We have, as Ed Burra once said, been having quayte a social layfe in our fashion (he is also responsible for the phrase ‘apothosis and fish fry’). No sooner had the Japanese manuscripts expert departed, than Dr Biswell and Mr Wil turned up from Manchester for the opera. The Northern Professor wrote the libretto for one of five short operas presented together, which received its première last night here in Aberdeen, and will surface again at Edinburgh next week, and then in Glasgow. I bought him a nice new tie, but the Mancunian style consultants thought perhaps not. He will wear it in Edinburgh. We were taking along a delightful painter, who is about 83, in a straight swop. She gave Peter a picture when he wrote for her catalogue, so he said he’d take her to his opera. The painter isn’t much of a one for crowds, so we spent the twenty minutes before going in sitting on a bench in the sun (the evening was beautiful), encountering a richly varied cross-section of the Scottish arts world. It’s a small country. The operas were something of a mixed bag. I have long held the view that unless you’re staging a primary school Nativity play or a performance of Punch and Judy, if you come up with something which involves a dummy baby you should be firmly invited to return to the drawing board. Librettos varies from the cartoonish to the sublime, music from eerily difficult to something which sounded like a bit which fell off Dr Zhivago. But the format is good fun. There’s always the question of what’s going to happen next, and the set design was quietly intelligent; two levels, and a curving stair on either side of a central circular orchestra pit which could and did become two Japanese houses, the shores of a lake, the Stock Exchange, Beechey Island, and a village in Russia. Need I say that the Professor’s opera was quite beautiful, and very strange. The lead singer was brilliant, and the end was terrific. We were longing to get home once it was all over, it being a dashed long drive back to the old homestead, but while Dr Biswell gallantly drove our painter friend home, to our utter horror, we found ourselves trapped by an outbreak of speeches. In these days of sponsorship there doesn’t seem to be any way of preventing it. Wine flowed freely, but there was no food on offer of any kind, which I thought was a miscalculation. It did strike me that the singers, who had been working incredibly hard and expending huge amounts of energy, must have been absolutely starving. They were being very sweet about making polite conversation with members of the potentially opera-sponsoring community, but it did strike me that anyone who incautiously waved a ham sandwich or anything of the kind would have been taking his life in his hands.