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So Tony Hall, aka Lord Hall of Birkenhead is now in the top job at the BBC, after being brutally spurned in 1999. Some people have been quite sniffy, pointing out that the recruitment process was opaque to say the least and that he has never had experience of managing a big corporation. You could say that about the last three DG’s of course. I know little about Lord Hall, having only met him a few times, but people who’ve had a closer working relationship with him at the BBC think that he should have got the job the last time around. So it’s only justice.
I hope that his appointment won’t adversely affect the Royal Opera House, where he has been in charge for the last ten years. He might be a card carrying member of the Great and Good, but he has certainly improved that once stuffy organisation. I have become a great fan of the Linbury, and its modern works. I don’t think I have ever been disappointed by a production. My youngest son also likes going there, because, as he said after Heart of Darkness, they’re just the right length. Given the excruciatingly uncomfortable seats in the Linbury this of course is a godsend. My last visit was to see two short operas produced by Music Theatre Wales and Scottish Opera, In the Locked Room and Ghost Patrol. The last one was produced with enormous energy. A story of two ex army veterans united in conflict by the shared guilt of an atrocity was engrossing. It brought to mind a veteran of the Falklands war I once met. Serving in the Parachute Regiment, he had been caught by a mortar explosion and had lost most of one of his legs. What nagged at him however was not the incident where he had been badly wounded, but an earlier one where he had shot an Argentinian soldier. This was not the first time that he had killed someone, but it was one where he no longer felt comfortable whith his own actions. He had been storming a trench and the enemy soldier stood up in front of him. The Para had fired instantly. Ever since then he had blamed himself for being too quick on the trigger. Had he really given the young Argentinian time to raise his hands in surrender? He knew the answer to the question of course, otherwise he would not have posed it. Nothing I could say made any difference , and he will live with that sense of guilt for the rest of his life. The scars of war are not always obvious. I left the auditorium in a pensive mood.