Monday 25th January 2016
At long last my porch has been repaired, new boards layed and varnished and the bannister rails with a new coat of paint. So for the first time for a long time I am sitting on the porch on this rather damp and miserable day. The mist has moved away and the fine misty rain sweeping slowly across the moorland. However, tea in hand, guitar leaning against my chair, I recall a story from my young days when I had not been playing the guitar for long………..
I was alone, sitting on my bed, strumming away on my guitar. If I remember right I hadn’t been playing long so therefore I would have been trying out some new exercises. These excercises would be scales, trying to loosen my fingers, followed by chord progressions, and finishing with a couple of newly learnt songs.
Mother appeared at the door and stood listening for a few minutes, then she came in, “Here, I think it is the right time.” she then handed me a violin case.
“This violin has been with me since I was thirteen, and I played it many time in concerts with a small orchestra. I also played it at Southampton Guildhall in 1937 and 38 when I was about your age. I did a solo piece and a duet with a young man I used to know well at the time. His name is Norman Spracklin, unfortunately I believe he was killed in the war. And as you are following my interest in music by playing a guitar I want you to have my instrument and hope you will look after it but please do what you feel. I don’t think it is worth much in monetary terms, maybe you might learn to play it a little bit.” She took the violin out of it’s slightly tatty and worn case and handed it to me, and after looking it over and feeling it I gave it back to her, “Can you tune it for me?” I asked.
I then witnessed the most amazing thing ever, even to this day nothing betters, my mother proceeded to tune the violin, with no tuning devices, and then played God save the Queen, our National anthem. I was so knocked back and impressed I started to embarrass my mother.
“Not bad…. it was over thirty years ago since I played anything on this violin, I am surprised the strings held out.” she left and returned about ten minutes later and handed me some documents. There were two music certificates and a three woodworking certificates.
“The music ones was for when I played in a competition and won the soloist section and came second in the duet category. I played with my friend Norman, that I have mentioned. He was an excellent violinist, I am sure if he survived the war he would have been famous in an orchestra travelling the world.” she then picked up the woodwork certificates. ” These I was awarded for my skills during the war where I was building gun boats at Bucklers Hard for the war effort. I learnt how to build the frames and interior and it was for these skills that the certificates were given to me. I had some lovely memories from that time, it was there I first met your dad.” She started to look a little emotional, sad maybe.
She started to leave when she turned and said, “I have never told anyone before but Norman very nearly became my husband, if he returned from his war effort,” she paused, “Well never mind he never came back. Anyway, I have had some good moments with the instrument. It is yours to do as you wish, just promise me you will look after it and give it a new home.” she then left and I was sitting on my bed alone with all sorts of thoughts going on in my head.One was that I was glad Norman never returned, purely selfish reasons. I would not exist was one.
I still have her violin and certificates after 45 plus years, the instrument is nearly a 100 years old, and I still cannot play it.
Gerry A/C© Re-posted from 2014