Saturday, 20 March 2010

Gregory's Girl shaped my life..........

Hullo ma wee blog,

This post is triggered by a couple of linked incidents.

Last night I went to Dunbar to pick up my lovely G from an after work Friday night drink with some of her colleagues in Edinburgh. As I started on the 8 mile journey a programme came on the radio about Brass Bands and, as I played in one for over twenty years, I became engrossed listening to the music and lost in nostalgia for happy memories of times past. On picking G up and turning for home, the programme continued until a piece came on that stirred very definite memories as it was a piece I had played with my old school band as a solo.

It also eerily echoed a recent comment I had made on a blog I follow. 'Dad on a Bike' is a seriously good blog recording the delights of watching your children grow and experience life. It's written by Dad, who is also a teacher at the school where his children, the heart of the blog, attend. He recently wrote of an incident where his son experienced almost debilitating fear on performing in the school choir. The post struck such a chord that I had to comment on it - you know me, never shy to stick an oar in - and he responded by contacting me to say that he hadn't published my comment as he thought it might make a decent post in itself for my blog. { To be more precise, to be the opening post on another blog I have listed on my profile - 'The Porage Diaries' - which I have set up in case I want to post anything in another style or something like that. I had no idea really when I did it but it seemed like a good idea at the time}

Anyway, 'meanwhile back at the ranch' as they used to say to get things back on track...

While exuberantly confident as a small child, my fears/insecurity/lack of confidence came to the fore later in my early teens when I found myself in the large secondary school environment, away from the security of a small village school. On the surface I was happy, confident and self contained enough, but just under the skin was all the insecurity of any normal adolescent coping with growing, zits, fashion sense {lack of} and - sharp intake of breath - the opposite sex. Playing in the school brass band it was also, in one highly significantly way, musically based.

Although a proficient performer - I played solo horn in the school band and we were Scottish champions for 5 out of the 6 years I was at school - I was at my best sat anonymously within the band. I could play any solo part you'd like from there but I didn't want to be in the spotlight with my awkward coordination, poor dress sense, permanently greasy hair and highly reflective skin. My bete noir was the very thought of being the featured solo performance of a concert. Many kids, many of my fellow band members, could take center stage and not be phased in the least, they could revel in the spotlight and in displaying their talent to the audience. The very thought of it made me feel faint with fear. Not that I never thought of it, the admiration, the kudos, the ability to be someone or something else, but I was constricted by an overwhelming sense of fear. Pretty normal I imagine. Our brilliant bandmaster, Mr Johnston, later to be Mr Hugh Johnston MBE, known to us affectionately and with his approval as 'Hughie', although never in front of senior teaching staff, was convinced the way to overcome my fear, and to release me to be a better, stronger human being, was simply to face it, get it over with, so in time I would come to enjoy it. I was after all, one of the founding half dozen band members and the last of that group to take to the front and 'do the business'. So, after much cajoling and practice he managed to persuade me, hot, flushed and palpitating with fear, to the front of the band for a concert to face my beast. My moment had come.

To this day I can't remember much about the actual performance, {probably just as well} but I will always remember returning to my seat in the band after what seemed like a lifetime, applause from the audience ringing in my ears, my band members around me, instruments on laps, beaming, smiling, laughing and clapping, a hearty pat on the back freshly delivered by Hughie as I passed him to sit back in my place beside the stunningly beautiful K, with whom I was very much infatuated {unrequited} and who's fragrant and shapely person {and personality} was one of those definitive experiences of adolescence. I was constantly and achingly conscious of her every move beside me, every intake of breath and every beautiful tone and phrase that came from her flugel horn.

Feeling six feet tall I sat down with the applause all around. I saw a brighter future ahead. A me, confident, able, with unlimited potential. From a boy to a man in less than four minutes. Incredible. What had I been worried about for goodness sake? Hadn't that been just the best thing ever? I felt absolutely marvellous as 'she' shyly, adoringly, watched me walk back to take my seat, my rightful place, beside her. Things had changed. Things would be different now. I looked confidently at her, she smiled back, leaned towards me, so close her hair touched mine, the warmth of her crashing over my hugely heightened senses, held me with those wonderful eyes and said breathlessly,

"That was fantastic!."

Two doves of perfect white burst from my heart and chased each other heavenwards as I sent a heartfelt " Thank you, God" after them and watched a happy life stretch out before us.

"I could see your legs shaking from here!"

Queue muffled explosion........

Feathers tumbled past my eyes.......

Ah bugger!!!

see you later.

listening to Bob Marley, 'Redemption Song'


The Scudder said...

Another nice wee post Al, and with a "brilliant" punch line but a'm no' too sure that yon "beautiful tone and phrase that came from her flugel horn." wisnae some kinda wee euphemism for something else that wis gaun oan inside yer napper ??

The Scudder said...

Oh and I meant to ask ,,did you catch the movie a week or two back on TV "Our American Cousins" ?
It's another in the genre of Comfort & Joy, That Sinking Feeling & Gregory's Girl ,, very funny and incidentally old Lonely's last movie ( Russell Hunter ).,., he died six months after finishing it ,, possibly laughed himself to death ! I think you'd enjoy it so keep an eye out for it coming back on.

Alistair said...

Hullo Scudder,

I played the horn, not the euphemism. It was one of my pals who played that one......

I've no idea what you might mean!!!

Never saw the film you mention but I'll look out for it.


Elizabeth Rhiannon said...

haha! That was great! I absolutely loved it :) I had good intentions of finding my favorite movie moments to post (to your older post) but something happened either with the videos on your blog or the videos I viewed on YouTube while looking, our computer was infected with a virus and it went haywire. I managed to get it under control before my husband got home. He would have been pretty, no movie moments for me! Anyhow, I loved this post, so much I could say about my own 'awkward phase' but I'll spare everyone!

Alistair said...

Hullo ER,

Ah go on, go on, go on..........

{he said stealing a catchphrase from a comedy classic!}

sorry to hear you've had computer problems. They're always a pain.


Rebecca S. said...

Al! Thanks so much for directing me to this post. It was wonderful and I could see every scene as clear as day. I thought of my sons, too, who are both teenagars with 'heightened senses' at present.
I saw Gregory's Girl many years ago. I would like to watch the whole thing sometime again now, after seeing the little bit you showed.

Alistair said...

When I saw Gregory's girl and the portrayal of angst,awkwardness and naivety I thought Bill Forsyth had been stalking me for at least a couple of years. This scene with its echoes of being behind the times in development was one that chimed deafeningly to me - hence its appearance above this tale.

Jane said...

Aw, that was braw! So much of this resonated with me Al. For as start, Gregory's Girl was filmed in Cumbernauld, where I grew up. I auditioned, but didn't get a part. Many of my pals are in the film, and Alex is one of the gangly footballers in the opening scenes!
And what a great description of your first 'solo' experience. I can definitely relate to those feelings, very well indeed!
Thanks so much for directing me to this lovely post.

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