Jay Rayner: ‘Me playing is akin to watching the dog walk on his back legs’

Ahead of his Guardian Live events fusing food and music, restaurant critic Jay Rayner explains how coming out as a sometime jazz pianist has been an ‘almost wholly positive experience’

Recently I had a surprise: the fitness monitor on my wrist announced I had passed my 10,000 footsteps-a-day goal before lunchtime. This was odd, given I’d spent the entire morning sitting down. Then I realised where I’d been sitting: at the piano, practising my left hand stride. The monitor registers movements, and some vigorous choruses of Sweet Georgia Brown had been enough to take my stats over the top. Such is the lot of the middle-aged musician trying to catch up on all the piano practice he failed to do as a kid.

Then again, I was preparing to play before a paying audience, and that’s a serious incentive. Generally people seem to find the idea of someone well known in one field taking on another, irritating. Who does that actor think he is, selling his paintings? How dare the politician publish a novel? They like you to stay in your compartment. For me, however, coming out as a sometime jazz pianist has been an almost wholly positive experience. I think a lot of that has to do with me being just as surprised as everybody else.

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