Last week my very dear closest friend to whom I have known and worked with for over 25 years, slipped on some ice and broke his ankle very seriously on his way to his gig. You see he is concert master of an orchestra in southern Holland, and he was on his way, with violin in hand to work for the evening. It was dark, and at the moment it’s very cold in Holland, which is very rare; So most ‘ Dutchie’s are not very used to watching out for ice! But any way’s he slipped and in turn broke his ankle! Poor Martin! .. now he’s at home, in a lot of pain, and not able to work for 8 weeks!
This story makes me think about today’s blog theme and entry …. about how the workplace can be a very dangerous place for artists and musicians! There are many, many stories professional artists can share about their accidents in the workplace. I can too!
Back in 1996 when I was living and working in an Opera Orchestra in Holland; our opera performance in a northern city in Holland, Drachten, had just ended. I packed up my horn in my gig back and proceeded to exit the orchestra pit. I had to step down some steps to exit as the orchestra had been raised up on risers as it was too deep a pit. Only the stage crew had not properly secured the stairs to the risers. I took one step, and BOOM the entire set of stairs just gave way under me, and I fell down straight to the ground landing on my right leg ,4 meters below! CRACK! Yeeks… my leg! Broken!! But funny that was not the hugest concern for me.. I was worried about my horn that was on my shoulder in my gig bag, that was now laying on the ground beside me… "please someone hand me my horn!", as I laid in the most ridiculous looking splits on the ground with my ankle and leg all turned, "I want to see if my horn is okay!" My colleagues were all hovered over me, asking me to wiggle my toes, do you have pain? Here comes the stage hand ( the same one that didn’t secure the stairs in the first place… ) with a can of ‘ Ice spray’ to numb up my leg .
Ouch! This hurts, I knew it was broken. So with the help of about 4 people I got up, hobbled in pain up the stairs to my dressing room, took off my ‘ blacks’ and then hobbled into the orchestra bus to go back to Amsterdam. NO I didn’t’ want an ambulance, and I didn’t’ want to go to a hospital in Drachten, I want to go home to Amsterdam! So off we went, with my leg sticking out into the aisle way of the bus, not the smartest decision I’ve ever made, but I was stubborn! My colleagues to who were very caring at the same time, kept on tripping over my broken leg, as they passed me to get to the front for the bus where the fridge was stocked with Heineken beer! AAAHH… my leg… watch out!! Ooooh.. Sorry Wendy…. Finally after 2 hours of pain we arrived in Amsterdam. My friend was waiting with her car to pick my up and take me to emergency there in Amsterdam. It was now 3am.. of course not to busy so I got my ex-ray and cast ( a pink one) pretty quick. Only in Holland the hospitals do not issue crutches ! WHAT THE HELL! How am I to get out of here!! .. well here’s a wheel chair, to get you to your car.. thanks.. right.. no crutches.. where the hell do I get crutches if the dam hospital doesn’t even carry them! Well you have to get them from your own insurance company, during their office hours of 9am – 5pm. .. tomorrow… ! wow.. now that’s stupid!!
So as you can read, these are 2 stories of the dangers of being a musician.. I’m sure there are hundreds and thousands more stories, the most common, falling into orchestra pits! To which I also knew of 2 people that fell into an orchestra pit, and they very unfortunately did not survive the fall! they died! ( a conductor, and a ballet soloist)
By the way, my horn survived the fall.. no damage at all ! Which was totally a fluke…!!