Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dan Stevens: The word "coffee" is music to my ears In his monthly column, Dan Stevens berates Britain's lack of stamina. (TELEGRAPH)

By Dan Stevens12:15PM BST 02 Jul 2013

There are a lot of things that excite me about an orchestra but one that always gets me is the collective sense of time, held together by that crazed individual, the conductor; the manic bundle of musical quartz at the heart of the mechanism. I went along to the Festival Hall on the South Bank in London recently to see Benjamin Wallfisch (the composer of the wonderful score for Summer in February) as he was conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra playing a series of four pieces he had composed based on Roald Dahl’s Dirty Beasts; poems among my favourites (now being read to another generation of Stevens). Ben harnessed the orchestra’s facility for storytelling and showed it off to a spellbound audience of schoolchildren. When he toyed with the time signature to great oohs and ahhs (most of them mine) I realised how connected emotional narrative is with pace. Children seem immediately more attuned, but if we give ourselves up to the signature of a piece it can be wildly transportive, taking us to the saddest, happiest and most frenzied places.

The oldest complaint about London is “closing time”. Everywhere else in the world seems to have more stamina than Britain. The rage that can be seen in the serious London drinker’s eye at last orders can be quite terrifying. But who in God’s name turns their coffee machines off at 5pm? “Sorry, sir, there’s not much demand for it over here after 5, so we turn it off,” I was told recently. Well that’s precisely why you’re closing early. I’m demanding coffee, now, because I need it. Yes, I know it’s 6pm, which is normally when you might be halfway through a chilled sauvignon blanc, but I am a coffee drinker and I want coffee. Tonight.


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