Thursday, 8 July 2010

Dark deeds at Dio



The trouble is, after a big concert I get so depressed that I'm not really capable of doing anything much except mooch about feeling savage. I exaggerate the tiniest performance blemishes to the point where they become hideous crimes, I become wildly suspicious of other peoples' motives, I become paranoid over my creative shortcomings, I swear vile oaths to no purpose under my breath and the best thing nearest and dearest can do is shut me up in a cave with a few days' supply of Cadbury's Fruit and Nut until they feel it's safe to let me out again.

Which nearly happened...

...anyway, it's over now, until the next time. Looking back as objectively as I can, it all went very well. We gave two performances of my cantata L'Imitation de Notre-Dame la Lune, the first with standing room only in the 9th-century Prieuré de St Julien, and the second 24 hours later in the Château de Dio, where the photo was taken.

This château is what I would call a vanity castle, because for the life of me I couldn't see any strategic value to its position. It dominates the village below it, which only appears to exist by virtue of the availability of building stone when the castle fell into ruins in the 17th century. (If you're interested in finding it on the map, it's about 12km east of a town called Bédarieux, itself some 35km northish of Béziers, a nasty town almost on the Mediterranean halfway between Montpellier and Narbonne. Good hunting.)

Some years ago an extraordinarily moneyed person bought the castle, cogged funds out of various French ministries and heritage associations, matched them with his own funds and set about restoration. It's nothing like finished yet. Far from performing in a vast hall where the ghosts of The Three Musketeers and their like swashed their buckles and swung from the chandeliers, we were consigned to the stables. Any horses had long since galloped off, and the flagged floor and vaulted ceiling provided a harsh and unrewarding acoustic.

After the concert a remarkable German lady, a coastal oceanographer by profession and an amateur astronomer and speleologist, invited me to 'her' cave. Few women have ever suggested this to me before. It was close by, she said; it was 'her' cave because she was the only person ever to have surveyed it, with a laser-based apparatus of her own invention. Monica and Barbara (2nd and 3rd from left in the photo) came along too, all three of us still in our concert reds and blacks, plus a couple from the audience.

Well, it was only a hole in the mountainside and it was bleeding miles away, and I say 'bleeding' advisedly because that's what we were when we came back, filthy and bleeding from grazes and scratches from sharp rocks on the near-vertical goat-path and from clutching for support at thorny branches and knife-edge grasses.

Still, it kept the German lady happy. And my black dog of depression at bay for a bit. I'm feeling a bit more livable-with now. It's what has kept me away from the blogosphere for several days, in case you were wondering. Sorry.

9 comments:

Dave said...

I left a comment here earlier. It seems to have vanished.

I wish I had a cave.

Rog said...

"..a remarkable German lady, a coastal oceanographer by profession and an amateur astronomer and speleologist, invited me to 'her' cave."

That's the most unusual and original sentence I've ever read.

Could you use it as a jumping off point for a novel?

Why do you creatives put yourself through all this agony? Haven't you got a Midsummer Murders DVD or something to keep your mind on trivial pursuits. Or trivial pursuits.

Z said...

Yes, I was wondering. I was a bit worried.

moreidlethoughts said...

It's a bit early in the day for me...I thought perhaps a German lady wanted to show you her wine cellar.
But I can see you had a jolly time so that's alright.
PS when do we far-aways get to hear the concert on Youtube?

mig said...

Shame they didn't leave you a bit of straw to soften things a bit.

I played once in a chateau near St Malo. Four of us played Eine Kleine Nachtmusik on the stairs overlooking the hall. We were accompanied by a large bat.

Vicus Scurra said...

My back garden is available for repeat concerts.

Rog said...

Look Chris, I've had "work"

I, Like The View said...

it went well!! huzzah!!!

Hector said...

"the best thing nearest and dearest can do is shut me up in a cave with a few days' supply of Cadbury's Fruit and Nut until they feel it's safe to let me out again."

Your "black dog of depression" may not be at bay for long and future release from the cave could be in serious doubt as I hear that the evil powers at Kraft may be contemplating the demise of Cadbury's Fruit and Nut. Will life be worth living?