The Guardian festival blog: Into the classical music bear-pit: Alan Johnson goes to the Proms | Music

I’m no stranger to the Royal Albert Hall. John Lennon knew how many holes it took to fill it and, as a child, I knew how many steps it took to reach the huge statue of the Prince Consort that stands opposite (42 in case you’re interested).

Raised in the royal borough, my sister and I would spend most of the school summer holidays in Kensington Gardens while our mother scrubbed and cleaned for the more prosperous folk south of Ladbroke Grove. We would be released into the park straight off the No 52 bus with sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper and told to visit the museums if it rained. The great Italianate edifice of the Albert Hall was familiar terrain.

Classical music is not exactly alien to me. It poured from the huge wireless that my mother rented from Radio Rentals, on the few occasions when the arrow shaped switch was turned to the Third Programme. But I’d never been to the Proms – a South Kensington event that had…


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Straight from The Guardian
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