At long last we come to the end of a long tour and its time to go home. We left Tokyo after 9 days of rehearsals, concerts, sightseeing and shopping. In fact, several people seem to have purchased new, bigger suitcases simply to fit in all of the gifts. Fortunately my origami Christmas decorations (not a joke) don’t take up much room, so I am coming home with the same bag. We have a vast collection of luggage labels as well. There is the yellow LSO label, a Kajimoto management label, a bag number label, my own label with my name and phone number on it, a label from all of the hotels we stayed in which is about 6 I think and various bar code thingies from flights. My case has a serious identity crisis. Jo has a heavy label on his case, the identification tag of a serious shopper. We also get the labels from airports, those ones with the stickiest glue known to man which they wrap round your handle and you get paper cuts from when you try and remove them in the check in queue. I always like spotting them in airports as you can see where people are going. They usually have the name of the airport as three letters, Heathrow is HTW, Gatwick is LGW. The best ones though are funny foreign airports which then spell out words, my favourite is when we go to Madrid and the whole band is walking round with luggage labels which say MAD.
Yesterday we flew to Fukuoka, which is in the south and was warm enough to walk around in a t shirt in December. It is famous for its Ramen noodles which I can tell you are lovely. It was very pleasant wandering around the river in the sunshine before the rehearsal, but to be honest, I was packed and anxious to get on so that I can come home. Time can pass very slowly at the end of a tour, I’m sure my boys birthday cake is now finished and my wife has made a Christmas cake, and I know its a lot colder in England now.
The concert was a really good one, Valery was in one of his-lets try something different moods- and we all watched him like hawks because you simply cannot rely on the music being the same as the night before. Very exciting. The lack of soloist in the last two shows meant that Andrew Haveron looked a little more relaxed than the last concert in Tokyo. I wasn’t in the second half of the show,but when I heard the encore I made my way backstage to get my flute. As the orchestra was playing the march, I looked over and saw Valery standing off stage smiling from ear to ear! He had, it appeared started the orchestra and walked off ! I went over to him and said, “ There is a guy who looks just like you conducting in there.”
“Oh no there isn’t” he replied!
He went back on to stand the orchestra up for one final time.
Today we had a short flight across the mountains to Miyazaki. We looked at the mountains with some trepidation as after the show is over (the rest of the orchestra is playing No. 5 as I type) we have to get on buses back to the Hotel in Fukuoka, a journey of 3 and a half hours. We should get back to the hotel at 1.30 am ish and then we leave for the first of two flights home at 5.30 am. eventually we will arrive back at HTW at 1.30 pm on Thursday. Day off Friday and back to rehearse on Saturday at 9.30 am for six hours. Ouch, roll on Christmas.
This will be the last blog until the new year when we start a tour with John Eliot Gardiner and then more Prokofiev. I hope you have enjoyed it, I certainly have, but I’ll be very glad to see my (year older) children and my wife. I think the first thing we’ll do is buy a Christmas tree on Thursday night.
Every time I come to Japan I feel a little more at home than I did the time before. The people here are so helpful and kind and always make us feel so welcome. The Kajimoto team organise everything to the millisecond with an efficiency only the shark can get close to. I shall leave you with a little tale from Sharon which sums up a lot about this country.
Earlier on this week, she ventured out to an area of Tokyo that she hadn’t been to before. It said in her guide book that it was ultra trendy, so she simply had to go darling. Anyway, we got on the tube together as we were going in the same direction, we both bought tickets for 190 yen and parted somewhere on the Ginza line. I saw her later and asked how she got on. She had a lovely time being trendy and when it was time to go back to the hotel, she couldn’t understand the ticket prices, so she paid 190 yen again and got on the train. On the way back she got off a couple of stops earlier as she wanted to go to a shop that she had seen. She put her ticket in the barrier but it wouldn’t let her get through. She tried again but to no avail. The little man in the ticket booth came over and Sharon explained in her best smiley, shrugging, pointing way that the ticket didn’t work. The ticket inspector looked at the ticket and motioned that she should follow him to his office. There is a definite feeling here of civil order, people wait for the green man at traffic lights even if there isn’t a car in sight, so Sharon was a little worried. Lets face it, you can imagine the grief you’d get in London. Anyway, she went into his office and he took the ticket and tutted, he then wrote some things down and gave her back her ticket. He then reached into his till and gave her 30 yen. She had paid too much for her journey, and that is why her ticket didn’t let her through. Her ticket had a moral conscience. with that he motioned to the door, bowed very low and apologized for her inconvenience. Lovely.
Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year.