07 August 2008

Love Of Music: A Fruit Of Mancunian Municipal Socialism

Tonight's Prom's main work has just started: Dvorak's 8th. I am remembering how and when I heard it first.

In 1973 the unifying forces of local government reorganisation produced, prior to the dismemberment of the county system, a unified bus system for what was still not the County of Greater Manchester. It was called Selnec (South East Lancashire and North East Cheshire), as that is what the County was originally intended to be called, though somebody without cloth ears realised eventually what was going on. (There is a "compare and contrast" lesson with the Bugnini reforms to be made here, but I have neither the time nor the inclination.)

We had socialist bus fares: under 16s paid 2p for any journey. That meant 4p return.

The Halle Orchestra held its Proms over what I remember as a three week season in May or June. Its promenading tickets (standing at the back of the stalls of the Free Trade Hall) cost 10p each. I had a Saturday job at Lewis's: it paid £2.08. That meant I could go to every concert during the season, and that year, I did.

It changed my musical tastes completely; it changed me completely. (Though unlike the Prommers tonight, I didn't applaud after the First Movement.)

(The percipient will wonder how the remaining £1.20 was spent: a lot of pubs were happy to serve people under age, or you could get a blob at Yates' for 10p; a couple of nights of abstinence meant a couple of blobs at Yates'!)

And Dvorak remains (however sentimentally) a favourite.


Ponte Sisto said...

Happily, I’m not old enough to remember the debacles of which you speak. (Thought I’d get that dig in, first!!) However, I am old enough to be aware of the fall out, although I don’t think “socialist fares” ever made it to my neck of the woods.

A dear friend of mine, who grew up in the ‘60s, developed a passion for busses – a buss fancier? Coming from Chesire, he used to talk about the glory days of Crossville and North Western. I assume some of these had routes into Manchester prior to the National Bus Company.

As for Dvorak, his 5th symphony, will forever fill me with fear and dread. As a late teenager, I, somehow, ended up in the Cheltenham Philharmonic. (Only God really knows how). I think it had something to do with me playing the double bass and there being somewhat of a shortage of bass players? Anyway, things did not go totally to plan. On the stage of the Town Hall, in full view of the world and his wife, during a pizzicato passage, my bridge decided to crash against the belly of the bass, which so startled me that I knocked the instrument off its rubber ended pin into the back of cellist’s chair. Being incredibly professional, she let out only the most minute of squeals. I spent the remainder of the performance being glared at by the Leader, (who also worked in Laura Ashley during the day). Needless to say, I was not invited back for an encore performance. Norman Wisdom, eat your heart out!

Ches said...

Ah the old days! I can't resist!

See here:


the mother of this lot said...

Ah, Selnec....the memories....and at least it was a word you could pronounce, rather than GMPTE.

Oh, and you should have gone to Wooloworth's. They paid £2.88 for a Saturday. And by God, upstairs on Hardware, you earned it.

I'd forgotten Blobs were 10p. You could get into Rowntree's Sound on Corporation Street for 10p as well.