Music and Memories

Oh my goodness. What a mare. I managed to log myself out of my blog and having never done that before, I couldn’t remember my login details. It’s taken me three days to sort it out, because getting back in is not obvious at all. Anyway, here I am once again.

Today is Saturday and the day for my radio show. It’s a chat show, where I invite local people to come and talk about themselves, their businesses and interests. I have featured authors, charities, complimentary health practitioners, singers, artists and many more interesting people. They each choose 3 songs that they love and it’s a fantastic way to learn about people.

One of the best things, is the varied choices of music. We had a large glut of the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, but mostly it shows just how wide our tastes are. Even in the pop field, there are so many genres and no two people have chosen the same 3 songs. Young people can choose old songs and older people choose new ones. Each tune carries a memory and the ones that stick are associated with happy times.

Although we have our favourite sad songs, it seems the ones that define our lives are the ones that call to mind our happiest memories. Teenage years feature really high, as does the “our song”, when we have met our life partner.

I truly love my show on a Saturday and meeting such an eclectic group of people and I love their differing tastes in music, because people’s choices fascinate me. Today I will be playing Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin, which apart from being an all time great, is a personal favourite. It reminds me of my teenage years living in a huge farmhouse with my family. My brother would belt this out as loud as he could from his bedroom at the back and the house was so big, that no one in the front could hear it. Good memories of my brother in his Led Zeppelin phase. He even got a perm to look like Robert Plant and I liked it. I was young and always impressed by my big brother.

Good music equals happy memories.

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Wooden Peace

I love trees.

I grew up in a house at the edge of a large wood. The trees ranged from young to old and the favourite of all was a huge sycamore that stood just across the lane. That tree seemed to stand guard over us. It’s seeds gave us toys to play with, it gave us shade from the sun, music when the wind blew through it’s branches and, if us kids were home alone at night, it would scare us with ghostly creeks and groans.

The woods were our playground. From one tree hung our tyre swing and we wore a huge grove in the earth below from dragging our welly encased feet through the dirt with each sweep of the swing. Just a little further on was the garlic wood. Wild garlic grew in abundance underneath the tree foliage, watered by a tiny stream. The smell was pungent but when the plants produced their little white flowers, there was a magic to it.

There were tracks all through the woods that were worn in by the sheep that grazed there and us children would spend hours following them one way or another. They always led somewhere. One way would lead the the neighbours, half a mile away, but if you turned right at a certain point, you could zigzag down to the best swimming site in the river.

It was through those woods that I desperately ran, to get help from our neighbours, after my baby brother toppled into the river. I saved him from drowning but his head was bleeding profusely after hitting the stones below. Poor Mum had just turned her back for a moment. She carried a screaming child while I ran on to get help. Apart from a small scar all turned out well.

Many times we helped Dad to cut up trees and haul the logs back home. We were never allowed to be there for the felling, but we got the donkey work. The logs provided a lot of warmth with their burning but, more than that, Dad appreciated the beauty that was held in each grain of wood. He was a very artistic man and would make coffee tables, stools and even the old rugged cross that still stands in the local Methodist church. Our dining table was hewn from a huge tree and it took him and a friend many months to complete. He would cut small pieces and smooth them and burn the most amazing pictures onto them using something that looked like a soldering iron. I still have one.

If trees could talk, I wonder what stories they would tell. They stand sentinel in a constantly changing world. Each tree is so unique, each species brings its own beauty. There are flowering ones and evergreen ones. Those whose leaves change colour throughout the year until they fall and those whose leaves are more like spines. A tree is a tactile thing. Each bark is different and range from silver to red, rough to smooth. They are numerous, various and historic.

I almost feel their spirit and easily understand where the myths about tree nymphs and fairies cam from. Trees bring me comfort through their scent and walking amongst them brings me a sensation of safety. I challenge you to sit surrounded by trees and not feel a connection to the natural world around you.

Even writing this has brought me the realisation that when life throws it’s challenges, the place I need to be, is amongst trees. Maybe to me peace equals trees and that is why I love them.

A Life of Sundays

It’s Sunday, she thought as she opened her eyes.

Sundays, as a child, had always been mind blowingly boring.  Apart from helping to cook Sunday lunch and the long winded trip to church, the day seemed to drag on forever.  There was too much time spent in the company of irritated parents who couldn’t wait to get the kids back to school the following day.  A childhood full of disappointing Sundays.

