The week didn't start well. On Monday as I tried to go to the toilet while giving an obsessive last minute shine to the caravan sink, plop! went my mobile phone into the loo. I can tell you retrieving it wasn't one of my finer moments and despite modern technology the whole thing was damaged beyond repair: telephone numbers lost, notes for poems, photos and videos of country walks gone, my memory bank down the pan. At least the sim card is ok, so I can still use the number.
I got some interesting comments from friends, who I hadn't told what I'd being doing when I dropped it, and made their own assumptions based on personal experiences. One friend said it was the best place for a mobile phone and he wished his students would do the same with theirs, another told me it was my own fault if I was toilet texting, and another that next time I should try not to be sick beforehand.
The day got better as in the evening we started African drumming classes with the Forte School of Music. Classes take place in a new art cafe, 'Umber & Sienna' in Taffs Well. Eleven hopefuls sat round in a circle with our charming young tutor who coaxed and encouraged us to bang our drums. It was like being in kindergarden again as some of us just could not resist drumming when we were supposed to be listening.
Earlier that weekend at our local cinema, we watched a live broadcast of 'Carmen', from the Royal Opera House. It was in French but there were sub titles. I can never understand what opera singers are singing in English. I thought performers in crowd scenes would be singing something profound, only to find they were describing themselves walking around the square. I love the idea of doing that in real life: singing a description of myself washing up or cleaning the sink while actually doing it. If I'd been doing that on Monday in the van loo, I wonder how my song would have gone?
Pity not more people know about these live broadcasts of theatre and opera to local cinemas. I have only ever seen one live opera in my life and that was years ago. These broadcasts open up opportunities for people outside of London who can't afford the ticket price or who wouldn't normally attend live productions to experience something different. Sitting in a half empty cinema, wearing dark glasses(the performance was in 3D), unwrapping noisy sweets and humming along to the tune of the Toreador's song was certainly a different experience to being part of the dignified audience at the Opera House.
On Tuesday we went to see the film,'Patagonia' . It's two intertwining stories: one of an elderly Argentinian woman, who comes to Wales to find the farm that her mother worked on before she emigrated to Patagonia in 1927. The other story is of a Welsh photographer, who with his girlfriend goes to Patagonia to photograph the Welsh chapels. The love interest is heightened by Matthew Rhys, who plays the role of a guide to the couple. The film is in Spanish, Welsh and English. Marc Evans, who Rhys taught art to many years ago, directs. The cinematography is beautiful and the landscape of the plains and mountains of Patagonia evocative and romantic. Wales looks luscious and green in contrast. However, we felt that although the story was quite moving the film is rather too safe somehow and lacks edge.
Last night for the first time since Mexico we went to a classical guitar recital at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Two professional performers, a Greek boy, Dimitris Dekavellas and an ex-RWCMD student, Hayley Savage gave superb performances. Hayley composed a piece called 'Double Helix', using the molecular structure of DNA as building blocks for notes in the piece. She also composed and performed a piece 'Throwing the Dice', based on the number six:-six strings on the guitar, six sides to the dice. She build up the notes by random throws. I know nothing about the theory of making music but the idea seems awesome, complex and a huge challenge. The performances were breathtaking. But my favourite was their performance of a tango suite by a Latin American composer, Astor Piazzolla. It took me back to a almost a year ago, when we were in San Miguel de Allende in Central Mexico, listening to the duo 'Confluenza'. There's something about that music which for me touches the very essence of what it is to be human. I guess some might call it soul.