‘It’s a nice room ‘ I was explaining to the receptionist ‘but you described it as a Junior Suite with sea view and I have to stand up to see the sea ‘ .Suddenly the unmistakable sounds of Queen -and Seven Season of Rye –
shattered the calm . Then there was a pause- they seemed to be tuning up .’ What’s that ?’ I asked .
‘It’s Freddie, the Musical , its Premiere is tomorrow night ‘ .
The Grand Hotel Timeo , like most things in Taormina , is somewhat perched on a steep hillside , and virtually built into a Greek Amphitheatre ; the scene of tomorrow’s night premiere . As a purchaser of ‘ Seven Seas of Rye ‘ ( the first single ) on the day of its release , a failed classicist (the anguish of Cicero’s 35 Letters ) and having seen Queen support Mott the Hoople , and shared a flight to Barcelona with Roger Meddows Taylor ( had to explain to the 15 year olds , Poppy and Yo, who he was !) it all seemed perfectly aligned . I had to be at the premiere tomorrow.
Within seconds it was all sorted . I had a massive upgrade to the Arch Duke Ferdinand Suite ( lets not dwell on his fate) and a ticket to the show .
It was a relief . It had not been a stress free experience getting there . Firstly there had been a contretemps at the Hertz desk at Catania Airport . Always one to spend more than necessary on a hire car for reasons of automotive vanity I had prebooked a specific model – BMW 3 Series Estate . They brought around a Saab 93 Estate . An altercation followed : It’s the same class – look at my booking – it’s the same class – no I paid a premium for a specific model, I want what I booked .
A short delay ensued while the manager unpacked the BMW he had evidently been planning to take home and , my intransigence rewarded , I set off to Taormina .
A little while afterwards I felt I was being hoisted upon my own petard . I would have been better off in the slightly smaller Saab. The Timeo’s front entrance was festooned with a parade of market stalls and appeared inaccessible other than on foot . The satnav was taking me down increasingly narrow and windy back streets .OMG . I had been through this sort of thing before in Sicily and it generally didn’t end well.
It would be too embarrassing to have to go back to Hertz explaining damage!
I made my way around to a back entrance , eventually greeted by a porter who hefting my beautifully chosen Rimowa case (but why hadn’t I chosen something lighter ?) on to his shoulder manfully strode up the long terrace of steps up to the reception desk .
Happily the trials and tribulations of arrival were now behind me and I was now ensconced in my suite with fantastic views across the bay .
The show was an extraordinary affair . There was a sense of excitement in the air
Surreal . The grandeur of the setting . The great and the good of Taormina .This was not a night for tourists . A touching reverence for the material . Complete lack of comprehension on my part of the proceedings , entirely in Italian , punctuated by the songs , obviously in English , and with which the audience sang along with gusto . It was really quite moving the extent to which the audience had taken Freddie to heart . That’s the story of my Encounter with Freddie in the unlikely setting of a Greek Amphitheatre .
Sharing ideas and experiences drawn from 30 years as a Public Service Leader . Firm believer in the value of Public Service and the importance of vision , strategy , communication and engagement in making a positive difference to people's lives .Hopefully helping make sense of what often seems a complicated world .