Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Hold the front page

Noon on the day of the grand ukulele prom, ten hours before the event, and already a queue is forming outside the Albert Hall. Since many of its members are clutching ukulele cases they are probably not queuing for the Budapest Festival Orchestra at the earlier prom. (If they are, it could be a pretty unusual version of Dvorak Seven.

By now, getting on for one thousand people have registered as tyro uke players for the event. This record breaking success has clearly gone to the head of Proms chief Roger Wright, for as we wait our turn for tv and radio interviews on the subject he begins to rave. 'What cheese do you need to hide a horse?' he asks. 'Mascarpone.' Poor man. No hope, I fear.

But the big news is the arrival of my hero, George Hinchcliffe, grand fromage of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, with three of the orchestra, who strum away for BBC Television and to the general wonderment of passers-by.

This thrilling mastery of the instrument stands in stark contrast to my own efforts, but I can't make a prat of myself, surely? I haven't taken my uke along to the interview. 'Borrow mine,' says the grinning presenter with an evil glint in his eye, and I find myself doing a solo, murdering Beethoven on national television while the sound man tries not to wet himself. I think we're in for quite an evening.

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