I always rather dread this time of year, when cold weather makes my hands feel stiff. Before sitting down to play the piano, I often have to run a basin of warm water and stand with my hands in the water for a few minutes. My piano stands next to an unused fireplace. No matter what we do to block the chimney, a chill draught seeps into the room, making me cool down rather than warm up as I sit at the piano.
When I was writing ‘Out of Silence’ I mentioned that in the winter, my fingers often feel like sausages. I thought no more of it until Noriko Ogawa came to translate this passage into Japanese. She wrote to ask me what sort of sausages I had in mind? She didn’t want to give Japanese readers the wrong image. Were we talking about chipolatas, kabanos, chorizo, good old-fashioned British bangers, long elegant picnic salami? I realised then that I hadn’t chosen my words with enough care. Warm, aromatic sausages were not in fact the perfect simile. It might have been better to say ‘frozen twigs’. When reviewing the panoply of sausages in my mind’s eye, I realised that the most plausible one was, sadly, the thin, pallid ‘skinless pork’ sausage we used to eat in Scotland before the advent of gourmet food. However, as things have moved on and the Japanese reader would probably have no idea what I was referring to, I think we eventually agreed on ‘chipolatas’.