Out early this morning to the shops. The youth behind the cash register in the Turkish butcher/grocer was completely tired and bored, just slumped there – he said he had got up at 5. I chatted to him a bit, but he wasn’t interested. No spinach for my Indian recipe, so I searched round the corner. Nothing doing. Cycling back, I saw the “tired” youth now outside in animated conversation. So I thought, it’s just ME that was boring, not he who was bored. Probably he finds middle aged men with sparkly inquisitive eyes boring. Can you blame him?
I ended up in the good Turkish café, where, to my surprise, I ordered lamb and aubergines preceded by lentil soup. And coffee on the side. Weird. I almost never eat breakfast and certainly not something so heavy.
I had music paper with me as I knew I would sit somewhere and write. My favourite way to write music is to sit at a table and not bother with an instrument. There was loud music playing and I thought it was funny to write my own stuff against that background. So as I put pen to paper I just incorporated the sound of singing into the instrumental lines I was writing. That was a first for me, but in other respects it went as usual – very fast, with no rest for my wrist.
It had begun to storm outside and after a while a man came in carrying his small daughter all wrapped up in a coat against the wind and rain. He set her on the floor and she looked thrilled to be in the place. He was very handsome, so I was eyeing him, then I saw how he handled his daughter and how he looked at her with such love, his eyes sparkling. It was lovely to see. He was manly, yet somehow sweet and pretty at the same time. She was very young and he couldn’t understand what she was saying to him. After a while he got bored and just let his eyes wander around the room, leaving her to prattle on about “her things”.
Because of the loud music, my mind drifted to thoughts of Mr Z. and the fuss he used to make if music started up in a restaurant. He would squirm and look pained. It was a look that invited you to DO SOMETHING NOW. You might suggest leaving or even decide to have a kind word with the waiter. Either way, having manipulated you into doing something, he would act as if it had been your idea. That memory flashed by and I thought I should have screamed at him “children are so hungry in Africa they don’t even have the strength to stand up and YOU WANT TO MAKE A FUSS ABOUT MUSIC IN A RESTAURANT???????????!!!!!!!!!!” I would have needed to pop in something like “WHY DON’T YOU STAY IN YOUR OWN FUCKING HOUSE?” to make the full effect. But he was 15 years older than me and the apple of my eye, so I thought he knew better than me. In any case, I couldn’t have brought him to his senses. He was way beyond even spoiled, he was half way to being a god. And there he was, his nose jammed in the smelly armpit of this terrible world with its piped music, the poor darling.
[How sensitive am I, I ask myself? The deep vulgarity of these times we are cursed to live through are too much for me sometimes. I feel the urge to flee to some rocky place where all you hear are the calls of seals, the cries of gulls and the moaning sound of wind and sea. The pitter-patter of rain and the ratatat of hail. Miles of grassy sods and not much else. Pebbles, sand, sun and moon.]
Concentrating so hard on my piece, the loudspeaker music was gradually blotted out and then it was all done. I wrote at the top of the page “good Turkish café 7th July 2009”. Then I thought that would make a nice title.
It was by this stage storming enormously. A woman hurried by – short dyed blond hair, neat tight jeans, and small umbrella in the process of getting destroyed……She had to hurry as she was frightened the wind and water would spoil her set piece………She might arrive looking like a wet dog – O the shame of it! Puddles formed, drops made circles and bubbles floated. I thought that would make a nice image for a title too. Then I remembered that the music I was busy with didn’t convey any of these things, it was just something formal in approach. The Turkish singing had been a starting point, but nobody would guess that, and puddles of water weren’t being reflected on my page either. Mostly when we stick a label on music we find it already has its own “text” thank you very much.
I thought about how this music compared with the first piece I wrote, when I was 14 – no improvisational element there, just chords and gestures worked out at the piano with clear metres, and very nice too. [I must make a neat copy of that and show it some pianists…………though best not to mention the juvenilia aspect.] I began to wonder if that piece was possibly more convincing then what I write nowadays, with my far superior technique. [Such positive thoughts about myself tend to arrive in the early mornings - one good reason for getting up…………..]
Cycled home and got half drenched. Heh-heh.