Early Music Festival Utrecht 2015 part 25: Some of the public 4

You may have started to wonder, but honestly: the majority of people visiting this music festival are thoroughly nice and decent. They come from all over the world and are a delight to meet. But there are exceptions. Once in that many decades, there is a person you sincerely wish never ever to meet again.

It happened during the festival’s last day. “Huize Molenaar” has space for a small audience. So volunteers checked, if people had obtained their free ticket. People without a ticket had to wait.

I walked down the aisle between the left and right rows of seats. One chair bore a paper: “reserved”; probably for a relative or friend of a musician. I settled on a chair in front of this row.

More people seated themselves. A few at the back placed their bags on the seat next to theirs. Friends with tickets were to join them. Once all the “tickets” had found seats, volunteers allowed those without a ticket in.

When everybody had found a place, there were still a few empty seats in a few rows at the back of the room. The concert would start in less than five minutes. People chatted amiably with friends or neighbours, comparing impressions of concerts, musicians, music.

Entered a Dutch man, wearing a pale green jacket and on his arm, a young dark-haired woman. The first nasty scene he kicked, was about the reserved seat being reserved. A volunteer explained a Belgian would return in a moment.

The second, nastier scene was about one or two members of the public having put their bags on a seat, to reserve it for friends smoking outside. Friends filed in and claimed the seats.

Next, Jacket tried to claim two seats reserved for musicians. A female volunteer intervened. The man did not calm down.

The next tantrum erupted, because there were no empty seats available right next to each other. A common thing, when one arrives late for a concert with free seating. Members in the public pointed out empty seats in the room. The man insisted on wanting to sit next to his lady-friend.

Apparently, Jacket expected people to give up their seat next to a free one. He drew uncomprehending, blank stares. He started fulminating against the audience and volunteers, then stomped off to abuse volunteers and demand a solution.

His lady-friend barged into a row with a free chair. Not that she was going to sit there! No: she grabbed the chair at the end of the row full of people, lifted it up, dragged it out of the row, put it down bang right in the middle of the aisle, practically in front of all the rows.

Next, another free chair was pulled up and banged down right next to the first chair. The couple seated themselves, blocking the passage to the rest of the room and the remaining unoccupied seats.

The baffled audience stared. The tantrums did not stop. Though seated, the man continued to fulminate. Finally, a lady in the audience had had enough. Her polite remark, intended to pour oil on the water, fanned Jacket’s fire.

He loudly stated, this audience consisted of dumb-heads who had no right to attend this concert and no business being there. Females were especially disgusting. There had been some stupid grey-haired bun-wearing eighty-something falling asleep during the opening concert, yes – during Jordy Savalllian’s concert! That stupid snoring eighty-something cow should never have been allowed in.  (It’s Jordi Savall, by the way)

His abuse, insults, aggressive behaviour turned from bad to awful via worse. Others in the public started to be offended. It made matters worse. Had he begun by spluttering saliva, he was now close to foaming around the mouth.

He was in favour of putting “a milk quota in place against women”, “stupid female cows are taking over jobs”, “tits were even allowed to take seats as board members, pushing men out” and worse. No – I did not make up these quotes, a whole audience can affirm all of this.

The couple’s seating did not help. The majority of the room stared down the aisle they blocked. The rest stared at them from their left and right. His French or Spanish-speaking partner started to try calm him down. She had to hang on his arm to keep him seated.

Volunteers entered the room and reclaimed seats intended for musicians. Two members of the public had to squeeze past the weird couple, to find free seats at the back of the room. Yes – there were still seats available.

A female volunteer dared enter the fracas. I thought the man was going to lash out. Finally, another volunteer demanded “All attention to the musicians, please!” The all-male-ensemble had entered the room unnoticed. While the man continued to splutter, the rest of the audience focussed on the concert.

After it finished, everybody squeezed past the odd couple. They remained seated blocking the passage and loudly talked about the wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful concert. It jarred.

In the queue for the next concert, people still talked about the couple’s shocking behaviour. Someone mentioned it was not an isolated incident. Earlier that week, she had witnessed Jacket starting a similar scene. But at RASA, a man in the audience had put a stop to things.

A man wondered aloud: “Has he got any empathy? Any emotional intelligence? Has he got any idea how he comes across? The remarks he made about women! I cringed with shame!”

Fortunately, most people differ from misogynist Jacket. Decent people do not compare women to milk bottles. They do not fulminate against pensioners nodding off during concerts. Men who appreciate women and are grown-up enough not to feel threatened by them, do not favour glass ceilings barring women from using their talents.

Folks like Jacket are horrible – but an exception.


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