We are twinned with Broughton, Hampshire. Most years, a group of people turn up here for a ‘cultural exchange,’ which consists, for the most part of a lot of eating and drinking. Particularly drinking. Sometimes, the Sauvains head in the opposite direction and nearly always return, dewy-eyed and babbling about the paradisiacal land which they have fleetingly glimpsed. They’re obviously doing a lot of drinking there too.
One year, we were treated to the school orchestra. We all filed into the Temple, as Protestant churches are called. After half an hour of being treated to a selection of the classics by a group of English teenagers who clearly didn’t want to be there, I crept out for a breath of fresh air, only to find Ken already outside, puffing on a small cigar. As an ex opera critic, he delivered his verdict: ‘There are certain things to be said against music.’ Quite.
I like most music, but am not over-fond of a lot of jazz, particularly long discordant saxophone or trumpet solos, but that’s just my taste. If you do happen to be a fan of Dizzy Gillespie or Coltrane, that’s fine by me as long as I don’t have to sit through it. Ditto Andrew Lloyd Webber, but that’s not the point. There are plenty of people who derive pleasure from that sort of thing.
On the other hand, Millie’s organisation, ‘And Liguay,’ which is Wolof for international co-operation or hands across the sea, put on a DJ evening a couple of years ago. I had always thought that the worst evening of my life was in September 2001, when, having driven back from Italy, we got stuck about 20k from home, due to the floods. That was bad enough, but then I started to feel ill. I spent most of the night vomiting out of the car window, as lightning bolts smashed into the ground all around us. Thirty eight people were killed in the region, which was the only time I’ve been somewhere where a state of emergency was declared. The last 20k took the best part of 24 hours.
The DJ evening was far worse. Firstly, the relaxed atmosphere which normally prevails, was conspicuous by its absence. A lot of people seemed to be seriously out of their heads on some nasty kinds of chemicals and you could feel aggression all around.
Call me narrow-minded, or maybe I’m missing the point, but several hours of what sounded like someone wreaking vengeance on a metal dustbin with a cricket bat, while their dog worried a squeaky toy incessantly, is way outside my musical parameters.
Luckily, there were only a few minor scuffles. Surprising in itself, as I could have happily murdered someone.