At the ever excellent Scarborough Jazz Club (more on which in a moment) last night I decided in the full flush of inspiration to resurrect an idea I floated unsuccessfully two or three years ago. Namely, to unilaterally declare that Scarborough will be the European Town of Culture 2019. Yes, I've checked on Google and nobody else seems to have taken up the title. There was a village in Holland a few years ago that declared itself to be the European Village of Culture and by all accounts they did quite well. When I first suggested this idea, I think people asked themselves 'what's the point?' Here's some reasons why. 2019 is the year of Brexit (allegedly) but we're not leaving Europe are we? It may well be that the EU has declared that the UK cannot host the European Capital of Culture 2023, but at least at the start of next year we'll still be in the EU so there's no impediment there. Why Scarborough? Apart from thinking of it first, Scarborough has a wonderful cultural 'capital' which is too often neglected. We should celebrate it and make its presence felt. Then there was the fact that for many years Scarborough hosted a Benelux Festival, celebrating an outward facing embrace of our European ties, no doubt partly based on the arrival of the great Dutch herring fleet when there were still fish to catch in the North Sea.
I will think of more reasons as time goes by, but for now it is official: Scarborough is the European Town of Culture 2019. Drop me a line if you like the idea. By the way, there's no money, no committees, no bureaucracy.
Last night's jazz was clearly inspirational - a world class performance by the Ricardo Alvarez Quartet. Alvarez, a Chilean said he came from a city of five million, yet it only had one jazz club. Here we are in Scarborough, population c.70,000 and we have a jazz club which is at the top of its game. Last night was exceptional, it was astonishing to find such top class entertainment for a meagre £6 on the door (plus raffle). The players Alec Robinson on piano and Emlyn Vaughn (bass) performed with the intense rigour their instruments demand, Alvarez on tenor sax seemed to be in some sublime state of transcendence and the drummer, Casper Haslam gave a crashingly outstanding performance, not only with his kit but his endless range of facial expressions - the latter aspect being, I think an essential component of a jazz drummer's oeuvre. Bloody marvellous!