Two years ago, I attended my first ever Promenade
concert at the Royal Albert Hall
. I opt for the gallery
and after a lengthy climb, I find myself in the huge standing-only area right at the top.
I'd watched the proms on teevee for years, and was really looking forward to the event. Sad though it seems, I
was quite excited. The program included Mozart, Tavener, Beethoven, and Diana Burrell.
I walk around looking for a space at the front railing to lean on and see the stage. There's only two places there,
the places beside the man soon to be known as Bino Man. So m'friend Hugo Rune and me pile in.
Then, apropos of nothing, the guy announces "Right, best get my binos out". I look over, to see him groping
in a backpack for something. He resembles that comic book guy from The Simpsons, long hair, chubby,
shorts, the works. He's on his own, and so can only have been talking to me. I wonder what
"binos" (pronounced bine-ohs) are. He emerges from the recesses of his bag with a pair of binoculars. "I
if the composer's in..." he said to no-one in particular, scanning back and forth through the stalls. "Not
in her usual seat if she is."
This kind of waffle continued all the way up to the start of the concert. At intermission, we moved to a different
part of the gallery, and stayed there. Our escape was not totally effective. A few minutes later he emerged
through the throng, shacking a very old-fashioned collecting tin and hollering about musical charities.
I've been to dozens of proms since, and he's always been there. He is Bino Man, prommer extraordinaire. He is,
I suppose, a random stranger I remember.