42/365 Junior School Assembly

I’ve been writing a separate un-publishable (if that’s a word) journal since the beginning of the year. It’s a sort-of halfway-house kind-of reporting of the day I’ve had — a sort of auto-writing exercise which helps iron out the creases and identify ideas. I’ve done the same this evening.

Today’s post takes me a little by surprise.

I’m reminded of a school-related memory. I share it now not because I’m especially proud, instead just dumbstruck.

It goes like this. School assemblies in the Junior School were held at 9am. Everyone filed in. The parquet floor was cold. We listened to whoever it was delivering whatever their chosen pearl of wisdom was. We stood to sing a hymn, hung our heads to say a prayer. We sat down again. We listened to the notices. And then, we watched as the teachers and the prefects filed out of the hall. A music teacher played music before and after, in addition to bashing out the chords on the twangy piano for whatever hymn we sang.

Saturday mornings (yes, I went to school on a Saturday morning) were pretty much the same except for one modest change: the pianist was a student from the senior school (see picture above).

I remember seeing the seniors appear at the Junior School assembly and think that playing the piano wasn’t just something I really wanted to do, it was something I knew would do too.

I don’t say that now with relish or smugness, more just a statement of fact. Just as it was then. Every time I sat down at the piano to practise I imagined myself the person playing the intro and the outro music to school assembly, imagining how it would be if I had the chance to do that. Everyone would have to listen to me. Or maybe only a handful would. Maybe only person would. Who gave a fuck. The point was I’d done it.

The memory of the intent is unshakeable. What surprises me is the quality of the intent. It wasn’t full of bravado. It wasn’t insistent or uncompromising. It was just a statement of fact as though I had travelled through time and seen myself doing it, and then returned to the present day stating it as matter-of-factly as though I was telling you the time.

As it turned out, the experience of actually playing the piano for Junior School assembly turned out to be midly disappointing.

I played the Laendler from the Sound of Music on one occasion. Made a few mistakes. No-one seemed to mind. I was more impressed I got to the end. I’d kept it together in a moment of intense stress.

But, when asked by the teacher leading that assembly to explain to the school where the music was from, I ended up mispronouncing the title. A girl from the Lower 4th came up to me at the end and corrected me.

My adult self would probably be up in arms about her if this was something which had happened last week. Now, I look back and marvel at how I didn’t give a shit about whether the title had been mispronounced or not, and how I’d succeeded in conveying that with a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders.

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