Well, it’s been a week since my last blog entry – apologies for not having got anything to you sooner but as you’ve probably been hearing from everyone else, this week has been just as frantic as last week!

I’m not quite sure where I left you with my last entry but suffice to say that our week in Guangzhou ended just as eventfully as it had begun (and been every day during the week too!). The problems with the heating continued and after more security shenanigans (the local staff deciding that 5 minutes before the Saturday night show was the perfect time to collect up everyone’s security passes….) we finally got the second show underway – or not…..

At about 19:55 (it was a 20:00 show), we had a message from the pit to say that the light had gone out on the keyboard that we were using for the celeste. A local electrician was promptly despatched to the pit to sort out the problem and promptly managed to trip out the rest of the pit lights too. Apparently, the only man who could fix it was the man whose job it was to look after the pit lights (only in China would you have a ‘Head of orchestra pit plug sockets’) and, inevitably, he was nowhere to be found. Much running around and shouting in Chinese ensued but still the problem was not fixed. The advertised start time came and went and the audience became slightly restless. I was poised to make an announcement (as I would under such circumstances in the UK) but with my Chinese not being quite what it could, I decided it might be wiser to suggest that someone else did it. I had not reckoned for the fact that in China, it is the job of the local promoter to decide if an announcement should be made (of course, he was nowhere to be found either). So, people were despatched to track him down whilst the electricians continued trying to solve the problem.

After a few more minutes, word came back that the local promoter had agreed to an announcement. Relief! Or not. This being China, an announcement can only be made by the Head of Announcements, from the special ‘Announcement Box’ which was, of course, locked. And yes, you’ve guessed it, no-one knew who had the key! Cue more shouting in Chinese and more people scurrying off to try and sort it out.

By this point Johnny [Westall-Eyre, Head of Lighting] (with much pointing) had managed to convey to the electricians that they weren’t getting anywhere fast and that we should think of another solution – so, extension leads were gathered (quite probably from the very hoover which caused the unplugging of the lighting board on the Friday morning!) so that we could power the pit from an alternative source.

The audience were now quite restless and there was a bit of slow hand-clapping and some shouting in Chinese, luckily, at that point the Head of Announcements finally managed to get into her box and was able to update the audience on what was going on.

Finally, after much frantic re-plugging (and with some seriously dubious wiring!) the pit lights came on again and we were able to start the show only 24 minutes late! The Company were fantastic and very understanding (not least because the heating had gone off again!) – although given that we had to leave the hotel at 06:45 the next morning, it wasn’t really the ideal night for a delay!

The show went well (including an unscheduled guest appearance by the fine Irish tenor, Mr Paul Murphy [Conductor] in place of a couple of absent instrumental lines….) and our week in Guangzhao came to a close. As the Company headed back to the hotel to finish packing and grab a couple of hours sleep, the crew had a typically ‘Chinese’ get-out; long and challenging (highlights included having to do the first 10 minutes in a complete blackout after someone turned all the lights off – and the team of crew whose job it was to dismantle things – completely; including the removal of all screws and ironmongery….). They made it back to the hotel about 30 minutes before we had to leave for Beijing.

The journey to Beijing was long and pretty uneventful – I shall discreetly draw a veil over the names of the two people who overslept, were woken by my call, had to pack and leave the hotel in 5 minutes to do the ‘walk of shame’ onto the coach. We’re also still taking suggestions as to quite what the in-flight meal was supposed to be, although we’ve identified the following airport fare as ‘ground coffee’:


Paul [Grist, Company Manager]