Monday, 7 March 2011

Mimosa formimosissima

It's mimosa time here. All along the valley there are splodges of vivid yellow, like egg-stains on a green waistcoat. This specimen grows outside the village doctor's surgery. This photo and all the good wishes that this harbinger of spring can bring are dedicated to everyone, but especially to IE, that well-known connoisseur of yellows.

I'm so very lucky with my little corner of the blogosphere, where spring seems to be perpetual. All the same there are times I feel I let the side down through my utter inability to express through Lydian Airs what others seem able to do so effortlessly. Dave scores so well, displaying to an envious world both his photography and his painting. Spadoman's and Rog's photos lead me willingly by the hand into other worlds. Indeed, Mig has published a book of her photos, several of which have already graced her place. Rosie deeply intrigues us sometimes several times a day with her fascinating artistic inventiveness and passion for guitar music. Sarah gives us rich insights into her artistic flair, techniques and projects. Geoff produces such polished, pointed writing (he's produced a book as well, did you know?) , his rapier thrusts a fine foil for Vicus' masterly axe blows. All this in addition to those heady and subtle accounts, like Z's, of daily life and day-to-day events. And I couldn't let this little round-up pass without bowing the knee to Mamma. (Never mind the Italian, smell the pictures. And no, she isn't my mother, just a wonderful Italian cook.) But what is a humble composer to do, a non-flowering plant in this garden of delight?

When I left school all I wanted to do was to write music. With disdain I threw away any chance - then - of university. (I made up for it later on.) I counted a pilgrimage to the grave of Beethoven in Vienna as valid a qualification as any degree. I enrolled at 18 on the staff of a prep. school. You could do this then. I'm sure you can't now. I expected to have plenty of time for composition in free periods, evenings, weekends, while trousering a modest salary at the end of each term. (First term's salary: £25.) Some hope! After three years of this, gradually becoming sucked further and further into education, it was suggested that I should do something to put some letters after my name.

So with this qualification and that, I sank deeper and deeper into education, while eventually climbing a few rungs of the hierarchy ladder. Over the years composition receded further and further, apart from a few sporadic outbursts. Shortly after coming out of education when I was 49, an extraordinary publishing opportunity fell into my lap (I'll save this story for another day). Composition took a seat even further back while I wrote some books.

Now, freed from all that, I can devote time to writing music, but I'm very much afraid that the Muse who excited and thrilled me so all those years ago is now past child-bearing age, is fast becoming raddled, wrinkled, muffin-topped and no longer much interested in romps on the bed of musical invention.

But I keep trying. Something that keeps the flame flickering is that Patroclus, who holds the key to so many doors, is coming with her basketful of Blue Cats and kittens to see us in June. She'll maybe show me how to post pieces of music. Then I shall feel, if not the equal of the greats in Para. 2 up there, at least no longer a non-starter.

You've been warned.


Vicus Scurra said...

As someone whose writing muse seems to be on holiday (it could not be anything that I said, could it?) I feel a certain empathy with you. If I may be so forward as to offer advice, it would be to not have regrets (perhaps that is inspiration for a tune?), but to rejoice in all of the things you are doing instead.
Vicus Bloodaxe.

Rosie said...

Nobody has ever called me intriguing so I thank you for that. We will all await your debut. I'll bring the Ramirez.

Rosie said...

And you should talk to timbobig (in my sidebar). He used to be a rock star.

Dave said...

I was sitting the other evening, regretting that I have no musical ability whatsoever, when my mood switched, and instead I started to think of all the things I can do, and pondered that perhaps a musician might be sitting in his armchair at the same time saying 'I wish I could speak in public/take photos etc'.

A change of perspective can be as good as a boot up the - well, I leave to to complete the image in your own mind.

Z said...

I can blather on about day-to-day events. Yes!

*potters away quite happily*

Sarah said...

Hmmmm this has brought on much thinking....I shan't bore you with it......ho hum.
The sun is shinning today and all is well.

You could set up a camera on your piano and play us one of you compositions....I would love that.

moreidlethoughts said...

Well, this post might just be the one to apply boot to trousers.I have not touched Idle Thoughts since I came home.
I must stop using the hackneyed "busy" excuse.
Meanwhile, I thought of you when I read this:

PS...try to find a way to get essence of mimosa into your post.Please.

letouttoplay said...

