An English July
Posted on July 4, 2004
“We ought to get you out of those wet clothes,” the cliché said, before peeling off my jeans, jacket and shirt – soaked not in the sunshine of summer but the torrential downpour of an English July. And glad I am too, to be in my pyjamas and out of the flooded Weston Park stately home where, peering at my watch, Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra are probably still performing.
Unperturbed by the sort of apocalyptic weather akin to the Old Testament (or the more recent smash, The Day After Tomorrow), Jools Holland waited out the driving rain, lightning and an actual tornado, before playing to a Staffordshire crowd perhaps more prepared for a plague of locusts than a lively revue of Rhythm & Blues. I wondered if the audience of middle-class white folk would otherwise listen to R&B had the tickets not been so overpriced and Holland’s ensemble billed as a band rather than an “orchestra”. I wanted somehow to transplant them to Beale Street, Memphis and see how they enjoyed themselves at a bar with W.C. Handy.
Tonight though, the largely inanimate crowd (save for the occasional twitch) were having a grand time, constructing elaborate dining tables complete with candelabra and quiche and all to some of the finest background music money could buy. It was an evening of triumph over adversity and a shining example of the British innate ability to make the most of a bad situation. In a country where tornadoes can occur in July it’s a very good, if essential trait to have.