Stock aerial photo of a hedge maze.

Mozart, Wine and Pizza

I originally posted this in 2018 to an old and now retired blog.

I figured it’s time I told you all another daft story. I have many. This one is a tad farcical and explains why I was teetotal for two whole years in my early twenties…

In the early 90s, while I was a music student, I busked with a string quintet in my summer holidays. Four highly talented young men and me, an anxious undiagnosed autistic woman with hennaed hair, nose ring and questionable dress sense (70’s waistcoat, striped PJ bottoms and ex-military boots anyone?)

We played the classics such as Mozart’s Eine Kleine Natchtmusik, Ravel’s Bolero,  Vivaldi’s Seasons, Pachelbel’s Canon and Hendrix’s Purple Haze (yes, really) in Bath outside the Pump Rooms or Bath Abbey to crowds ranging from 1 – 200. Some days dodging the raindrops and desperately hoping to make enough money to cover the bus back in the next day; others counting out up to £70 each in loose change after just a few hours.

One Saturday though we’d been asked to play for a charity function at Longleat house. If we wanted to turn up and play lovely, cultured music in the formal gardens for the afternoon we’d get food, drink, any takings from busking and a lift home after the disco. No holes in that plan right?

We busked in Bath as usual for the morning as it was a gloriously warm and sunny Saturday – the takings were good. We celebrated with cider and headed for Longleat.

Over the next few hours we were plied with wine. Much wine. It was hot, we were thirsty.

The busking of fine classics happened. Food did not happen. More wine happened. Those are the main things that I remember.

Other things I remember include:

  • going to the disco and asking the 7th Marquess of Bath if he would like to dance (he declined, dodgy leg apparently)
  • getting very lost in the maze, which in case you are wondering is the longest maze in the world, and having to crawl my way out. I use the word crawl literally here. There was a little staggering but I kept crashing into the hedges so crawling made more sense
  • falling asleep on a lawn using a pizza box as a pillow (I can only hope that somebody had already eaten the pizza)
  • the rest of the quintet waking me up to tell me that the driver had refused to drive us home because he was also drunk but that he would take us home in the morning. The morning?! Our bass player asked for beds, pillows and courtesy – except with several well placed expletives inserted in that sentence. The driver responded by punching him in the face. Nice.
  • being bundled into one of two taxis that cost us our entire day’s earnings to get just half way back to Bristol. Then being bundled into a car that took us to the bass player’s parents house where we were kindly and generously given beds, pillows and courtesy.
  • being violently ill and having to pretend I was ok. Because parents.
  • somehow getting back to my parents home and spending the next three days in bed with what I can only assume was alcohol poisoning. It was bad.
  • discovering a “please keep off the grass” sign in my bag. Apparently the others smuggled it in my bag while I was asleep. It was a lovely sign, I kept it for years.