有一天，我感觉我的左手有一阵阵“轻微的刺痛” - 尤其在演奏时（其实比“轻微的刺痛”要严重，但是我不愿这么说）。我决定去看一位医治手的专家，这位专家说，我的手需要立即注射可的松注射液。
看来，我必须投保我的手？好主意。我做了一下调查，条件是“苛刻的” - 你只有在大部分手指受伤的情况下 - 如果不是全部的话 - 才能得到赔偿，只是几个手指受伤，似乎很难索赔。
喝下幾杯啤酒 – 幾個時辰後 – 有人重重的拍了拍我的肩膀，打斷了我的遐思。
The other day I felt a ‘tiny twinge’ in my left hand – the one that does all the complicared finger-work (actually it was more than a ‘tiny twinge’ but I couldn’t possibly say so). I decided to visit a hand specialist who told me that I should have a cortisone injection into my hand immediately. Worried, I visited a second specialist. I was told that on no account should I ever have a cortisone injection in my hand. Confused, I saw a third specialist who prescribed both super strength anti-inflammatory drugs and ultrasonic treatment. This combination worked and I am relieved to report that my career-threatening ‘tiny twinge’ has disappeared. So is my wife. For a musician pacing around like a caged beast, unable to play, cannot be the easiest person to live with.
Not only was I devastated to think of all the future projects that might never happen, but I was astounded by the sudden realisation that my hands were not immune to the constant punishment I inflict upon them. Also there was the little matter of survival. Because, in common with nearly every solo instrumentalist I know, I have absolutely no insurance. How risky, you may think – like my tax advisor, who laughed at my idea that if anything really went wrong, I could sell my valuable Stradivarius.
Yet, for a musician, selling your instrument is hardly an attractive option. Not only is it a final admission that your playing days are over, but it would feel like selling your best friend and companion to the highest bidder. Surely, though, I must have insured my hands? Great idea. I investigated it once. But the requirement that you had to break most – if not all – of your fingers in several places seemed excessive! A more cunning trick, I thought, would be to take out insurance against ‘non-appearance’. After all, sudden deafness, blindness or even severe haemorrhoids are hardly helpful to playing the cello. But the insurance terms were as ludicrous as they were expensive. I had to be unable to perform for at least six weeks and if I undertook any alternative employment, the insurance payments would cease immediately (no more columns for newspaper’s then!).
The most worrying aspect of ‘musician’s injuries’ is that we are terrified to admit that everything might not be perfect, for news travels faster in the music profession than Shanghai Airport’s bullet train. If you do admit to having so much as a toothache there will be at least twenty people queuing up to take your place.
The days when a soloist could turn up, play their concerto and be twenty miles on the road home before the orchestra had even returned to the platform for the second half, have long since disappeared.
Nowadays, something closer to blood is required. You need to give a ‘pre-concert’ talk, meet a group of schoolchildren who play whichever instrument you play during the interval and attend a sponsor’s dinner afterwards. All of which is fair enough, I suppose, in these cash-starved times for the arts.
But there are occasions, after a concert, when all you want to do is sit somewhere quietly by yourself. Especially when – as happened to me recently – you have just discovered a magnificent pub near the hall serving ale from the cask and superlative gourmet food. So I am not ashamed to say that I made my excuses to the concert’s sponsors: “I am so tired and I must be fresh for tomorrow’s rehearsal” and set off happily to the pub.
Several pints of beer – and a couple of courses later - my reveries were interrupted by a strong tap on my shoulder. The sponsors had finished their meal and arrived at the pub for a final drink!