A Concert by Stephen Ridley, who will play a grand piano in front of the Piazza Aldrovandi Fiorentini+Baker boutique, as usual for the "F + B aperitifs." For the occasion it will be released "I'm not like you", the new story by Vittorio Bongiorno, printed in a limited edition and out of print by Fiorentini + Baker.
I finished writing this short story in December of last year in the same period in which I had been invited by the Italian Bookshop of London to present my novel “Il Duka in Sicilia”, of which this story is somehow a “son”.
I had got lost while taking one of my endless walks on that brisk morning, only to end up back in Camden Town to the same place where I had been more than twenty years before and where I had bought my first “Punk” leather jacket with my sister, my first pair of Doc Martens and a few 45's of the Police. Not a trace was left of the “damned” neighbourhood of the Clash and “Withnail & I”, and I was about to put the headphones to my iPod back on when I came upon this young man playing a half-broken piano on the pavement in front of a memorabilia shop. There was something strange, yet familiar about him: although it was winter he did not have any socks on, the pant legs covering just above his ankles. He was wearing a thin leather jacket and, more than anything, he had something about his way of playing that I could understand quite well. He was playing an instrumental piece and keeping time with the heel of his moccasin, all the while pouncing down on the keys as if attacking them. The piano was not an instrument separate from him, the piano was a part of him which lived with him, played with him and made the same mistakes along with him. Even when he got mixed up and stumbled at a certain point, I recognised the movement he had made as one I knew so very well myself. He had looked like he was about to die, and as if it were the last time he would be able to play and scream “I need your love” at the top of his lungs. Once the performance was over, I walked away and broke into tears. I had found Noah, the boy protagonist of the story, the story I had just sent to the book publisher via e-mail a half an hour before. It is hard to explain, but it has something to do with the melancholy solitude involved in creating a story and its characters, along with the prospects of making infinity tangible and feeling as if it is something real. There is no literary prize in the world which comes even as close, in reaching such heights and with such intensity. The sensation had been so emotionally strong that, as absurd as it may seem, I contacted pianist Stephen Ridley, the pianist of Camden Town, but only after I had returned to Italy.
Back home, to Bologna, where I had moved almost ten years before after having “changed my life” for the umpteenth time, just a few doors down from a really beautiful shop of hand crafted shoes designed by a designer from London whom I would see walking by, hidden under big, brightly coloured hats. Over the years Debbie Baker's dreams have transformed into what is International success with the Fiorentini+Baker brand and, why not, thanks also to the dozens of pairs which I have bought! Therefore It was a real pleasure and honour to be invited by Debbie and Marisa Bernardoni to take the musical reading of “Duka” to their shop: their shoes also have a story to tell, fashioned by tradition and ingenuity, which is the exact same “conflict” that my book speaks about. From Bologna, the “Duka” has arrived at Fiorentini+Baker New York as well, thanks to the patience and enthusiasm of Cristina Guidetti.
So what ever happened to the pianist from Camden Town? I had told Debbie and Marisa about my idea of organising a concert in Bologna for Stephen to perform at, of whom I knew nothing, nor his music, aside from a couple of videos I had seen on You Tube. The idea was great, but Debbie had had to leave on a business trip to London and we would talk more about it upon her returning. What she had not told me though was that, out of curiosity, she had been planning on going to hear that crazy pianist who “dragged his piano all over the world spreading love to the masses”. One morning Marisa sent me a video, of something that only happens in certain films and books, of an Asian tourist who had shot a video of Stephen during one of his harrowing performances: at a certain point, the tourist, unaware of the fact that she had been moved by a simple twist of fate, turned the camera and started shooting Debbie, who was standing there smoking a cigarette, under one of her marvellous hats.
Stephen will play in Bologna for Fiorentini+Baker in the square in front of their shop, and on the street in Notting Hill in London. All of this is thanks to Josef, Daniel and Noah. I'm a writer, and I know what your thinking, that this seems like a story I made up, but I assure you, it's not. It is all true. Once again, any reference to people or things is purely coincidental.