Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ New experience

After a very long Lockdown, Paul has started singing again – and not only with the choirs he sings in. He’s also singing again with David Poole, our very good friend who accompanies him on the piano in practice sessions and, occasionally, in performances with our WiPs (Works in Progress) group.

But Paul singing again will also mean me getting back to playing the piano again to accompany him when he practises. I shall confess at once. I am not a very good pianist. I thoroughly enjoyed the longish period when our friend, the well-known New Zealand pianist Richard Mapp, was living in London, indeed in South London. I’d go for weekly lessons with him. With his kindness and guidance and understanding of the music, I flourished. But now and for a number of past years, I have lapsed.

And yet I enjoy it. Earlier today, I spent a while thinking about how that enjoyment got built into me.  The answer, undoubtedly, was Miss Harries. Miss Harries was our elderly neighbour when I was growing up in Fishguard. She herself had grown up on the Pencaer peninsula, walking miles to school every day. She’d become a very reliable piano teacher, getting her pupils successfully through their grades, and she was a great friend of my redoubtable Aunty Mali who lived up the road.

She was also quite a character in her own quiet right. It amused me to hear her say, for the umpteenth time, that she thought she’d have a boiled egg for her lunch. It interested me that, to cure me of the warts on my fingers, she’d bring in a weed from the garden which exuded a milky substance when the stem was broken. Wonders, that milky stuff seemed to work.  And, of course, her living next door made me buckle down to my piano practice. I knew full well that, through the wall, she could hear how often I was doing it. Or not!

This morning, lying in bed as you do when you don’t feel quite ready to get up, I specifically thought about the time when Miss Harries took her with me on holiday to Cardiff. I was about ten years old. Beforehand, I thought I was going to have a most boring time. How wrong I was. Here are some of the things we did. We walked around the big department stores in the centre of Cardiff  viewing the amazing arrays of goods. We went to the then newly opened sports hall in Cardiff to watch a big swimming competition. We went to the cinema to see the film, Gigi. (I’m not sure Miss Harries knew in advance that the film was quite naughty. But we both loved it.) And the B&B where we stayed was also great fun since the patron was a man from North Pembrokeshire who enjoyed a good natter.

What a hugely kind thing it was on her part for Miss Harries to invite me to accompany her to the big city for her annual holiday. What new experiences she gave me. I shall always thank her for her boldness in taking me with her and for the way that, in that one week, she so significantly widened my world. As I think about it now, I feel immense gratitude not only for her kindness but for her trust that I could handle and appreciate the experience.

PS: The top picture is leaves of our schumacher tree and the other is in Brockwell Park.

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