'The Prime Minister was already squiffy' is a short piano piece composed for the 70th birthday celebration of John Casken, Professor Emeritus at the University of Manchester. The composition was premièred at the university in January 2020 in a concert featuring 19 new piano compositions and was performed by Professor David Fanning.
The title of the piece is a line from a chamber opera I've got my sights on writing, set in Britain in the 1950s, but recollecting a now tired, Belle Époque - faded wallpaper and dusty chandeliers, though forming a glorious past, at least in the minds of the characters. The section titles of the piece - "It doesn't go with the furniture..." - "He kissed the teeth of George V" - and - The seals of anecdote are broken - are from the projected libretto and mark key points in the drama. I used the opportunity of writing the piano piece to unwrap and develop themes for the chamber opera which had circulated in my mind's ear for a while, and knowing John's operas well I thought this theatrical basis might make a fitting tribute.