Saturday, 12 October 2013

A story about a saxophone

So, yesterday was my first experience of true Year-Abroad Fever. I'm talking about the trying-new-things, pushing-the-boat-out, carpe diem kind of fever. For some people it might be taking up a completely new sport, for others it might be couch-surfing or spontaneous travelling.

As for me, I bought a saxophone.

What can I say? I'm a live wire. One minute my eye was caught by a small-ad on ebay, the next (well, the next day actually) I was on a train to Warendorf to pick up my new purchase. Not even the length of the journey and persistent England-esque drizzle could dampen my mood; this spontaneous decision represented a tiny step towards the proverbial edge, and only the gravest of mishaps could quell my gleeful optimism. I didn't even stop to ponder the difficulty of stretching my already-pushing-it luggage allowance to include a heavy and bulky musical instrument, and even less the prospect of putting my erasmus grant to better use.

On the way, I received a text from the seller, Jenny, warning me about her Frettchen. But, since I didn't have any means of looking it up (my phone's too technologically challenged for dictionary apps), I was left to wonder what this word might mean. On arriving at Jenny's flat, she greeted me warmly, and gave me the chance to try out the soon-to-be-mine saxophone before I handed over the cash. I had given it but a few tentative honks, when there was a scuffle and, somewhat to my surprise, two ferrets scurried out from under the bed (thus solving the aforementioned Frettchen mystery!) Lucky I like small animals!

Fast forward two hours and I was back in Lemgo, the burden on my wallet considerably lifted. I set off home, sax in one hand, the other precariously manoeuvring my bike, while resolutely ignoring the torrential downpour in true British fashion. A little further along, now looking distinctly drowned-rattish, I abandoned the bike in town, (Has anyone ever managed to successfully carry a saxophone on a bike? Anyone who has is a liar...) and hopped on a bus, tucking my new instrument lovingly onto a luggage rack.

Ten minutes later, I stepped out into the rain and, having (naturally) got out at the wrong stop, trudged some way up the hill to my flat. It took me a good few minutes to realise I was feeling somewhat less weighed down than I should have been...

Then, my distinct lack of saxophone began to ring alarm bells. I'd left it on the bus. Classic.

Cue an even-more-drowned-rattish Rachel frantically scouring the posters at the bus stop for a phone number, finding one, discovering it did not include area code, flailing wildly at a passing German to ask the area code, mentally searching in vain for the German for 'area code', miming and pointing and flailing some more, and finally getting the valid area code from said rather bemused German (after making him repeat it three times). One mostly successful (but even more lacking in the vocabulary department) phone-call later, I was resigned to the fact there was nothing I could do for now, and headed home.

But, refusing to accept my sax's gloomy fate, I was struck with the bright idea that maybe I could run down to the town centre and catch the bus as it came back around. I am glad that it was dark by this time, so the curious mixture of running (anyone who knows me will know my feelings about this) and hobble-run-shuffling that followed went mostly unnoticed. Despite my woeful lack of skill in the running department, I finally reached the central Treffpunkt, and even felt a faint glimmer of hope at the sight of so many buses.

It seems that my predicament was already known, because the first bus driver I spoke to asked, with amusement, whether I was the one who'd left the trumpet on the bus. I nodded enthusiastically (this not being the time to split hairs), hurried breathlessly in the direction he indicated, and soon found the bus driver who had just finished locking my sax safely in the office. Initially, he stated grumpily that he was already running late and couldn't retrieve it, but something about my pathetic whimpering and sodden appearance must have convinced him, because he eventually consented to let me into the office.

I couldn't say for sure exactly how the bus driver felt about me at that moment, but he did use the word √§rgerlich less than sparingly, while shooting dark looks in my direction. But at that point I didn't care, because there, lying innocently on the table, blissfully unaware of the trouble it had caused, was my new saxophone. Unable to express in German the heartfeltness of my gratitude, I stammered many a grateful danke, and scurried back out into the rain.

As the driver headed back to the bus, however, it suddenly occurred to me that, should I want a fast and (most importantly) dry way to get home, I would have to board the same bus as him, and bear yet more of his disdainful looks. I seriously considered the Very British solution of striding resolutely in the opposite direction until the bus had gone, then trudging home in the rain (a suitable fate for any Bus-Delayer and Causer-of-Public-Scene, such as myself). But that certainly would not have been the German solution. And when in Rome... So I slunk sheepishly onto the back of the bus, ignoring the smirks from fellow passengers who had witnessed the whole malarkey, and cradled my offending instrument like a new-born all the way home. 

Finally home! Soaking wet but WITH my new sax. Careless whisper, here I come!
So there you have it, the long, but hopefully entertaining, story of how I acquired a brand new saxophone, and a healthy dose of shame. Here's to Year-Abroad Fever!


  1. If I may say, in the British way, bloody hell!! XD Your adventurous year out has added yet another instrument to your armoury! Will you serenade us on it when we come to visit? :D

    1. Ha! That exclamation just remind me of Ron Weasley :P
      And of course I will serenade you! I'm not very good though.. Also, you would have liked the ferrets, they were so cute! Not sure everyone would have appreciated them though... they did seem to have a very free reign! And Jenny said she used to have gerbils too!