I’ve just listened to desert Island discs and the castaway was Martin Sheen. He was a fascinating man who has had a long life and career so his choices and reason to the choices were interesting. One of the pieces of music was Pachelbel’s Canon which I listened too with a smile on my face as I remember the times I’d played it and particularly the first…
My school had an arts festival which was a week-long festival of art, music and drama activities. A big top was erected on the playing fields and we all learned circus skills, wrote poetry or made music. I did a bit of everything but the last night, on the Sunday evening, had me playing as part of a string quartet the lovely piece of Pachelbel’s Canon. It’s not a very interesting part for the ‘cellist, 2 bars of 4 crotchet notes repeated throughout the piece. Although beautiful, it’s quite boring musically for the ‘cellist! Just as we’d started the lights went off, then a click, a whir and then ‘BING!!!!!’ the back-up lights came on accompanied by the humming of the generator, full force right in front of us. We were all blinded and couldn’t see a thing. My music in front of me had been reduced to a series of vague black dots splattered on a page and there was no way of making head nor tail of it. What a relief I was playing Pachelbel’s Canon. For once I was glad to have the boring ‘cello part of the repeated 8 notes!
So I sat here listening to the Canon with a smile on my face remembering my teenaged, big-top calamity. Oliver came in and asked what I was smiling and I told him about the Arts festival, the big-top and the bright lights that made my music disappear. He seemed vaguely interested, muttered something about water pistols and then skipped out of the room.
I was left melancholic for the life I had before my children and fleetingly, for the person I once was. My children never knew the secret ‘cellist who lives in their house. They never saw me play Elgar’s ‘cello concerto, never saw me perform the Brandenburg concertos’ on both recorder and ‘cello (not at the same time I hasten to add) and they never saw me drag the ‘cello around on my back when I lived in London and went to music college. I am Mummy, the one who makes the beds (sometimes), cooks the meals, (always) and tells them it’s time for bed (with a kiss and a story each night).
Yes I could pick the ‘cello up and play again and I know they’d be impressed. I have done in the past and played them an easy Tarantella and I tell them it’s the story of a lady who was bitten by a spider and she dances herself to death. The music gets faster and faster as the poison takes over her mind and the children love the chaotic noise, the chords and the apparent manic sound of the music. The final 2 chords announce her death and they always shout ‘Again!!!’
While this is lovely for me and they adore seeing me play it’s not necessarily the ‘cello as such I’d love them to see. I really want to show them I was once younger than I am now, I had energy, a zest for life and an enthusiasm for the future that, although very unrealistic, has never been equalled. I took risks, wasn’t always safe and was unpredictable and could veer off the boring path should the feeling take me. I spent one evening with friends trying to climb the lions in Trafalgar square –I never did as I kept slipping off –why? No other reason than because I could. I went to Paris when I was 18 with 4 lads, 1 who swore blind he knew a good place to stay. He didn’t it turned out and we stayed in some sort of dive but it was all we could afford. We did the sights, ate lots of food and I came back with raging food poisoning. Would I do that now? Absolutely not! I have too many responsibilities and people who rely on me to drop out of life for a few days. Now I am a clock watcher, waiting for the next pick up time or mealtime to prepare. My goals have changed and they are much more other people centred.
Don’t think I am unhappy as I’m not and love my life but there are the odd times, when I hear Pachelbel’s Canon it seems when I find myself remembering the days before these days and I know I am a shadow of who and what I used to be. Henry has just walked in and said ‘That’s not getting me a drink Mummy!’ and I smile again and are brought right back into today as I had wandered off to get him a drink but started writing this instead. I said that he had a naughty mummy who should carrying him into the kitchen and make him a drink right now!’ He chuckled as I carried him into the kitchen and made him his drink. He looked at me and smiled as if to say ‘you made me laugh being so silly’. I watch him drink, put his glass on the table and he skips, just like Ollie it seems, back to play in the garden. Maybe he doesn’t need to know the Emma that I used to be as he is more than happy with the Mummy he has…