The Fish Memory cello was made in Moscow in 1963. It was a gift from Nikita Kruchev to Valentina Terjeskova. But of course she was a cosmonaut, a scientist and space pioneer. She had no use for, or interest in, the cello at all. For years it stood in the corner of her living room, unplayed. It’s main function then was to cover up a mark in the wallpaper which came from the excessive dampness of the house. In time, the dampness caused the building to deteriorate so badly that it had to be demolished. The cello passed into the hands of a second-hand music dealer who lived on the edge of Gorky Park. From here it was shoplifted by a cunning local man with a large overcoat and it eventually ended up with a Latvian experimental band called Popolznowenje. In the late 80s they made a perilous escape journey to the west, during which the instrument suffered some serious damage to the body and bridge.
In this condition it was given to Makmed the Miller who had it repaired with rabbit glue and gum arabic and it became playable once again. However it was further damaged in a gypsy camp in El Morreon in the south of Spain, when a fight broke out in a small tent housing about twenty locals, an open fire and an illegal whisky still. The neck was broken and the tuning pegs snapped. Fortunately in the same camp, living in an old fire engine, was a German instrument builder, an artisan of brilliant skill.The cello was soon restored to a condition even finer than when it had been hiding the damp stain in the house of the first woman in space.