Mr London Street featured me on his blog! Thank you, MLS, I have gained two new followers and I am going to attribute this to your praise and not to the fact that one of them is my cousin.
But that was not the terrible thing. The terrible thing was that today I went to the zoo, and there was nothing there except a dog. It was a shitzu.
Ha ha, no, that's not the terrible thing either.
The terrible thing was that, as I was walking through the Square at lunchtime, I heard the blind recorder player (stay with me here) tootling "Amazing Grace" and I realised, with a cold horror, that I missed brass banding.
Right now, several people will be reading this and shaking their heads and going, "Ally, you hated band! You were constantly whinging about it, and trying to find excuses not to go!" Which is completely true. But I have been in brass bands for a very long time, and it was only in about October last year that I quit, thinking I had left that life behind me forever. And now I am reconsidering.
I started playing the cornet (looks like a trumpet but sounds more civilized) when I was 6. I had been inspired by the school play, in which the love of my life, a 7-year-old called Shane Phillips, had dressed up in a red military uniform to play the Little Tin Soldier. Overcome with lust, my tiny brain jumped to the only other place it had seen military uniforms, which was on the local brass band, and decided then and there that my destiny was to be a brass player. I'm pretty sure that this was the template for every irrational, lust-driven decision I have ever made, ever.
I decided that I would play the tuba. However, when I went into the Blenheim School of Music and demanded a tuba, they said that I was too small and I would be better to start off on the cornet and see how things went. Though miffed I stuck on the cornet, and by the time I was 8.5 I was a full member of the Marlborough District Brass Band (bottom third cornet). But I did not care about my lowly position; I got to be in the Christmas Parade and, in December, spend my evenings rattling about Blenheim on the back of a ute playing Christmas carols to the delight of the general public. It was considered a good night if we made over $300 in collections and nobody fell off the ute. (We sat on long school benches, which were haphazardly roped on, and every time we went around a corner the benches slid about and several music stands and a fat horn player threatened to fall in the road, which was OK because there's not a lot of traffic in Blenheim.) I loved the parade and the carolling, both of which I did wearing a uniform which has been designed for a man built to the exacting standards of the classic brass player i.e. short and very fat, and I spent the next 13 years tooting and parping my way up in the brass band world.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. My chequered (checkered?) brass banding career was a fairly even mix of the good (my band winning the Australasian championships for our grade), the bad (2 hour marching practices at 9am Sunday, in midwinter, when it was drizzling) and the very, very ugly (countless nights trying to fall asleep to the sounds of two 'brass bandits' making sweet brass love in the room next door). To this day, if someone mentions Napier (or any other town in NZ) I have trouble locating it on a map but will quite cheerfully tell you about their brass band. (Top of the B Grade; weak tenor horn section but quite strong marchers.)
Australasian B Grade Champions - if I remember correctly in this photo we're all pretty drunk
Anyway, in October I quit my band, and now I just play with myself.