The worst thing about this particular trip is the travel. Today, for example, we had to get from Krakow to Budapest. We did this by means of two flights: Krakow to Frankfurt, then Frankfurt to Budapest. To put this into perspective, try to imagine flying from Manchester to London with a short stop-over in the Galapagos Islands.
At Krakow Airport, to get to the aeroplane, all of us passengers were shown through an exit from the terminal building into a big bus with no seats. We stood, freezing on this bus for fifteen minutes until, eventually, the doors closed and the bus moved off. It drove a full thirty-five feet and stopped next to our aeroplane …which was also parked right next to the terminal building. Laughing and shivering loudly, we waited for another ten minutes until eventually the doors of the bus opened and we piled out into a scrum around the steps up to the aeroplane. Anger levels were just about topped by hilarity levels.
Later, hilarity levels were swept away by a tsunami of anger as we stood waiting for our hold luggage at the carousel in Budapest airport. As other passengers took their suitcases and left, it gradually became apparent that our group were the only people left standing there. We resisted for as long as we could the acceptance that none of our suitcases had come with us, but soon there was just no denying it.
It seems that Lufthansa had accidentally dumped them somewhere over the the Andes. I hope they landed on something soft – my lovely little pocket-trumpet was in there.
Not to worry, though; Lufthansa gave us little bags each. Inside was a note saying:
“Dear Passenger, we are really sorry for the inconvenience you’ve been caused. Be assured that we are doing everything we can to see to it that your belongings are located and destroyed brought to you as soon as possible. In the meantime, please accept this Overnight Kit. We hope you find the lack of any useful contents as funny as we do useful. Ha ha ha!”
(This proves to me that they planned it all along.)
[Lufthansa: please note!] The following essential items were missing from my complimentary Lufthansa Overnight Kit:
- Laptop computer.
- Pocket trumpet.
- A large bundle of cash in Pounds, Euros, HUFs and Dollars.*
- Teddy Bear.
- Pain killers (or just some killers)
I’m away again with Scottish Chamber Orchestra, this time for concerts in Perth (Scotland), Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bydgoszcz and Krakow (Poland), Budapest (Hungary) and Istanbul (Turkey).
The best thing about this trip is the music. All seven concerts are of the same program, which includes two of Mozart’s greatest piano concertos, in C minor and Bb Major.
The soloist, Poland’s own Piotr Anderszewski, has been playing incredibly beautifully and with no conductor we have all been enjoying the freedom to tune into each other and play just how we like. The woodwind section for these concerts is on exceptionally fine form.
Another thing I like is that Harry Johnstone and I are playing on natural horns. It’s precarious, but exciting and fun. I so much prefer it to playing classical music on modern horns.
The Polish audiences have been great. Full halls, no mobile phones going off, no beeping watches, and tremendous enthusiasm expressed through synchronised clapping, cheering and standing ovations.
It is my very good fortune to be invited along on a tour of India with Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
Over a period of two weeks we will play concerts in six cities: Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh and Delhi.