All they wanted was a golden harp but they were mesmerised by the sound of my homemade wooden harp decorated with gold painting. The two most remembered tunes at a local primary school where I played a few weeks ago were Sleeping Beauty and a flamenco tune with lots of drumming and bells. Sleeping Beauty is known courtesy of Walt Disney but it was good to get feed back on an unknown tune, although everyone, regardless of age, likes the rings on her fingers and bells (not on her toes, but on her ankles)! I add, for those of you who have never heard me play, I have parrot bells on kilt pins around my ankles and rings with wooden beads on my fingers for bodhran style drumming. The most favourite tune at concerts is one of Daves. He was once awaiting a procedure at hospital and was on a waiting list. I went shopping and suddenly he got a phone call from hospital. They were sending an ambulance to pick him up as they had an unexpected slot. He had no time to write me a note so he sang me a song on the answer phone. Although I can’t sing well, I can play a melody well and the tune makes a wonderful instrumental. You may be wondering about that modern invention, the mobile phone! For years we had no reception at our house, neither did my Mum and well over half of the venues I play at up The Dales still anounce before a wedding “if you’re lucky enough to have reception on your mobile please turn it off”. Currently I have an old £9.99 phone “just for emergencys”. This may be a good time to thank the two builders from Oldham who gave us a litre of water for our car as we were perched precariously on rocks at the edge of the reservoir trying to get water in an old yoghurt pot… (Dave’s tune: O Come to me my Darling from The Book of Caris)
It was very nearly completely unnoticed, silently and efficiently done, not to mention the speed in which the deed was done. Alas though, a teeny, tiny scrap of sellaphane drifted out from under the sink unit. I pulled it and lo and behold it was the empty wrapper from a pound of bacon. Stix had polished it off so fast he nearly got away with it. I have made him a ‘delux’ wooden cat house and swopped his food for a well known brand – all in an effort to make him appreciate the delights of home. It seems to be working, well at least Stix is hanging around now, if only to raid the pantry. I took part in many successful pantry raids at boarding school. The cook was named M rs Cook – proudly reminding us at every opportunity of her famous ancestor, Captain James Cook. She was about 4 foot tall, was a tower of strength and made the best muffins in the whole world. Based in Whitby we were proud of our sea-faring heritage and Mrs Cook made us ships biscuits for break from a recipe passed down her family. They could apparently sail round the world and last for months. I believe her, I have never come across anything quite like them and I loved them. I got to know Mrs Cook quite well because we had a system of chores at school. The worst job was washing up. To make it fair each half term the rotor started at each end of the alphabet. My surname beginning with H meant I was permanently in the middle and permanently washing up. It did have its perks though and Mrs Cook was generous when she baked and smiled and turned a blind eye, keeping our secret from the nuns. As I practised the harp Stix appeared at the window, so I smiled at him.