Sundays as an older teenager and young twenties, was spent sleeping and recouperating from the crazy partying that seem to accompany that age.   If enough time was passed in sleep, the monotony of the day never broke through the drink addled haze.  If there was a boyfriend on the scene, the afternoons would find her lips glued to his or slouched on the sofa, watching a movie. Sunday was a wasted day.

When the children came along, Sundays were a crazy day.  There was little chance of a lie in as there was always someone ready to bounce on the bed, shout “Mummy, I’m hungry.” Or  “Mummy, look what she’s done!” Or a high pitched wail as someone got their fingers caught in the door again. The only chance of the day not being spent in a state of mayhem, was to take the cherubs out and let them run off some of their pent up energy.  Sundays were exhausting.

Sundays with teenagers was different again.  Time was spent standing at the bottom of the stairs, either yelling for them to get out of their lazy beds or trying to be heard above the sound of the latest music craze.  There was the inevitable “Is your homework done?” followed by the excuses as to why it wasn’t, the ensuing argument and the “I hate you.” stomp up the stairs and slam of the bedroom door, shaking the whole house off it’s foundations.  Sundays were spent praying for Monday morning to arrive early.

Then came the Sunday when the front door closed for the final time. The car packed with boxes, pulled off the drive as the last child disappeared to their own home.  After years of looking after so many people, nothing could prepare her for the devastation of no longer having anyone to care for.  Sundays were silent, eerie and sad.

It’s Sunday, she thought as she opened her eyes.  Today is a day full of possibilities.  The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the garden is full of flowers. There is music to play and art to behold, dogs to walk, books to read. What shall I do today? She smiled. I think I shall do everything I want to.  Sunday is my day.

A little night reading

She sat behind the heavy brown curtain.  It was a big risk to sit there and she was nervous, but the book pulled her in.

It was way past bedtime, a balmy summers evening and far too bright to sleep.  The light crept through the sides, top and bottom of the curtains, beckoning.  The words of the book under her bed whispered so loudly that she almost couldn’t help but slip from her covers and crouch down in the window bay.

She had no idea how long she had been there but the pins and needles in her knees told her it had been some time.  Mr Galiano’s Circus took her to places she could only dream of.  How lucky was the little boy to have become a part of this circus, to live in a caravan and move from place to place.  To see clowns and trapeze artists, to work with elephants and eat as much candy floss as he could ever want.

Her escape into the book was almost total until she heard a door open and then close.  She held her breath as someone climbed the stairs.  She knew if she ran back to bed, they would hear and the game would be up.  She held her breath.  Would the footsteps stop at another bedroom door or would they continue on to the bathroom next door.  Would they come into her room and discover an empty bed.

“Please go past, please don’t come in.” She whispered as a mantra over and over.

She could feel the panic rising from the pit of her stomach.  If it was Dad, it would be ok.  He would quietly but firmly tell her to get back into bed and go to sleep.  She would too, but knew he would be so disappointed in her, that the guilt would be unbearable.  Really though, it was unlikely that Dad would even bother to come into her room.  She didn’t really exist for him anyway.

Oh, but if it was Mum! Any minute all hell could break lose.  There would be screaming and shouting. The whole house would be woken and everyone would know that she had been caught doing something else wrong.  She knew the beating that would follow. The punishment always far outstripped the crime.

Time stood still for an eternity.  There was no air entering or leaving her lungs as she repeated her mantra.  “Please, please, please.”

The footsteps carried their owner nearer and nearer.  Why hadn’t she stayed in bed? Why did she always think she was going to get away with it?  Closer and closer. Then… The bathroom door opened and closed again and she heard the toilet seat go down.  She allowed herself a silent drag of air to fill her lungs and as quietly as she could extracted herself  from the window bay.  She tiptoed raggedly, on pained legs, across the room, book in hand and slipped once more between the sheets.  She stuffed the book underneath the pillow and prayed that she hadn’t been heard.  She lay in the silence listening to her heart pumping.

The fear only subsided when the footsteps descended the stairs.  She was safe for now.  Till the next time.

She lay in her bed on a balmy summers evening.  Fingers of light crept through the curtain and Mr Galiano’s circus called from under her pillow.  She crept from her bed to the bay of the window and pleaded with the darkness to stay away until she read at least one more chapter.