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….’