It’s Monday as I’m writing this, New Year’s Eve. In light of what I’m going to write about, I’m not sure if I’ll let this go live today, or if I’ll schedule it. I’ll decide when I get to the end.
When I was about 18 or so (I can’t quite remember, it was a very fuzzy time), I was seeing someone who was much older than me, almost twice my age. As a result, I spent time with him and his friends who were of the same age as him. One friend whom I had a ridiculous amount of respect for, was called John (who was slightly older than the ex).
I was at a peak in my cello playing, and would often spend hours talking to John about classical music. He took me to concerts at Symphony Hall, often sourced out my favourite cellists at the time and took me to their performances, he almost always came to my own orchestral concerts, performances and recitals, and would often sneak me a glass of wine if I was stupidly nervous for a solo or similar. He’d come to my concerts around the whole of the UK when I was performing with some of the biggest orchestras I ever got to work with at that age, and would support me from afar when travelling the world.
Upon splitting up with my ex, I’d often escape the hideous environment with him and the shitty atmosphere at home (separation was imminent; I still wish to god it happened sooner) by packing my bag and my cello, and seeking refuge at John’s house. I’d practice for hours on end in his music room; he always enjoyed hearing me play. I’d enjoy the luxury of a glass of wine and as much classical music as I wanted to listen to on his uh-mazing music system. Often, one of his gorgeous cats, usually his gorgeous Havana Brown kitty would sleep on my lap. I revelled in this; I wasn’t allowed a cat at home, though I wanted one desperately.
If things were really hideous at home, as was often the case, he’d make up the spare room and leave me in peace to cry, or think, or just shut down as I needed to on a regular basis. He never asked about things at home; I’m not sure that he needed to. And I never told him either; I think he was astute enough to figure out that things were unpleasant. He was my mental escape, often an escape into a world I so desperately wanted to be a part of. That much he definitely knew. I don’t know if he just enjoyed my company, if he really enjoyed having me around, if he genuinely wanted to help me and this was the only way he knew…I don’t know.
I laughed with him a lot. When we went to concerts in Symphony Hall, even though he himself was nearly 50 at the time, we would laugh at the stuffy old couples who were there, too up their own arses to acknowledge a younger generation wanting to attend. The very second the interval began, we’d sneak out for the fastest glass of wine we could down, and suppress snorts of laughter at the looks of disgust from others as we made it back just in time for the second half. We had our own silly little things we made up along the way; the start of a concert didn’t “commence”, we would say “so what time is bow-off?” or “when do we baton down?”
Silly things. Stupid things. Not funny to anyone else, I guess, but things that made it easier for me.
At the very end of my music degree some 5 years later, John and I had drifted apart, sending only the odd message or email. He wasn’t a big fan of technology, but that was ok. If I was passing by in my car, I’d always knock on his door and say a quick hello. I had one solo performance left to do at uni, and I was full of music resentment by this point. My 3 year degree had planted the first of many cracks in my musical spirit. I had an orchestra (outside of uni) at my disposal to help me do a proper concerto. I had it all memorised and the conductor was lovely; the university offered no help or support in completing this. And I couldn’t do it without the ok from them. So I quite literally said “fuck it, and fuck you”. I invited John to hear me perform, but warned him my pieces weren’t great, my playing would be very underprepared, and he wouldn’t see the same spirit he had seen in years before.
He understood. And while it was my worst performance to date, even beyond the solos I had done where I was suffering nervous bow shakes so badly I was on beta blockers, he was still proud of me. He still showed up.
My standards were NEVER as high as John’s standards. Ever. I had so much to learn from him, more than I had learned over the years we had been close friends. He didn’t play an instrument. Well, he had a piano, which I spent hours practising on when I didn’t have access to my own, and he would play basic tunes, but often it sat quiet, waiting for me to play it. I relished it. But John…I couldn’t understand it. He didn’t have musical talent, but he had an incredible musical ear. He was able to pick out complex themes and melodies from huge orchestral symphonies and concertos. Like me, he could identify almost any work just by hearing a few bars of the piece. He knew if I had a cold just by listening to the intonation of my playing (my hearing goes to shit when I have a cold, and I used to rely on vibrations and resonances when my intonation was fucked).
Perhaps John understood me, appreciated me, didn’t mind me being a fucking weird, kooky, black cellist, trying to make it in a world that didn’t suit me, not batting an eyelid, not trying to change me. Perhaps John wanted a part in the world I was already in, and I was his way in. Perhaps he just wanted to be seen with a young, vaguely intelligent girl on his arm (which often crossed my mind, but too many factors dictated otherwise).
I barely saw John after that, maybe two more times. I’d drive past his house if I was in the area and keep an eye open for his smart little Mini he drove, but often, it wasn’t there. And then I had children and…and excuses and more excuses.
Like so many people in my life, I never forgot about him. He’d flit into my mind and I’d wish I could visit him. I no longer had his contact details. I missed him though.
Yesterday, maybe the day before, I can’t remember, he didn’t just flit into my mind, he came crashing in with a thump. I don’t know why; there was no trigger at all. I wondered if there was a way to go and visit him in the new year, track down some contact details for him.
Today, in the comments on my previous post, I find out he passed away. I have no further details, and don’t know if I’ll get any more. All I know of the situation, is “He thought you were wonderful. Keep that in your heart.”
My heart is heavy. My heart hurts. In light of all the things relating to classical music which have happened just this month alone, suddenly I am more raw than ever. Suddenly lost Suddenly confused.
I miss you John, so much. Even more, now. You helped me survive a time which, really, should have left me emotionally broken and immobile. You thought I was wonderful? I thought you were the best thing since your homemade brown bread, you remember? The stuff you used to make our bacon sandwiches before you’d take me back to my “other home”.
