The BBC Proms was something that needs to be experienced to be believed. My thought process when someone tried to explain it to me went something like this.
Proms, but no a prom. Not the American version with drunk teenagers misbehaving in dark corners. Oh that could happen but under a giant British flag?
Oh it’s called the Proms!
It’s a giant classical music festival? You mean people spent an entire season watching this stuff?
Then on the last night, they have Proms in the park?
Oh I understand now, it’s similar to Symphony in the Domain?
Except everyone brings flags and it’s a hugely patriotric event…now I am lost.
My head could not compute the rather odd equation of classical music, British patriotism and sitting around in a park doing all three. Somehow in the course of one night I ended up seeing the last two and listening to the first.
Amazingly the weather was un Britishly fine for a day that was predicted to be cold and wet. Not knowing what to expect, I was a little overwhelmed by the amount and variations of British flags that greeted me the moment I entered the park. There was a festive, carnival like air and it was rather amusing to note that the official merchandise stalls sold mainly British flags as souveniers.
I had never seen so many flags outside of a sporting event and thought this display of national pride would have been more appropriate in the States rather than in the UK. Somehow after settling in with a glass of wine and overdosing on cheese and nibblies it was easier to enjoy the experience rather than analyse how odd everything was. I didn’t expect to hear the James Bond medley or the Star War theme for a start.
Part of the highlight was watching Sue Perkins, the winner of Maestro conduct to a crazily happy crowd waving crowd. Granted their reaction was probably bigger when Bjorn Again was on stage hamming it up with their pseudo Swedish accent, but it was probably something to do with being able to sing along to Abba. It wasn’t until the cameras panned closeby that we realised the VIP tent was just behind where we were. With the best view in the park, the VIPS were plainly bored at the best of times as they surveyed the plebs sprawled on the ground. Though they seemed to perk up when some Elvis songs were played.