Sunday, 12 March 2017

Chapter 177: On memory, melancholy and marking thyme

"There's rosemary for memory" said Mum, popping a sprig into the bouquet I brought her on Monday, as she arranged it in a vase. Our thoughts were with my aunt, my father's younger sister, who had died recently, which also brought home the need to steal more hours with my parents, and I have put circus training on hold for now while I visit them down in Hampshire one day a week instead. Thyme well spent. 

Photo credit: The Guardian
Driving down to see them on Monday, I was enjoying listening to Philip Glass' Akhnaten, the majestic music and exhilarating introduction gives me goosebumps every time. The opera opens the doors on the dawn of a new monotheistic age instigated by the eponymous Pharaoh, worshipping the sun god Aten.  It is a work to me that feels outside time, that speaks of reverence, awe and legacy, and it made a deep impression. I thought the depiction of Akhnaten's revolutionary and single-minded purpose was so well suited to the signature minimalism of Glass' music and the geometry of the set design and juggling patterns that I saw in the production at the English National Opera last year. I managed catch the final performance (see post on Akhnaten - click here) and snapped a picture for posterity from way up in the gods, inadvertently capturing Glass on stage with the cast as well, taking a final bow. So I was thrilled to hear later that day that Akhnaten has been nominated for an Oliver Award for Best New Opera Production and am keeping my fingers crossed. 

The following day I registered on Caitlin Moran's Twitter feed that Rik Mayall would have been 59. It prompted me to share an old post I had written when he died (see post Send in the Clowns - click here), and it bought the memories flooding back. I was touched by melancholy. In a surreal twist that evening, I registered that Mark @HamillHimself had liked the post, which in the kids' terms meant that Luke Skywalker liked Mummy's piece on Drop Dead Fred. A sweet moment to share.

Another moment that made me smile was watching my youngest daughter two days later, on her 5th birthday, hopscotch into school with her cupcakes (they just about survived!). She was beaming, delighting in her special day, and I was reminded of Ken Dodd's observation in an interview at the Slapstick Festival (see post An Audience with Ken Dodd - click here) that there are various grades of laughter, but top notch is that of the white, light noise of children at play.  

It was also the day of my aunt's funeral in the Isle of Wight, and back from the school run to an empty house I was overwhelmed by sadness at not being able to be there with my parents, siblings and cousins. My husband would have done the school pick up in the afternoon to let me go, only he was working in Miami for the week, catching up with a few of my Cuban friends in the process. It struck me then how physical grief is. I let it all pour out, then mentally poured myself a stiff mojito and booked myself in for a massage to look forward to the following day. It kept the blood flowing and the heart pumping.

That evening I was amused to find my daughter had brought home from school one of the Oxford Reading Tree books, entitled "Kipper the Clown" for her book at bedtime. #Circuseverywhere. It felt like the universe had a real sense of humour. I then sang her to sleep with her lullaby, the song that I have sung her ever since she was born, and even before. You are my sunshine. My only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are grey... 
Love shines eternal.

Post-script: Akhnaten has won the Oliver Award for Best New Opera Production. 9 April, 2017

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