In the short pause between movements,
when some people clap and others like me
(who know you shouldn’t), dither
and then join in anyway,
because, what the hell, it was glorious,
a voice rings out
across the concert hall.
A deep voice, a Biblical voice
it cuts through the rows
and the fading applause.
Oh you Philistines, you Imbeciles, you Philistines.
Everyone hears it.
It comes from a scowling man
with short legs, three chins
and undoubted authority.
It comes from the man jammed next to me
in the topmost velvet row
of the Upper Circle.
A man who knows.
Knows what? Is an apology owed?
And if it is, by whom?
The only thing we did
was clap too soon;
for love, for geeing up an orchestra,
for being somewhere fancy
doing something different
on a Sunday afternoon.
Let high-brows sniff in silence.
We barbarians can sit quiet at the gate;
and when it comes to it
everyone will hold tight and wait
and count the in-breath, out-breath,
timed right to the drop
of the conductor’s baton,
till Beethoven becomes us all,
and all other things forgotten.
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Annie Kissack would be
pleased to hear them.