Agent Triple P is feeling rather Viennese and frothy at present because we have been listening to a lot of Johann Strauss. Now this is not our usual listening at all. When listening to classical music, as we largely do, we prefer late romantics like Mahler, Sibelius, Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Khachaturian et al. However we recently found ourselves writing a ballroom scene in our ever expanding erotic story Les Soeurs Croissant and needed some appropriate music to write to. As we were in Bucharest at the time we had to confine ourselves to what was on our iPod, which turned out to be just The Blue Danube, taken from a Herbert von Karajan compilation of Strauss music. We hadn't put the rest of the CD on the iPod, however, and the Blue Danube just reminds us of spaceships so we put aside writing this scene until we could obtain some more Strauss, which we duly did on our return.
Now long ago Agent Triple P loved Johann Strauss and, indeed some of the very first records we owned were Strauss compilations. In fact, we think that this one (above) was the first record we bought with our own money in about 1970. Up until this point Triple P's only LPs were a handful of hand me downs from our aunt who had recently got married and passed us her duplicates. Thus we had a collection that, in total, included, the Beatles' Revolver, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour. In addition we had Beethoven's 3rd symphony (still our favourite Beethoven) and Dvorak's New World.
It's odd seen from today's perspective, where music is so ubiquitous that you can carry it around with you all the time, but back in the sixties although most people had record players not many people had any actual records. Most households triple P visited had perhaps a dozen or maybe even less. Triple P's parents owned about eight records. The record player was in the living room so, in Triple P's family, whatever was played had to be acceptable to all. Strauss caused no arguments and so we soon acquired a second compilation (above). These records cost 99p at the time so were a big hit on our 50p a week pocket money. It was only when we got our first record player, which we could have in our bedroom that our record buying expanded.
Triple P does not enjoy dancing and, indeed, we are very suspicious of men who do. Our view is that it is something you have to endure at a certain age when you are trying to meet girls and it is to be avoided if at all possible. Most men are bad dancers and those that are good are looked on with suspicion by other men. Women, on the other hand, are much more likely to have had some form of dance training and so are able to deal with the basics. Women like men to dance with them but are then very critical of them if they are no good. We suspect that we have only danced (or an approximation of it) half a dozen times at most and we have to be really drunk to do so. A girlfriend once took Triple P to a ballroom dancing class in advance of some event and we found it quite impossible to remember any of the sequences of movements needed. Even though it was just the two of us and the teacher we felt totally awkward, stressed and self-conscious. We did not return for a second lesson!
Last time we were in Vienna we took this picture of the Johann Strauss monument
We enjoy watching good dancing, however, and the waltz can look quite splendid especially when done en masses as seen at the New Year's Day concert in Vienna.
It is often said that anyone can dance but we actually don't agree with this. You only have to watch the early rounds of Strictly Come Dancing or Dancing with the Stars to see that some people just can't do it; and these are people who, presumably, think they can or they wouldn't have entered in the first place. We think dancing is an innate ability, like being musical, having ability in languages, being good at maths or drawing. While you can improve a little through teaching, if you don't have that basic ability nothing that anyone does for you can help. It is best just to acknowledge your limitations, therefore!
So we will enjoy our nineteenth century dance music and just be glad that we weren't around at a time when formal dancing was a required skill in society!