It’s the last night at Dartington Summer School week 2, and I’m typing this as I listen to the sounds of the Ceilidh in the Great Hall. (Ceilidh. Brilliant solution to all those middle-aged “I don’t disco” loonies who still like to shake their wobbly bits.) Given that I’m heading for the real world tomorrow, thought I’d jot down a day in the Dartington Summer School life…
6.30am Alarm goes off. Yes off. (Why was it ever on?)
7.55am Bugger. Fell asleep. Time to get up.
8.00am Tai Chi with Joe on the lawn. Spend ten minutes thinking ‘Why am I waving my arms pretending to fly like a pigeon?’ and another 20 minutes thinking, ‘Wow, this is so relaxing, I have found the secret of life, the universe and everything…’
8.30am Breakfast. The smell of floor polish and burnt toast is like Proust’s madeleine to me. Vow to eat more fruit and less bacon tomorrow.
9.00am Gather stuff for first class of the day, Crime Writing with James Runcie. Not your average Summer School class, it has to be said. There’s six of us in the Playhouse, discussing the finer points of character and motive. Actually, to be honest, mostly talking about how interesting people are, how strange we are, and how it could be a great story…
11am Hike to Aller Park with violin. I swear it was about 2 miles when I was younger. It’s now about 2 metres. The biggest obstacle is the gate into the field, which is not big enough to get through if you have a viola and a backpack. (It’s OK. We rescued her eventually.)
Chamber music at the Summer School can be hit and miss, but that’s part of the fun. You might be the best, you might be the worst, you might end up playing obscure piano trios by little-known-for-good-reason composers. Happily for me, this week’s group has been outstanding: we all share the keep-going-at-all-costs ethos, and we all play in tune. Dochnanyi, Shostakovich, Elgar – it’s a feast!
2.05pm Recorder ensembles begin. Naptime ends. A walk in the garden, a few words written.
5.15pm The early concert – sometimes a student group, more often a brief showcase from teachers or visiting artists. I sneak into the private garden and listen from outside.
7.30pm Time to bag a seat for the main concert. Tonight it was the end of week jamboree, the Big Choir and Baroque Orchestra performing Handel’s Samson. It’s a choir of allcomers but the director, Laurence Cummings has whipped them into shape for a genuinely gripping performance.
10.30pm Drinks at the White Hart. Hugging and passionate farewelling begins.
11pm Ceilidh in the Great Hall. 100 revellers creating the closest thing to tropical heat you can get in Devon in summer.
12 midnight Retire wounded. Consider setting an alarm. Fall asleep.