It was good to step off the plane yesterday and be at least back in the country of my home, a genuine relief because passport control at Florence airport was doing its level best to make sure that everything was substantially delayed. The following may sound exaggerated, but I assure you that it is not – there was but one v e r y s l o w passport attendant on duty, diligently inspecting each and every passport and stamping those that needed stamping. Two full flights, leaving half an hour apart, were thus being funneled into a single line, and being processed at the rate of about one person per minute. I was mildly concerned when I joined the queue at 3.05, but at 3.45, having progressed all of ten feet, I began to have serious doubts about making the flight, only marginally consoled by the knowledge that most of its passengers were still some way behind me. At 3.55 a second passport attendant turned up to a sarcastic and fulsome round of applause, gave us all a “this is a deeply serious job” look that Italian with guns and uniforms do so well, and doubled the snail-like pace. I finally reached the gate at 4.15, only twenty or so passengers there before me, and we were shuttled to an empty plane which had been due to set off at 4.05. Let me just record that we left rather late eventually, but they could hardly have gone on time with nary a passenger.
So it was a long day of travelling, and tonight I shall be back at home once more, only the one more service to play before the calm of the summer break, with a decent amount of composing to be done. Anghiari is therefore done and dusted until next year, and all those involved are no doubt taking the opportunity to relax and catch breath. Wonderful it is as an audience member, I am sure, but it is hugely busy behind the scenes, and staff and orchestra have been away from home for a while, on their way back as I write. Tu Es Petrus went down well, with even a whisper of a future Italian outing, but my next performance is not until November, which seems like a long time. That piece is at a critical stage and it will be useful to have some proper time to spend on it, see if I can iron out some of my concerns.