Saturday, 27 June 2009


Damn! I’m meant to be somewhere else. Not here!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

the piano

Two seemingly unrelated events, one in the northern hemisphere, 38 or so years ago, the other in the southern, about 25 years ago, finally came together this weekend:

1972. Oxford, UK. When I was around 12, I saw the movie If, directed by Lindsay Anderson, and starring Malcolm McDowell. As a British schoolboy, the movie was notably poignant. But more poignant for me was the soundtrack - the Missa Luba. I asked my parents for it, and somehow, they found a copy (an LP, in fact). On the reverse side was Grieg’s Piano Concerto - the first piece of classical music I ever owned, and still to this day my favorite piece.

1984. Neuquen, Argentina. About a month ago, Silvia received an email from an Argentinian living in Germany. Emilio Peroni. He remembered her as his first piano teacher, from when he was between 7 and 10 years old (i.e. around 25 years ago). She was paying her way through University in Neuquen by teaching piano at the local music school. He had found her web page, and wanted her to know that he was now a professional concert pianist.

2009. York, UK. This weekend Emilio came to visit, and we were talking about favorite pieces, and I mentioned the Grieg piece. He sat down, and started to play it. I cannot describe what it felt like to hear someone sat at my own piano playing that... It was like I’d been waiting 38 years in anticipation of that moment, without realizing it until suddenly, unexpectedly, these two unrelated events, one in Neuquen, the other in Oxford, came together.

I write about this here so that, in the future, I perhaps find this page again, and can relive the pleasure of that moment, and the intensity of the emotion that accompanied it. And because what happened to Silvia - a student contacting her 25 years later to say “look at me - you helped make this” - is what some of us can only ever dream of. And as I sit here writing this, to the sound of her student playing for her, I feel that something extraordinary has happened.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

back for a brief stopover

For reasons that only an expert psychiatrist would be able to deduce, I’m about to leave for Stockholm having just returned from New York and Washington (DC). The flight over, to New York, was uneventful, despite flying an airline I haven’t flown in years: Continental. I used my remaining air miles with them to upgrade to Business, an experience that included, as a special treat, an in-flight cheeseburger that made me appreciate the culinary craftsmanship of McDonalds...

New York was, quite literally, legendary. We were staying with friends on Washington Square, in the exact apartment that was Will Smith’s in I Am Legend. The highlight of the trip was when a tour group stopped outside to be given a quick synopsis of the movie. I couldn’t resist, and stuck my head out the window and announced that this was indeed that apartment and that the owner would be only too happy to show everyone around.. ok, I exaggerate… I confirmed that this was that appartment, and that our host (let’s just call him “Brian” for the sake of preserving his anonymity) was also a legend. Regrettably, the entire tour group found this all too entertaining, and “Brian” is now expected to deliver an impromptu show each time they return.

Serves him right, I say. This is, after all, the same person who, seeing my roving eye on my home page, felt that my time would have been better spent doing something else. Or even doing nothing.

But in all fairness, we did discover that our legendary host had hidden a couple of rather nice jazz CDs in Silvia’s suitcase before we left. Seeing as her suitcase and mine were identical, and the only way to discriminate between them was on the basis of our respective tastes in underwear, I can only guess how he figured out whose was whose...

So anyway, I’m back, just long enough to cut the grass, outstare the ducks, feed the fish, process a few papers at the journal, grab a bite to eat, pack, and leave.

Bye, then.