Shearing Test.

The clocks have sprung forward, the water, in the vases, is cloudy and it’s time to throw the faded flowers on the compost.
The daffodils are papery and crinkled. The hyacinths are drooping and the roses and iris’s have dried out. The cottage was full of flowers for my birthday.
It was heartwarming that I had real birthday cards, sent to me, through the post. This year hardly any Facebook messages. But that’s ok. What with Cambridge Analytica, Donald Trump and hash tag this and that, I’m seriously considering reappraising my relationship to Social media.
I’m far too old to care whether I have tribes of friends, or thousands of people in a community on line.
Suffice to say I have a handful of good friends, who I can rely on to send me books, hand made cards and good wishes through the post.
So it’s Easter Sunday. We went out for breakfast. I had a full english, with local produce, and the old git had a bacon sandwich with bread slices the size of house bricks.
I bought next door some Easter eggs from the corner shop. Amal, the owner, chucked in a bag of chocolate eggs free. He doesn’t celebrate the birth of Christ, but then neither do I. I don’t celebrate the liberation from Ancient Egypt either.
When I was four we lived in East London. In a flat facing the Highway. 21 Solander Gardens. They were a new build and it was full of immigrants from Eastern Europe, Ireland and Gawds know where.
I went to Canon Barnet School, next to Toynbee hall where I had piano lessons. The kids; C of E, Asians, Jews, Catholics, played together in the playground – on the roof – it was surrounded by wire netting so we didn’t fall over the edge onto Commercial Street.
Every Friday the class shared sweeties, every day we had an afternoon nap, on little canvas beds, in the parqueted hall where we had lined up for lunch. The smell of mince and cold cabbage wafted over us as we snoozed under the watchful eye of Miss Ploughman. Our Angel of Mercy in a smock.
So we were taught bible stories, it was an English School after all, and even though I was allowed to miss assembly, which I rarely did, I loved singing the Hymns, our lessons covered everything from Jesus Christ to The Monarchy.
In 1953 we were given a gift for the Queens Coronation. A crocodile line of four year olds, hands outstretched, each given an individual silver spoon, wrapped in white tissue paper, I bit on mine, thinking it was a stick of liquorice, it hurt my teeth.
Outside our flats was a little wall. There was also a playground with swings and a roundabout. I had to be rescued from a square swing when a gob-stopper got caught in the back of my throat. My mother came a-running. Tipped me upside down and slapped my back until the sweet shot out. Her version of the Heimlich manoeuvre.
I was never allowed gob stoppers again.
Now that low wall was to prove significant in the Easter of 1954. We had been taught that Jesus had been crucified, had died for our sins, bunged in a cave and left to rot. After three days, being the Son of God, he rose from the dead and voila we were all saved.
1954. Good Friday April 16th. I was 5. I took my place on the wall. Kicking my heels. I was called in for dinner. I resumed my seat until it got dark.
1954. Easter Saturday April 17th. I took my place on the wall. I was called in for dinner.
1954. Easter Sunday April 18th. I kicked my heels, patiently waiting. I refused dinner that night.
My mother came to find me. My shoes were scuffed from banging them against the red brick.
For three days, and nearly nights, I sat on the wall, waiting.
‘What are you waiting for?’ my mother asked as she ushered me back to the flat.
‘They lied to me.’ I said flatly. ‘Miss Ploughman said that after three days Jesus would climb out of his grave and walk amongst us again. Well I’ve waited and waited and he never turned up.’
My mother closed the front door and I went into my room, first right off the passage.
I felt betrayed. Sat down at my piano, an upright that lived in my room so I could practice. I hammered those keys.
I now have a Boudoir Grand. Still my preferred method of stress busting is to sit down and hammer the living daylights out of those fancy ivories.
I’ve just bought a copy of George Shearing’s classics, lost my old book. George, a blind Jew from Battersea, who was fed soup by my Grandmother in Aldgate.
He emigrated to America wrote clumps of juicy chord music and died aged 91 in New York City.
George and I share a keyboard when things get tough. If people lie to me then my piano is often my place of release. So whilst I contemplate the chord structure of ‘What Are You Doing For The Rest of Your Life.’ I bid you a very
Happy Pascha, Pasoch, Ostre or Easter, and whatever you wish yourselves.

2 thoughts on “Shearing Test.”

  1. Darling Jeni
    I so love your blog, you always paint such a vivid picture that I’m there with you. Sitting on the wall scuffing my shoes and looking on in horror when your mother saved you!
    So thank you Jeni for providing moments of sanity in an increasingly mad world!!
    Sent with love
    June xx

  2. Dear Jeni, Soooooo! You don’t celebrate the birth of Christ, huh? No more cards and presents from me, then. X

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