The end of the first normal-ish week sees my output of reports growing by the day. I don't know about the paperless society but if it ever arrived anywhere, it chose not to alight at the station marked "Local Government". It is an unavoidable reality when one is dealing with public money that one has to justify and explain everything that is done. Today I have done more justifying and explaining than you can shake a stick at. On top of reports about seating, mezzanines, screw anchors, block foundations, conduit surveys and bore-hole sampling I found time to write a briefing on our marketing and sponsorship activity to date, complete with strategic ramblings, postcode lists and sundry jargon. I need to get on with several 100-page contracts now. I'll be a qualified lawyer by the end of this season.
Next-door James is trawling through names and CVs with conductor Brad Cohen. On the day James is seeking to close off roles for this season's Nabucco, talk is growing of the cast for the proposed 2008 production of Trovatore. Talking of Brad Cohen - he almost leapt into the office bidding everybody a Happy New Year as he went. Nobody has any right to be that chipper in this office at this particular time of the year. Brad is a very talented musician and has been responsible for some of our finest moments in the pit and despite his oft-breezy (mis) demeanour he is terribly serious about his work. James and I are particularly fond of his straight-talking manner. It is always easy to propose an idea to Brad because a) he will tell you straight away if he thinks it is bollocks and b) the shock of hearing the dismissal is soon relieved by the soothing balm of the realisation that indeed, you can be sure that if he thinks it is bollocks - it is. Both outcomes tend to save us a lot of time.
I finally managed to get to hold of Jim Naughtie this week after a bit of phone tag. Jim often writes programme pieces for us and I love the breathless passion with which he talks about opera - both in his articles and in conversation. I find him to be one of those people (and there seem to be many of these in my world) from whom you pick up a nugget of knowledge every time you speak to him. He was of course presenter of Opera News on the BBC and is a monumentally gifted broadcaster in my view. Anyway, he agreed to join James and I in a studio to record a series of podcasts about the forthcoming season (very much like the ones we did with Simon Callow for 2006). Going mic to mic with a man who has grilled Prime Ministers and Presidents on the UK's flagship radio news programme will seem a little odd (perhaps I mean ludicrous?). I think I have the upper hand with respect to L'amore dei tre Re at the moment but I have to send him a CD of it and so no doubt, when he has assimilated and considered it, I'll feel as though I've never heard the bloody thing before. Hopefully we'll have those done in the early spring and available on the website soon after that (for free of course).
I still feel some trepidation when fulfilling the obligations of this blog. Blogs have become a kind of counter-culture and James referred to a programme he'd seen lampooning them. Worse still, there is always a danger of corporate blogs turning into an online version of a David Brent monologue. Feel free to warn me when this is happening. The temptation must be to make an entry for the sake of doing so. When you are filling in the incident report telling me I sound like David Brent, please take the time to point out that answering a telephone is not especially riveting. I do worry that there is something presumptuous about writing of one's daily travails in an office and thinking that there are people who will find what you do as you earn a crust to be interesting. There can be no doubt that if I am to make these presumptions and thus succumb to the vanity inherent in doing so, this whole enterprise should at least possess manners enough to have a point. But more pertinent than all of this is the expression James related to me from the aforementioned programme (and I paraphrase); "Blogs are like inviting people through your door in order to call you an arsehole". Nobody has ever waited to be invited to do that before so I suppose there is some small measure of comfort in that.