Sunday, November 29, 2009

On Seeing Arvo Pärt at Riga Airport

I normally try to be cool towards famous people. Maybe it's having lived for several years in London, where pointing and screaming at famous people or asking for an autograph was so provincial and sad....
Here in the baltic states it's even more so; you just don't even look at famous people (or ordinary people). Maintain the poker face no matter what.
So it was with some trepidation that little 'ole me approached Arvo Pärt, one of the greatest living composers, notebook and pen thankfully with me. Would he rebuff me. Worse still would he get angry, a bit like this old Father Ted clip (not that I shouted out his catchphrase, he doesn't have one anyway - still, could have whistled spiegel im spiegel..)
I took the plunge, nothing ventured and any other cliches that spring to mind as cliches do, and approached him, starting off in Estonian and switiching to English in the hope that he might forgive my impudence on the grounds of being a, well, impudent foreigner. He was somewhat bemused at first and looked at me blankly.
I suddenly thought, what if it's not him??! I may as well have gone and put my head into the turbine of the jet taxiing across the apron at the time if that had happened, it would have been easier for all concerned. 'You are Arvo Pärt?' I said
'Yes'...so I reiterated the autograph question. Maybe he doesn't get asked very often. He's not exactly a pin up, and as noted the baltic ... in such things probalby sees off most of the fans. But in the end it was quite a big signature that I had to take away with me and will now keep forever.
I then spent the rest of the time studiously avoiding him and therefore continually running into him as we waited for the plane, then again as he was only a coupld of rows in front of me, and once we'd landed at Tallinn as well. I was starting to look like a stalker, or at least it was a bit painful, like this, again from Father Ted (1.00 - 3.30).
Oh well...Arvo Pärt.

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