Sunday, 26 October 2014

Saturday morning music school

1976, whilst everyone else was watching Multi-coloured Swap Shop on BBC1 on Saturday mornings, I was taking descant recorder lessons with Mr Pont at Highlands College. We used to talk about which instrument I would like to play and for three years I had my eye on the clarinet.

When I was 11 the time came to move to an orchestral instrument. My Dad came with me to meet Helen Brooks. The man who was never late for anything and a stickler for timing had somehow got it wrong. Miss Brooks cheerfully said "Sorry there's no more room for clarinets but you can learn the flute" and that's how I ended up playing the flute. 

Saturday morning music lessons were wonderful. It was free. You learnt an instrument, took a theory/aural lesson and played in the orchestra in the Great Hall in front of its numinous stained glass window and it was all free. Did I say that before? It was all free!

The first piece I played in the orchestra required two notes A and B all the way through Offenbach's Bacarolle. NB - this is not a recording of the Youth Orchestra. Skip to 30 seconds in to hear the repetitious two notes. I thought we were absolutely marvellous and could not have been more proud to be performing in such an august body.

I made friends that I have kept to this day.

Because I lived about a twenty minute walk away, by the age of 11 I would walk there and back. One Saturday, I was thrilled when my friend's mum offered me a lift in her brown DAF 44.

Isn't it strange, the moments that take meaning in our lives? I never forgot that simple act of kindness from an adult. At that moment, I had not only fallen in love with my friend but also his entire family. I have never deviated from that loyal devotion. 

On arrival home from Highlands, I would be greeted by a plate of steaming home made macaroni cheese with grilled melted cheese on top. Death and loss provide meaning to the strangest of items. I still own that white and blue enamel dish. 

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