Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Things that go "That's ASSAULT!" in the night.

So Saturday night was a concert night. My studio. That’s kids 3-16 and their families, primarily parents. Classical music in a local church, bring a plate for a little social time afterwards.

It was mostly good. Mostly.

Maybe because it’s a long term, or because this was our second concert of the term or it’s cold or there were only a couple of ensemble pieces or, or, or… 

I could keep making excuses, but truthfully I was reasonably devastated by the lack of turnout and the lack of flawless performances. Anyway.

We progress, me looking anxiously (and surreptitiously) at my watch every few seconds to see if we’re on track to stay within an hour running time. Child gets up, plays, stumbles, carries on valiantly, bows, receives applause, I make (positive) comment, etc, so forth. Fine. About to launch into most advanced solo piece of night (actually, can’t remember WHAT I was saying), but I suddenly become aware of a smell.

It’s the smell you whiff when you walk past a sheltered Melbourne laneway, and know that the people sleeping under cardboard beg to drink. They don’t get showers or prescription medicine, and their relatives don’t know when they’ll next turn up. The local cops know them by name, and their trolleys clatter along suburban streets as they bunk up for the night under the eaves of a church or hospital.

There’s a man three feet away from me, gesticulating wildly and shouting that he’s been assaulted. 

He wants us to call the police, he’s not leaving until we do.

A hundred people are looking at him, wondering if this moment is really happening.
I know I went toward him, told him there was a phone in the foyer and that we’d make the call out there. More shouting. “
Sir,- ” 
“Don’t TOUCH me!” and fathers, rising from the seats to cajole, repress, no-one quite sure what law prevails when dealing with madmen inside a church.

Nothing is easy with an audience, so I chose to shoo them out while my indomitable pianist decided to play a little light music. The men did manly things, like calling the police and making sure our intruder did leave the building. We returned and absolved our concert with a Veracini Gigue and a spook-busting Twinkle.

In the days following and subsequent lessons with students, I’ve found myself trying to force the situation into a humorous anecdote. We don’t actually know the truth of it.

He may have been assaulted. He may have been mentally unbalanced, or drunk. Perhaps all three. 

He could have been armed, or more violent, and the shadow of what might have occurred freaks me out more than I’d like to admit.

We’ll have to lock the front doors from now on.