Dear Mum, I’m writing this in a time of some depression, so I’m afraid it may be all a bit miserable as far as reading goes. Perhaps you should throw it away now. The so-called results of the auditions have out ˗ with a letter to each of the three reps from the Centre who went in for it running thus: (after thanking us for playing) The Panel was interested to hear your performance, but felt that more time is needed to decide on the question of a pianist. Probably we shall ask you to re-audition within a month. [I think I'd always fallen comfortably into jobs in New Zealand, and assumed it would be the same in the UK.]
I ask you, what sort of a letter is that? John, whom I’m flatting with now, and who is in the know as to what goes on in the Centre ˗ he’s ‘assistant House Manager,’ whatever that is ˗ had already told me that this was what they were going to say to us, but I sort of wasn’t concerned. Tonight however when he bought the letter home with him, I ceased to be annoyed about the whole thing, and just became depressed. John let it drop that they seem to think that the standard at the C. isn’t as high as last year, and I feel that once again I’m not sure if I’m good enough. I keep telling myself that I am, and this keeps me going for a while, but then I know deep down that there is just so much I don’t know, and just so much that I don’t seem to be able to do with the ease that I should, that I wonder if I’m really cut out for it. But if I’m not cut out for this what am I to do? So once again, I lay the story in your lap, and know that you’ll write back and say, that of course I’m capable of doing it, but in this I’m afraid that your word isn’t sufficient! I’m glad to hear you say so, of course, but this doesn’t seem to help to make me the better musician that I should already be, and don’t seem to be getting. Oh, I know I’ve improved in some ways since I’ve been here, but the others have probably done the same, and are still just as far ahead.
You know, the Good Lord makes it a bit tough just landing us in this earth with scarcely any guide rules about how we are to cope with practical living: I mean like knowing that we have a certain talent but not knowing whether it’s sufficient to carry us through. Or to put it another way, to feel that the work we enjoy isn’t necessarily going to be the work we can do for a living. I know that He’s got his eye on us, and has obviously kept His eye on me since I’ve been here. In some ways I’ve never been so well looked after; but to have a talent that is halfway between being good or bad is very difficult. It’s the problem of coping with a mind that isn’t prepared to do ordinary office-work, or some such, because I just don’t have ambition in that respect, and yet this self-same mind has to cope with knowing that it’s possibly not good enough to do what it really wishes to do. I’ll keep on praying, and hope that He sees fit to let me know what he has in store and wants me to do. [This argument about the level of talent has continued long past my time in the UK ˗ what I didn’t realise at that time was that I wasn’t putting enough work into practice, into improving in the areas that I wasn’t so good at, and into learning how to do the things I couldn’t do. That would all have helped in some measure at least. And while I don’t believe the saying that the Good Lord helps those who help themselves, he still does expect us to put the work in to make our talent usable!]
Let’s get off the dreary subject of tomorrow, and have a look at something I know a bit about! I got me first letter at me new address today, forwarded from Plaistow, (tho’ left upstairs, at 23) so I feel as tho’ I’m beginning to belong here now. John and I get on very well ˗ whereas Kingsley barely said a word most of the time he was at no 13, John talks nonstop! It’s a refreshing change, and he is generally interesting. Julie is a nice wee soul, short and with long blonde hair, and fairly quiet ˗ as much as any girl ever is, I suppose! [Oh, so unbelievably patronising!]
Glad to see you enjoyed your little holiday, and are being looked after. This place is still a bit shambolic ˗ tho’ we had plates, saucers and cups, and basic cutlery, with a couple of pots, and a pan thrown in, we keep finding things that we need that we haven’t got. [Think this sentence must be an example of my Irish heritage.] And that were supplied at Plaistow. Never mind, we’re surviving, and I daresay we will continue to do so. (Just as an afterthought to my above unpleasant topic, wouldn’t it be nice if we could say to the Good Lord when we felt like it, Look, Lord, I think I’ve been down here long enough, how about finishing off this only occasionally pleasant life down here? It’s probably just as well we can’t. [I bet my mother thought so too; such a jaundiced view of life from an inexperienced 23-year-old.]
|St Mary's Catholic Church, |
Since I last wrote I’ve also met the other boy that was originally to come in here with the present other two. He’s a talker too, and funnily enough seemed to want to put me, particularly, off Julie. (Apparently his mother has been ill, mentally, of late which was the reason for his not coming in, but John also keeps talking about his having gone off to Paris ˗ he must have been there a very short time, that’s all I can say.) It’s all very confusing, and I only hope it’s not going to get awkward. Anyway, this other boy, also a John, came in the other night, and the way he carried on when Julie was here was just annoying to say the least. John Gray, seemed quite annoyed too and I think has second thoughts about any changes that might have been planned. I don’t know how it was all to work, but it seems this other John was to move in when Julie moved out, but just how Julie was to go I don’t know! Anyway, it seems to both John and me, that things are satisfactory enough as they are, and we present three are getting on quite well. Anyway strictly speaking this other John could do nothing about it, as John G. and I are the people who’ve signed the agreement for the place (for six months) and he hasn’t so...?
I think I’ll cope financially, in fact, I’m sure I will, and John has already given me some lifts back and forth from the Opera C. And funnily enough, it’s actually quicker to go from Charing Cross to Blackheath by British Railways, than it used to be to go from C. Cross to Plaistow by tube! And it costs the same. So though it seems as though I’m further out of London, I don’t know that I actually am. Greenwich Observatory is just near ˗ in walking distance, and so is the Thames, and the Cutty Sark and some other important boats are moored in dry dock on the way we go to work. Quite an old.interesting area really. Blackheath Village is in a little valley ˗ we’re on one side of the hill; and the Catholic Church is 5 minutes away ˗ and
So ˗ that’s the present situation. Anyway, LOTS of LOVE Mike
P.S. Our Master Classes don’t end till Friday week ˗ very short rehearsal time.