Christopher Roberts in the Papua New Guinea Jungle

Chris Roberts, with Jack Lemmon's double bass, playing to Papua New Guinea tribespeople (in their Western bras!) (Copyright Richard Shears)

This is a sneak preview of some of the amazing stories that will be appearing in my forthcoming book about the life and times of a foreign correspondent.

The picture, taken in 1982, is of musician Christopher Roberts who trudged through the jungles of Papua New Guinea playing Bach recitals to remote tribes. Well, fairly remote that is, because the missionaries had got to them first and given all the ladies brassieres to wear, which they insisted on wearing for the photos I took.
But that double bass Christopher is playing has a fascinating history. For it featured in the 1959 comedy Some Like it Hot, starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe. In the movie, Jack is seen running from The Mob, who unleash a hail of machine gun bullets at him. They hit the double bass he is carrying on his back…
Years later, Christopher saw the double bass in a music shop in Los Angeles, complete with the bullet holes – actually the work of a Hollywood carpenter – and bought the instrument for $100. Then he took it off to the jungles of Papua New Guinea and in exchange for his music the tribes gave him some of theirs, playing on their drums and singing.
If you look carefully you can see the ‘bullet holes’ under his left hand, although he has filled them in with putty! There is so much more to this extraordinary story, particularly as Christopher is now a famous musician and composer. As for what happened to the double bass since this picture was taken – well, all will be revealed…..