Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Skip a day to Roby Lakatos

Roby Lakatos performing Brahms's 'Hungarian Dance No.5', á la Lakatos.

Missed yesterday because of the last minute press release details about the Poetry Society petition to have Judith Palmer reinstated. (All links here - the press release is a downloadable PDF link.)The release went out about 8am this morning. The Poetry Society board also have a copy. Now we'll see what they will do. In the meantime people are telling me about dreadful innuendos here and there on the net but never point out where they are. Frankly I wouldn't spend a lot of time searching. It is not unusual for people to call each other names, but it is rarely to the point. Amazingly enough the world is still orbiting the sun and the plague of frogs is holding off. The best model, if you can do it, is firm respect and courtesy. It should be attempted now and then.

About ten minutes after the press release was released I was off to the BBC in London to interview the virtuoso Gypsy violinist, Roby Lakatos. Since he was arriving at St Pancras from Brussels at much the same time as I was arriving at Kings Cross, a taxi had been arranged to take us both to Broadcasting House.

Yes, but taxis between Kings Cross and St Pancras are so plentiful it's like moving through an ants' nest. They queue on both sides of two roads on either side of St Pancras International. Consequently RL and I couldn't find each other for fifteen minutes and once we found each other we couldn't find the taxi for another fifteen.

The universal principle governing famous people is that they are always shorter than you imagine them to be. Having seen RL perform I expected him to be pretty enormous, but he was a little shorter than me and not at all enormous in any respect. The ends of his moustache are waxed which gives him a faintly Mephistophelian air (that's Roby in 1999 in the top clip - darker of hair) or would do if he didn't look so friendly. Being relaxed and friendly we were immediately on first name terms and tutoyer-ing each other (I know you knew what that meant and didn't need the link to explain) in Hungarian. Which is always a delicate question in Hungary. Being older than he is I am entitled to ask whether he wishes to be on tutoyer terms, but he is far more illustrious than I am so he could stand on ceremony and be a little stiff about it. But no. I asked and he said, of course, so we got on with it.

He bore the searching for each other and the searching for the taxi with great patience, especially as he had only got back from concert in Switzerland the previous night. He gave a marvellous interview in the studio and illustrated an important point by playing his violin. His range of playing is considerable which is why I am putting on two clips, one classical but given the Gypsy violin treatment, the other jazz A great fan of Django Reinhardt.

Roby Lakatos playing 'Nouages', composed by Django Reinhardt.

Afterwards a Thai lunch then he goes back to St Pancras in a taxi. Elizabeth (the producer) and I sit down for a coffee. I suggest a series of programmes on European Gypsies, their travels, their lives, their culture. I know one should call them Roma politically, but you wouldn't do that with RL, who is the latest in direct line from generations of great Gypsy violinists going right back to the first great Gypsy violinist, János Bihari. RL plays a mid-nineteenth century violin that has passed down the generations of his family. RL is royalty. RL's brother is Tony, the saxophonist, as below.

That's enough music for one post.

Incidentally I read there is now a worry about under-tens suffering from anorexia. Meanwhile others are worrying about obesity. I see an awful lot of normal looking kids in the street, healthy as puppies. Everyone is pretty these days and generally pretty in much the same way. They live longer too. I can see the day when thinness and chubbiness will become, first social, then real indictable crimes. Like smoking. Or crossing the road while whistling.

I know, I know, I am dismissing serious issues - yes sir, I am talking to you - with more than usual flippancy. As Will of the late Drunken Trotskyist Popinjays website used to say: Just saying, like.

Some clouds above but no frogs yet.

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