Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Shine on, shine on harvest moon

My father worked for 25 years for the Wrekin Brewery. This had several important consequences for the family. I can remember from a very early age sitting at the table in the evening with my father, bravely sipping mild ale, nibbling bread and cheese and eating strips of raw onion, man-style.
When he was in mellow mood (lovely euphemism), we would go into the front room where the piano was, and my mother would play the songs of the day while my father sang, sort of, all the while holding me aloft like some kind of trophy. He rarely dropped me, which was a great solace to my mother.
The taste for this heady mix of aerial buoyancy and music-hall kitsch has never left me. If you want me to, I can play and sing “You are my sweetheart”, “If you were the only girl in the world”, “Hold your hand out, you naughty boy”, “In the shade of the old apple tree” and many many others. The amazing thing is that I DO play and sing them still, the piano replaced by a convenient electronic keyboard, but in all other respects, authentic.
Even more amazing: I love it. Sometimes I will go wild and play, say, “Come to me my melancholy baby” in, say, 7/4 time, but it’s only a matter of time before the guilt kicks in and I go back to playing it the way God and my father intended.

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