seattle Seattle For Beginners
Saturday September 12

8.30am: Breakfast/tour, Benaroya Hall
Breakfast at 8.30 in the morning? You're joking, right?

5.30pm: Dinner, Friesen Gallery
About four pm, we manage to struggle down Broadway to collect our black tie attire and suit for the following 24 hours, ignoring severe alcohol poisoning. Back home, we collapse straight back into bed, ignoring the shrill siren call of the telephone.

Sorry. We tried.

8pm: Gala concert, Benaroya Hall
Ever see High Society, where the journalist couple-looking uncomfortable and hopelessly out-of-place in their fancy formal gear, turn up at the millionaire's wedding, hoping no one spots them for frauds? That's me and Kathleen Wilson tonight-but I never get to sleep with Grace Kelly. On the steps of the Benoroya, two photo-journalists from Conde Nast's Travel And Leisure pick us out from the crowd of ermine and lace to ask if they can take our picture for a forthcoming fashion special on Seattle. Hah! Chalk one up to the proles!

Inside, the rich and fancy jostle for space and media attention like rabid punters down a dog track. Caviar and foul-tasting meat canopies are passed round, champagne runs like proverbial water. Silver key fobs are Seattle's gift to us-silver key fobs and an opening address which remembers to thank all the patrons and sponsors and dignitaries, but doesn't mention the music once. The second half performance, where Jessye Norman sings up a veritable storm of Wagner, is to be noted mostly for a) the rich gent snoring copiously behind us, b) the violinist with the ZZTop-style beard, c) a very mediocre, safe interpretation of the blustery German wunderkind's Gotterdammerung by Maestro Schwarz.

Afterwards, we watch open-mouthed as the hi-falutin' folks fox-trot and waltz in a hastily-erected tent on Second Avenue like they're extras in a particularly fine F Scott Fitzgerald novel. The High Society feeling is overwhelming. Romance is in the air. I step on Kathleen's feet while an extraordinarily bushy-eyebrowed gentleman gives her the eye.

Back at out table, adorned by the fanciest chocolate sweetmeats we've yet seen, a dashing young Turk sniggers, wondering what The Stranger would make of all this-if only they'd merited an invite.

"Excuse me," states Ms Wilson loudly. . .

Bad move. . .

No early night for Pluto.

Sunday September 13

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