Music is, without a doubt, incredibly evocative. I cannot imagine there is anyone with even the least bit of magic and imagination in his / her soul who hasn't heard a piece of music, a song or a melody, and not been transported
back into the past,
I am not the best at remembering the titles of songs, let alone the names of the singers. I think I may have told you how once, many years ago, Mr B and I used to patronise a particular
eating establishment just across the road from the beach where our favourite table was situated in a corner called "The Shed." Mr B and I loved tucking ourselves away in the shed, surrounded by garden implements, watering cans and lawn mowers. Believe me,
it sounds worse than it was - it was actually really cosy.
The restaurant also served up steak pies to die for. Mr B and I, predictable as ever, always ate at the table in The Shed and always ordered steak
pie. When the restaurant changed hands and the new management brought in fresh, modern decor and a more ambitious menu, we were bereft.
Sitting in The Shed, enjoying our steak pie, we would be entertained
by music from the Fifties and Sixties (another reason why we found ourselves in The Shed so often.) "Who's singing this?" Mr B would ask me, at the beginning of every song. "It's, it's, you know...." Yes, Mr B would say, rolling his eyes, he did know - the
question was, did I? The answer was generally, no, not I.
Funnily enough, though the name of the singer, or group of singers generally eluded me, I could often call to mind an occasion when the song was played.
Perhaps a time when we jived to it, or a party where it was the last dance, bringing everyone onto the floor. Or maybe I would associate the song with somebody we knew who loved it and sang it all the time.
was collecting the money at choir again this morning as Myra is on holiday. I stay sitting at my table by the door until our conductor, the Redoubtable Muriel, has finished taking us through our vocal exercises. I then head back to my regular seat among the
altos when we start our singing proper, assuming that nobody else will arrive that late and need to pay their fifty pence.
Among the songs we delivered this morning was Over the Rainbow, which always reminds
me of my grand-daughter, Hazel, my Golden Girl, who played the part of Dorothy in a memorable Junior School performance of the Wizard of Oz. That was years ago but the very first note sweeps me back to the school hall where I sat in the front row, wearing
my red shoes as a gesture of visible support. "How embarrassing!" was Hazel's comment on my footwear.
While I was singing along and thinking of Hazel, another choir member was having a similar experience.
As we finished the song, Zoe in the Back Row, stood up and asked, tremulously, if she could tell us a story. As a young girl, she told us, she had been taken to see The Wizard of Oz but was so frightened by the Wicked Witch that her father had to take her
out of the theatre. They sat out the rest of the performance and he sang Over the Rainbow to her to calm her down. Many years later, the Judy Garland version of the song was played at his funeral.
several years and Zoe was on holiday in Foreign Parts. She and her husband boarded a local bus for a short trip - just a couple of stops. A pop song was playing as they took their seats but then, suddenly, the voice of Judy Garland singing Over the Rainbow
wafted through the bus. "I was in tears," said Zoe, "and my husband said that my Dad must have been there somehow." As they left the bus, another pop song struck up. It was just that one special song, sandwiched between two forgettable ones.
We all loved Zoe's story. As for me, I recognised the poignant scene immediately.
As a very small girl, my own Dad used to like to hear me singing a song called "You made me
love you." He called it my "Party Piece" and would accompany me on the piano as an encouraging boost to my confidence. Years later, when staying with my cousin and his wife in Devon, we visited a beautiful park to sample its renowned Devon Cream Tea. In the
centre of the Tea Parlour, a grand piano complete with dinner jacketed pianist, his fingers flying across the keys. As we moved towards an empty table, he struck up with - yes, you're there before me, as usual - "You made me love you". How come that song,
at that time, in that place?
I know exactly how Zoe felt. I'm sure her dad was there on a foreign bus, just as my dad was there in a Devon park. To Zoe's dad and to mine, as Abba used to sing: "Thank you for
And for the memories.