will adopt a uniform quicker than you can say Hackett rugby shirt. Red trousers used to be worn by the French army, so perhaps they retain a military association that appeals to a certain type. Philip Larkin wore them, according to some accounts, but they have an allure for male show-offs of every sexual proclivity.

Attacking the drabness of England in 1928, DH Lawrence wrote: "If a dozen men would stroll down the Strand and Piccadilly tomorrow, wearing tight scarlet trousers fitting the leg, gay little orange-brown jackets and bright-green hats, then the revolution against dullness which we need so much would have begun." The red-trouser revolution is here all right, but what does it mean?







In Suffolk in summertime, the living is easy



Like Helsinki and Zurich, Suffolk is one of those places that consistently tops the "quality of life" surveys that claim the formula for happiness is found in a summation of high-achieving schools, access to wi-fi and above-average hours of sunshine. On a warm June weekend it was hard to find fault with this corner of the country, where the reeds gently hiss in the wind and the beaches are a magazine-perfect picture of sand dunes and tastefully neutral-coloured huts.

If anything, Suffolk tends to overdo the Boden look: dinky pink holiday homes, toddlers in junior wetsuits splashing in the waves, the market-town stores selling mounds of fennel bulbs... But, really, the true nature of Suffolk's famous good life is expressed by one symbol: the nippy, mid-range convertible that seems to round every bend when one is on the road.

The car is always driven by a couple in their mid-fifties, who are always on the way to some fabulous gastro-pub, he with a bald head tanned brown, her hoping that the sun won't bleach out the new highlights. Anywhere else in the country, the cabriolet means conspicuous consumption. In this flat, balmy, rural county it looks like a pleasant way to get around – perhaps the most picturesque since John Constable pointed a rather pretty haywain in the direction of a Suffolk river.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer (Java /C# Programmer)- London

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: The West flounders in the Middle East morass

Independent Voices
David Tennant as Hamlet  

To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Lister
All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition