I was glad to find out via the National Careers Service website survey that, should composition finally give up on me before I ever give up on it, my hottest job prospects would be fulfilled by retraining to become a boxer. Maybe one of the questions should have been about age and desire to be punched in the face but, well, options are options.
Also on the list were professional footballer, something I do not imagine that I could just step into, football referee (again that thing about being punched in the face, but interesting to see how hard the football world seems to be pushing for new recruits) and, my pick of the bunch, bingo caller. Yes, folks, as a choral director and composer I can occasionally count to five or even seven beats in the bar, so this is right up my street.
Number nine, the ‘Choral‘; Forty five, the ‘Farewell’; Number twelve, ‘Schoenberg’ – yes, how they would love my arcane references to obscure nonsense, how they would chuckle as they dabbed away with their pens before shouting “Concert hall” when all the numbers were marked off. Between the choice of that and boxing I think I would have to say that I would have to declare myself a numbers man.
One has to laugh about this because such advice – given by the actual, real, not-a-spoof National Careers Service – would be tragic were it not so absurd, but in 2020, and especially here in 2020, nothing seems so rickety that it cannot be turned into even more of a shambles. At least this is a relatively harmless piece of incompetence compared with the knock on effects of being unable to import data into Excel.
In many ways, though, it is symptomatic of how so very many people are being cut loose to fend on their own if the best advice to me – six international composition awards, over forty years as a professional performer – is that I should go off and get punched repeatedly in the face, so I think that I shall just stay where I am and keep working on a massive and possibly unperformable piece of music. In the middle of all of this, writing a symphony suddenly seems like the very height of common sense.