Last time Maurice took him to Wigmore Hall, Lestrade spent a lot of the concert staring at the spectacularly bonkers ceiling decoration. Supposed to represent the spirit of Music or something, though the half-naked bloke in the middle looks more like an ad for Physique Pictorial. To be fair, it was that or stare at Maurice’s old Cambridge mate Gerald Finley, who Lestrade’s fancied rotten ever since that DVD night on Maurice’s sofa watching Gerry being hatefully good as the Count in Marriage of Figaro.
Another good-looking baritone tonight. Department of No Surprise, given Maurice’s tastes. Takes Lestrade a while to realize it’s the singer from the first CD Maurice ever gave him, seven years ago now. Christ. Like that woman said in Rosenkavalier, Time’s a strange thing.
If anyone’d told him then that he’d be here with Maurice Hall, seven years later, and happy, he’d have thought they were nuts. Never mind that he’d be cheerfully sitting through a concert with songs in Finnish as well as bloody German... Least there’s some French in the second half, should be able to keep up better with that.
Ribald Songs, the programme note says they’re called. Seventeenth-century poems about drinking, shagging, masturbation – bit racy for this crowd, aren’t they? Not to mention the Radio 3 audience, since this concert’s going out live.
“Mmm,” Maurice says appreciatively as the musicians come back on.
Mmm indeed: the singer’s swapped his first-half gear for jeans and a close-fitting dark blue shirt, untucked. Very nice. Lestrade’s mind goes straight to the gutter, and not because of the seventeenth-century French filth either.
It’s not really his style of filth, anyway. A girl without tits is a partridge without orange. Makes no fucking sense to Lestrade, though the audience laughs in a polite, slightly shocked way.
There’s a change of mood for the next song – Invocation to the Fates. The singer swears to love his girl as long as he lives, and asks the Fates to make the thread of his life as long as possible. It’s beautiful, and unexpectedly sad. Elegiac, the programme note called it. Makes him think of that song in the first half, fear no more the heat of the sun, but also of a painting they saw in a gallery on their last holiday. Three old women, two of them spinning and one with shears, holding the thread of life in their hands.
It’s true, you never know how long you’ve got. He puts his hand on Maurice’s and squeezes gently, ignoring the disapproving glare of the straight couple next to them. Maurice lets go of the armrest and squeezes back, and they sit there holding hands while the short song lasts.