Articles for TLS Mag

April 2017 Music Notes

“Knowing you, this will inspire you to write some amazing music, a good story and…..who knows what?” messaged one of my sparky Essex students to me the other day. “Oh, and take care of yourself ☺”
Some of you may know the term ‘leitmotif’, a posh expression for a recurring theme. Now, this appears to exist not just in music, but in our physical world too. Follow my thinking dear reader – some of you might remember a mention of my bothersome left knee “buckling a little as I reached the war memorial” back in my February article. Ignore a pain leitmotif at your peril! Awareness to this niggle may have resulted in a more healthful me as I put my mind to composing this April chronical. Sitting, poised for mental action, I am currently cheating acute and excruciating knee pain with a winning cocktail of ibuprofen and paracetamol. At a grabbable distance lie the sturdy pair of NHS crutches, which are slowly becoming my best friends. I’m certainly feeling a little sorry for myself and my current plight….. however, as I stare out on a beautiful Essex sunset, I can only feel inspired and grateful in some small way.
It happened last week when, in pouring rain I collapsed in a heap at the bottom of the Vineyard Steps in Colchester. My left knee had let out an almighty ‘crack’ and totally gave way. Thankfully two strapping firemen happened by and ably plucked me from my downfallen sorry state, carrying me effortlessly through the medieval gateway to dry shelter in The Purple Dog Pub. Whilst I outwardly cried and whimpered in authentic pain and distress, my inside self was smirking….it’s not every day a girl is rescued and held, feeling like a Princess, securely between the arms of two brave Prince Charmings.

Anyway, back in the room…..that’s where the fun stopped I’m afraid. So, one week on, I’m getting rather professional with the crutches, and surrendering to a considerably slower pace of life. Perhaps my student has accurate insight, as ideas have indeed started to pour forth! Meanwhile, like any traumatic event we encounter, I’m finding my mind keeps replaying the moment when I found myself lying unceremoniously on the pavement, unable to move my leg, and staring up at the base of an ancient Roman Wall (before my gallant rescuers appeared – sigh!). I bizarrely remember focussing on the intricate brickwork, the five courses of septaria stone alternating with the four courses of brick and tile. Why had I never stopped long enough to appreciate its beauty before? – always rushing to the shops without so much as a fleeting thought for the Roman construction before me.
During one flashback my mind’s eye minutely focusses on the yellow calcified septaria shining out from the wall. Oddly, this attention to detail helps to ameliorate the pain….then, surrounded by a flowing cascade of melodies, gradually splitting in to seven lines, radiating out like an auditory technicolour kaleidoscope, I picked up a pencil and became engrossed with composing. Was it the painkillers or was it the divine intervention from Saint Cecilia whom I’d brought back from Rome last month? The seven melodies finally all landed together, like butterflies, on my manuscript.
Laying down my pen as I conclude my article, I glimpsed out at the last speck of sunset disappearing over Thorpe-le-Soken. My knee gave an almighty face-contorting twinge and, as the pain subsided a wry smile came to my lips. Grabbing my iPhone I deftly texted my insightful student: “Thank you – you were spot on!”

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