Wednesday, September 13, 2006


We have been in Bremen for a week. It was yet another hellish ‘emergency-budget-cut’ journey of which there seem to be more and more: After a night in a hotel on the peripherique of Paris, and a morning’s rehearsal on the other side of the city we were treated to two airline changes and a four hour ride in a worn bus on which my colleagues got understandably blind drunk on vodka.
At one am we rolled into the ‘Innside’ hotel located ‘inside’ an abandoned space park but many kilometres outside Bremen itself. My room looked out onto a parking lot and I was very grumpy about it. And I was tired. We all were.

The programme of Haydn symphonies just wasn’t doing it for me and I was getting worried. In the concert I felt nothing. Nothing. I hardly recognised myself:

“Have I finally become just another muso going through the motions?” I asked myself.

“But I LOVE Haydn!” I countered.

“And what ‘s with my posture? I can’t seem to know where to put my hair. The peg is sticking in my ear. My knees are gripping, my feet slipping…..”

“It’s all in my head”

“Oh my God, I’m having a breakdown”.

I certainly did not want to go there again, feeling like I was ruining every concert.

At the reception I had a lot of Gewurtztramminer.

The hotel was growing on me. I had called ahead of time and, seeing that it was by the river, had requested a riverside room. This, I suppose, is why I got a car-park-side room. However, I asked to change, discovered the sauna, the fruity birchermusli breakfast on the sunny deck and started to recover from the withdrawal symptoms of constant internet access. I was starting to relax.

We have now segued into a programme of Handel and Gluck with Vesselina Kassarova.

Gluck hardly pens an interesting bass line, but Handel is the Original Groove, man, and as soon as we start playing the chaconne I am swinging, riding high on an inner Jacuzzi of joy - and relief that I can feel something after all.

After the chaconne comes an aria from Ariodante in which bassoons croon over violin teardrops and we plop a sparse pizzicato bass…..

All of a sudden my breast is heaving. What IS it about Handel? He is writing an ode to a bloody field, for God’s sake, probably with little lambikins running around in it, and the shoulders of my instrument have become a surface on which gallons of snot and tears are forming a gelatinous pool. I sniff, but the stuff keeps coming, its splash painfully audible in the piannississimo da capo. Luckily the bassoons are asked to mute, so they whip out hankies to stuff in to their instruments and, in between an open G and an open D pizz which I can manage with my left hand, my right hand lurches for their kleenex packet. I manage to blow and wipe up the mess in the remaining free beat before the arco begins. Then I start sobbing all over again.

In the sauna the next day I feel so calm and all of a sudden I remember. Five years ago today we lost our baby. The body remembers and, for once, I am glad it does. I’d much rather have snot all over my cello than lead a numb life.


Blogger Dale said...

Hugs, Ruth.

I used to worry about not feeling things, like that -- and it's right to worry about it if it continues for very long -- but lately I've learned to recognize it as the normal precursor, for me, of a good cry. Grief for me seems to have a certain incubation period, a day or two, during which my connections to the world all seem superficial & meaningless.

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ruth, I've been a lurker on your site for quite a while now. Just wanted to thank you - I look forward to reading your thoughts, your interpretations, your musings on Provence.

Yes, much much better to cry rather than be numb. Amazing how we "remember" past hurts without consciously knowing.

Take care,

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Barbara said...

Hey Ruth
I really love reading your blog as ever ...I feel very touched by this entry, and am thinking of you both just now ...

(...and can't seem to get your blog up (for 2 days now)- I just get a blank page with the search this blog function at the top (which is how I got in here!). Might be my pc - but I can get Dale and 100 Days etc ...just wondering ...)

Anyway love to you both - hope Bremen isn't too grim ...

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Barbara said...

Hey again - ignore blog issues from last post - all is working fine now ..I can access all the fine writing and fab pictures again! Bx

10:35 AM  
Blogger Jean said...

Ruth, this is so vivid and made me cry. Thank you for writing the truth so beautifully. Many big hugs to you.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Lin said...

Dear Ruth, I have always been excited to read your blog posting when it relates to music. Not because I'm a musician, but because you make me feel the highs and lows of what it must feel like to be a musician.

I was carried along your current musical low, hoping so much that your comfort level would return and then read about your loss. That raw pain, still vivid, still strong, still there and so very real. It is good to feel, but oh how painful it can sometimes be.


7:43 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Oh, Ruth. Much love to you. I needed to read this, and Dale's comment, today. Thank you.

11:29 PM  

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