Still a Player
“My violin is my oldest, most cherished possession. A ‘Stradivarius Copy,’ it was given to me by my parents 90 years ago. It’s still wrapped in a silk cloth Dad brought home from France, after the Great War. Nearly every day, I’ll take it out of its case and play. The music uplifts me; keeps me focused. I’ll play for anyone who drops in to visit me and in regular group concerts at St Ives and I know at least 100 songs by heart.
The nuns at the local convent taught me how to play when I was ten. I still have the sheet music for the first piece I learnt: Dvorak’s ‘Humoresque’. But when I turned 13, the convent decided I shouldn’t be near the nuns any more! My next teacher was a brilliant musician; soon I was passing exams certified by London’s Trinity College Of Music.
Sadly, due to the Great Depression, Dad, a top Perth baker, had to close his business and we moved to the countryside. Here I learned to play the banjolin – a cross between a mandolin and a banjo. I’d often perform at local dances and social events. Later I returned to Perth, became a baker and businessmen and raised a family. My violin lay forgotten for nearly 50 years.
Finally when I moved into St Ives about 25 years ago, I rediscovered it; it was like reuniting with an old friend! Now we’re never far apart. When I turned 100 last October we had a big party here and I performed some of my favourites like Louis Armstrong’s ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ and Lloyd-Webber’s ‘Music of the Night’. Like all people of my age, some days are better than others, but when I’m playing the violin, I’m immersed in the music and nothing else matters!