I did know better, but I was tired. And I was in bed, asleep, by eleven o’clock.
Half past one and I was awake again. An hour later I came downstairs, made tea and started reading.
A friend, in a letter, enthusiastically suggested that I should take up singing. I am puzzled. He hasn’t heard me, or he would not have proposed it. I can hold a tune, mostly, especially if I sing in a key of my own choosing, but that no more makes me a singer than the ability to rule a line makes me able to draw. Isn’t it funny, the impression one gives of oneself.
Singing seems as if it should come naturally. You know you have to learn to play an instrument, but you use your voice all the time, and all children like to sing. Self-consciousness creeps in sooner or later, and in my case has never left. I couldn’t play the piano in front of anyone but my music teacher either and piano exams were torture. I flew through the theory exams with full marks and scraped past the practicals with a point or two to spare.
Another friend’s daughter plays the flute, and has just started the saxophone. In just a few months, her teacher assesses her at approaching Grade 5 level. He (the friend) wanted her to take flute exams but she is unwilling. I applauded her for sticking to her guns; I think the imposition of music exams, and the months of dull preparation for them, destroys for many children the enjoyment of making music. One can always catch up on the grades later if one wishes. He said that he wants her to do it so that he can frame the certificate and point it out to people, to make him proud. I do understand; he did not receive much praise in his childhood and in compensation lavishes it onto his children. But that doesn’t mean I agree.
Oh, by the way, the Sage went to the auction yesterday. He was outbid, but we weren’t surprised. The estimate was £700-£1,000, we were willing to go to £2,800 but it fetched £4,800, plus 20% commission plus VAT on the commission. A nice pair of spoons, but that was too much for us. It shows that the major auction houses haven’t much clue about estimating what some items are worth. When you see in the paper that something fetched far more than the estimate, it might mean keen bidding or it might just mean that it was undervalued and the dealers and collectors know more than the auctioneer.
“I nearly came home with a set of silver plates,” he said. “Ten of them were going for a couple of thousand pounds and I didn’t think that was dear. But I didn’t quite know what we’d do with them.” “Oh, okay,” I replied non-commitally. I knew what he meant though, I’m sure they would look lovely, but what would you do with them? You couldn’t use them or they’d get scratched. And putting them under china plates on the table would look pretentious. A pair or two on the dresser would be handsome, but ten is a bit OTT. Anyway, it didn’t happen.
Quarter past four. Still too early to stay up. I might as well have another couple of hours in bed and hope to sleep a bit more – of course, I’ll probably roll out of bed sluggishly at nine o’clock.