If you haven’t been to a Berwin’s Salon North event yet, I’m here to tell you why you are definitely missing out. It is a million times more fun than another night on the sofa watching television, I promise!
Firstly, forget any preconceptions you have about an educational evening being stuffy or formal. This is anything but. I’ve been to half a dozen Salon North events now, and always go home with brand new information. It’s like food for the brain, and the format really lends itself to discussion in between the speakers too.
So, the basics…three guests, each of whom gets 30 minutes to speak on their specialist subject. Last night commenced with Professor Charles Fernyhough, discussing the voices in our head. When you’re walking to catch the bus, lying in the bath, or absent-mindedly chopping carrots, what drives the thoughts which go through our brains? I wasn’t expecting Mel Gibson to get a name check at Salon North, but his romantic comedy “What Women Want” was referenced, with its elaborate plot involving a hairdryer / bath tub / red wine incident. To cut a long story short, Mel could hear the inner thoughts of only women. Professor Fernyhough discussed hearing voices, and some early examples in literature, from his book “The Voices Within : The History and Science of How We Talk to Ourselves”. A fascinating opening session at Salon North, and my inner voice was telling me wine was next…which turned out to be correct!
Paul Auty runs the Harrogate branch of Ake & Humphris, and brings many years of experience from Oddbins (remember them?). In fact, he has been in the wine trade for over twenty years, and describes his reason for getting into it as a desire to “kill some time and meet some people”. He was originally a Newcastle Brown man, and studied Biological Sciences. Donning his lab coat again for us at Salon North, he conducted a series of wine-based experiments. First, we held our nose as a most agreeable red and white wine were tasted, and the general consensus was that smell is a really important factor when enjoying a glass of vino. Volunteers were brought onto the stage, and asked to guess which wine they were drinking whilst blindfolded. One correctly identified rose, but the other two guessed differently.
A really interesting bit of information was that the same bottle of wine can taste completely different, based on environmental factors. It could be you find the perfect tipple whilst on a sunny holiday, but back home, it tastes like a different wine entirely! We also sipped in silence, to a classical piece by Haydn, and 80s codpiece-sporting pop star Cameo. I personally enjoyed drinking accompanied by Word Up, but the vast majority of the audience plumped for Austria’s Joseph Haydn.
After another G&T break (very important at Salon when processing all this new information!), the super talented Juliet Russell. I have been really enjoying her current album Earth Meets Sky (more details at http://www.julietrussell.com) and the tradition of “Salon Stings” was continued for guests in the form of Juliet singing them onto stage with an appropriate number! In my experience, Harrogate audiences can take a little bit of warming up, but Juliet did a terrific job at getting everyone’s vocal chords going, and explained that we all have a voice, therefore we can all sing! She has worked with an impressive roster of artists, including Yoko Ono, Paloma Faith, and Seal, as well as talent on The Voice. It proved a lively, tuneful end to the Salon session, and I left the Crown Hotel with a song in my heart, and a greater knowledge of how the likes of Amy Winehouse, Britney Spears and Donna Summer made their vocals so memorable! I was even singing along to Rehab in the shower this morning with greater aplomb than usual.
The next Salon series starts with Memory on Thursday 30th June. Make a note in your diary, and join us! All the information can be found at http://harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/salon-north/