Sunday, 15 November 2015

The instrument store

Actually, I like playing scales. There's nothing like a nice long one to show off my delicately different shadings of timbre and phenomenal smoothness. I think we'd all agree that I have a very special lower range. But I had to suffer Shirley, Edna, Rodney, Roger, and Pauline before I got Caroline, who appreciated that. Sometimes she had Jackie magazine on the music stand as she practised, but I forgave her every time because I sounded so beautiful. 

The Carnival of the Animals.  Don't remind me. Betty Avery could only play in tune in first position, so when we got to the donkey section she just played the "Aws". Susan McMullan beside us was soaring away on the "Ees", E string, appropriately enough, high as anything. Mortifying.

Janet Osborne was sent into the store because she wouldn't stop laughing. Frankly, the laughing was fair enough. Had he even looked in a mirror that morning? She broke us off when she got bored. It was a bit of a relief. We had done one too many Grade Ones by that point.

Gillian Stanfield was my favourite. She kept me wrapped in a silk scarf and she always wiped the resin dust off.

I still feel bitter about Mrs Schulmeyer, who persuaded her to switch to the viola. I mean, the viola?

Please don't send me to be mended, unless Mr Broadway has retired now. Is there not something you could do with a cotton bud and some white spirit?

Everyone was in high spirits for that rehearsal. The concert was the next evening, and for once, for a school orchestra, it sounded, I suppose, acceptable. Malcolm Brown was showing off when he threw his mallet up in the air. Girls always seemed to go for percussion players, and he knew that all the fourth formers were watching. But his aim was terrible. I had never felt pain like that. You know what the worst thing was? Even Daisy laughed. Please don't photograph the scar.

He had his problems. OCD, certainly. Depression, probably. Possibly an undiagnosed alcoholic. We could see right through him. Anyone who spent that much time in the store?

14 March 1984, the best night of my life. We were playing the second part in the Bach double. The stars must have been specially aligned. Julie's right hand didn't shake, for once, and we blended together as smoothly as a dream.

When the movement ended, there was a moment of silence, like a sigh.

He was gathering his things together to go on the orchestra tour to Germany. That suitcase had taken all week to pack. For a boy, he certainly planned his outfits in detail. And I suppose the tour was successful on the romantic front. I hear they have a third baby on the way.

But he got into the car without me. They arrived back ten minutes later, laughing and joking about getting priorities straight and what would Mr Pugh say, and threw me in the back seat. That hurt. 

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