Wednesday, July 07, 2004

London grumblesport

I was planning to spend this afternoon happily writing a substantial article about Faure. Instead I spent it trying to get home.

This morning I trotted off to the Barbican to interview Rostropovich. I'd met him very briefly in Vilnius - he was staying in the same hotel as me and I accosted him as 'Maestro' (which is what everyone seems to call him) when I spotted him waiting for the lift one afternoon. What a charmer he is, apart from being everyone's hero and a direct link to Prokofiev, Shostakovich and most other great Russian musicians of the 20th century. Even now I find it impossible not to be a little awe-struck by the presence of an iconic individual and the necessity to get him to talk into my tape recorder. At the end, I confessed that the cello is my favourite instrument and that if I had my time over again, that's what I would play (I've never tried it, though used to play the violin rather badly). He promptly declared that, should I ever take it up, I should let him know and he would be my teacher.


Thence home to write...or so I thought.

The Waterloo & City line shuttles one stop, from Bank to Waterloo, in 5 minutes. Normally. Today my train promptly broke down, sat in the tunnel for about 40 minutes and proved 'dangerous to move'. So they drafted in a train behind, moved everyone onto it and took us back to Bank to find an Alternative Route. When I finally got to Waterloo, nothing was moving there either - there was a fallen tree on a line. Today was a little wet and windy. You'd think that the one thing Britain would be able to cope with is rain...but no... Eventually I found a train whose driver had, remarkably, turned up. Got as far as Richmond, where Tom kindly fetched me. Then we sat in traffic for half an hour. Total journey time Barbican-to-sunny-Sheen: 2hrs 30mins. That was my afternoon, and my priority now is swallowing a large glass of strong red wine, rather than writing about the subtle legacy of my favourite French genius.

Perhaps it's time to take up the cello, move to Moscow and study with Maestro instead. You don't get an offer like that every day. And I understand the Moscow metro system is excellent.