My little golden Maneki-neko is waving her arm backwards and forwards. I always thought she was Chinese but I’ve since learnt that Maneki-neko is Japanese in origin, at any rate she sits on the left speaker on the shelf in front of the window. She’s meant to wave in good luck. At the moment she’s the only sound in the room as the battery in my wall clock has run out, the ticking clock usually accompanies Maneki creating a gentle rhythmic pattern. Most guests shove the cat in the cupboard and put the clock outside the door.
There’s a dark silence tonight – no wind, no rain, Dennis the cat is snoring on the armchair downstairs, the old Git is making the sound of ocean waves in our marital bed, whilst the dawter is listening to Bob James on headphones in her room – I’m typing through heavy lids. All my plants need watering but I’ll attend to that tomorrow.
Right now I’m reeling over Trumps’ comments about US military heroes who he deems losers, reeling over Johnsons’ excitement over the new HS2 rail link which will destroy, or irreparably damage, five internationally protected wildlife sites, 693 local wildlife sites, 108 ancient woodlands and 33 legally protected sites of special scientific interest, and that’s according to them that know and care. But I am also reeling over the possibility that border controls are in such a mess that if/when we do leave the EU the traffic queues of lorries carrying essential life saving food and drugs will stretch from here to eternity.
Which is how long it feels since I did any meaningful paid work. Today though, the ‘oosbind set up, in the piano room, an old school desk, the piano stool, Linda’s shawl as a table cover, the mic, a little lamp, my lap-top, my big coffee cup, two duvets held together with kilt pins and bugger me if the cohabiting genius didn’t create our very own remote studio. The old git slung the duvets over his hand made wooden frame, which he knocked up in his shed, and at exactly 12.30 it was on with the head phones. The producer, director, client, and engineer zoomed their way into the cottage and we were off. I love it. Slipping under the duvet for an hours tonsil work, then slipping out again. I know we should all be rushing back to the big smoke to record our voice/overs in Soho, but when you have a man with many talents and a virtual work force it’s the perfect job.
Then I shopped for fruit, filled up with petrol gave the car to the dawter, and set about doing my yoga. Today I learnt how to do the crow pose, to be more precise I listened to American Jess do the crow pose as I lay on my back in Savasana the corpse pose and decided that since Yoga is a practice that’s exactly what I’ll do until I can make it perfect. American Jess said herself it may take days, months or even years to perfect such a difficult position, in my case it will take a fucking lifetime before I can perch on my arms with my feet in the air. I have appalling balance and my legs can only open so far, I admit they do open wider than most but not nearly as wide as say Daisy giggle my porn star friend, who can manage do things with her hip openings that only a well oiled contortionist on crack can do.
And then it’s 5.00 of the clock and everybody says in unison where’s the day gone?
Round here we have local Facebook groups, neighbourhood pages and local apps. Blow me down if I haven’t had four enquires about teaching piano and singing after my next door neighbour recommended me to an acquaintance. And here’s me saying I haven’t done anything meaningful in ages. So as well as teaching a ten year old Indian drumming patterns and feeding her hot chocolate, I’m meeting a four year old tomorrow who wants to learn the piano.
I was taken back to Toynbee Hall in Aldgate. I was five and having watched my brother learn the piano was itching to emulate him. As five year olds go I was good so my parents hired in a private teacher who came to our flat in Watney Street. They had bought me a piano which was in my bed room next to my pink candlewick bedspreaded bed.
The teacher wore a tweed jacket, carried a brown leather briefcase, sat beside me hovering over my left hand, set me off on my five finger exercises as he dove into his briefcase and pulled out a tin of peppermints. The lesson lasted half an hour as did his sweets, which he sucked loudly for the duration.
We slum dwellers were rehoused and I advanced onto Mrs. Lylie who lived in a big house at the end of the road. I had to stand on tiptoe to pull on the Victorian door bell. It was the time of Hammer Horror. I would run up the sweeping staircase into her sitting room which had hand painted murals on the walls, black silhouetted trees with branches that stretched round to huge double hung windows.
When I arrived at the Watford School of Music Mr. Churchill took over. He had perfect pitch and could’t help himself shouting out the notes of passing cars.
“A flat”
Or motorbikes
“F sharp”.
He ate bananas and told me I was psychic didn’t care about my piano playing but was obsessed by my dreams, which I had to relate in detail.
“Whack down the loud pedal” he would roar “Play with panache, and nobody will ever notice the mistakes.”
I graduated to Miss Spottiswood who taught me in the big room, on a grand piano. She sat behind me peeling hard boiled eggs and berating me for listening to Jaques Loussier who she said bastardised Bach. But it was Debussy that did for me, I didn’t practice, I didn’t care, the notes flew out of my head, i galloped up and down the keyboard smashing out nonsense. The adjudicators gave me a pitiful mark for turning up.
I knew then that being a concert pianist was not my calling but I love my piano, a Boudoir Grand, which I bought off an old geezer in Surbiton. It has served me well, I still have enough books of music from my youth which can turn me into a quivering jelly when i play Chopin to accompany my thoughts or Bach to accompany my memories. Every child should be given the gift of music. I’ll say that again to any Tory Politician who wants to close down Music Services or remove music education from the curriculum. We need music. We need creativity we need children to sing and dance and join choirs so they can bellow in the new age. Okay not necessarily with ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, but certainly with their version of a rousing belter.
I invite you to supply the song of your choice – ‘Any dream will do.’

1 thought on “Singalong”

  1. Oh Jeni I too had a pink candlewick bedspread as a child, which I had completely forgotten until you mentioned yours. Bought back so many happy memories of my childhood. So thank you darling girl. xx

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