Part 1: a First Night for everything
Our online diarist Tristan Jakob-Hoff joins the Prommers in a packed central arena for a variety-fuelled First Night
Summer in London, for those who still believe in such a thing, is a time of reckless optimism. At the first hint of anything resembling sunshine, the capital’s entire populace heads down to the nearest stretch of green space to indulge in a spot of ill-advised and insufficiently attired sun worship. Even the more grizzled and cynical amongst us occasionally throw caution to the wind and head outside without an umbrella. I suspect this uncharacteristic confidence in the sun’s reliability is some form of temporary insanity, brought on by the sheer bewilderment of seeing an endless expanse of blue where the clouds used to be. Whatever it is, it is a dangerous affront to the gods and almost certainly guarantees a thunderstorm.
Thankfully, the men and women who queue outside the Royal Albert Hall every Summer are a breed apart. The heavens have never opened up above a queue full of Prommers without a thousand umbrellas doing likewise. Just as well too. Last night, the 2009 Proms season kicked off with a very healthy downpour, the sort you don’t usually see until at least the second or third week. Everyone standing in the queue had their brolly up within seconds. There was a fair amount of grumbling, of course, and an audible cheer went up when the doors were finally flung open and we were allowed to shuffle inside. But I felt a certain pride at our collective preparedness. I suppose anyone who has ever spent the best part of a British Summer queuing outside, at the fickle mercy of London’s elements, knows to expect the unexpected.