I put away my childish things and read Law.

See. She nodded. 

See these tears? She tutted.

Hear these big sobs? And she paused.

I nodded. Staring. Guiltily.

This is what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket.

And the basket breaks.

She shook her head, said stupid girl and then resumed folding the now dry clothes into the basket.


I’ve wondered what to do with that scene. Where to place it. But then there are so many scenes. So many notebooks and loose leafs and computer pages.

I have become the mistress of fragments and of intentions. Habitually intending to work that up into something.

I have polished my prevarication. It’s well-worn excuses grease the wheels of my everyday working life.

And then there’s the fear and the feelings of unworthiness. How can you write? whispers my inner voice. You’re not good enough. it continues. And anyway, people like you don’t write.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a (wo)man, I put away childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11)

My father plays that small Cornet we bought for him with a still piercing sweetness. When we talk of our music, he will tell me again of his long, lonely childhood bus journey into Parkhead Forge, where he would be taught by the best brass bandsmen and play with the CWS*. Of how he played in London in 1958 in the Royal Albert Hall. And of how his Father wept as his cornet solo soared and swept through the Hall bringing the crowd to their feet in a rapture of applause. The radio beaming his sound into his Mother’s kitchen. 

Coltness Silver Band circa 1957 – later Newmains Brass Band – Dad is back row third from the right 

Later his Father would tell him that music was a hobby not a real job; that he would not go full time to the Glasgow Athenaeum School of Music; that he would be an apprentice accountant. My Father put away his childish hopes and dreams. He tried and tried, then ran away from the accountant’s – not understanding then, that his stupidity was profound dyslexia.

He could not read numbers or letters without the greatest difficulty. But he could read music by sight and effortlessly.  He played with his bands – always their star turn; their best player – but his real life was a life of graft punctuated by failure and redundancy.

He was my star. My hero. I was his camp follower. Tucked away on practice nights amongst the hard black cases with their crushed velvety insides. Inhaling the bloody intoxicating metallic of the instruments. Sooking the lollies and sweeties the players had brought for me. And being obliterated by the vibrating air that was thick with the sound of a brass band in full song.

Later, when they asked me why I wanted to study English, I said because I want to be a writer. They laughed and said that’s not a real job Yvonne, you can do that in your spare time.

I put away my childish things and read Law.


*CWS Brass Band is now the Co-operative Funeralcare Brass Band. Dad played with the biggest and best. I was hopeless with the Cornet but good with the flute and Dad took me to my private lessons every Thursday (in a succession of cars with  failing – and on several occasions – failed brakes). Latterly Hughina my teacher refused to raise her prices – she taught me for the same money for the last 5 years. She wanted me to go to the Athenaeum – by then the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

14 thoughts on “I put away my childish things and read Law.

  1. So much talent sidelined and wasted by the exigencies of the workaday world, Yvonne. I'm desperately hoping that our very musically gifted eldest grandson (piano, trumpet and now organ) will be able to follow his dreams and study music when he leaves school.

    By the way, you don't just want to be a writer, you are a writer!

  2. I really hope he can do that too Perpetua. In the end I chose not to go but I love my music and I look up to those whose talent is so big.

    Isn't there just so much talent lost to us – that's a topic deserving of fuller comment and I'm just beat by tiredness.

    Thank you. I can be a writer here on this little blog. I enjoy this blogging and my fellow bloggers so much!

  3. You are not 'a writer here on this little blog'. You are a writer.

    Don't do what so many of those privileged to have literary contacts will do for you…put yourself in a box as 'not a real writer, just a blogger'.

    Your posts are superb pieces of writing, underlaid by a sharp philosophical rigour. I rejoice in every one.

    My husband enjoyed technical drawing at school…his father told him to forget it, just as he told him to forget art.
    Now, his hands more than half paralysed, he wishes he'd told his father where he got off and done what he wanted while he could.

    I, on the other hand, always wanted to be a lawyer….

  4. I'm. Sitting here in Dubai Airport – I had no idea how immense it is – feeling a little in awe and potentially a little envious of the fact that some people have so many talents and some of us have so few. If there was a god I'm sure he'd have spread things around a bit more.

  5. I think the 'writer' feather is already in your cap. I've also always had that tussle between following arty things I had talents for, and academic obligations imposed by well-meaning parents. I wanted to study piano at the Sydney Conservatorium – I was sent to the nuns. I wanted to write – I was told to do graphic design (which I did for two years then dropped out), then history and French (which I did before running to Paris to write). I even used to write freelance newspaper articles and almost scored a prestigious cadetship, but the all-man all-smoking set turned me off. The bloke said Go and Live for a Year. And I never went back.

    It all comes out in the end. Your father's music. I'm studying piano again now. I design and I write. I am moneyless, as my parents feared I would be, but hell this life has to be lived not dreamed.

    You must write, mistress of scenes and dialogue and gutsy truths!

  6. Another lovely piece, love the memories you write about and evoke, I was always encouraged by my mum and dad to create, draw and write and wish I'd listened, really listened, more, love A-M

  7. That humbled me Fly. I feel such a deep honour and pleasure in your assessment of my skill and in your rejoicing.

    I also laughed loud at your last sentence! I love that you always wanted to be a lawyer. I have keen images of you practicing your legal skills – skills which would be leavened by your sharp mind and observational skill, your analytical skills and insight into human behaviour. It's at times like this when I want to be able to invite you to stay – to share meals and long conversations. You are a fascinating woman! You are also a writer.

  8. Yvonne, I am truly fascinated, firstly by your story and also by the photo. You may have heard the Newmains Band has been brought back from the ashes, rising like a phoenix with all the passion and energy from years gone past.

    My dad, Alexander Goldie and his dad, Hugh Goldie are in this photo.

    Do you know them?

    Please contact me – grambomb@googlemail.com


    • Hi Graeme. It’s lovely to log into this old blog and find someone has read a post… especially someone for whom the post has some connection/meaning. I don’t know your Dad/grandad – but I am sure that my own Dad (Jim Roy) will. I’ll say to him tonight. I am leaving for an evening wedding reception or I’d take more time over this message! Regards, Yvonne

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