Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 October 2005
sometimes i fall asleep right away. even before the orchestra turns the first page of music, i lean my head into my hand, propped up by the armrest, and let my eyelids fall. at first, though, the closing of my eyes comes as something of a shock. i would have just started watching the bows go up and down across the violins and violas and back and forth across the cellos and basses in a grand unison; i would have just started watching the conductor's arms and backside jerk and sway, not precisely with the music but in the slightest anticipation; i would have just started watching the musicians, their eyes fixed onto the papers in front of them, their movements nothing more than those required by the music. upon closing my eyes all this is gone. it is replaced by a dark, reddish-grey curtain, with a large block of faint light in the middle – the ghost image of the stage. my eyes at first search my eyelids with the same focus they used to watch the orchestra, and this large, abstract shape, because of its sudden closeness, makes my eyelids snap back open. upon opening, however, the shock of sudden darkness is replaced by a dull recognition: i immediately see the orchestra, and realise that nothing has changed and nothing is likely to change. the violinists are still sawing away, the conductor still has on his black coat, and the rows of heads in front of me are exactly as i had left them.