a Christmas in Switzerland
It all started 20 years ago when a few of my friends and I decided to accept a project to go and play in a small village in Switzerland over Christmas.
We arrived at the airport (I with a bass cargo box looking a bit like a large white coffin) and went to board our train. Getting said box on the train was enough of an experience but try wheeling it on an icy road (hilly as…well…Switzerland) was a real challenge. I thought it would be fun for all of us to climb on board the bass box and pretend it was a bobsleigh, slide down the hill and take our chances. That idea was rejected (violinists are no fun…) Despite funny looks from the locals we managed to get the bass box, luggage and presents for our hosts (as Christmas) to the little village where we were staying.
The next morning we arrived at the church for our concert. They had decorated it beautifully with fairy lights and a real Christmas tree just behind us with... candles. I had actually never seen real candles on a tree before. No sooner did I have the thought that the candles might be a bit of a hazard than right in the middle of our concert I could smell something burning and looked over to see our viola players head obliterated by smoke! The Christmas tree was on fire! What to do? Do you carry on playing ..it is only the viola player after all…(sorry, couldn’t resist a viola joke there.) Our conductor was frantically waving his arms for us to keep going and up came several Swiss men brandishing a fire extinguisher. There they were trying to put out the flames as our viola bravely carried on. Despite a lot of coughing from the audience and the hall smelling like a campfire gone wrong, we finished the concert unharmed.
When we got back to the village we were greeted with a table full of fondue pots! (They were clearly not deterred from having more fire hazards near us.) As we had just survived the Christmas tree fire we felt like we deserved a nice cold beer. This was met with shrieks of horror from our hosts as you never ever want to have a cold beer with fondue apparently (the Swiss take this very seriously and say they have known people to end up having to be taken to hospital after the beer / hot cheese combo with congealed cheese in their stomachs…nice.)
Odd how so many hidden dangers could exist in a country home to cuckoo clocks and chocolate! Not wanting to take any more risks and on good advice, we all switched to wine..and lots of it (medicinal of course as they said as it would aid digestion.. ) I say this only because we had failed to notice that right behind us was a Christmas tree with…yes you guessed it... candles.
p.s They have clearly forgiven us for that first Christmas project and have kindly kept asking us back for more......maybe for comedy value just to see what trouble we can get into next (and before you ask...yes of course we did.)