Back on the farm - the piano man who can't really play
It is as normal a place as any to grow up. And for Andreas Grassl the small Bavarian village of Prosdorf, with its duck pond, pear trees and rolling fields full of cows, was the place he called home.
Yesterday Mr Grassl - now better known as Piano Man - was back home with his parents, Josef and Christina, after a remarkable four-and-a-half month odyssey which took him from Germany to a beach in Kent, and then hospital.
How he got there has been the source of relentless speculation, but yesterday the story became clearer.
Mr Grassl, it seems, last spoke to his parents in March from France, where he had been doing casual work, telling them that all was well.
Soon afterwards, according to his lawyer, Jurgen Linhart, he suffered a mental breakdown.
He caught a ferry to Britain and a train to the Isle of Sheppey, in Kent.
He remembers little of what happened next, his lawyer said, other than that he found himself in a "completely drenched" state on the beach.
Yesterday, as his father went out to tend his cows, refusing to speak, what had tipped his son over the edge remained a mystery.
But his lawyer said that far from being the virtuoso pianist that hospital staff in Gillingham had suggested, Andreas, 20, had little musical talent.
"The staff offered him a piece of paper and he drew a piano. He had learned to play a keyboard at home by himself. But he didn't have any special musical or artistic talent," Mr Linhart said.
"But it's simply wrong to suggest that he just tapped one key all the time.
"He spent one month in Britain on a closed ward and then three-and-a-half months on an open ward. He was being treated all the time there for psychological illness. Part of his mental illness was that he lost all track of time."
During all this, Mr Grassl's parents had no idea where he was. After the last phone call in March they phoned his landlord in France to ask if he knew what had happened to Andreas. They also contacted the French police but they were unable to help.
In the meantime, mistaken reports pointed to the Piano Man being a musician from the Czech Republic or Norway.
According to Mr Linhart, the Grassls did not see the photo of their son circulated worldwide by the baffled doctors.
"The photo didn't appear in their local paper, the Bayreuth Echo," Mr Linhart said. "But even when they did see the photo they didn't recognise their son. He usually wears glasses. And he has blond hair. The photo was taken in such a way as to make his hair seem white."
Mr Grassl flew home on Saturday after breaking his silence last week and with help from the German embassy, who gave him a new passport.
Mr Linhart said: "He's now more or less better. But he is still recovering." He was grateful to the British and their health service.
The hospital that treated him had not sent the Grassls a bill and had phoned to say that they were not pursuing a claim for damages.
"This isn't a mystery but a normal case," he said. " It's just a young man having a mental illness. There's nothing unusual about it."Autor:
Luke Harding in ProsdorfMedio:
Miércoles 24 de agosto de 2005Notas:
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