Monday, 30 August 2010

Any dream will do

It's Saturday morning and we're reading the papers in bed. Throughout the week I'm up and out to work before seven, so the slow start to the weekend is very welcome.
I'm leaning back against three fully-plumped-up pillows, so I'm upright, but relaxed and snuggled at the same time. Philip is fiddling with his MP3 player; searching, as he often does, for the perfect soundtrack to our lives. There are times - please find this hard to believe - when I can be less than the tolerant loving wife I imagine myself to be; times when he affronts my weekend peace with his latest cry of 'you must listen to this it's great.....'
But today I've almost zoned him out, as I sit leafing idly through the Guardian magazine and gazing out of the window. The view from the bed is mostly tops - treetops and rooftops. I see the pinecones,  ready to fall from the high branches of the tree that stands waving at me from the bottom of our garden. I peer at the lace curtains draped across the dormer windows of the house in Mill Lane - I've never seen them, or anyone behind them move. I watch the clouds slowly drifting by. I don't think it will rain - it's more of a Simpsons sky.
Philip has tired of jumping out of bed to change the track, so his MP3 is now on random play.
Every Christmas he makes each of us a compilation CD - a mixture of songs he knows we'll like, and those he thinks we ought to like. He stores all the music on his MP3. Over the years, in his efforts to be a musical Santa, he's assembled a pretty eclectic catalogue; so when I say it's on random play, I really do mean random.
And I shouldn't be too surprised, as I gaze serenely across the valley, to hear the opening notes of a song I first heard more than thirty years ago.

I was looking out of the window that day as well. We were in one of the music rooms, high up in the old house of St. Martin-in-the-fields High School for Girls. I was one of about twenty second-year students. The best of us viewed music lessons as a harmless distraction. The rest of us....well we were just bored. I couldn't see the attraction in singing old hymns and ancient folk songs. Even a romp through the school song lost its allure if you were forced to sing it properly, without inventing new harmonies.
Ours was a school with a history - nothing reflected that history better than the dusty old music rooms and you could tell from the dog-eared, broken-backed song books just how long the same refrains had been intoned.  Which is why I spent most of our music lessons gazing out at the tree-edged playing fields below.

But when Mrs Wright announced that she'd got something new for us to sing, my attention was immediately dragged back from the treetops of Tulse Hill, to the girls sitting in a circle, exclaiming excitedly as they passed round copies of a brand new score. That day, and in every subsequent music lesson for the rest of term, she let us loose on Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's finest collaboration, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. It had everything that a bunch of hormonal pre-teens could want -  rowdy choruses, ear-piercing solos, hilarious harmonies, and songs that stayed in your head for days and days and days.

Since then, the show has been staged and revived any number of times, re-launching more than one fading star's career. It even became a reality TV show. But I haven't ever been to see it, and this morning, listening to the random MP3 track, I'm rather glad of that - rather glad that I can be transported straight back in time - to the days when I am once again a skinny twelve year old; imagining that my brown school uniform is a coat with golden lining, bright colours shining, and that any dream will do.


Elisabeth said...

It's funny how those contemplative moments from the past as we gaze out of windows and listen to background music come to life in our memories such that we can write whole stories on the basis of them.

It's wonderful to follow you from the present - your gentle early morning time with your husband listening to music and reading - and then plunge back into your past thirty years earlier as a school girl - Any dream Will Do.

Isn't this the best stuff of a literary life? Music, memories and writing. Thanks.

Miss Whistle said...

So with you on this one. I sing Joseph in the car when I think no-one's listening.
Miss W

Pat said...

I still remember 'Godspell' with this amazing red-haired boy striding down the auditorium as John the Baptist. Turned out to be Jeremy Irons.

Philip said...

shhh.... it was a secret.

She Means Well... said...

What a brilliant word picture "a Simpsons sky" is! The image immediately popped into my head.

(As the result of my 1970s English education I too must confess to knowing much of Joseph, Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, Evita and Chess inside out... ...but, ssshhhh, don't tell anyone)

Corte Inglesa said...

Hi Sharon, thanks so much for stopping by my blog - thought I'd return the favour, and enjoyed yours very much too. I'll be back.

Ah, musicals. I LOVE them, and my boyfriend hates them (apart from Les Miserables, which he loves!) Always a good point to argue about! xxx

Madame DeFarge said...

Not a musical I know, but I know those flights of reverie only too well. But I try to avoid remembering anything about school at all. Miserable time, except when I played the double bass, but that's another story. Lovely post.