20 Jul 2009

Post 145: A Sublime Musical Experience

I think I might have got a bit carried away with that last post, well better strap in and prepare for me to get carried away again!
I have been feeling exhausted lately (more so than usual) so today being monday morning, facing my exercises with Ian was to awful to contemplate and him being a nice man decided to do some stretches, magnetic and light therapy and massage on my useless left hand. This was kind of him and apparently useful because magnetic and light therapy are two complimentary therapies he really believes in. Already we're slowly seeing my left arm return to useless from utterly useless. Welcome to how I measure progress. Life is sh*t..
In the last post I neglected to mention a visit last Thursday morning from Vicky Denning and her ridiculously cute 6 month old daughter Jemima.
Vicky has been like a sister to me since we met at college. A moral guide, trusted confidant, shoulder to cry on, advisor and my first housemate in London. I like to think I have always been all these things in return but that's probably wishful thinking, she certainly (wisely) confided less in me after Tony and I stitched her up a bit when we delivered her 21st birthday speech.
She has developed from her slightly scatty early 20s into a formidable career woman and mother, marrying PJ
(a top lad) and forging an enviable career, not bad for someone who read Music (which of course there's nothing wrong with) especially as it supplies me with todays tenuous link, here goes, speaking of music (groan) I was fortunate enough yesterday to go to a recital given by one of the best Clarinetists in the world.
I had last seen Emma Johnson
performing Beethovens Clarinet Concerto at the Royal Albert Hall in June (Post 131) with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Surely that represented the pinnacle of a musical career? Yesterdays charity recital in a barn 5 minutes down the road represented the top of a small stalagmite

in her illustrious career but for the audience it was a bit special. The evening was organised by the Barker family , ostensibly to celebrate my mums university friend Richard Barkers 70th birthday. Richard (a man who is the same age as my mother) tragically has Alzheimers. He can no longer walk, talk or recognise people. So the evening was about raising money for the Alzheimers trust and Crossroads, a charity
that looks after carers recognising how much of their lives they have to give up to look after people. I can identify with this because Adrienne (my carer) basically foregoes a lot to look after me and I don't require 24/7 care. The reason Emma Johnson had offered her services for free was because Richard had been her headmaster at Sevenoaks School several years before. When we had seen her at the Albert Hall we could hear her Clarinet Clearly but she was a fairly distant speck (probably something to do with my eyesight).In this barn (a lovely setting that the Barkers used to let the famous Yehudi Menuin music school use as a concert venue before the School built its own). In this venue I was no more than a yard away from the action. Seeing anyone who is good at anything at close quarters is goodbut this was awesome! Twenty years ago I had been an average (mediocre) clarinetist at school so I could appreciate how hard it was to be producing the sounds we were hearing. Maybe I wa mistaken but I found my eye straying to the ring finger on her left hand and sure enough I think I saw a ring there. I immediately thought 'how proud her husband must be of her. She's a pretty lady who is an incredibly talented musician, my mind strayed to how proud I used to be of Natasha. There are few better feelings than thinking 'wow,she's mine' I was proud of her for her individual unusual willowy beauty,
and the way she would project this image of independence,success and intelligence',
Something that also used to make me proud was when we went to clubs or bars an orderly queue of men used to form to try and chat her up, she would smile and talk to each of them, politely and charmingly turning them down. Inevitably, this usually being in London there was one tw*t who wouldn't take no for an answer and thought they were a bit specialwhich is when I'd usually make my presence subtly known, being 6'3” had its uses) , in every group of lads there's always one, if you don't know who it is, it's you! For my sins when I was single it was sometimes me! Comedienne Jo Caulfield
hilariously observes that this is equivalent in any group of girls, there's always one slut and if you don't know who it is, it's you. Here I go again but this is what I was genuinely thinking when I was watching/listening to Mrs Johnson. I was so impressed, awestruck, starstruck even by the completeness of the person in front of me. I do apologise for being a bit syrupy but This has been on my mind since yesterday. So moving was the performance that stricken Richard even started conducting from his wheelchair. One of his grown up sons then apparently hugged him bringing a tear to Adriennes eye, so she told me afterwards.
While I have been writing this England have just won the 2nd Ashes Test, which reminds me of some of my last good memories before my stroke, when England won the Ashes in that glorious summer of 2005. My great work friend Simon Dawes and I even went to the victory parade in Trafalgar Square.
We had also been present at arguably the best days play of the entire series. The Saturday of the fifth test at the Oval when Freddie
dismembered the Australian batting. Being able to taunt some nearby Australian spectators, famous for their charity and sporting conduct was great fun. The Oval became the countries largest beer garden that day!
In completely unrelated news, nothing gave me greater pleasure than to hear of the recent engagement of my college mate and unparalleled raconteur, the revd Richard Lloyd,
great work!

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