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Yes and more!

January 14, 2023

Ben said yes. Before I even finished explaining why the actress I thought was up for playing Violet now could not, he actually asked why I didn’t tackle the role. He’s happy to play opposite me. Hurrah.

We read through the play once. (Man, it really is a short piece, but it is also amazingly – if I do say so myself – perfectly contained. Everything you need is there.) And then we had a long, engaging chat about what is going on for both the characters. For someone who is new to this acting lark, he really does ask the right questions. 

The performance weekend isn’t until the end of June, so it’s a bit early to start rehearsals. Also, his father is going to be visiting for a couple of weeks, so we won’t be getting back together until next month, but it’s a go and that’s the main thing.

Now I just have to manage to learn my lines. If I’d had any idea when I sat down to write the piece that I might end up playing Violet, I doubt I would have included this bit.

VIOLET Oh, yes, let’s bring the Bible into it again, shall we? How about: “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” Proverbs 5:18-19.

JAMES Violet – 

VIOLET Or how about 1 Corinthians 7:3-4? “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” 

Sheesh. It’ll be hard enough to memorise the citation, never mind the actual quote. Well, I’ve got months.

But wait! There’s more! 

Ben is a musician, much of whose income is generated by repairing and building guitars. There are guitars everywhere in his flat.

And out of nowhere I found myself asking if he thought he could teach me to play the guitar. And he said yes, absolutely. I clarified. Yes, I could actually discover in my sixties that I should have spent the last four decades making music, but I have a very specific objection, something I have long, long wished I could do – play Beethoven’s Für Elise.

When I was a kid I longed to learn how to play the piano, but there was no money for lessons and certainly no room for a piano in our flat. I never wished more that I’d had lessons than the first time I heard a recording of Für Elise. Like my little play, it’s a short piece and (whilst I might not go as far about my play) it’s just perfect.

Forty years ago, as I am sure he will remember, when I found out my mate John knew how to play Für Elise, I made him play it for me about 20 times.

There’s still no money for lessons and no room for a piano, but it can also be played on the guitar and Ben seems to think it’s not that hard. 

The first thing was to establish whether I naturally played right or left handed. (Apparently there are right handed people who are better at playing left handed.) He handed me a guitar which it took me a moment to figure out how to hold right handed. When I tried to switch it around it just felt wrong, so obviously I am not one of those right handed people who play left.

I had an email from him yesterday evening asking if I had a guitar, which, if I did, I should bring next time for him to tune and generally get ship shape. Clearly he hadn’t been listening. I replied: “Do I have a guitar? No, I’ve never had a guitar. It felt so odd picking it up today that I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever actually held one before. I’ve never owned an instrument of any sort. Never had a lesson. But learning to play Für Elise has always been on my bucket list. Ideally the piano, but a guitar will do. The last time I had a music lesson was in school when I was about 14 (so half a century ago). Probably wouldn’t hurt to try desperately to remember (or relearn) how to read music.” I then predicted: “I will be the worst guitar student ever.” I got an LOL in response and a suggestion that if I did learn how to read music, perhaps I could refresh his memory. (It’s FACE and Every Good Boy Deserves Fun, right? That’s about all I remember.) He doesn’t seem to think it will be necessary. And he’s offered to lend me a guitar until I figure out whether I could see myself enjoying it “ after the painstaking learning curves”. Well, that does remain to be seen. But, if I do actually discover a new love, he’s further offered to find – or even build – a guitar for me.

To be honest, I’ll be pretty bloody impressed if I even manage to play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. The idea that sometime this year I might actually be able to play this is quite mindboggling.  

Imagine that.

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One Comment
  1. John Galpin permalink

    What an excellent rendition! One of the saddest moments of my year was having to give away my piano, which I’d had since I was 4 years old. Nowhere to put it in my new apartment. Enjoy your musical challenge!

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