Whan That Aprill, With His Shoures Soote
Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne
And smale foweles maken melodye
I suspect that from a meteorological point of view Chaucer was the Michael Fish of his day. But let me begin at the beginning.
Yesterday was a fine day, a little overcast, but no sign of impending rain. I put a load of washing in the washing machine (which resides outside), and an hour later put the laundry out to dry. I then summoned a taxi and headed off to central Bangkok for a bit of kultcha, for this was the day of the concert by the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra.
I’ve known for a while know that Bangkok boasts a symphony orchestra, but, to be honest, I’d assumed it was largely an affair of talented amateurs. But no! It’s a full time, professional orchestra.
Before the concert I had dinner with G.. We wandered around a shopping centre for somewhere to eat, and eventually plumped for a Chinese place – a small, simple, concrete shell decorated with cheap paper lanterns and little else. The omen were propitious, with several men (already a little drunk on rice spirit at six in the afternoon) talking loudly in Teochew. The food was good and filling, if not sensational, and the portions were generous: deep fried tofu stuffed with minced pork, hot and sour soup, and Peking duck with all the trimmings. Finishing dinner a little early, we decided that a brief sojourn at a traditional local coffee shop trading under the name of “Starbucks” was in order. One green tea latte frappuccino served, we were ready to head on. And then the heavens opened – a tropical storm, whipped horizontal by the wind. Twenty minutes before the conductor picked up his baton, we had no option but to brave the elements and scuttle to the concert hall.
Two sodden rats sat down twenty minutes later, ready for Weber, Mozart and Tchaikovsky – though somewhat less ready for the effect of the freezing air-con upon their chilly cladding.
The concert was a pretty good stab at some challenging works. There was some hesitancy in attack in some of the string sections, the French horns split their notes a few times in Tchaikovsky 4, and I didn’t like the tone of the clarinets – too woolly. Somewhat bizarrely, for me the star performer was the only member of the orchestra who doesn’t have a Thai name – Daisuke Iwabuchi, the Timpanist – I presume he’s Japanese. His precise, sensitive playing really stood out for me. More generally, the whole percussion section was excellent.
Of course, I should mention the soloist, Cho-Liang Lin, a Taiwanese-American violinist who scratches a mean Stradivarius. The richness of the tone of the lower strings was particularly magnificent. He makes a lot of what is obviously a very fine fiddle.
After the concert I took a taxi home. The driver drove with a certain reckless abandon, but by this stage I just wanted to get home to take off my sodden clothing and, in particular, my soaked through shoes and socks.
An hour or so later the driver was approaching my moobaan – but there was a barrier in the way. It seems a major power line had fallen across the road. In normal circumstances this wouldn’t been too much of a problem, but I live off a one way road with no other entrance.
After a bit of head scratching it was agreed the driver would head for the opposite end of the one way road and drive up it the wrong way. (The concepts of “legal” and “illegal” in Thailand tend to be a little nebulous.) Twenty minutes (and a generous tip to the driver) I was home. Time to check the laundry…
As I’d feared, all my freshly laundered clothes were scattered across the ground; the waterproof cover over the washing machine had been ripped off by the aeolian breezes, too, despite being anchored by hefty cables.
This morning I resolved boldly to venture forth, bread and milk to buy. Whilst the destruction was hardly post-apocalyptic, it was striking. Here’s the sign at the entrance to my moobaan.
Doesn’t look too bad? Here it is from a different angle.
(Michael Bay, if you’re going to steal this idea for your next Transformers movie, I will sue.)
And some trees are now relaxing taking a well-deserved rest:
Whilst others are simply slanting at jaunty angles.
[The above engraved etchings are courtesy of mine mobile telephone, so may not be up to my usual (and thoroughly mediocre) standards.]