LETTER: The last klaxon of the Proms?

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The Independent Online
From Mr Paul Henderson

Sir: Undoubtedly you will receive many letters complaining about Sir John Drummond's perceived curmudgeonliness in banning klaxons and the like from the Last Night of the Proms (report, 13 September). I wonder how many of the writers will have experience of more than a fraction of the other 69 concerts. It is curious, for example, how visiting conductors and soloists comment regularly on the rapt attention and silence of a Prom audience, while the average view of a Promenader - witness your photograph - seems to be of a rowdy person with Union Jack face-paint.

Regular Promenaders do look on the Last Night as a chance for something of a party - but regulars also go to the Proms to listen to the music, and that extends to the Last Night as well. In recent years the klaxons and sirens have encroached from the traditional pieces into the part of the programme that varies from year to year. High spirits are fine: what might be termed aural hooliganism is not. Indeed, the national songs (and they are a good sing) might also benefit from not having a plethora of silly noises in attendance.

In short, the real curmudgeons and spoilsports are the klaxonniers and sirenists, many of whom are scarcely seen from one Last Night to the next. And certainly the feeling I sensed in the arena yesterday evening was that Sir John's action was not before time.

Your sincerely,

Paul Henderson

London, E17

13 September

From Ms Shelagh Cohen

Sir: As a season ticket holder, I shall be attending the Last Night of the Proms on Saturday and, in principle, I am delighted to hear that Sir John Drummond will be banning balloons, klaxons and pop-guns. But how is this to be achieved? Are we all to be subjected to a strip search as we enter?

If he is relying on the goodwill of the audience, then I am sure he has the wholehearted support of the regular Promenaders. However, most of those attending go only because it is the Last Night and do not care about the music. They want to be seen (if possible on TV) and heard.

I wish Sir John luck with this idea, and in his retirement.

Yours faithfully,

Shelagh Cohen

London, N12

13 September

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