In my teenage years the run up to Christmas was always fiendishly busy due to playing viola in a gazillion carol services and end of term concerts. Which left me one year (I think I was 17) doing my gift shopping a mere two days before Christmas and a frantic couple of hours before closing time. But I got distracted by a pair of buskers… a violinist and guitarist putting on a dazzling display of folk, Gypsy jazz, Cajun and bluegrass (amongst other genres). And found myself an hour later still standing there with frozen hands and an empty shopping bag. So I gathered up all my bravery, took a deep breath and asked for the violinist’s phone number.
Skip forward a couple of months and I’d bought myself a bashed up 200 yr old French violin, bought in pieces from an auction and badly patched back together. And I had started lessons! Unlike my formal viola and piano lessons in dedicated music rooms, this was a matter of sitting cross legged on the bed (more precisely a mattress on the floor), the only available space in her cramped bohemian ground-floor one-room bedsit. She was a whirling dervish of energy scribbling dots on scraps of manuscript paper and recording music tape-to-tape for me to study at home. While I played she rolled up skinny cigarettes (I love the smell of fresh rollies to this day) and left the result hanging out the side of her mouth while she played. And she was amazing! Sadly, my fiddle playing pretty much sucked – I didn’t have the ability to improvise or memorise – but I did truly love my lessons.
When I left my hometown to study music at uni I had to cease lessons but I did get to see her once more when we recorded backing tracks for XTC (remember them? No, thought not!) but then she moved to France and I lost contact.
Fast forward a few years and Simon and I went to an intimate jazz gig – vocals, double bass and guitar – and I was struck by the strangest sensation that I could hear my fiddle teacher playing along. I got to meet the musicians afterwards and mentioned this to them, turns out she’d written a couple of the songs on their playlist!
I think that’s it. I just wanted to add something a little more whimsical to this blog! Catch you later lovelies!