Idina WallaceThe Etude, opus 10 no. 3, made me sob wildly, prompting the woman on my left, though I did not know her, to put a consoling arm around my shoulder. It strives upwards, to a tonic chord topped with the third, then the striving recedes likes waves just as emotion does, ti, so, and then mi an octave lower. Possibly that MI, rather than doh or so, adds vulnerability.

We had not expected this, but it was ten years since the Foundling Hospital, just south of St Pancras station, became a museum and they celebrated with a brass band and chamber music, and they have regular concerts. Sometimes I resent the power of music to manipulate me like this, but had it not, it would have no interest either. James Brawn played a muscular programme including the Prokofiev toccata op.11, deafening at times.

I can play the Rachmaninov prelude Opus 3 no. 2, and have performed it: a woman told me that the Bells of Moscow motif Fa, Mi, LA made her think “Let, Me, Out!” but graciously she found my performance unobjectionable. Unfortunately, it takes me an hour or two, perhaps spread over a week, to bring up the mid section to speed, and if I just play it errors creep in: I find the effort to keep it performable disheartening, and give up. So I have hardly played my own piano this year, but fiddled about on H’s landlord’s, and the St Pancras piano. Something about loving to perform, perhaps, and needing an audience.

The sustain pedal of the piano at H’s was not working, and I got permission to take the front off and fiddle with it. There is a horizontal lever going from the pedal to the side of the piano, and the upright which should transfer its force to the mechanism had come away. I balanced the upright on the lever, and it worked for a time, but fell off; so I opened the piano again, and stuck the upright to the lever with masking tape. As I did this, I felt pure happiness.

I sat in the living room as H got ready. I noticed wrinkles in the rug, and twists in an elastic band round a box. That elastic band had just been put on any old how, rather than perpendicular to the edges and flat against the box. I picked up the box and straightened the elastic band, then smoothed the wrinkles in the rug. I felt pleasure again, along with irritation and embarrassment that I should want to do these things. What if anyone should find me out? Not “doing good“, exactly, but making the world more as I want it.

At the bus stop there was a woman with her arm round the shoulders of a man- it would normally be the other way round, and I felt irritation, envy, perhaps yearning.

St Pancras 14 6 14

7 thoughts on “Happiness

  1. I often cry over music, so we’re all in common here. The first time I heard the song from Donnie Darko, which was a remake of an older song from … hmm, perhaps Tears for Fears. Well, I humiliated my date by crying and blowing my nose and crying more. Music moves us. It does; it must. By the way, I saw the documentary and it’s brilliant. In case you’re wondering, I’m tired of hiding out under false names. That is my publisher’s hand polished photo and it shows my dimple off to perfection 😉


    • It is a beautiful photograph, but I have liked all your photos. Lovely to see you back.

      A writer is entitled to a pen name: John Banville, a “literary” novelist, has written a Philip Marlowe novel under the pen name Benjamin Black. I love Chandler, but will see what Banville has done with the character. I hope your date saw how sensitive you are, and that either put him off- better to know it is wrong earlier than later- or warmed the cockles of his heart.


      • Well, I wasn’t really writing under other names by choice … which makes a difference. I’ve decided to heed Harvey Feinstein’s advice and define myself FOR myself. I’m tired of being the world’s marionette (I was going to say hand puppet, but I had some strange images with that). Of course, my first, great manifesto amounted to little more than my first, great manifesto! At least this is me … Mark … my real name and my real picture. It’s all good.

        I hope you’ve kept well … you looked lovely in the photo, with a wise and ‘don’t mess with me’ look in your eyes that I’m naturally drawn toward. It’s a good for a woman.


        • ❤ ❤ Oddly enough, I have written a manifesto to post for tomorrow. The problem with being the world's marionette is that the world does not give clear signals, and one ends up tied in knots, slumped and twisted.


          • So true it hurts … so very, very true. Well, I’m done with all that I’m going to be who I was always meant to be and if for some (unfathomable) reason that gets in someone’s way … “Oh, well,” as my mother always says (emphasis on well … as in shove off you fool.)


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