Guardian Open Weekend

24th March 2012 | Concerts, Daily Life, Inspirations | 2 comments

King’s Place, the building behind King’s Cross which houses two concert halls and also the Guardian offices, was heaving today for the first Guardian Open Weekend (see photo). It was great to see the place so full, and full of such interesting-looking people too.

I said to Bob, ‘I wish this lot would come to my concerts. They all look so nice! How can I get them all to come?’ He suggested I might try to tag them all electronically, so that I could subtly infiltrate their minds at a later date with a deep and irresistible yearning to be present at my concerts. I shall ponder this further.

We were looking forward to hearing Charlie Brooker, but he wasn’t able to be there because his wife is having a baby. However, it was thrilling to see three of my favourite Guardian writers who had stood in at short notice: Gary Younge, Tim Dowling and Lucy Mangan, whose every word we follow avidly in this house.

When I saw Lucy afterwards on the terrace, I tried to convey our ardent appreciation, but ended up feeling foolish, as one always does. It’s maddening how difficult it is to get this right. As a performer, I’m familiar with people coming up to me to say things after a concert, and I know it’s a tough thing to do. You’d think that after observing it so many times I’d have worked out how to be the perfect compliment-giver, but no. I stammer, go red, and hear myself mangling phrases as though I’ve never been in this situation before.



  1. violinist

    As one who has stammered and gushed to you during at a concert venue, thank you for this sympathetic post. It’s happened to me a few times as an author, in a much less charged way, at academic conferences. The situation calls for both formality and intimacy, and when they’re not in perfect balance, something gets lost. But perhaps all that matters is the expression of gratitude, if that’s not too sentimental a thought.

  2. Paul Austen

    Susan, your description of blushing, stammering and getting words all jumbled up was exactly me as I remember when I first met you last year at Cerne Abbas, after the final concert when I came to fumble my appreciation of the performance!! But to give myself extenuating circumstances, I had just heard you and other players from the Gaudier give the most stunning performance of the Schumann piano quintet, one of my very favourite chamber works, and the piece had left me feeling totally emotionally exhausted!! I’ve always wondered since whether you had understood any of what I had attempted to say!!!


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