說起來，应该是我母亲的错误。當我四歲時問她我可不可以拉大提琴时，她真的應該强烈說服我学短笛。後來還是我的老師 – 偉大的皮埃爾 · 福涅爾（Pierre Fournier）的故事，讓我意识到了这可能带来的不可想象的烦恼，他整個一生都帶着大提琴在旅途上。但是，已經太遲了，可憐的我和這個不可分割的大家伙的冒險生涯正有條不紊的展開了。
我記得，當我還仍是個學生，总会被很多的骚扰團團包圍着： “敢打賭你的下巴夹不住这个大家伙”“你知道嗎？你携带機關槍” “給咱拉个小曲吧 ” 我心想：“你能哼出來，我就能奏出來”。我和我的大提琴一起上路了，一場場的噩夢，讓我真正嚐到了苦處。
那是一個在英國某鄉村的晚間音樂會後。主辦方為表示感謝，送了一份禮物給我 – 兩隻绝对死了的大野雞，我把它們放在我的迷你車後座，我的大提琴旁邊。在回家的路上，我被警察攔住了。
I blame my mother. When I was four and I asked her if I could play a cello she should have mentioned the many attributes of the piccolo. It was left to my teacher, the great Pierre Fournier – who had spent an entire lifetime on the road with his cello – to warn me of the perils in store. But by then it was too late, for my adventures with the wretchedly bulky instrument were already well underway.
Travelling with a cello is a nightmare. For as long as I can remember I have been surrounded by remarks like: ‘Give us a tune mate.’, ‘Bet you can’t get that under your chin’, and ‘Do you know you’ve got a machine gun?’ (answer, “you hum it and I’ll play it”). But my first real taste of the travel problem came while I was still a student.
It was a ‘musical evening’ in rural England, and, when the concert was over, I was presented – for reasons best known to the organisers – with two large, but decidedly dead, pheasants. These I placed on the backseat of my car alongside the cello. On the journey home I was stopped by the police.
‘Are you aware, sir, that your left-side rear light is failing to function, which is an offence under regulation…?’
‘No, it must have just gone out – it was definitely working when I set off.’
‘And what, sir, are you carrying in the back?’ he continued , peering through the window at the shadowy forms on the rear seat.
‘Two pheasants and a cello’ I replied innocently.
‘May I remind you’ the policeman continued in considerably sterner tones, ‘that it is an offence to obstruct a police officer in the course of his duty. I will ask you once again,’ he crescendoed, ‘what are you carrying in the back?’
At which point I got out and let the aggressive officer discover the truth for himself.
In theory, a train should be a cellist’s least worrying form of transport although, even here, things are not what they used to be with many railway companies now demanding an extra passenger fare if they discover a cello occupying a seat. But the real trouble starts when travelling by plane.
Basically the problem is this: if a cellist wants to take his instrument into the cabin he must pay an additional full passenger fare. It doesn’t matter how empty a plane is, the cello must be put with all the other baggage, regardless of its value and the fact that it can be safely strapped onto a seat. Of course, once the instrument is in the hold the airlines accept no responsibility if it gets smashed to pieces – for the obvious reason that this is extremely likely.
But at least all those extra cello seats must be eligible for air miles? Forget it. I tried filling in the form once:
Name: (no problem) Barjansky Stradivarius
Sex: (um, alright) Female
Place of birth: (looking good) Cremona, Italy
Date of birth: (game’s up) 1690
In the good old days, airlines were pleased to welcome a cellist on board their flights. Now any passenger with a remotely out-of-the-ordinary request constitutes a severe disruption of the well-oiled ‘take the money and run’ machinery.
Looking back, some of my many battles with airline officials seem farcical but at the time, invariably under the watchful gaze of all the other passengers, they can be acutely embarrassing. I will never forget my arrival, late and breathless, for a flight back to London from Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport.
‘You can’t bring that banjo here,’ said the stewardess, pointing rudely at my cello. ‘If we let you bring that on, the next passenger will want to bring a grand piano.’
‘But,’ I protested, ‘a grand piano can’t quite fit on a seat the same way.’ As everyone craned their necks to get a better view of the row, the stewardess delivered her crushing punch-line: ‘Oh yes it can – there’s a new kind you can get now that folds up.’
The security staff at New York’s Kennedy airport are a law unto themselves. Once, after purchasing a seat for my cello on a flight from JFK to Heathrow I was stopped at the gate by ‘security’. “You’re not going past here with that”, the official insisted, pointing rudely at my cello.
“But I bought a seat for it”
“That’s got nothing to do with me. I’m Security. Either check it in as baggage or stay behind. NEXT PASSENGER”, he bawled, and everyone started pushing past me. Incensed, I started down the ramp myself. Evidently unused to such blatant disregard of his authority, Mr Security made a grab for my cello. I jerked free and rushed towards the plane.
“Freeze!” he yelled, giving a passable impression of Dirty Harry. Still walking, I glanced over my shoulder and was alarmed to see him waving a gun at me. Rashly calculating that he wouldn’t dare shoot, I continued my increasingly shaky descent towards the (for once) welcome sight of the cabin crew. Explaining that I was a bit worried about getting a bullet in my back the captain reassured me: “Oh, that’s just Mike – you don’t want to worry.