An opera lover beat a cabbie over the head with his ornate walking stick and swore at him because he feared he would miss a performance of Puccini.
Peter Williamson, a retired doctor, swore at the cab driver as he shouted at him and asked where they were going because he feared he would be late for the open air show in Holland Park, west London.
The physicist, who is a fellow with the Royal Institution, was turfed out of the taxi after launching a tirade of abuse at driver Kevin Johnson.
After dropping Williamson at a cash point on Kensington High Street, Mr Johnson saw Williamson walk past the machine, so climbed out of the car to point him in the right direction.
But Williamson raised his stick above his head and struck his head with the handle, leaving him bleeding and needing stiches.
At a hearing at Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court Williamson admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The court heard he had been keen to see a performance of one of Puccini’s lesser known works, ‘The Girl of the Golden West.’
Mozart or Monteverdi, I perhaps could understand. But Puccini? Really?
Incidentally, the fellah was trying to get to the open-air opera center in Holland Park. I don’t even know if this place existed when I spent a year in London back in ’87-’88, but I used to go to the open-air theater in Regents Park no great distance away to see performances of Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and others, and the shows were more than once disrupted by air traffic going in and out of Heathrow. When it got bad, the actors would simply stop and wait for the roar to subside. How do you do that with an opera?
UPDATE: As long as I’m on bombastic, diva-driven 19th Century opera (of which I am not a fan, in case you haven’t cottoned yet), let me just stick in this extremely short clip from the Marx Brothers’ A Night At The Opera. (It became something of a Thing in the Robbo Family Household in my misspent yoot.) In the immortal words of the New Yorker’s review, “doing to ‘Il Trovatore‘ what ought to be done to ‘Il Trovatore‘”.