This man walks on water

In the evening we made a dash for the Palais de Beaux Arts for a wonderful treat; brilliant Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos playing Beethoven’s violin concerto with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. It was a sublime rendition with a special sentimental resonance for us – in a sense, ‘our song’. It was 1983. We drove up from Florence to Nice in a battered Simca. There, I met my future father-in-law and ate a boulabaisse for the first time, and then we set off for the Alps. I had bought a sort of forerunner of the Walkman. You could listen through earphones but for our trip I bought a couple of ‘miniature’ speakers – each roughly the size of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (and you needed a suitcase full of batteries), but they worked. We followed the winding Route Napoléon up and up towards Grenoble and the snow and listened to just one cassette – Beethoven’s violin concerto. I forget how many times we listened to it, but we never tired and I am sure we both still know it off by heart. It was the perfect antidote to a very heavy week in which I have seen far less of family and home than I would have liked.