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.