Early starters

Nick Shave is driven mad by Proms beginning at 7pm


They call it 'Inception'. Someone sedates you, enters your subconscious during your dream state and plants an idea there that grows organically until you unconsciously act upon it during your waking hours.

In director Christopher Nolan’s new film Inception, Leonardo DiCaprio enters the dreams of a CEO played by Cillian Murphy so as to sow the seeds of indifference in the back of his mind, thereby destabilising his entire corporation.

Why am I telling you this? Because lately I’ve been led to believe that 'Inception' could be sabotaging this year’s Proms.

Think about it: three times this festival season I’ve arrived within a whisker of being late for a Prom because I’m subconsciously hooked on the idea that to start a concert at 7pm, when most people have barely had the chance to finish a day’s work, travel across (or into) town to Kensington, let alone grab a bite to eat before the concert begins, would surely be absurd.

In my conscious mind it makes perfectly logical sense that a concert would start at 7.30pm. Most mid-week Proms begin at 7.30pm. That seems like a fairly reasonable time, so obviously – the Incepted theory goes – the Proms begin at 7.30pm.

So firmly has this time, 7.30pm, been embedded in my brain that it barely seems worth checking it online until after I’ve left the office. And given the numbers of latecomers who are to be seen hurrying along the streets of Kensington at around 6.55pm and clambering to their seats after the programme’s first movement/overture each night, I’m clearly not the only victim.

Some say that to start a concert at a reasonable time, and the same time each weekday evening, is not 'Inception', it’s simply ‘common sense’. But clearly they need to wake up and smell the coffee

Last-minute arrivers’ facts to bear in mind:

• At a brisk, almost power-walking pace, the time between alighting at South Kensington tube station and entering the door for the stalls at the Royal Albert Hall (if you already have a ticket) is exactly 15 minutes.

• Road works are taking place above ground that will not allow you to overtake on the pavement between South Kensington and the Royal Albert Hall – take the pedestrian underpass, it saves approximately one minute. It could be the difference between arriving on time and being made to stand outside an entrance door, like a naughty school child.

• Turn your mobile phone off before you enter the hall.


Nick Shave is a freelance music writer, critic, and contributing editor to BBC Music Magazine. He has spent many happy summers reviewing the Proms, but is still prone to a loss of bearings when choosing the quickest way round the Royal Albert Hall.


Related links:
Proms Diary 2010: Grown-up Beethoven
Proms Diary 2010: Noisy tables and empty seats

  • Article Type: | Blog |
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