a wandering woman writes

Friday, June 10, 2005

Piano Man

This story fascinates me:

A man in his 20s or 30s wearing a soaking wet dinner suit was found wandering the streets of Sheerness, Kent, in England on April 7. He hasn't said a word since he was found, but he "comes alive" at the piano, and has been composing pieces while social workers try to figure out who he is. Away from the piano he is an anxious, terrified mess.

From the Times Online:
When he was found, the designer labels of his black dinner suit, sodden with seawater when he was discovered by the police on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, had been ripped out. He was dripping wet and wearing a white shirt and tie beneath an evening suit.

The man drew a picture of a grand piano. Michael Camp, his social worker, showed him a piano in the hospital chapel and the stranger delivered a stunning four-hour performance. “I cannot get within a yard of him without him becoming very anxious,” Mr Camp said. “Yet at the piano he comes alive. When we took him to the chapel piano it really was amazing. He played for several hours, non-stop, until he collapsed.”

The Rev Stephen Spencer, the hospital’s chaplain, said that he had recognised selections from the Tchaikovsky ballet Swan Lake and also a chorus of Across the Universe by Lennon and McCartney.
Read the article here. Pictures on the BBC.

This story was all over the news and blog worlds 3 weeks ago. Now the press has faded, yet I still find myself visiting the British National Missing Persons Helpline (which I promise you was a new addition to my Favorites!) every 3 or 4 days, just to see if they've identified him, if he's still playing, if he's written any new tunes lately .....

I've been trying to figure out why he fascinates me. Maybe it's just a good story. Maybe my solo travelling self wonders what would happen if I were traumatized alone in a strange place and couldn't help people figure out who I was. Maybe it's a sailor's morbid fascination with shipwrecks and castaways. (He was found walking, soaking wet, by the ocean. They suspect he may have washed ashore.)

But I think it's this.

He makes me wonder.

What is so me, so intrinsically me, so part of who I am and what I bring to the world, that if I lost every label I had acquired since birth - name, degrees, history, the whole precious CV.......it would still have to express itself? It would still be the place where I found peace.

Even without labels it would still be me.
What is it?



  • Hi:
    I'm absolutely thrilled to find a Blog from Salamanca by an American Girl.
    I'm from Salamanca but live and work in Sevilla and I love your posts. My favourite is the one about the shopping spree in calle Toro...Oh, I miss Toro Street ¡¡¡¡


    By Anonymous Alicia, at 6:00 PM  

  • Thanks, Alicia. I do love your home town!!!! I stopped by your blog and saw the photo of the plaza so packed with people on Saturday..I was going to do a post about the demonstration, but wasn't sure I could explain it..let's see if I can give it a try later.

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 10:13 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Anonymous Monty Salmeron, at 8:24 PM  

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