And the first of what will probably be many anti-McCain moments here -
Wilfrid Mellers just died at 94, a minor composer but a very eminent musicologist, whom I met once and only once in circumstances that still make me feel good about myself.
About a decade ago, maybe a bit less, I went to a concert/lecture in the Purcell Room - the first half was going to be various works for piano and odd other instruments by people like Harrison and Nancarrow, with someone explaining the various avant-garde aesthetics involved. The second half was going to be lighter fare - notably Willard White singing Copland songs - and this brought in various yuppy scum as opposed to the serious music nerds that made up much of the audience.
The original lecturer dropped out, almost literally at the last moment, and Mellers, who may well have been there as audience, took his place. And did not, it has to be acknowledged, entirely get the concept of the short introductory explanation - he was chatting volubly about the music and the composer and the movement they were part of. It was fascinating stuff, if long-winded, and my half of the audience were delighted.
Not so the yuppy scum - who got restive, and turned ugly, and started shouting abuse at this man in his late eighties.
I realized pretty quickly that the concert hall staff had no idea what to do and most people - the guy I was there with for example - were being English and embarrassed.
So I stood up, apologised to the people on the platform for the interruption, and gave the yuppy barrackers a dressing down. 'This man is the greatest British musicologist of our time,' I said .' and he is giving us free access to his knowledge. Sit down and shut up and be grateful for the chance to learn something.' I may have said rather more than that, but that is the burden of what I said, and I don't think I swore.
And they did sit down, and they did shut up. And I got the only round of applause I will ever get in a musical venue.
Later, I and friend went to a local bar, and found Willard White, and Mellers, and the musicians and some of the South Bank staff, and they bought me drinks.
It really was my job to do that, I guess, as the person in the audience with speaking skills and mild charisma...