A few weeks ago, I was sitting at YVR waiting for a flight to Seattle – Frankfurt – Johannesburg – Cape Town for a reunion with my friends from the College of Music in Cape Town. My husband recently won an iPod Touch which I quickly appropriated, so now I have finally joined the iPod world, and I’m loving it. In any case, there I was at the airport listening to Mozart, having downloaded Murray Perahia’s complete recording of the concerti, and I was reminded of an incident on a trip to South Africa about 18 years ago involving Murray Perahia. Books and CDs cost an absolute fortune in South Africa, so I usually travel with CDs to give friends. I, and my then-teenage daughter, Sara, were driving from Cape Town to Hermanus (a coastal town about 80 miles from Cape Town) to spend a week with some friends.
The route winds over a very beautiful mountain pass with a lookout at the top. We parked the car and locked the doors…but forgot to close the rear window. There are signs all over the place warning of baboons and to keep car windows closed and food out of sight, but we hadn’t noticed that we had left the window open. So there we were, a few yards away from the car with our cameras in hand, when, all of a sudden a baboon entered the car through the open rear window. I watched in horror as it rummaged through my handbag which I had left in the back seat. Out came my wallet. He tasted it and threw it out of the window. Next, the passport, which couldn’t have tasted very nice either because it soon followed the wallet (thanks heavens!). I stood shrieking, much to my daughter’s embarrassment and drew a crowd of onlookers. Next, the baboon, getting fed up with the fact that he couldn’t find anything edible, seized a Murray Perahia CD, climbed out of the window and ran around the parking lot with it in his hands. I followed, shouting “oh what a publicity shot!” The baboon disappeared into the bushes and I’m sure that generations of baboons in the area of Sir Lowry’s pass have grown up listening to Mozart. My friends in Hermanus never got their gift.
And whilst on the subject of Murray Perahia, it is he who introduced me to YouTube on his last visit to Vancouver. He wanted me to see Dudley Moore doing an imitation of Peter Pears singing Benjamin Britten songs (if you haven’t seen it you really should check it out…you’ll find it under Benjamin Britten). I have to confess that after that introduction, I spent hours glued to my computer exploring the great musicians of the past and present on YouTube. And now I’ve even found another weakness of mine, Tony Hancock!