At least it isn’t a harp. Or a piano.
Just a double bass. In dressing room two of The Palace Theatre. Right by the Stage Door. I’m there first thing in the morning, the XTrail illegally parked around the corner. It’s quiet in the West End that early, but there’s a man whose job it is to keep the shiny things shiny. Maybe he does all the theatres? Right now he’s polishing one of the goldie-looking “Harry Potter” critic’s notices. He has a little bucket. I ask him where the Stage Door is, and realise again that even though my old friend plays the title role in it, I haven’t taken the time or spent the money to see the show there.
Right now though it’s about the huge instrument. I go to Stage Door. The night porter is still on duty, coming to the end of a long shift. I show my credentials. There’s a bit of checking. Eventually I am shown into Dressing Room Two where the double bass awaits me.
I have never handled one before. Precious like a violin. But vast like the price tag. What a terrifying instrument choice. How the hell do you fly with it? It’s definitely not a touring instrument. I’ve had friends that play and they are always very diligent at moving the thing themselves so I’ve never had cause to lay hands on one until now. Likely that’s the memory of their parents saying “If you’re gonna play that bloody thing, then you’re the one that has to haul it around.”
I gingerly begin to manipulate the beast. I don’t want to look like I’m discovering how to do it as I go along. For some reason I want to immediately look like I’m easy and happy with hauling a double bass around. Is that pride? Ridiculous. But it’s happening. I’m trying to look like I know what I’m doing.
The case is clever, of course. Likely very expensive too, but with various wheels and straps situated where they are useful, so long as you can find them. There’s a logic to it which at first defies me as I make my way out backwards through a stage door which is smaller than you’d think pulling a thing that is larger than you’d think. How do they get all the stuff into that theatre? There’s even a revolve on the stage. Must be a bugger getting all the big electrics in there. I saw what must be the grill for the scene dock and it didn’t look much bigger than stage door.
Meanwhile through all these thoughts I’m suddenly out on the quiet Soho streets holding this gargantuan wheeled instrument and just before the door closes I think to say “If I can’t get it in my car I’m gonna have to take it back in while I go get a zipvan.”.
The best thing about a double bass is that it’s hollow. On my own, despite the cumbersome size of it, I quickly discover that Bergman the XTrail is big enough to hold a double bass in a hard case. Yesterday the huge costume haul. Today the hard case bass. Hurrah.
I drive across town with the neck gently nudging my chin. I drop it off for repairs and then go home, boot up my computer for the first time in months, and send a load of invoices from forever ago. Getting shit sorted. Switching back on. Slowly slowly the gears are starting to grind into action. Every day a bit more rust falls off and I’m remembering that sensation of being a little bit flooded and having to organise both social and work things carefully to make sure I don’t fuck up and double book. That’s an old sensation. But it hasn’t been that way for some time now. Good. Good. About time.