IN THE MOOD


It has begun to rain so the park is off.

In the theatre foyer we learn that though

the magician has sold out there will be

a brass band concert in the main house.

We consult the little one. Yes, she would

like to hear them. We choose the cheapest seats –

the unraked stalls – and are solitary,

in the middle, three rows from the front.

 

Judging by the piano, the double bass

and the layout of the black music desks

it is a big not a brass band – reeds

and rhythm to the right, brass to the left.

 

The players take their places casually

though in black trousers and crimson shirts.

The band leader enters in a white jacket

and black bow tie. He is stooped and shuffles

slightly. He sits at the centre facing us.

‘3, 4,’ he calls with the authority

of his prime and his right hand counts it out.

The first chord, on the unfettered air

from the full brass and reeds, transports me…

 

Between the numbers, the leader conjures

– with his easy charm, his corny jokes,

his gentle name dropping – Glenn Miller,

Duke Ellington, Joe Loss, Count Basie,

Caroll Gibbons, the Dorsey Brothers…

 

She watched the first three or four pieces –

decided there was nothing to see

other than someone occasionally

standing up to play – and chilled out, her head

on Grandma’s lap, her feet on mine, waving

her right hand on, surely, the down beat. ‘My

heart is full of rhythm….’

 

 

 

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