The wrath of can’t…

I’m sitting here in front of my rather aging Mac, dispersing the clouds of bitter, acrid, burnt memories, which revolve around ‘it’s not fair!’.
So what sparked this ire? Well, listening and reading about the usual moaning about people who are up in arms, horrified at the thought that their well-educated teenagers won’t get their place at the university of choice, due to the fact that some horrid little comprehensive school oik with a few points less, will be given the chance to study at an elite university.

Which then reminds me of my school days. What joy, to attend a technical school – even though I’d most likely have passed the 11+ exam, but due to weighting in favour of boys, I was shunted aside.
Of course the fact that I’d been moved from one junior school to another, may not have helped my educational development. My parents liked to move house – well that’s what they tell me, but I suspect that other influences were the root cause of this wanderlust.

A neighbour gave me a violin at the age of 11 or so and I liked it, despite being left-handed. I have an excellent ear, so played in tune quite quickly. Then, I started to have piano lessons. I do enjoy the piano, but my hands don’t do what my brain tells them to. What I hear in my mind, from the written notes, is messed up in transmission, by nervous fingers and a right hand that has never worked well.

So, back to high school. Well, it could have been worse. I could have been sent to the secondary modern school. Now, that would have been the last straw for my parents, who could never quite understand why I didn’t grasp things as quickly as they hoped.
What I was passionate about, deep down at a level, which even I wasn’t aware of, was music.
I wanted to sing in Hexham Abbey choir. But guess what? Boys only.
I wanted to sing. The amateur dramatic society let me in to sing in ‘The Messiah’ but kicked me out as they served alcohol at some rehearsals and I was a kid. Carallo…
I was sent to a school that didn’t have a music teacher.

Now, contrast this with my husband’s school experience. He sang in the choir, which performed at the Royal Albert Hall, he played in the orchestra, and he couldn’t read a single musical note.
I’m a good teacher, so one winter here, without television to distract us, I decided to teach him to play the recorder and at the same time, to read music.
He’s not musical. It isn’t there.

What would I have done, with proper music teaching? Where would I have studied? Who knows?
Somehow, despite all, I got CSE music Grade 1 (lunchtime study) and went to college in Newcastle and it was wonderful.
There, I learned harmony and counterpoint, I learned about the history of music and they had a choir and an orchestra. We sang Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb and this was what I wanted to study. Music.

However, this is where I sabotage myself. I had a bad attitude growing within. Mostly, it came from a ‘it’s not fair’ kernel of bitterness.
Do you know what I’m doing, right now? I’m listening to Bach Concerto in C major, for two harpsichords BWV 1061 and I’m sobbing. Why?
It’s lost opportunities. It’s the stupidity of not believing in myself. It’s back luck, having a singing voice that didn’t seem to work – which was transformed by changing the placing, but too damn late. I was 38. Bloody, bloody hell.
Then, to cap it all – what did I go and get? Multiple Sclerosis.

This isn’t really a fair and accurate picture of my life. I’ve missed out the few years when I did get work, with wonderful musicians in Asia. I’ve missed out the freedom to explore my voice, due to being married to a wonderful man who earned enough money so that I didn’t have to work, whilst raising our children. I could practise my vocal exercises at leisure.
I lost nine years of singing, due to the MS and stresses and strains of life in the UK, when my poor husband was dumped by PricewaterhouseCoopers with a paltry redundancy payout, due to their using a loophole in the law. He deserved better treatment and it almost destroyed him.

So, what is this whinge about? Well, in the blogging world, who you are and who you know counts as well. The MS Society awarded a blogging prize to a person for their first blog – which was printed by ‘The Independent’ newspaper. Now, how on earth does a first blog post get so much exposure?
It’s a good blog, but it’s not that good. My friend Holly’s cry of pain and frustration, which I posted on here, was better. Why didn’t she get this award? Why did Cathy John receive all the plaudits and exposure and not Holly?

Oh yes and one more moan. The MS Society in the UK have a revamped website. Their internet forum was/is a lifeline to those people who don’t get out much. The awful, stupid and desperately unfair issue is that the message board is formatted so that its new, sterile background affects my – and many other people’s vision. I can’t stay there for more than ten minutes, as my vision becomes blurred and then nausea kicks in.
This isn’t fair UK MS Society. You should have tested the layout on people with MS. There are other issues that they are working on to correct, but so far, they haven’t been enacted.
I’m not normally this pissed-off. Well, yes, I am underneath. Here I am, at 50 years old. I’ve just spent months training my voice to sing arias, I’ve reached cruising altitude, everything is wonderful and in 50 bloody years old. I’ve just mastered ‘I tanti palpiti’ by Rossini. I should be pleased with myself, but is it too late?

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2 Responses to The wrath of can’t…

  1. Sugarplum Valkyrie says:

    I feel and understand your pain. At least you has the opportunity to really have a go at your voice. Me? Left it far too late before i has lessons (46) and was 48 before i realised i had a potential voice. I can only do any proper practice at the weekend as I’m too knackered after work and then I have to check to see if the neighbours are in. Sometimes I wonder why I’m doing this – what’s the point if no one will hear me? Fair? Life isn’t … Don’t get me started … The singing ‘not fair’ is just the tip of the iceberg of unfairness. Bitch gripe moan….Carallo and feck… but at least I don’t have ms – so now I feel guilty about grumbling…..

    • jayblewes says:

      To be honest, of all the people I know, you and I are extremely qualified to gripe. I can’t help myself – I have to sing. I did lose those years in York though, which hurt like hell. Cognitive fatigue makes stops a person from doing anything and I hate it. It does grab me sometimes still and makes planning difficult.
      I got irritated by my husband’s school days (choir, orchestra and total lack of talent) compared with what I had (or rather didn’t have) at Haydon Bridge, which was a shit school, with shit opportunities and which gave me a ridiculous chip on my shoulder.

      If you can’t help yourself either and have to sing. Then you can sing with me anytime. I need a partner in crime. The MS is a problem, to be honest, but you have your troubles as well and get just as tired.
      When I win that damn euromillions I’ll set up a singers refuge and never turn anyone away.
      Don’t feel guilty about griping. I don’t. I think about those people who had all those chances and got all the solos and went to good schools with great music teachers and think to myself….’get those fucking exercises right and nail that piece.’ That’s the joy of blogging. You can have a really satisfying whinge.
      I know how you are feeling. I think it can be more difficult trying to start out in the UK. There’s a massive, oily, heavy layer of snobbery which starts with ‘who is your teacher?’
      hugs xxxx

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