Having arrived home last night at about 11.30pm after the concert, I was a little weary. I’d been teaching all day at the Royal College of Music and ended with a descent into Hell courtesy of Mr Berlioz. Given that since I last blogged in New York, the schedule has been relentless without a day off, it’s not surprising that I’m a bit tired.
After we stepped off the plane at 9pm from America, the next morning we went straight into Abbey Road studios to record a soundtrack written by Alexandre Desplat for a new George Clooney film. No, I can’t tell you what it is, but a quick internet search will tell you all you need to know. Slightly jetlagged, I rolled into the studio having not really taken a huge amount of time over my appearance – from the look of it, my colleagues were much the same. Just to be on the safe side, my co blogger Maxine had given herself a couple of days off to recharge her sparkle. Judging by the swift amount of hair rearranging and lipstick application when George Clooney himself glided into the studio, it looked like many players wished they’d spent a little more time in front of the mirror that morning. George (we worked together for a week, it’s ok) I can report, is even more handsome in the flesh than film and seems like a nice bloke. He didn’t complain at all when countless women and indeed, countless men asked for autographs and pictures. As ever when working at Abbey Road, as soon as someone famous is in the building, word gets out. I don’t know how, but within hours there was a crowd of people all keeping their eyes firmly on the door at the top of the steps hoping to catch a glimpse of fame on its brief journey from steps to car. I feel like a bit of a disappointment however. At dinner time on the third day of recording, about 6pm, as I pushed open the door of the studios, I was greeted by a combination of a camera flashes, a few screams and a little cheer and shouts of George! George! This was followed by a groan. A groan which was a little too loud for my liking.
“Oh, it’s not him!” cried a woman at the gates.
But it was me. If only the British Flute Society had been lurking outside then … actually, the reaction would most probably have been the same. Oh well, it’s not the first time someone’s stood outside Abbey Road and shouted for George. Whilst he was relaxing in the control room, I sidestepped Marc Stevens, hirsute head of LSO security, and took the opportunity of giving him (George that is) a signed copy of my book, The Show Must Go On. He looked pleased, although, he is an actor, and I imagine ‘pleased’ is one of his most frequently simulated looks, but it was good enough for me. My moment with him went like this.
Scene 1 – Abbey Road Control Room
George is reclining on sofa looking handsome
Gareth approaches clutching his book looking nervous
Gareth: Hi George. I wondered if I could be so rude and interrupt you? I have a gift which is a book I’ve written about the LSO and as you’re working with us I thought you might be interested in another aspect of the work we do.
George: Well thank you Gareth. Thank you very much
(Gareth blushes enigmatically)
Gareth: It’s about the LSO’s first tour to the USA in 1912. They nearly went on Titanic!
George: Really? Wow! (He opens and flicks through the book finding a picture of the LSO in front of a train) What a great picture! Do you know where that was taken Gareth?
Gareth: Yes George, it was taken in Cincinnati.
George: No way!? That’s where I was brought up!
Gareth: What a coincidence (Gareth immediately wonders if George Clooney could play him in the movie of The Show Must Go On) The train they are in front of is the one they eat, slept and travelled on for weeks as they played around America and Canada.
George: Well, I really look forward to reading that, it sounds like a great story!
Gareth: Oh it is. If you like it and need a little help with the screenplay, you know where I am…
George: (Laughs, [phew]) I will be certain to give you a call!
Gareth leaves the control room after having his picture taken with George and the book. In his mind he is already deciding on actors for the main characters in the film of the book
Sue Mallet – Dame Maggie Smith
Jo Johnson – Anne Hathaway
Marc Stevens – Vin Diesel
Super Mario – Toby Maguire
And a new touring game for long coach journeys was born…
Anyway, I digress as usual. After the glamour of Hollywood faded, it was back to Berlioz in the Barbican before nipping off to Brno, St Pölten, Essen and Paris. So after arriving home late last night and realising that I’d have to leave at 5.20am to get to Heathrow on time, I decided to take a leaf out of the Hollywood star guide (because I’m worth it), I ordered a cab for 6.30am. Oh the luxury and decadence of that phone call! Now, I don’t know whether they do it on purpose, but whenever I get in a taxi very early in the morning having had very little sleep, the driver is inversely proportional to my energy levels. The first thing he asked me was if I was in IT. I asked him why he thought that. He said that it was because I had a small suitcase. A strange assumption to make given that he was driving me to the airport where most people I saw had suitcases. Of course, they could have all been in IT I suppose. Anyway, we got on the subject of what I was doing and then we had The Star Wars Chat™ and the ‘I bet you’re glad you don’t play the double bass’ chat and then we got onto George Clooney where I relayed the story I’ve just told you. He responded, “That’s awesome mate! Did you get his autograph?”
I paused and thought about it. I got the photo, I gave him the signed copy of my book and…oh…
“Actually…no I didn’t get his autograph!”
“You didn’t get George Clooney’s autograph??!!”
“Well, no actually. But I did give him mine.”
“Blimey you must be really famous then.”
“Ha ha, erm..you’d have to ask the British Flute Society…”
“So what’s your book called then?”
“It’s called, The Show Must Go On.”
He paused for a moment muttering something under his breath and then,
“Oh yeah, I know that!” He then started singing The Show Must Go On by Queen.
I opened my mouth and tried to explain but we had arrived at Heathrow and he got out of the car to get my, in his mind now very expensive, important bags.
“Well, nice to meet you mate. Good luck with the book and I’ll keep an eye out for the movie and then I can tell everyone I had you in the back of my cab! Cheerio”
He got back in his cab still whistling and drove off. I am left standing on a windswept taxi rank at Heathrow. It is 6.55am. It’s going to be a very long day.
(Main photo: LSO whistlers, conducted by Alexandre Desplat and watched by George Clooney, bottom left, in Abbey Road Studios. Photo from Jo Ann Kane Music Services)