Sunday, 10 February 2013

Bring On The Dancing Girls

Budget setting is a very boring proposition, and I wonder why I am even thinking about it, let alone writing on it. It is an inexact science, and doesn't do to be taken too  seriously. I learned this lesson the first time I had to set a budget for the effective running of a very small school that had a minuscule allocation. When I had employed the teachers and paid the utility bills, I had £400 left for books and equipment.

(I had failed, by an excusable, I think, oversight, to put sufficient money into the maintenance pot, and spent a whole year cleaning the staff toilet. This taught me all I needed to know about ' budget responsibility'. I digress.)

£400 doesn't go far, so I hunted around for an alternative source of funds, and I found The European Union.

I think, being a True Brit, that I had been rather against The European Union in an offhand, polite sort of way. Now I am a new creature. I have seen the light.

The EU paid me a generous amount of money to promote understanding between member nations, and as I wrote the programme ( conforming fully to the National Curriculum 1.2, naturally) I saw only the good. The second, and by far the most satisfying part of the programme, were the project visits.

France, Spain, Romania, Austria, Norway, Estonia...

I marched in the National Day parade in Norway, was attacked by an elderly nun in Romania, visited the scene of a riot in Estonia, got stranded overnight in an airport with eight pupils in France and watched palm sculptures being made in Spain...

Above all, I saw Don Giovanni in Austria... Oh bliss! My first and last visit to an opera.


Somewhere up in the gods in the opera house in Klagenfurt, I allowed Mozart's heavenly music to  flow over me and through, me,: it was ecstasy. For about an hour.

Then my mind began to wander, and my eyelids began to droop. I don't blame Mozart, I blame my daughter. When she was nursing, she kept me awake most of the night, and I got into the habit of nodding off whenever I could, and I can't get out of it - especially when the lights go down...

Part of the problem was the language barrier. I laughed out loud, only quietly, when somewhere after the second act I realised that the overhead electronic text was not in the same language as the one singing out from the stage.

Our hero was, just before I finally succumbed to forty winks, lamenting over a grave stone, dressed as a teddy boy. (It was one of THOSE productions). I am uncertain as to the whys and wherefores, and paid scant attention

I awoke with a start when the naked dancing girls appeared.

Afterwards, Barbara, our charming Austrian host, asked Turid, Tuii, Cecilia, and myself, what we thought of the production. Language completely broke down at this point, we all replied, in turn, with the same word...


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