At the massage parlour in Beijing, I spent 15 minutes with my feet in a bowl of warm tea, before I realised there had been a misunderstanding.  No I wasn't there for a foot massage.  I was there for a whole body massage.  Difficult to explain with sign language.

This wasn't the first time on this tour that I'd had difficulty being understood.

In Seoul I decided I needed a hair cut.  When I joined the orchestra I had a head full of hair and wore it quite long. On more than one occasion, I was asked for my autograph, being mistaken for Claudio Abbado.

These days my head more or less resembles a boiled egg.

I still had some vestiges of hair trailing over my collar. In the hotel room, with all its mirrors, I caught a glimpse of it from behind and decided it looked rather silly.

OK, down to the barbers in the basement.  I dont speak Korean, and the lovely, immaculately groomed, hairdresser didn't speak any English, so on with the sign language.

I tried to show that I was happy with the sides, but I wanted the tail trimming off.

He smiled and nodded. Carefully he put in some clips, and started busily snipping with comb and scissors.  He paid a lot of attention to the sides. I was curious with his approach, and decided to wait and see what developed.

After 20 minutes he seemed satisfied with his work and removed the clips.  That's when I realised that I hadn't got my message across.   

OK, lets try the sign language again.  I took hold of the offending tail, and made scissor signs with the other hand.

This time he seemed to understand, and started again.

He trimmed the sides even closer to my head. He seemed to know what he was doing. He had a lovely snipping action and obviously enjoyed his art.

After another 10 minutes the tail was still intact.

Finally, in desperation, I wrestled the scissors off him and cut a chunk off myself.

The light then dawned.

He dutifully matched the length all over.


Colleagues have said how much younger I look. 

Had I done it myself?