Tortured by Manners


The opening of the “Arts Centre for Disadvantaged Children” had been a great success with attendees including the Lord Mayor and several local dignitaries. Among those present, and a significant benefactor to the project, was the revered Mrs Mellidrew, a widow whose husband had died of boredom some years before.  She had offered,somewhat firmly, to round off the delightful evening with one of her valued pianoforte recitals.

After sitting down and settling the music in front of her , she  plays excerpts from Rachmaninov’s piano concerto No2. It is a powerful, emotive and evocative piece of music such as might be used in …. The scene is yours to choose. That is  the wonder of music. Mrs Mellidrew operates the piano with a brisk and faultless efficiency which hits each note with accuracy, but somehow shreds all light and shade from the piece. Her audience nod painfully.  They have had this experience before.

Despite this, they warmly applaud after the recital. “Simply wonderful” exclaims an anxious relative from the back of the room. “Masterful” concurs some gallant victim sited nearer the subject of their praise. “I’ve never heard it played better” pips up some old gent in a display of heroic falsehood,  attracting bewildered looks from people  near him. Perhaps we have all witnessed this occasion.

While those inside mingle and congratulate the good lady on her talents,  a couple of friends who escaped early, hide outside and enjoy a soothing whisky . “My god that was awful” exclaims one. “I’ve had a better time at the dentist” says the other, marking their common  agony . Sadly it is not the first time that Mrs Mellidrew has operated the piano in public. Possibly her considerable private fortune and charitable donations add weight to  the applause, or am I being too cynical.

Her vulnerability to the opinion of the audience is muted by the contempt with which she views them. That they are too primitive to understand great music is their loss. Self knowledge can be a dangerous thing and she restricts her intake of it to the bare minimum. Finally at the end of the event, she moves towards her waiting car. “Thankyou again” says someone else. His voice has an undertone of  relief . The event is over. . . When she has gone, the remaining throng act like people  released from some health and safety lecture and trudge off  to sooth their nerves with a mixture of abandon and relief.

Saying what you mean is important. But is it the same as meaning what you  say. Perhaps we will have to ask the enlightened Mrs Mellidrew once she has finished her practise of “Air on a C string” or some note quite near it on the keyboard.

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, creative writing, Life, life2, skils, Talent, writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Tortured by Manners

  1. This is wonderful! I am so glad I started to follow :)

    Christine

  2. Nicely done, as always :-)

  3. ladyfi says:

    Oh – so tongue in cheek. A wonderful read!

  4. Peter, you’ve outdone yourself. I picture a scene from that wonderful show “Keeping Up Appearances” with Hyacinth Bucket singing for all she is worth and her neighbor (the music instructor–can’t remember his name right now) cringing and hiding.

    We are legends in our own minds and rarely do others deprive us of our delusions. Are they doing us any favors by letting us go on? Kindness can seem cruel but that cruelty can be the kindest thing in the long run.

  5. winsomebella says:

    You draw the scene so vividly that I feel the utter pain of each moment……I mean it :-). Well- done, again.

  6. babs50nfab says:

    Brilliantly played Peter! I mean that wholeheartedly!
    b

  7. backonmyown says:

    This is great, Peter. I agree with Lorna’s assessment. Hyacinth Bucket is one of my favorite characters. She’s so delightfully full of herself (and some other stuff). I’m not sure Hyacinth has the money to be a significant benefactor–she just pretends she does.
    Well done, as always.

  8. Caroline says:

    I love this. I have visions of my dear Dad (a classical pianist) who insisted I learnt the difference of a good performance and a bad one when I became interested in classical music. He had masses of LPs of the same piece of music played by different – famous – pianists and would play them to teach me how to listen for good interpretation!!

    My vision of this performance sends shudders down my spine!!!!

  9. judithhb says:

    What a great picture you paint Peter. And I immediately thought of Hyacinth and her singing and of course, her pretensions. :)

  10. maturestudenthanginginthere says:

    I loved this post. I think you’ve struck on something here too. I think instead of serving tea and coffee at health and safety lectures there should also be a wee nip of whisky :wink: Beautifully written. Thank you.

  11. Al says:

    This scene, whether real or imagined, was so vividly portrayed that I found myself yawning uncontrollably throughout.

  12. nelle says:

    What a cutting piece, rofl. There would be a difference, one of integrity, one of emphasis. Glad you didn’t make that air on a G string, for that conjures up a wholly different image of her concerto.

  13. ~~~~Ducky,
    this post reminds me of writing. I mean, one can write w/ superb grammar (every word in its place, etc…) but without the passion or organs or heart…one is left w/ a skeleton of nothingness.

    Looooooooooooove visiting you, my dear. Xx

  14. renxkyoko says:

    I guess a few choice words were well worth uttering for the sake of disadvantaged children.

  15. Kirri White says:

    A captivating story with meaningful undertones. You’re such a clever writer!

  16. afroblush says:

    Lol @ her husband dying of boredom a few years back! You told this with great wit, and yet it the end is quite a serious question, one which I will carry with me into the week. #sayingwhatyoumean

  17. eof737 says:

    Beautifully written… ;-)
    Thank you for checking in during the Hurricane… your kind wishes were appreciated!

  18. “Saying what you mean is important. But is it the same as meaning what you say.” Deep. Ahh, if more of us could master authenticity — or at least give a stab at it a bit more often. It appears that guests enthusiastic to please the pianist went beyond the respect or politeness call of duty. I remember when I was 4 and coming out of church with my mother. The pastor, as we were passing, asked me, “How was the service, little girl?” I promptly responded, “Boring!” I am fortunate that my mother did not have a gun or sharp instrument in her hand at that moment. She almost died of embarrassment and boy did I catch it when we got out of ear shot of the pastor. To be genuine coupled with living consistently with love and respect is a true art — and a rare one. I like how you capture so many nuances in such a gentle and carressing way.

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