Sunday, July 13, 2008

Savant garde

Small Boo and I had a pot of tea in a hotel foyer yesterday. There were a couple of musicians on duty; piano and violin, not terribly good, but not so bad they were driving people out.

As they bumbled through 'Strangers in the Night', a boy of about eight, evidently with learning difficulties, wandered over to the piano. He began conducting the music, wild and unco-ordinated, but keeping pretty good time. The other guests looked around, slightly nervous about how to react, not wanting to be seen as voyeurs at some sort of freak show. But they soon relaxed; the kid was clearly having a whale of a time, and the pianist was enjoying the visuals as well. After a while, the boy grew tired of being Karajan, and started dancing; then he did a few unsteady handstands for his new fanbase, pausing only to lap up the applause.

The musicians took a break, and the boy edged closer to the keyboard. If this were Hollywood (I'm thinking Laura Linney for the hard-pressed, widowed mother; maybe Hugh Jackman as the playboy businessman who's redeemed by his love for the unlikely pair), he would have serenaded us with a serene Bach variation, or maybe Rachmaninov with all the squiggly bits.

But it's not Hollywood, is it? The youngster thumped the keys aimlessly and atonally for about 10 seconds, before a waitress put down the piano lid, and politely but firmly led him away.

6 comments:

pleite said...

That's a nice image. I want to hope you were being fanned by staff as you took your tea. And you stepped out from the calm of the hotel to scenes of noise, heat and chaos and said to Small Boo, "We need to get back to old England." Or do you mean you were having a cup of tea in a hotel in Portsmouth on your summer holiday?

Anyway, it's your unco-ordinated what's got me excited. The New Yorker (and, no doubt, others too) has taken to writing coördinated and preëmptive. Can't decide whether to faint in admiration or wonder if it's terribly wank. Do you have a view?

Billy said...

I have a strong like for lounge music.

It would have been better if he'd done a bit of a Glenn Gould though.

garfer said...

That reminds be of the permanently inebriated bum in my home town who would declaim Hamlet's soliloquies while pissed out of his head.

Apparently he was the black sheep of a proud Anglo-Irish dynasty.

Murph said...

Excellent post title Tim.
Better than "Voyeurs in Foyers".

Charles Frith said...

Brilliant.

Tim Footman said...

It's utterly, utterly wank, Pleite, and I bloody love it.

With or without mumbling, Billy.

I think this lad was Arab of some description, Garfer.

I think a foyer is one place where it's almost OK to be a voyeur, Murph. Which is why I'm always so discreet in such environments.

Thank you, Charles. That's the kind of heckling I like.