Miles Kington: Delivering 'The Death of Tchaikovsky' on the cheap

'My experience of cannabis and Bernard Matthews turkeys is pathetically limited, however I do have some experience of Tchaikovsky'

Share

Is it extraordinary that David Cameron tried cannabis when he was 15?

I don't think so. It would be stranger still if he hadn't.

Is it extraordinary that Bernard Matthews has tried ingesting Hungarian turkey, and finds it very hard to give up?

I don't think so. Once you have got the cheap turkey habit, it's hard to kick it.

No, if it is something extraordinary you are after, then the best place to look right now is Radio 3. Which is where there has been a week-long outbreak of Tchaikovsky, powerful enough to drive out all other kinds of music, except for traces of Stravinsky.

Experts are baffled. They say that there is no reason for this sudden epidemic of Tchaikovsky. Usually, when this sort of thing happens, it is because there is some sort of centenary, bicentenary or other anniversary involved. But look at Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's dates. He was born in 1840 and died in 1893. Not even the controller of Radio 3 could get a centenary out of that.

Maybe the controller has just been infected by the man's music. Which is fine by me, except that I wish I had known in time so that I could have got involved.

You see, although my experience of cannabis is pathetically limited, and although my experience of turkey is confined to running a mile from anything coming out of the kind of torture chambers run by Bernard Matthews, I do have some experience of Tchaikovsky.

I would go further.

I am probably the only writer on The Independent to have written a play about him.

This goes back to the year 1996, when my wife, an ace theatre director, was looking for an hour-long piece of theatre to take up to the Edinburgh Fringe. I had already written one or two things for her, including a play called Waiting for Stoppard. This time, however, she could only afford two performers and a bit of music. One of the performers would be Simon Gilman, because he was an excellent musician and songwriter. The other would be me, because I came cheap.

So between us Simon and I cooked up a brilliant hour-long musical play called The Death of Tchaikovsky - A Sherlock Holmes Mystery. This was based on my realisation that when Tchaikovsky died in mysterious circumstances in St Petersburg in 1893 (some say it was cholera, some suicide), it coincided exactly with the period when Sherlock Holmes had gone off incognito on his travels after "disappearing" in the Reichenbach Falls.

Conan Doyle mentions that one of the countries he visited was Russia. He might well have been there when Tchaikovsky died and might have been called in to help solve the mystery of the great man's death.But as we developed the plot, something darker emerged. Tchaikovsky, we knew, loved visiting Switzerland and roaming the hills. It was not impossible that he might have witnessed the fight between Moriarty and Holmes at the Reichenbach Falls. And therefore Tchaikovsky might have been the only witness of the fact that it was not Moriarty that perished in the Falls, but Holmes!

To throw off pursuers, Moriarty, also a master of disguise, adopts Holmes's persona and goes travelling. His main purpose is to track down the one witness, Tchaikovsky, and eliminate him. This he does successfully in 1893 ...

Pretty ridiculous, eh? Oh, it got a lot more ridiculous than that before the end, I can tell you. But we had a lot of fun, and sold out our tiny venue, and ever since then The Death of Tchaikovsky - A Sherlock Holmes Mystery has been awaiting revival.

The Tchaikovsky Experience week on Radio 3 would have been ideal.

As it is, I may have to hang on till the year 2015, which, of course, is the 175th anniversary of Tchaikovsky's birth.

See you then.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Women are working in some of the lowest-paid sectors such as cleaning, catering and caring  

Women's wages have gone backwards. Labour would give women the pay they deserve

Gloria de Piero
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?