The Big Issue : Edition 475
THEBIGISSUE9–22JAN2015 13 they might like to “come back when she’s older”. This recital received headlines in a way that classical music performance rarely does and, as you might expect, Chung was chastised for what was seen as her very bad temper. Now, as anyone who ever opened a magazine or a browser window will know, the conversation about the presence of children in previously adults-only spaces is had all the time. Some writer, hard up for a column idea, will talk about how their almond piccolo was ruined/enhanced by the presence of a child in a tastefully decorated cafe etc etc. This default topic designed to provoke simple outrage is tedious. And, frankly, if we can’t find anything more important to talk about than the presence of children in coffee shops, then I think it is high time we were all eaten by sharks like the pieces of unproductive meat we have become. So, I don’t want to talk about the morality of Chung’s actions or those of the parents of the primary school- aged child who hacked all over the violinist’s comeback performance. I don’t want to talk about whether it is right or wrong to expose children to high culture, strong coffee or groups of adults reading terrible magazines that contain articles about the rightness or wrongness of taking children to a showing of The Cremaster Cycle or a reading of Ulysses. I think a slightly more valuable discussion than ‘Where Should We Take Our Children?’ – although I should say, a much-anticipated return to the stage by an acclaimed violinist is probably bound to end in some sort of disaster – is ‘Where Are We Taking Ourselves?’ And I think a partial answer to that very adult question is: straight back to childhood. The reasons why many parents haul their children to elite restaurants and art galleries and other things children despise have less to do with their kids than themselves. Now, if their sanity is preserved a little by dragging a reluctant child to a conceptual art exhibition so they can save on babysitting costs and then brag emptily to their friends about how Little Quinoa Just Loves Confessional Video Performance, that’s no skin off my schnoz. But, sometimes, parents seem to take their children to places previously thought inappropriate, less for Junior’s development and more as an excuse for themselves to think like a child. One of the delights of childhood is the lack of need for a social filter or other forms of sophistication. You can cough when you feel like it, leave your vegetables to the side, or say “that art is bad” in a loud voice. But, as we grow older, we see the need for self discipline and we force our vegetables and opinions down because that is what grown people should do. In letting the children out, I see many adults letting their most untutored desires out. The child gives us an excuse to demonstrate our boredom at a violin concerto. And that’s something we must never do. “One of the delights of childhood is the lack of need for a social filter or other forms of sophistication.” RAZER Kidding Yourself PHOTOGRAPHSBYJAMESBRAUND ACCORDING TO THE sort of people who know such things, Kyung Wha Chung is one of the world’s leading violinists and a soul whose understanding of Mozart is beyond reasonable compare. Audiences attuned to great classical interpretation could not bear the silence of a woman who, due to a hand injury, had been unable to perform for several years. When she appeared at London’s Royal Festival Hall just a few weeks ago, barely a breath was drawn. And then, a small child began to cough. Chung says the youngster coughed for more than a minute. The virtuoso stopped her playing and suggested to the little girl’s parents that perhaps » Helen Razer is a writer and gardener with impeccable manners. At the merest suggestion of a tickle in her throat she politely excuses herself from classical concerts so as not to disturb a soloist.