Here’s another true story, that Andrew Manze told me at Chicago airport on a 2003 US tour, rendering me helpless throughout the flight and well into the rehearsal:
A renowned Swedish avant-garde trombone soloist (hmm—take your pick) is doing a concerto in Helsinki. He arrives at his hotel the day before the gig, and when he goes for a pee in his bathroom, the loo doesn’t flush. Same happens again after the rehearsal, so he thinks, I must tell them at reception to get it fixed. But he doesn’t get round to it.
Next morning the loo flushes OK, so he thinks no more of it. But just before going off to the gig, he has a spectacular pre-concert dump, and sure enough the loo again fails to flush. As he’s leaving his room to set out for the concert hall, all dressed up in his penguin suit, he notices a chambermaid outside. So he gestures to her to follow him into his bathroom, points theatrically to the massive turd floating unrepentantly in the bowl, summons up one of his few words of Finnish: “LOOK!”, and pushes the handle as if to flush it.