Growing up with Music

I first got into music when I learned to play the recorder whilst I was in junior school.  I used to practice for ages at a time mostly on my own but sometimes with my brother. The neighbours often commented on how lovely the sound was. I got far ahead of where I should have been in the ‘Learn to Play’ book.  The music Mistress was a bit of a stickler and wasn’t too impressed with this. She said I should have been practicing the same page over and over again!  In future I kept my progress to myself and when she asked I said I was always on the page she had told me to practice.  She invariably thought the pieces I had been told to practice were good enough so the fact I had  moved ahead obviously wasn’t adversely affecting my playing.

After I moved to senior school I took up the Clarinet and played in the school orchestra.  I also joined the choir.  For a time I played in the junior band, helping out on the kettle drums and percussion instruments.  As well as playing the clarinet, I made my own bamboo pipes which have a much more mellow sound than the recorder.  It was fun and challenging to make and tune them, getting one note at a time as the instrument progressed.  I enjoyed playing the base pipe in a small bamboo pipe quartet.  My base bamboo pipe was actually made of aluminium, because it was difficult get bamboo large enough.

I had endless fun going all around the county and sometimes further afield to perform in concerts, old people’s homes, hospitals and many other places.

One memorable occasion was singing at the Llangollen Eisteddfod in the Saturday evening concert.  We were the last choir on stage and the schedule had slipped so we performed a lot later than planned.  We sang several encores and eventually got home at 5am in the morning after watching the sunrise on the way home.

 At the Christmas concerts we were always joined by former pupils and they were a lot of fun.  On one occasion when it was time for the orchestra to play I had 10 trombone players standing right behind me.  It was so loud I could hardly hear myself think, let alone play!

The event I loved the most was Christmas Eve, singing carols by the Ironbridge. Over the years more and more local people turned up and joined in. The singing only lasted for 30 minutes, but by the end of it you knew that it really was Christmas…

I have kept all the programmes from the concerts we performed in and I still enjoy getting them out from time to time and remembering the pieces we used to perform.

On and off over the years I have carried on with my music. Although I am currently in a lull,  I do feel it calling me again…

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Chocolate Box Memories

Weekend chocolates and candies were one of my favourite sweet treats when I was a youngster; I especially liked the taste of the perilous green ones. There was always a box in my stocking each Christmas, although the stocking was in reality a pillowcase. The Christmas memories unfold and roll back into one happy memory. Family, friends, fun, laughter, the occasional tear, frost, snow, school concerts. I also remember singing on the bridge at Ironbridge each Christmas Eve and singing carols in local pubs, hospitals and old people’s homes. This started off as fun but because money was often forced on us we ended up giving money to charity too. So many happy faces over the years…

The chocolates even remind me of the class bully at my junior school. One day I had just collected a chair from the side of the room and got to my desk with it and he appeared at my side and ordered me to give the chair to him. Without thinking I answered ‘no’ which was quite out of character for me because I was really shy and timid and wouldn’t say boo to a goose. He put on an angry stance, went red in the face and stomped off without saying anything. He never bothered me again until one Christmas when I had been given some weekend chocolates by one of my school friends. He asked (nicely) if he could have one. Due to his circumstances I knew he would never have the opportunity to have such things so I said yes and he said thank you. Lessons learned for both of us I think.

The pink Quality Street tin on the right also brings back memories, with its Victorian images and chocolates double wrapped in foil and cellophane. I used to try and smooth the foil out as flat as possible, hopefully without a single crease, then fold it up as small as possible. I also had fun experimenting with the cellophane layer in front of a camera lens. I remember the purple wrapper created very interesting effects on architecture. In one of my cupboards I still have one of those old tins, although now it is filled with buttons rather than chocolates.

All those years ago I didn’t appreciate how many memories a box of chocolates could hold locked up inside…