metropolitan opera house

Inevitably, as is the way with such characters, he soon created an adoring army of young girls that surrounded him at every opportunity.

‘Mr Smithson are you married?’ they would ask, hoping he might glance in their direction, just the once.

‘Mr Smithson are you going to the school disco?’ The enquirer hoping the answer would be yes, and that he might risk his reputation and position with a single dance to a slow track.

‘Mr Smithson will you kiss Melanie Phillips, she fancies you?’

The answers given were always functional, giving nothing away about the inner man or what he thought about the attention he attracted. Very occasionally he played along, saying ‘yes’ to the school disco questions and then, on the evening, spending all his time with the oldest of the female teachers, paying them the attention even the youngest girls were craving.

I watched from the side-lines, curious about what they saw in him, but self sufficient in my music and sexual exploration. I had no need of any passions other than those that were contained within my violin case and I was out of kilter with my school friends having avoided the whole Donny and David thing; they never matched up to Paganini and Stern in my mind.

Later, I realised that it must have been the combination of my youthful passion and disinterest in him that had registered. A heady mix for someone used to having adulation heaped upon him by every young girl that crossed his path.

I hadn’t realised it at the time but had been fortunate in that his specialism was German, a language I had forsaken in favour of additional music classes as soon as I was able to make the choice. You can imagine my surprise when it turned out he was a competent pianist. Turning up for one of my regular after-school lessons I found him sitting in the music room instead of Miss Brough, informing me she had left school early due to a migraine and had asked him to take over my practice for the night.

Removing my violin from its case I raised the instrument to my chinrest with a sigh and a smile and prepared to chase the dragon, fighting against the effect the music would have on me. I was preparing Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in A Minor for a recital looming several weeks hence. My mind was on the music, my body was in the music and I was carried on along by the slow, delicate story. Reaching for the high’s my body arched with the notes; delving into the lows my body stilled its search for ecstasy, content to bask in the embrace that notes created. By the time I had finished the first movement I was already on the edge of the cliff. I tipped over with Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D’ barely containing myself in the crescendo. My favourite piece then and still the one I turn to when I need to still my mind and rest.

(Image: By Unknown or not provided  Retouched by Mmxx [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

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