The Elephant, by Camille Saint-Saëns
Brundall Music Club was the creation of Roger West and his wife Janet. I began to attend in the early 1980s. Janet was the one who I remember best, although I understand that Roger did a lot of work behind the scenes. It involved many of the best musicians in Norfolk at the time, as well as some more inferior ones such me; people who were nevertheless passionate about music.
The majority of the audience were not performers, just enthusiastic listeners. The meetings were held once a month in Brundall Primary School down Braydeston Avenue, near the RAILWAY STATION. Brundall is a village on the river Yare between Norwich and Great Yarmouth. These extracts from my diary give an idea of what it was like.
Saturday 10 January 1981
In the evening drove to Brundall. We got there well before Mr and Mrs Partridge – who paid our guest fees! The first half of the evening was individual contributions; a very good violinist, indifferent flutes and recorder, and a terrible pianist but good one to end with. Then we heard Amahl and the Night Visitors by Menotti. This was new to me and I enjoyed it very much. Beverley (Rogers) was in the chorus as an “extra”; she told us when we met beforehand, she is not a member of the club.
Saturday 7 February
I had already changed for Brundall then picked up Beverley. We got lost because she had not put on her glasses but still gave me directions. Saw Mr and Mrs Partridge Cathryn, Joan and her husband and Mr Sears. I have almost let myself in for doing Saint-Saëns’s The Elephant next month.
Sunday 8 February
After supper I had a quick look at L’Elephant – it is not too hard- so if I can get the piano part from Colin I will phone Beverley and give her the go-ahead.
Tuesday 10 February
In the evening I went to Colin Boulter for my double bass lesson. I asked him for the music to L’Elephant (piano as well) which he then asked me to play; as he did not know I had already been playing it he thought I did it rather well!
Friday 13 February
Got Carnaval des animaux, the piano part from the library. We had a pigeon for tea. (Pigeon is an anagram of one pig.) Played L’Elephant on the bass.
Saturday 14 February
Had rabbit in cider (rabbit is an anagram of bat rib). After several attempts I got through to Beverley. I am leaving the piano part with her tomorrow evening. She wants 3 rehearsals.
Wednesday 18 February
Supper was plaice; then to Thorpe High School for the orchestral music class. (Janet West is the conductor.) I discovered that the City College are doing some pieces from Carnival of the Animals tomorrow. Janet has seen the programme for Brundall Music Society and I am on it! She is going to be away in London one week after half-term, and is going to ask Beverley to take us again. She is suddenly turning up all over these pages.
Thursday 19 February
Home, took Fido for a walk and watched the news. The sudden collapse of business will probably force me to sell up and live as a recluse with my double bass, which would be rather nice.
Saturday 7 March
I got to Brundall School and played my elephant twice before Beverley arrived and twice together. She was at home in Ipswich last night and missed the train back to Norwich this morning. Also at the Music Club were Barry and Phyllis Osborne (my 2nd cousin and his wife) and George Gould (an organic market gardener from South Walsham and a friend of my father’s), all of whom I managed to speak to. At the party later at the Pightle (the West’s home) I met a lot of other people including fellow bassist David Storey. John Barnett may have a job for me at the May concert. The chocolate elephants appealed to my accompanist!