It’s 2am and just after the after show meal at the Hyatt. An Italian ‘society’ photographer, who obviously thinks I must be someone if I can walk around here without being arrested, asks if he can take a photograph of me. Looking worse than the ghost of Samuel Beckett, I agree.
“So, you’re Tim Bones, the American poet?” He offers. “Something like that,” I reply before walking off to consume some more of the ‘house’ sorbet.
At 8pm, an hour before the show, I’m in the backstage tent with Italian actors Sergio Castellitto and Sonia Bergamasco. Along with French actress Delores Chaplin, these people comprise my fellow ‘readers’ for the evening.
I chat nonsensically about Italian coffee and Milanese graffitti, while they stare at me intently trying to work out if I’m Colin Firth or Hugh Grant on a particularly bad day.
At 8.30, Castellitto leaves to meet another of his adoring fans, while at 8.35 the lights in the tent go off and myself and the beautiful Italian actress are left in the dark wondering what twisted forces led to this confused moment in time.
9.20pm and I’m on for my first slot. A reading of Keroauc alongside some looping.
The first loop goes wrong and I mask it with three others to try and minimise the damage. After a distinctly average reading, I start to make noises. Strange, loud ones. I stare into the gorgeous stained glass windows of the Duomo and I become convinced that 4000 people feel they’ve been plunged into the depths of Hell. Worse still, the PA people are not fading me out or telling me to leave the stage. I look around and see people frantically waving and wishing an end to this unholy choral symphony of me.
Instinctively, I switch my looping device off at just the wrong point in the loop. I shrug my shoulders and walk off. Steve Jansen laughs. Better luck next time, perhaps.
9.45pm and it’s time for my duet with Alice (a version of the King Crimson song, ‘Islands’). This after all is what I’ve been flown over to do. Luckily, it goes like a charm and I even do the slightly crazed, staged gazing into my fellow singer’s eyes malarkey. Hey, I am a consummate professional after all!
9.50pm and time for my second ‘Kerouac Loop’. This time, I’m joined by Italy’s premier trumpet player Paulo Fresu. This time, I’m determined to keep things sweet and simple.
The reading is average, but the pretty loop seems to work incredibly well within the ornate Duomo surroundings. Paulo and I integrate successfully and the piece feels genuinely transcendent and inspired at certain points.
However, 7 minutes into my 5 minute slot, I feel all is not quite right. The PA people remembered to fade me out, but unfortunately the monitor operator forgot. Again, frantic waving of hands, stage left. Again, abrupt end of loop (luckily, this time in a good place).
3.30am and I’m dropped off at my hotel wondering what the hell it is that I’ve just done.