Oh I do hope Patroclus can do that! If your music is half as entertaining and well construed as your blog it'll be a delight.
Muffin topped. I like that. What kind of muffin?
Um, can music be construed? Well I'm sure you get the drift.

Rog said...

This comments box isn't so much Eternal Spring as Last of the Summer Wine. Your muse is Nora Batty and you are Compo - just need to treat her to a slap up haddock and chips now and again to produce sweet music.

Just set your camera to movie, tinkle away and pop it onto YouTube. Surely you're comfortable with tinkling in public living in France?

english inukshuk said...

wonderful yellow!


Christopher said...

Vicus: Back from holiday now, isn't She?

Rosie: Oh yes, intriguing. Not to say beguiling, especially Maureen. And I had to look up Ramirez, just to check that this wasn't an obscure reference to a video game, a make of dry sherry, an unattractive Geordie pseudo-celebrity, etc. etc. Can't match it with a Steinway, I'm afraid.

Dave (and MIT):

...up the backside leaves its prints,
Reminding us a butcher paints,
A baker rhymes for his pursuit,
Candlestick-maker much acquaints
His soul with song, or, haply mute,
Blows out his brains upon the flute.

Robert 'Gravy' Browning

(You may have seen these lines elsewhere.)

Z: I expect there are lines from Browning in praise of potters, too.

Sah: If dots represent thoughts you're going to be busy. No day at the seaside for you, then.

MIT: See comment to Dave above. Welcome back - you haven't been about for so long! Thanks for the link, which I shall share with a campanologist friend who is so tall that he barely needs a rope. (Can't bear the scent of mimosa, incidentally, especially indoors. Altogether too sickly.)

Mig: Muffin-top = Michelin or spare tyre. Moving on hurriedly, when I did Classics (A level) 'construe' meant the opposite of 'parse'. So if 'parse' means 'analyse' in musical terms, then 'construe' ought to mean 'compose', oughtn't it? Will you be construing pancakes this evening?

Rog: Nora Batter, on Shrove Tuesday, surely?

IE: Glad you like it. Please feel free to help yourself.

Rosie said...

And here's a free piece of information. I almost got crushed to death by a mimosa tree once. I was in a hammock and the tree fell over. No, I'm not a big fat whale, thank you.

Christopher said...

I take it your actual appearance, Rosie, is something between Ms Chlorine and a white grinning dog with black spots, big red-rimmed eyes, pointy ears and a black button nose, set against a background of custard. And mimosa trees are notoriously shallow-rooted - they can propagate by runners - and the gentlest zephyr can bring them crashing down, cradle (hammock) and all.

Spadoman said...

Thanks for the mention Christopher, you are very kind.
You seem very well rounded in education. Took me a long time to get a degree, 9 years! I had one job where I needed it, otherwise, I've never worked in my field of expertise. (Reminds me of the Python bit when it is revealed that the field of expertise is the bleeding obvious).
I wonder if the Garage Band feature on Apple computers has a way to "post" music. Otherwise, I use a software called Audacity. I think you can, with samples and scores. I'll have to send you some of my blues compositions for treatment. I wonder what they'd sound like from your end of interpretation. Interesting as usual. Have a great Spring.


Anonymous said...

It may be warm mimosa time for you down there. Up here, it’s still a cold weekly moseying time for some to the local library that’s recently had a digital printed notice “For Sale” (re: local library controversy, etc. we’ve had ‘up here’ what with cut-backs suggesting libraries are surplus to local authority requirement) stapled to the front frontage that has as an addendum scrawled in orange felt-tip “If You carnt reed this Yor ilitrate LOL!” (The “LOL!” of ‘the notice’ is separately delineated in pusillanimous purple).

Christopher said...

Spadoman: Thanks so much for the Audacity suggestion. I'll look into it. No diploma in the bleeding obvious, I'm afraid. Never studied it. Get caught out time and time again.

Anon: Good to hear from you, especially at 3 minutes past 3 in the morning. My aunt Evelyn Dunbar used to tell a little story which ended with someone adding by hand to a printed notice 'If you can't read this, ask at the cottage.' Plus ├ža change...

Rosie said...

Apologies. Hope the google thing has not invaded your computer.

Christopher said...

Not at all, Rosie. I'm just glad the psoriasis has cleared up. Perhaps it was the Chinese girl?

(To make any sense of this you'll have to look at the comments in Rosie's recent post about satellites.)

Christopher said...

Oh! She's deleted it. Now we shall never know.