31st October 2015
Hubby had an errand to run this morning, and after we’d both walked the dog, I stayed with Mum, though he took Maggie with him.
Sir Barkalot is worse than ever today, and I took to not only shouting him down, but glaring at him as I told him to shut up and get on his bed. He complied, eventually.
Actually, he is missing out in the walking stakes, as if he had been more accepting of us, not only would he have had a walk this morning, but he would also have been taken for a ride down to the beach where like Maggie, he could have had a swim.
Instead, he was subjected to something he has never probably heard before, but something that mellowed his mood and he actually settled down. This afternoon he even sidled up to me for back rubs, a subtle hint that he wanted his dinner so I’m his new best friend for the next few minutes.
Many years ago, in the days of The Black and White Minstrel Show, there was also a programme called The Good Old Days, where the audience dressed up in costume befitting those attending the Music Hall theatres. You had a Master of Ceremonies and a variety of ‘turns’ from acrobats, magicians, comedians and novelty acts, polishing off the evening’s entertainment with the likes of Danny La Rue, Babs Windsor or Roy Hudd leading a good old fashioned sing song.
The songs of yesteryear were those that I picked up as a child, perfected with my own twiddly bits, and would while away the hours at the old ivories, especially if I had something on my mind.
For the first time in two years, I sat down to play.
Mum’s piano is almost a hundred years old, a second hand gift to her when she was eleven.
With ivory keys, now chipped and yellow, housed in a walnut casing, it’s the same one my nephew tried to feed cake to in 1969, the same one that brought me solace and pleasure, the same one I played duets on with my Dad all those years ago and the same one we gathered round at Christmas and sang Carols. It could tell a thousand stories.
It stands in the hall at the bottom of the stairs in my sister’s house, a redundant piece of furniture but a home for family photographs and fresh flowers every week.
It’s a honkey tonk now, badly in need of tuning, some of the notes are stiff, stick or don’t play at all, whilst others twang through lack of use but I sat there and played for well over an hour and a half.
It was a trip down memory lane as I stuck to the ‘oldies’, and could hear Mum singing or humming softly in the lounge to my renditions of If I loved You, Some Enchanted Evening, Love is a Many Splendoured Thing, Born Free, Stranger on the Shore, Titanic, Danny Boy, Streets of London, You’ll never Know (just how much I love you), a compilation of several versions of Ave Maria, I could Spend My life Just Loving You, Memory, Wind Beneath My Wings, All I ask of You, Ode to Joy, The Spirit is Willing, Nights in White Satin, an operatic piece from Phantom of The Opera on Ice that I have always loved, my version of the theme from Ladyhawk, and Exodus before finishing off with My Grandfather’s Clock.
The years rolled away, and apart from the more recent stuff, I was back in the dining room of my parental home, playing for myself and perhaps anyone wanting to listen.
My natural gift is still there, impregnated forever in my fingertips, just as I’d hoped it would be.
Lurking in the depths of my mind are hundreds of other melodies I have heard, played, fiddled with and linked together (Theme from The Terminator runs very well into the music from We Were Soldiers as does Rocket Man into The Only Living Boy in New York). I couldn’t grasp them all to play today, but then it has been a long time since I played. My hands held up well, though I hit a fair few bum notes, lost the rhythm on a couple, and changed the note order on another!
But none of that mattered.
Judging from the look on Mum’s face, I wasn’t the only one transported back in time.
She said she remembered me playing Danny Boy at a wedding and the effect it had on her father, who never knew I could play. It was as vivid in her mind as if it was yesterday, even though it was over 45 years ago.
I remember too Mum. Happy Days.