Blogging about Japan, food, parenthood, music and life!
I had a moment of unease earlier when I sat down in front of a blank page and couldn’t think of anything to write.
I wondered whether I had maybe jinxed my blogging ability by blogging about blogging yesterday… but then, another of my acutely uncomfortable memories popped, unbidden, into my head – and this one is DEFINITELY better out than in.
And given that I’m hoping to restart my piano practice regime, and possibly even perform for a diploma, I could really do with exorcising this particular demon.
When I went into the lower sixth form, I was pursued (and allowed myself to be caught) by an upper sixth former – the deputy head boy, the captain of the football team, an all-round charming guy. This was my first proper grown-up relationship in that, when we went out to the cinema, he could say, “I’ll pick you up at 7.”
Yes. He had a car. A Nissan Micra, but still – a car.
This made me feel glamorous, important and liberated. It meant I could leave the house at 7, go to the movies, go for a romantic McDonalds afterwards, pop in to see his friends, and return home at midnight – all without any supervision or monitoring by Mum or Dad. If my parents were anxious about this turn of events, they managed to hide it well – after all, he was polite and smart and well-presented. And it was a Nissan Micra.
We didn’t have much in common – my boyfriend and I. It was an unexpected match in the eyes of our peers and our teachers, but it seemed to work pretty well for quite a long time. I knew nothing about football – a fact matched by his knowing nothing about classical music. I loved reading; he loved watching films. I liked Vivaldi; he liked Queen. He was a conservative eater; we ate octopus, squid and other wriggly things.
We made an amiable effort to learn a little bit about each other’s hobbies and interests. He introduced me to boil-in-the-bag rice; I persuaded him to eat sushi. I went to the odd football match (yawn); he came to a couple of my concerts (fixed grin).
One day however, the stars conspired to clash two desperately important events – an unlucky coincidence that convinced me the world was against us. On the same Saturday evening my boyfriend had an INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT football match, and I was playing Mozart’s C minor Piano Concerto as a guest soloist with a local orchestra in undoubtedly the most high-profile concert of my life to date.
I was completely gutted that he wasn’t going to come to my concert. It was such a big deal for me, and I’d been practising for months and months. But I couldn’t expect him to miss out on a chance to be spotted by talent scouts, and maybe be asked to do a trial with Southampton or similar, so I bore it – very stoically, I thought.
He came round to visit me on the morning of the concert, with the understanding that he would have to leave after lunch, so that I could attend the pre-concert rehearsal at 3.30pm – 5.00pm.
After we’d finished eating, and my Dad started jingling the car keys, my boyfriend and I simultaneously had probably the worst idea ever conjured by the human brain.
“Why don’t I drive you to your rehearsal?” my boyfriend suggested.
“Oh yes! Pleeeeease can he, Daddy?” I said, with my begging eyes trained soulfully on my father’s face.
Both my parents looked dubiously at each other. Gently they tried to dissuade me, but I beseeched them with every trick in my repertoire. Eventually they agreed that they couldn’t see the harm in it. Dad arranged to pick me up at 5pm sharp, so that I could come home between the rehearsal and concert and change into my blue concert dress (meringue.)
Dad started to explain how to get there, but I waved him off impatiently – I’d been there before. It was only 20 minutes away and I’d navigate for my boyfriend.
Glowing with pleasure, I got into the passenger seat, and we drove off – me with visions of the admiring glances I would get from other members of the orchestra arriving for rehearsal, when I stepped out of my boyfriend’s car. They’d exchange glances – ‘Ooh,’ they’d think. ‘She’s not only talented, she has a handsome boyfriend who can DRIVE!’
We talked companionably for a while as we headed towards the venue, and I occasionally pointed him capably in the right direction.
Gradually a faint thread of unease crept in to my consciousness. When I looked at the clock, I realised with a crawling prickle of sweat, that we had been driving for 25 minutes, and our arrival at the venue did not seem imminent. I looked out of the window – I mean, REALLY properly looked at our surroundings. We were surrounded by hayfields on all sides. I had never seen this road before in my life.
20 seconds later, we passed a black bordered sign that announced, ‘Welcome to Oxfordshire.’
We had driven right out of our own county.
It’s been over 25 years since this event, but I still feel traumatised. I realise now that I’ve never gone back and relived or examined that day. I was so mortified and heartbroken that I simply couldn’t think about it. I packaged it up, put chains around it and dropped it in Lake Oblivion. Dredging this up now is harder than I thought it would be.
It’s going to be another 2 part-er, folks.
Tune in tomorrow to see why someone with absolutely no sense of direction (someone who is, in fact, FAMOUS for it), and due to perform in the concert of her life, should NEVER navigate to an unknown venue, especially when she is half-crazy with infatuation and nervous energy.
Bring nerves of steel.