Comedy of the dying swan

25th March 2005 at 00:00
A bizarre tale surfaced in the press last week about the Master of the Queen's Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, running fowl of the law. To cut a long story short, he had retrieved a dead whooper swan, that had become tangled in power lines, near his Orkney home and decided to dispose of it by eating it in a "delicious terrine". But the obviously overworked Orkney constabulary spotted the plucked bird, a protected species. A warrant was obtained, the carcass and wings were seized and charges are being considered.

Little noticed, however, was a curious aside from the composer about the use he had planned for the confiscated wings: "I was going to give them to the Sanday junior school for their nativity play. Those they have already got are looking a bit dusty, and these would have been ideal for the angel Gabriel."

We called the school to enquire just how disappointed they were not to have received the macabre gift.

A member of staff, who did not wish to be named, said: "You're not asking me the sixty-four-million-dollar question about the wings are you ? I'm not sure what is in the school by way of props. Peter has been very kind to us.

I would put this in the bracket with the many nice thoughts he has had. I'm not sure we asked for the wings but it was a neighbourly idea."

Which roughly translates as, "Thanks for the music, but we can do without the dead bird bits."

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