Sometimes we just accidently fall into things , you know . Oh , I don’t mean falling into a cement mixer , for example , or into a black hole , for another , or through the looking glass , or anything so dramatic . I mean just accidently being there , in some certain place when circumstances unexpectedly twist around just enough to put you ( one ) in an unusual situation .
So I went to have a leisurely beer at the small kiosk in the corner of the castle courtyard . The castle I mean is the Pomeranian Duke’s castle in Szczecin, Poland , first built in the 1100s by , obviously , Pomeranians . No , not the dog Pomeranians . I don’t think the Pomeranian dogs would have had the imagination or , frankly , the need for such a fortification . If you saw the castle , you’d realize right away that the castle is very much at the wrong scale to have been built by such small dogs in any case.
Anyhow , nowadays the castle houses a couple of museums , two restaurants , a few offices, a recently constructed rooftop observation platform , and an outdoor stage where various performances happen . Actually there are two stages . A smaller one is set up periodically in the outer ( a smaller ) courtyard where movies are shown during the summer and musicians sometimes perform . It’s all free at the smaller stage and usually free at the stage in the inner courtyard . Often folk performances take place , and at least once a year there is a Viking festival with participants wearing medieval costumes and selling medival -themed snacks , carvings , and knick-knacks , with dance performances and things like that . Well , I should hurriedly say that they’re not actually supposed to be Vikings — that’s a Scandinavian thing , of course , and these were Slavs , not at all Vikings . ( I don’t want any Poles , or other Slavs for that matter , coming after me for misrepresenting their history ! )
At any rate , the castle courtyard on the average day is a quiet place . A few German tourists wander around in small groups , often with a guide who is apparently explaining the history of the place ( a city owned by Germany before the War ). Ada says the tour guides are saying , ” This should all still be ours ,” but I doubt it . I think she’s joking . Maybe .
Being German at the time , the place was severely damaged during continual bombings during the war by British and Americans , not so much because it was a castle but because it is near the river . The city is a large Baltic port ( it’s not really on the Baltic , however ) and there was extensive shipbuilding happening there , a submarine pen , a small automobile factory and the city , not too far from Berlin , was a Nazi stronghold and so it was a favorite target for allied bombers .
By chance , in the corner of the castle compound , there are a few tables and chairs set up beside a small beer kiosk . The beer is good and it’s cheap ( well , a friend of mine says to say it’s not cheap but it’s inexpensive ). When I’m walking to the city center or to the new “old town” [ That’s another story . The old old town is a few hundred yards away , but a new old town has been built ( based mostly on old photos , I guess ) to accommodate the tourists ].
And now we git to my story . One day I’m sitting calmly having a beer at that corner in the castle courtyard . (This was several year ago , so this story is another random memory that suddenly popped into my brain today .) There are a few tourists wandering around , a few people emerging or entering through doorways . Then I notice the courtyard is being quietly cleared . It was all very serenely and effectively done with no muss and no fuss at all , almost to the point where I wondered if it was all in my imagination . In no time at all I was the only one in the courtyard . Even the beer-seller had quietly vanished .
When all of this unruffled action began to hit me , I thought I would , obviously , be next . I had my beer , though , and I decided to wait until I was asked to go . No problem . Maybe it was some kind of castle maintenance about to begin . Who knows .
Then a man or two wandered into the picture . Not too far from me a guy set up a control board and another guy was plugging in cords and checking wires . Someone walked onto the stage and he and the guy at the control board began a sort-of call -and -response . They were setting up for a musical performance . I scanned the entire couryard for someone who would tell me to leave but no one really noticed me or cared . I continued to sip my beer and watch .
The guy on the stage was Herbie Hancock . He was about to begin rehearsing and they were testing equiptment . I watched. I listened . I knew that Herbie Hancock had a concert scheduled for that evening . Ada and I had tickets for the concert . Over the next few hours Herbie must have run through his entire repertoire for the concert . I was that oft-imagined fly on the wall . I assumed that the powers-that-be assumed that I was with the band .
When I realized that the time was getting toward seven , I called Ada to say that I’d meet her at the concert and that I was already inside ( they had locked all of the gates hours before ). I wished only that the beer kiosk hadn’t closed .
I gave Herbie , up on stage , a two-thumbs-up signal as I walked past . There was nobody else there except his sound man at the controls . Herbie nodded . I should disavow you of any notion that I am a great Herbie Hancock fan ( that’s , ah , disavow ; not disembowel —- that’d be a whole other event ) . It just sort of happened that we got tickets since this well-known American jazz man was in such an obscure venue all of a sudden .
What I didn’t know was that as I got to the gate , the inside of the gate , there were about 200 fans outside who were desperate to be let in . Ada was somewhere back in the crowd . I signalled for her to come up front . The crowds must have thought that I was with the band , after all , since I was already inside . And , after all , I had got a personal nod from the star of the evening , so I guess that counts for something . Anyway , Ada and I scooted back inside without being torn apart by the waiting throngs . The local officials guarding the gates gave us puzzled looks ; they didn’t quite know how we got in there either . I figured Herbie wouldn’t mind , nevertheless , and Ada and I chose our seats . By this time Herbie had disappeared backstage and the multitudes began to rush in and s=to spread out in their anxious hunt for suitable seats .
So if I ever meet Herbie Hancock I’ll thank him for the personal concert all afternoon and , of course, the evening concert too , although that one seemed a bit too crowded .
Ada gave me puzzled looks too , by the way . I told her Herbie let me in for the rehearsal because he was surprised to find an American there in such a far-off place calmly enjoying a beer and ready for some good jazz music .
Some things just happen . Some days just go like that .