I wish, purely for selfish reasons, that I still had you by my side, as my friend, my accomplice. I should have held on to you tighter, but as ever it’s too late now. I wish, in light of my musical confusion, that I could still turn to you sometimes. I can’t now.
I love you and miss you. R.I.P. xxx
NOOOOOOOOOO. No more reviews.
I do not have babies, I am not pregnant, I do not live in London, I am most likely NOT available on 1 day’s notice, I do not want my kids addicted to iPad/iPhone games, I am not breastfeeding, the only competition I ever ran was for a dildo freebie, we have enough toilet roll, campaigns make me uncomfortable, I am not a newspaper, I am not a magazine, I don’t know what the fuck I am supposed to do with a press release, and more than anything, TOO MANY PR COMPANIES CHOSE TO IGNORE MY SIMPLE REQUESTS LISTED BELOW:
- I will only review products that are appropriate and relevant to me and my family.
- All views stated are my own, and I will not be influenced. Unless you are offering £6m and a new house.
- It is more than likely that I will express my opinion, good OR bad, on my blog AND on twitter. BOTH are audiences.
- I AM IN THE UK. I’m happy to review stuff for other countries. If you pay for me to live there.
- If I have been sent something for free, I will say so, very clearly.
- I am not keen on advertising. This blog is my personal space. Also, see #1.
- I blog in my own time. If you send something to be reviewed, I will review it and post when I am ready. And after the product has survived the honeymoon period. IF it survives the honeymoon period.
- I am not a magazine. Nor am I a journalist. Of course, if you’d read this blog then it would be glaringly obvious, no? If you email me press releases, you can expect a questionable email in return.
As if that wasn’t enough, none of you, NOT ONE OF YOU offered me £6m and/OR a new house (which I would promptly have used/sold to put my children through the school I wanted them to go to, and any spare change would have paid off any debts and hopefully bought some bacon). I also don’t appreciate being hassled to write a post, when I have STATED I WILL DO IT IN MY OWN TIME.
My blog is my blog. It’s not your advertising space. I know some might find it hard to believe, but I run my own business from my own home, as well as raising my two kiddos whilst The Mr busts his backside keeping a roof over our heads. So no, I don’t have all the time in the world for my personal posts, forget about your PR demands.
So if you’ll excuse me, whilst I avoid dealing with additional shitty stress via emails, I’mma put a cap on reviews ‘n’ shit, while I try to keep a grip on my sanity. And my blog.
Of course, you’re welcome to see some of the other reviews I did, which, apart from 3 fucking awesome reviews (Maclaren, Cbeebies and OBVIOUSLY the Land of Me) are quite dull. Because, surprise! Companies aren’t so keen when you write that you genuinely don’t like their stuff.
Who’d have thought.
Please click a link to read a review
PhotoBox – Colour canvas
ZingZillas: The Album (Vlog)
Playskool – Ball & Gear Centre
Humf iPhone app
“The Land of Me” Interactive digital storybook (Vlog)
Ever since I was about 4 or 5, I remember my older brother (by about 7 years) having the most insane amount of Lego I could ever comprehend. It was a HUGE bucket; and I’m not talking nappy bucket size. He and his mate Malcolm (gotta love the 80s) used to play with it, and all the additional Lego Star Wars, and I wasn’t allowed to touch ANY of it.
So of course, I did, all the time, when they weren’t around. Heh.
Now of course, with Noah and Isaac around, I’m absolutely swamped with Lego, and I confess I have my own tub stashed away for er, yes well, let’s just say that my little Lego figures are more grown up than one might expect.
Obviously Noah and Isaac are very young, but they do love Lego. My GOD do they love Lego. They got tons of it over Christmas, and it’s everywhere. Which is lovely, since you know, I love Lego with a passion.
However. It does make me goddam stabby at times. As if it wasn’t enough that you have no choice but to scream to the very high heavens if you stand on one of those sons of bitches, as it leaves a 3 day imprint in your foot (does that happen on purpose? Are they designed with that in mind??) but when you’re trying to build the stuff as fast as possible with a 4 and nearly 3 year old breathing down your neck, it becomes a wee bit stressful, no?
And sweet baby Jesus, some of them are complicated.
Because you know, they can’t just play with the Lego Duplo, for kids their age, no. They got bored and wanted the big complicated stuff.
They both love that orange rescue truck thing, but the top isn’t stable. Every time they breathe on it, it pretty much collapses. So every 2-3 minutes, it’s “Mommy can you fix the roof please?” Rinse, repeat. And the ambulance is awesome (I confess I may have enjoyed building that a little too much) but the inside is small to get stuff in and out, and once dumped in the Lego tub, you can guarantee I’m not allowed to hoover the lounge until all the tiny “lights” have been found.
Much as the stuff can drive me a bit batshit, I LOVE how some of the sets help their creativity. They both obviously have a huge love of anything with a wheel on it, 4 wheels is a bonus, and 6 or more is pure heaven. So using some of those “mix ‘n’ match” sets were absolutely brilliant. Creating their own car shop with stacked tyres and mechanics and workmen and computers and rescue services and “gangstas” and patrol cars and more? Hell yeah.
What with all the chicken pox that went on over the last month (I do not ever want to do that again), I was convinced we were all pretty much going to die. I had visions of us not making it through, for all the stress, crying, scratching, whining, and demands for snacks. And that’s just me. I’m eternally thankful that there’s enough of the stuff in the Lego tub now (yes, including a random pair of socks. I’m yet to figure that one out).
And hey! I’ll even let them play with it.