Category Archives: Woman in a White Coat

Memorising piano music

 

Handel's Suite in D minor
Handel’s Suite in D minor

I can remember numbers, text, where I’ve put things but I’ve always found memorising music very difficult. Even as a child I always played from music, even in concerts. It’s not my age – though I am 83 – it was the same when I was young. The Sarabande from the Handel suite is easy enough but I’d have to make a real effort to get it by heart. One piece stuck, though, Satie’s Gymnopoedie No 1. I didn’t try to learn it. it was just there.

I am trying to memorise Grieg’s Album Leaf.  It’s quite a simple piece – two repeated sections, one with the melody in the right hand and one with the melody in the left. I think I’ve managed the first part, but it’s been hard work. What’s so silly, is that I’ve always had trouble not remembering things, especially numbers.

I learned to play in 1942 when I was evacuated to Dawlish. My first teacher was a wonderful man, the organist at a local church.

From my memoir Woman in a White Coat
I knocked on the door of the room where the piano had been delivered the week before. The smell of cigarettes and mothballs greeted me as I pushed open the door. A short bald-headed man, wearing a rumpled dark grey pin-striped suit, stood by the piano. His waistcoat was tightly stretched across his paunch, a silver watch chain hanging between the pockets. His steel‑rimmed glasses were perched on the end of his nose and held together with sticky tape. On the top of his forehead, he had a round swelling, about the size of a plum. It was hard not to stare at it.
‘Come in. Come in. You must be Abby Waterman.’
He flicked open his pocket watch.
‘Right on time, my dear. I’m Geoffrey Lawson, the organist at St Stephen’s.’
He rested his cigarette carefully on the edge of the piano lid and held out a stubby hand for me to shake. Continue reading Memorising piano music

A week’s whistle-stop tour of Sicily

Mount Etna quietly dozing in the June sunshine

May 8th 2015. It was a super Riviera Travel tour with an excellent well-informed courier. Hadn’t realised how many times the island changed hands. Took the coach to the foot of Mount Etna but my dodgy hip wouldn’t let me do much climbing. Great crescent of tourist shops but only bought a packet of cashew nuts.

Memories I didn’t put in my memoir

EH0791. When I was 2½ my mother took my dummy away. i can remember being pushed in a heavy metal pushchair in Petticoat Lane. My dummy was always tied with a ribbon to a safety pin in my coat or dress and it was gone. I was desolate.

2. A fellow student said he’d ask me to marry him if I’d promise to say No. He said it was to be sure at least one person would ask. I was 18 at the time!!

3. Age 14, being caught without an underground ticket and saying I’d got on later than I did.  I had visions of police and having to go to court but luckily the ticket inspector took pity on me and let me go. I never ever did it again. My mother would never have forgiven me for ‘showing her up’.

Now the waiting begins

Taormina Fountain

Stephanie liked my Synopsis and says she’s ready to send it out to Agents. No doubt months of waiting to come. Feel rather guilty at being abrupt with an agent who hadn’t replied to a previous submission after 8 weeks. Now realise it’s the norm to have to wait 2 or 3 months.

Once upon a wartime

Evacuated to Devon 1941

In 1939 I was evacuated to Littleport (2 billets) in Cambridgeshire and then to Ely, and in 1942 to Dawlish in South Devon.

Excerpt  from my memoir Woman in a White Coat
Operation Pied Piper’, the plan for the evacuation of children from areas likely to be bombed, was in place long before WW2 was declared. People in safe areas with spare bedrooms were urged to take in evacuees. They would be paid 10/6d for the first child and 8/6d for subsequent children. Nearly a million children were evacuated on Friday September 1st 1939. Trains were taken over, and London railway stations were packed with children.
Parents had been given a list of clothing to pack. Girls needed 1 spare vest, 1 pair of knickers, 1 petticoat, 1 slip, 1 blouse, 1 cardigan, a coat or Mackintosh, nightwear, a comb, towel, soap, face-cloth, boots or shoes and plimsolls. We were also to take food for the train journey: sandwiches, packets of nuts and seedless raisins, dry biscuits, barley sugar, an apple and an orange.
I was seven, nearly eight and my sister, Hannah, was thirteen. Hannah hadn’t yet started at her grammar school, so she came with me to my school. She carried the cardboard suitcase we shared. Our gas masks in their square brown boxes hung on a tape around our necks, and we had labels tied through our buttonholes with our name and evacuee number printed in large letters. Our teachers marched us to Liverpool Street station and onto the train to Littleport. Some mothers and a few fathers came to the school with their children. Hannah and I were alone.
‘I don’t need to go with you,’ my mother said. ‘You’re old enough to go on your own. I’ve put a stamped and addressed postcard in your case. Mind you send me your address as soon as you’re settled.’
No kiss goodbye. Nothing.

From the 9th Floor

Night Sky from the 9th Floor

Excerpt from my memoir Woman in a White Coat

The view from the ninth floor is stunning. It stretches from the London Eye in the East to the MI6 building in the West. In front of me is a cityscape of grey rooftops. Most of the buildings are still dark but a few lighted windows show that some people are already at work. The flags on the Houses of Parliament flap in the breeze and the long sharp leaves on our dwarf palm tree rustle. At this time of day the pods on the London Eye are still empty of people. In the far distance red warning lights on the tallest buildings and cranes look like a constellation of red stars. A lone airplane roars overhead on its way to Heathrow Airport and there is already a steady hum of traffic along Horseferry Road. Big Ben’s face is lit up. I hear it toll the hour.

 

The Beginning

My bowl is half full

Started over with my blog Saturday May 2nd 2015. My bowl is half full because I’ve finally finished my memoir Woman in a White Coat 96k words. the half waiting to be filled is the reply from my excellent mentor Stephanie Hale of the Oxford Consultancy to my new ending.