Once, stuck in traffic, I listened to a woman singing on the radio and decided hers was the most beautiful voice I’d ever heard. Then she finished and the announcer explained that it had been Joan Sutherland I’d been listening to. That couldn’t be right. I didn’t like Joan Sutherland – she was Bianca Castafiore (‘Ah, my beauty past compare’) made flesh. The singer I had heard had expressed depths of passion and lonely despair that Bianca could never have achieved.
Yesterday it happened again. I was in the car once more and there was music on the radio. This time it was orchestral music. It sounded familiar but I couldn’t remember what it was. I liked it though. It was extremely pretty – in fact, it was really lovely. And then it dawned on me - it was something from The Nutcracker. I wasn’t supposed to enjoy the Nutcracker. I knew perfectly well that it was unsophisticated, crowd-pleasing, sentimental schmaltz.
How easy it is to rob oneself of pleasure.