I was only about 5. What the hell were they thinking?
What I mean by ‘they’ is my parents: mum, dad, step-mum…oh, and my Aunty. They were all in on it.
Every Saturday at 8am without fail, come rain or snow, my sister and I would be schlepped from our house in North London all the way down to the City of London. When you’re little it feels like a mission, but in reality it’s probably only about 5 miles. It wasn’t helped by the fact that none of them had a car. They could all drive, but “a car isn’t really required when living in a city like London”. Well, that’s what they told us, but it didn’t feel like that to me, when clambering on the bus at stupid o’clock.
You see, they’d got me all wrong. I was only interested in playing football, and one came with me everywhere. My dad knew this and, if he was taking us, would try and persuade me into the lesson with the promise of as much football as I wanted. He always kept his word.
I remember the bus journey really clearly. There’d be a fight to get to the bus stop. There’d be a fight when we were on the bus, particularly if someone had already taken the front upstairs seat. We’d sit there watching the same houses as we drove past, the same parks, shops and cafes. The journey was never great because there was no treat at the end of it, just the doom of the lesson. And I was terrified of the teacher. Jeez, she was scary.
We’d arrive at the building where she lived, and if my dad had brought us we would always get told off by the security guard for playing football in the drive way. My dad would apologise in the same way every week, and then he’d wait for the guard to do his rounds before saying “Come on, let’s get some kicks in before he comes back.” We’d get caught again, but by then it was time for me to go in.
My sister would have a separate violin lesson before our joint piano lesson, and she loved it. She’s always been good at things like that, and she genuinely love it. She plays the clarinet and saxophone now.
So the guard would come back, and my dad would wink at me, and then we’d get in the lift and shoot up about 10 floors to get to her apartment. We’d stand outside listening to my sister scrape at her violin strings. Dad and I would roll the football back on forth to one another trying not to let it hit any of the tenants’ doors. We’d ring the door bell at the allotted time and she, the scary teacher, would answer looking cautiously at us and at the football. She knew.
In I’d go, dreeeeeeaaaaading it. The door would close behind me, leaving mum, dad or whoever had brought us outside. It was the longest 30 minutes of my life. Problem was, I didn’t really practice during the week, and she knew. Oh yes, she knew it alright. To be honest you wouldn’t have to be a genius to work it out let’s face it. And my punishment…..well, yes, my punishment:
Every week, I’d walk in and see the most beautiful grand piano. You see I have an eye for beautiful things: a sparkly crystal, a stylish pair of Vans, the beauty that is the latest iPhone, not to mention the Nike football boots, the Mac Air, and a certain football player called Neymar. Yes, I have an eye for beautiful things. So my punishment for not practising….
my lovely sister got to sit at and play the grand piano, and I got to sit out I the hall with the keyboard.
Yep folks, no wonder I never wanted to practice.