To room VG10 of the School of Oriental and African Studies in Vernon Sq., London, for the launch party for Tully Potter’s rather massive two-volume biography of the German violinist Adolf Busch (pictured). I was invited because for the
past 20 years, ever since I have known Tully, in fact, I have been helping him out by translating German letters, memoirs, concert reviews and any other pieces he came across and which he wanted to use. Why the School of Oriental and African Studies? I don’t know, but the publisher, Toccata Press, is small and perhaps it was all it could afford.
I was rather looking forward to the evening, especially as a few short pieces were being played which Busch had written, but in the event, I wasn’t able to get away from work before 7.30 – I only worked a single shift and should have left at 6, but clock-watching is frowned upon and casuals such as myself had better believe it – and then I had to get from Kensington to Kings Cross where the excessively convoluted layout of the St Pancras/Kings Cross Tube station delayed me even further. Then I had to find the place, so I didn’t arrive until almost 8.30, by which time the music-making was over. I consoled myself with several handfuls of sushi (which I thought were based on fish, but these weren’t) and several glasses of 2010 Chilean Sauvignon Cabernet, which tasted like alcoholic fruit juice. The cardinal rule of gatherings such as book launches and exhibition openings (of which I attended a few while I was a reporter on The Journal in Newcastle in the late Seventies and also wrote its weekly art column – you didn’t know that, did you?) is to stick to the red wine. It might be bloody awful, it usually is bloody awful, but it is never as bad as the white wine served on these occasions, which is always extremely acidic and which will always give you very bad heartburn.
There were a good few men there with paunches, many of them rather younger than me. It is always quite odd to see a youngish man with a paunch, but otherwise no other signs of obesity. I assume that they were all musicians and that growing a paunch is a concomitant hazard of spending your professional life sitting down. That explanation makes sense, anyway.
‘Martin’, the owner of Toccata Press, was spectacularly fat, dressed in a blue Hawaiian shirt and waddled. I said hello to Tully but didn’t linger speaking to him, because he had to sign copies of his two books – two volumes, remember – and there were plenty of others who wanted to talk to him. If you are interested, you can find out more about Tully’s book here.