Sunday, 6 April 2014

When I was younger and stricken with near-fatal romanticism, I was hopelessly conflicted as to whether I should be carrying my passport around with me at every moment.  On the one hand, I surely had to be prepared for a tall, dark, handsome stranger to ask me to dine at the Georges V at any moment (I vaguely knew it was in Paris, and even more vaguely realised that it was rather improbable, given that I lived in a small market town in the darker reaches of Humberside, as it was then, but Hope Springs Eternal in the teenage breast...).  On the other hand, I knew with a witchlike certainty that actually having the passport to hand negated any possibility of such a thing happening. 


Anyway, living in Germany, you don't actually have that agonising choice.  You're meant to keep such documentation with you at all times, and therefore I generally stuff my passport into the inner pocket of my current handbag and basically forget it.  (Not without, I will admit, the occasional twinge of superstition that worries lest doing so will forever banish the possibility of the attractive-stranger-whisking-me-across-the-globe-for-lunch scenario.)

On this occasion, I was more than grateful, however.  There follows a cautionary tale...

Well, I was setting off across the country.  A good friend of mine was holding a birthday party, and it seemed a great opportunity to enjoy that and combine it with visiting other friends and a voice lesson or two - perfect!  I'd even managed to find cheap bus tickets there and back (this is all a little new here - Germany only deregulated inter-city bus travel about a year ago).   Long trip, and once we'd passed Frankfurt, well, that was it, we were trapped.

No worries, I thought, I had nothing planned . . .

The first phone call came as we were nearing Frankfurt.  I was tempted to ignore it - I HATE phone calls, especially from unknown numbers, as they do tend to be from affiliates of my phone company offering rubbish.  

I was tired and I could hardly hear her voice, and what's more there might have been a slight foreign accent to her German; I was more snappy than I should have been and frankly had it been me I would have given up on me there and then.

Thank goodness she didn't; I got a call back a little later, and because the air conditioning was a little less fierce, the basic tenor of the conversation got through; would I be able to go and jump in (i.e. sing a role I know, at short notice, in a production I don't know) the next night, in a lovely theatre in Switzerland?  That woke me up!  Naturally, I leapt at the chance.  It was a role still fresh in my memory, and vocally an easy ride, so all the possible scary factors were eliminated, and all I had to do was get there and enjoy it.

Of course, confirmation from the theatre (they had to wait until they heard from their poorly singer, who was at the doctor's) came JUST after we'd set off from Frankfurt and were therefore stuck in a hot tin can on wheels for hours.  Frustrating doesn't even begin to cover it!

Luckily for me, the theatre came up trumps.  Flights were arranged from my destination back to Switzerland (we'd thankfully gone to email by this time, as shouting over the phone was really not ideal - I had to bellow my email address out in front of all the other passengers, so if I get a sudden extra wave of those "Dear Beautiful Lady" messages, I guess I have only myself to blame); accommodation was arranged for me (the taxi driver who delivered me was MEGA impressed that I'd only been found the apartment that day - there was a huge exhibition on, and apparently the entire city had been hoovering their guest rooms and making a fortune renting them out - not a hotel room within miles to be had); everything went amazingly smoothly, albeit with me wandering through the whole process in a dream - totally surreal to be suddenly transported back over your initial starting point to end up in a strange country being treated like royalty...

I loved it.  As it happened, the singer who was ill chose to walk the role, so I didn't even have to go through the rigmarole of being fitted for a costume made for someone a completely different shape; I borrowed a shapeless black nightie sort of dress and sang the role from the side stage.  Met some wonderful people, enjoyed the performance, and even got given loads of Swiss chocolate.

Ergo, it PAYS to keep your passport always to hand!

And then, having been delivered back to where I was originally headed (got to love having friends who, having offered to put you up, are unfazed when you apologise that you're going to be late, and when they ask by how much, you admit, well, two days...), I had a glorious time there too.  A blur of singer friends and learning so much from my teacher; of coffee in hip caf├ęs (I love Mainz but even I have to admit we're a little short on those); of meeting new people and, well, cooking for them; of long walks in the woods as the spring starts to warm up, including the unforgettable sight of a naked man feeding the ducks - I have included a photo thereof below, for those who believe I simply make all this up - those of a sensitive nature should forbear to scroll down; of great nights with friends which lasted longer than they maybe should have (friend with whom I was staying : "So did you get woken up by the dawn chorus again today, Katy?"  Me:  "Erm, no, we got in after it had finished!"); culminating in a fabulous impromptu concert late at night in a kitchen - if anyone is interested in managing a ridiculously-talented couple of musicians with actual catchy melodies, along the pop / good-to-dance-to lines, and sung by a totally unique voice, just get in touch, my finder's fee is totally reasonable...
I am inspired by the randomness of the above!
 PS I do apologise - there's me with several pretty pictures of Switzerland, and THAT'S what I choose to post?  It did amuse me, however.  And don't worry about the bloke in question being shy or reluctant to be photographed - he'd paraded several times past my friend and me before giving up and interacting with a couple of more grateful birds...

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