It’s what makes me who I am

During a conversation with Hubby this morning, I realised? something extraordinary.? My family is quite diverse, starting with my kids, who are polymaths.? Regardless of what they turn their hand to, they put everything into it and, generally, succeed.? They also do not suffer fools, or injustice, gladly and will be as vocal as necessary if they think it will make a difference.? However, they both have a gift when it comes to talking to people and I often think of the Churchill (Winston, not the dog!) quote -?Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.?? My daughter even decided that she wanted to learn how to make jewellery, so she did.? Thank you, by the way, for all the times you have fixed my earrings and pendants!? My son, on the other hand, knows multiple languages to one degree or another.

Going back up the family tree, Hubby and I were lucky enough to go to grammar school.? We both gained O and A levels and I went on to train as a teacher.? He discovered computers (at that time, each one was the size of a room) and that was the end of sanity.? We both had music as a major factor in our lives – as youngsters, he played the guitar and I played the guitar and sang.? I was even part of a charity group, for a while, who did gigs for institutions such as children?s homes, day centres and homes for the mentally disadvantaged (or whatever the PC term is now).? Some of these gigs were with my sister and, occasionally, my dad.

Looking at other members of the family and the root of some of this behaviour becomes clear.? My sister has a beautiful voice and nearly went into opera.? Circumstances got in the way, but she still sings her heart out at every opportunity!? At one time she was taking lessons from her headmaster at primary school, who just happened to be the brother of Christopher Gable.? My mother, paternal aunt, paternal grandmother and some of my paternal great-aunts were all exceptional seamstresses and dressmakers, which I would describe as an art as well as a skill.? My paternal uncle, and later his wife, both played the guitar and sang.? My aunt sang with her sister, her sister’s husband and his brother.? Later (or possibly at the same time) uncle and aunt danced with the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS).? I remember going to see them at the Royal Albert Hall, where my uncle danced the Schuh Plattler.? He is not in this clip!? Some time after my uncle died – far too young – my aunt married the fourth member of their folk group, who is still going today and is also a sought-after extra on television.

My own dad had taken up the drums – quite by accident – whilst doing his bit in the Air Force during the war.? He ended up in the air base dance band and enjoyed himself so much that, on demob, he formed his own four piece combo.? They played for the usual family gatherings – weddings, engagements, bar mitzvahs – and some Masonic events.? It was rare that he did not work on a Saturday and sometimes on a Sunday as well.? When he didn’t want to run his own band any longer, he joined another and went on for many years.? Dad’s voice was like a slightly more tuneful Frank Sinatra – Ol’ Blue Eyes could sing but Dad could sing better.? Even at the age of 94, he can still (mostly) keep a tune and has not lost his all-important timing!

He was also an exceptional ballroom dancer, like many of his uncles and aunts.? This vast collection of relatives – twelve brothers and sisters in all – gained cups between them for ballroom competitions.? Many of them could also play an instrument, mainly the piano, and they were very good at it.? I remember one engagement party in a hall when a great-uncle and aunt were playing a piano together, my dad swapped out playing the drums with a cousin and, at some point, I played the drums with a cousin of my own age.? We weren’t as co-ordinated, so I did the hand thing and he played the pedals.? Dad and others sang.? Always occasions to remember, our family gatherings.

When I think about how much music there was in my family, and what forms it took, as well as the general creativity, I realise that I have had a charmed life.? There is nothing in the world as wonderful as creating something that gives pleasure to yourself and others.? I hope to be able to continue to do so for a long time to come and encourage anyone – and everyone – to do the same.

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