Dear Mum, what fabulous news about Monica [Hannagan]! But do you know when you said in your previous letter that she was amongst the finalists I knew she would get the prize, and I wasn’t in the least bit surprised when your next letter came! The closest I’ll ever get to second sight perhaps! Give her my congratulations and love will you, please; she really is a marvel. What a terrible photo of everybody, though ˗ Les Simpson looking as though his hair was flying away in great tufts, and the Festival Queen looking pleased, but more beautiful than pleased...! And Monica’s by no means middle-aged, anyway; she’s the one relation whose age I can positively remember: she’ll always be ten years older than me, to the month! [I'm not sure which of the several prizes Monica won over the years this was; she went in for competitions where you had to answer general knowledge questions.]
If you see Des Stokes, by the way, thank him for his letter, and tell him that the reason for the long delay on the last article is that I temporarily lost the note I had of what he wanted, and since I’ve now found two or three more shops where there is a likelihood of my finding what he wants I’ll give it another try.
I started piano lessons again on Monday last ˗ eeergh! it was like going back to school again. But Doris is very nice and even suggested that if I wasn’t tied up to staying in Stoke Newington there was a vacancy in the house next door to her. However in spite of the extra amount it costs for fares I don’t really wish to leave this flat: the six of us (or seven generally) get on so well (with occasional mix-ups) that I don’t fancy going to live on my own, albeit above a landlady. Doris even gave me a guinea off the fees as well, and also said she has a whole lot of good secondhand music that might be of use to me.
We discussed the sort of exams I should probably try for and I’m inclined to think that it’s little use merely going for another performer’s exam: I only learn pretty much what I already know. I think it would be better to go for a teacher’s exam even though it means a lot of studying over at least the next full year, because then, finally, I might have something to fall back on that I could do competently, rather than having to go for crumming (yes, crumming, it’s a newly invented word) office jobs where I’ll barely be existing on the sort of money they’ll give me. The thing is that most of the better singers at the Centre last year had at least been through something like the Royal College, while the reps had been through Varsity, and somewhere along the line if I’m to be even partly as competent as they are at their work (though it seems to me I did have certain advantages over one or two of last year’s, and this year’s lot as well) I must have a wider general knowledge of music behind me. I keep feeling myself to be the talented amateur in a professional world as I am at the moment. I always think that I ought to be a ‘qualified’, so to speak, professional, with a more secure foundation than that on which I’m based just now. And it’s no use going on merely on my own, I can see. Even though the time wasn’t wasted: I learnt quite some theory in the time, but I must have someone driving me, because I’m basically so lazy!! I’m never really prepared to work unless I have to ˗ I have a little bit of my brain that says things will always fall into my lap. [Up to this point they had, to an extent, especially in New Zealand.] I know this just isn’t so. One eventually becomes a vegetable under those conditions.
|National Children's Home, in Harpenden. |
The buildings were still the same when I worked there
many years after this photo was taken.
Reg was quite pleased when I told him ˗ I think I’d been worrying him a bit, though he’d never actually say so. I know I don’t have to explain myself to you to any extent, but I like to let you have as full a picture of what I’m (now) trying to achieve. And anyway learning is never a waste of time ˗ even if you turned round and never used it again (like some of the things you learn at school) the brain expansion achieved is of great use! This teacher’s exam will involve learning not only theory and practical points but also teaching ones, and who knows ˗ they will no doubt come in handy if I can ever working satisfactorily as a rep. It doesn’t bother me at the moment if do or don’t, but I think my idea of a short ago of giving up music entirely and devoting myself to Good Works (in some National Children’s Home in mind) is not very practical. [Reg was involved with NCH, and after he retired, he worked for them in an accounting capacity. Plainly this idea didn’t go away completely: I eventually wound up working at NCH a couple of years later: still under the impression that somehow I wasn’t doing enough for other people.] I think existing extra-musically would quite possibly drive me mad! [That is, without doing music at all.] Anyway, I’ll let you know what progress we make.shape or form: I think I had something the
About my other decision of last week - writing to the CIB: I finally sent my questionnaire off on Sunday night. I had been going to wait a while, but finally didn’t see any point. The biggest problem (apart from trying to describe yourself to any extent, which was terrifying because you feel all the time that you may be giving the wrong impression) was to supply a photograph of myself. So I finally went and took four of myself (for 3/-!) in one of the booths that develop them and everything on the spot within minutes. They were four rather terrible photos, so I sent the least bad, which isn’t at all what I think I look like, but obviously is since we’re led to believe the camera doesn’t lie! I’ve had an acknowledgement (receipt) this morning, and now wait (still), with a deep terror way down inside and tremendous good humour on the outside, for some results. The Good Lord has never seen so much of me before! I’ve been in and out of any church that comes by, more asking that he just keep a watchful eye on things rather than necessarily make everything turn out exactly right without problems! But, as the CIB suggests, it’s often the only way to meet R.C’s in a place like London. The people at the Parish Church are not especially friendly ˗ I don’t help either, but they seem to be rather middle-aged!!
About the Time magazines ˗ there really isn’t any point in keeping them, is there? Wouldn’t they be of more use somewhere, where they’ve being read?? Leave it up to you, Love Mike (heh, heh!) [I'd subscribed to Time magazine for some years, so there was a stack of them - mostly unread - in my bedroom wardrobe at home.]
P.S. I’ve only had one lot of books ˗ the other’s must have been held up somewhere.