Far cough: almost enjoying Elgar

My friend wrote recently to relay yet another comedy-riddled concert-going experience at this year’s Proms. Enjoy…


Successfully got to the Albert Hall to see/hear the Elgar with Julian Lloyd Webber as soloist. We had the cheapest seats right up inthe gods, but as it wasn’t sold out we got upgraded to seats in the stalls. Lucky us, we thought.


Under the Circumstances...

As we were about to take our new seats we heard two ushers discussing where to seat a patron who had a cough and wanted to be moved to an end seat in case he had to make a quick exit. We didn’t hear the conclusion, but I said to C ‘they’d better not put him near us, or we’ll have to ask to be downgraded back to where we were in the first place.’ We had plenty of time to get settled and read the programme as there was no celebrations of nationality going on in any parks. We had two end seats next to a central aisle. There was a couple sitting directly in front of us and the male was particularly jovial and friendly – making conversation and banter with everyone squeezing past his end seat to get to their seats and asking those in the vicinity where they had traveled from. He seemed in the best of health.

The orchestra came on, then the first violinist, the lights were dimmed, the conductor took his place and the applause, the opening bars of the the Cockaigne Overture filled the hall and then he started, the man in front of us , coughing and sniffing throughout the whole beautiful work. In the brief interlude between the end of the ruined overture and the start of the Cello Concerto, C complained to an usher and we got moved to a loggia box, all to ourself. Fantastic!

Just before the Enigma Variations, the splendid privacy of own box was cut short as 4 other people seated in vicinity of the cougher were ushered in. But it was alright – we felt comradeship through our escape from the man who was afflicted by a cough brought on only by having to listen to music. By the time Pomp and Circumstance had started, we saw him being led away by his wife and an usher.

We have a Sibelius concert booked in December. I’ll let you know how that one goes…


2 Responses

  1. There was an equally bad gaggle of gigglers and coughers at West Yorkshire Playhouse the night I saw the play ‘Speechless’! I am always tempted to say ‘Arsenal!’ in tribute to the Morecambe & Wise ‘memory man’ sketch. Long before the coughing major on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Eric and Ernie were pointing out the practice of having an audience stooge who makes a noise as a clue to an answer – in this case coughing and saying ‘Arsenal’! at the same time.

    • Perhaps ushers should be handing out cough-sweets along with programmes at these events ?! Anything to alleviate the suffering of others – by which I don’t just mean those afflicted with colds and coughs…

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