Monthly Archives: May 2012

the year of playing the piano – oranges and bananas

So, I’ve found myself listening to Mr. Hunt at the Leveson Enquiry, watching YouTube bits of Krapp’s Last Tape and writing my book, all at the same time. Oh, and eating an orange. My world is dark and sticky. To lighten and destickify, I’m going to wash my hands and go to the Goldberg, but not before remarking about the strangeness of things. For a start, who are the massed ranks at the Enquiry? Some look a trifle bored, and small wonder since nobody apart from Mr. Jay, Lord Justice Leveson and the person giving evidence seem to do anything. And my goodness, you can make anything seem suspicious if you try. Load of nonsense or democracy at work? I’m still swithering.

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the year of playing the piano – fingers with Alzheimer’s

Every so often, my fingers show alarming signs of Alzheimer’s. For example, they know Variation 2 really very well, then yesterday declared ‘we don’t know this at all’. They didn’t even apologise. ‘Now look here,’ I said, because I’m pretty tough on my fingers, ‘get a grip’. ‘B- off,’ was their response, or equivalent. I’m about to approach the piano again, and I can’t yet tell, and they’re not saying, whether this is another Alzheimer’s moment. Still, a long standing and Fantastically Annoying issue with the bank has been resolved in the last few hours. I nearly hugged Gail, the cashier. So, fingery Alzheimer’s or not, I’m in a reasonably good temper although I’m warning my fingers not to push their luck. Another Fantastically Annoying issue is doubtless on its way and then who knows what I’ll be tempted to do: Czerny exercises for hours, at the very least.

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the year of playing the piano – and another thing

http://the-history-girls.blogspot.co.uk/

My history girls blog today. Horses, not pianos …

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the year of playing the piano – still recharging

I’ve been working, yes, working in the sun. I find I can type at a strange angle and even see what I’m typing. In the sun, everything is possible. I also mowed the tiny patch we don’t call a lawn. I read Prospect Magazine. I brushed the dog. I wrote some more. I enjoyed it all, even brushing the dog (can’t speak for dog: brushing and sun are two things she dislikes). Now I’m going to practise, still in the sun because my study, in which the piano resides, catches the sun from midday onwards.

My brief Today gig was followed by World Update. ‘Our audience is the whole USA and much of East Africa’ the researcher said. I found that faintly alarming.

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the year of playing the piano – the sun

Sun has come out none too soon. My battery was almost at zero. Recharging nicely. Er, just had a call from the Today programme. Looks like I may be starting tomorrow with a bit of zip zap crunch over the independence referendum. What larks.

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the year of playing the piano – getting by

Some day, weeks even, you just get by. You keep going. That’s what to do. Keep trotting doggedly along because if you trot doggedly along the lowlands, the uplands will hove into view. I mean, you can’t have lowlands without uplands, just as you can’t have inside without outside or inclusion without exclusion. Surely something wrong with that, but I’m darned if I know what it is. So. The get-by. But at least it’s a sunny get-by today. I’m better at getting by when my feet are warm. Trotting on …

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the year of playing the piano – give the word a break

Let’s all decide not to use the word ‘amazing’ for at least a week. The word is exhausted. It wants a holiday. It feels all its meaning has been drained away, squandered in a mass movement of imaginative idleness. ‘Amazing’ now tells us nothing. I’ve read it six times already this morning and it’s only 10 a.m. The word ‘amazing’ has friends. Why not let them take the strain for a bit?

Sun out. It’s possible, that with a vest, two jerseys, woollen tights, knee socks and boots on, and a fat cardigan to hand, I may be over-dressed, but I’m not banking on it. ‘Banking on’ – there’s another phrase we may have to rethink. The bank in which we have savings has still not returned the money it appears to have sent, with its compliments, to somebody else entirely. I’ll let you know when we get it back. That moment will, perhaps, really merit the word ‘amazing’.

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the year of playing the piano – more head banging

This week’s piano practice has been the ill-tempered clavier. (I know, wrong use of “tempered” but if you point that out I may biff you.) The bank (see previous head bang) has still not sorted out mistake. Now another is spotted. ‘Can you hold on?’ No, I can’t hold on. Please ring me back. ‘Okey dokey.’ (Small cheer for any reader, apart from C, E and C Grant, who can pinpoint the quote “and don’t say okey dokey”.) As to the ring-back, I already know it won’t happen. Thank goodness for scales. They’re tremendous aggro-absorbers. You can really crack a good scale, really go for broke. Up and down I zip, swearing not so gently, irritations trapped beneath drumming fingers. I’ll keep going until the irritations are pummelled to death, then I’ll pummel some more. I’m in no mood for mercy. My goodness, I wish I had a drum kit.

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the year of playing the piano – head banging

It’s been that kind of day. Bank in which we have some savings made worrying cockup; staff gripless; sleepless night. Some other ongoing transaction ground to halt: ‘we’ll call you back by the end of today’. No call. Waiting for other things. Still waiting now. Perhaps I don’t exist. Then, right at the end, a conference organiser, to whom I’d just paid the fee, has booked me in for the wrong conference. I’m tempted to use a large four letter word in capitals, shouting it aloud. On the good side, not entirely dreadful practice (though still in gloves as temperature sinks and sinks). Watched 56 up on the itv player – aren’t other people’s lives fascinating, but what can have happened to Neil, to turn his boyish delight in life into gloom and neurosis? Then watched Birdsong on bbc iplayer. Well, I watched a bit of it. Couldn’t remember the plot, so keen to view. I found it like Mahler: deadly slow. I didn’t care what happened, if they’d only hurry up. They didn’t, so I lost the plot (again). I’m going to bed shortly. Better tomorrow.

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the year of playing the piano – shabby little shockers

Thus was Puccini’s Tosca dissed by the critics after its first performance. It’s an enviable phrase. As to its supercilious thumbs down, who cares! This ‘shabby little shocker’ transported the audience at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal last night. We were happy to be shabbily shocked. At close of play, we wanted yet more shabby shocking, more yearning, stabbing and general hysteria. We wished Tosca would do a bit more Vissi d’arte before chucking herself over the parapet. We wished Cavaradossi and Scarpia would come back to life and fight an ariatic duel. In short, we could happily have sat through the whole thing again. What a delight it is for Glaswegian West Enders to have such shabby shocking so close to home.

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