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The Spurious Accident of the Blog on my Timeline

March 4, 2014

Well, here we are: Shrove Tuesday again. And still I have nothing to say about pancakes.

Actually, it is quite by accident that I remembered that pancakes are likely to be on the menu today in many houses. But then, as Elvis Costello pointed out, Accidents will Happen.

Elvis Costello launching a now-forgotten campaign of home-insurance advertising

Come to think of it, Elvis Costello had quite a lot to say on quite a number of subjects, from the time of his first hit single, Watching the Detectives, right to the present day. I can’t say that I find his modern output as invigorating as his classic tracks, but he has always been experimenting and pushing boundaries. For example, his collaboration with the Brodsky Quartet on a sort-of concept album, The Juliet Letters, the concept being a series of letters from various senders to Juliet Capulet. This track, Jacksons, Monk and Rowe, is fairly typical and like the rest of the album had a mixed reception. Cross-over music usually does, but I discover today that there have been a number of re-workings of the music, so that it has started to take on the form not of a particular artist’s (or artists’) album, but of a good old-fashioned song cycle.

One way or another, composers of every genre keep coming back to Romeo and Juliet, don’t they? There are dozens of operas, musicals, ballets, rock songs, symphonies – you name it. The cynic in me wonders if the star-crossed lovers are a quick lure to commercial success; my inner laissez-faire thinks “to hell with it” and simply enjoys the results. With so many to choose from, it is very difficult to select one for you: have a pleasant ten minutes or so of Georg Benda’s Romeo und Julie, one of the earliest operas to tell the story, and distinctive in that it gives our hero and heroine an unexpectedly happy ending. However, the one I really want to share is the entire grand choral symphony by Berlioz: Roméo et Juliette. (I’ve given you the link there, but I should in fairness point out that it is an hour and half long. If ever you choose to follow the recommendations in these posts, get hold of this music and make time for it – car journey, on in the background while you work, however you can fit it in. Part 3 especially is superb.)

The greatest love of all, watched by the greatest detective of all.

The greatest love of all, watched by the greatest detective of all.

A couple of paragraphs back (still with me?) I mentioned Watching the Detectives. As the discerning among you will realise, there is really only one detective worth watching. And so that we are abundantly clear about this, I am not referring to any specific portrayal of this detective among the hundreds that have been attempted, but to the detective himself. The Great Detective. You know who I mean: Sherlock Holmes. Now, unlike, Romeo and Juliet, Sherlock Holmes, whether as character or concept, is not one that lends itself naturally to musical theatre, as the excerpt to which I have just referred you (from Leslie Bricusse’s musical from a while back) amply demonstrates. And how did I get onto this subject? Well it’s like this: pay attention…

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, on which I have appallingly punned the title of this post, has achieved massive success as a book and a stage play. Furthermore I gather from the Gospel according to St Wiki that the movie rights have been bought by Brad Pitt and/or Warner Bros. In these circumstances it is the duty of every right-thinking Holmesian to ensure that everybody who reads or watches it is fully aware of the source of the title. To wit: a passage from the Holmes story Silver Blaze:

“Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?” / “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.” / “The dog did nothing in the night-time. / “That was the curious incident.”

So there it is. Mark Haddon didn’t come up with the name by accident, you know. It wasn’t even Accidentally on Purpose.


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  1. Fiona permalink

    the title of this post is genius

  2. Thank you – I thought of it all on my very ownsome.

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