There I was on tour in Ireland, playing Mozart’s first opera Apollo and Hyacinthus, which enjoys the added blessing of being short, so we could go on to sessions in local pubs. One night in the pub after a gig across the border in Armagh, an old codger got chatting to me, and told me of his father Jimmy.
Notionally a shopkeeper, Jimmy gave little thought to the business, instead spending all his time in his back room with his mates playing old tunes and getting pleasantly pissed. They were all pretty rubbish, but had a great time, scraping away ineptly on their fiddles. One day in a break Jimmy switches on the wireless to hear a solemn announcement:
“It is with deep regret that we announce the death of the celebrated concert violinist Mr Jascha Heifetz.”
One of the guys looks at him with a tear in his eye and sighs,
“Bejaysus, Jimmy, there ain’t many of us left.”