This time of year is a time when anyone and everyone is triggered off with memories.
Good memories, bad memories, memories of people, places, events.
It’s the simple things usually that are these triggers. For me the obvious ones can be a smell of pine or the sound like music.
I had gone to the White rose centre (a shopping centre) round the corner from me on Christmas eve, mostly because work was still on my mind and I had remembered we needed something that I was thinking of going to get for them. I decided against it after a chat on the phone with my manager and decided instead to nip into Sainsburys supermarket and get a couple of bits. As I was walking in the entrance there was a brass band playing for the Salvation army in the foyer.
When I was at school I mentioned that I was a band geek, we practised at least once a week and in high season would perform a few times a week. We were pretty popular around our way especially once I had got to High school, there were a lot of us in my year and we got to a high standard (for a school band that is).
So why did this brass band trigger me?
Because every Christmas time we would play just as they did. Outside the Tesco’s in my home town, in Coppergate/Parliament street in York, the local Abbey, lights turning on you name it we played it. It was always freezing, we would be stood outside playing, taking it in shifts to go inside and warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee, surrounded by shoppers and decorations.
It’s such a mix of memories, from so many years of doing it. We had some fun, we messed around, but we froze and I have some memories of doing it that bring on anxiety and might just explain why I’m so paranoid about not having money while I’m out or being forgotten.
Every time with that band was the same a mix of good and terrible memories. I’m torn about every single trip and concert we did. They were the people I trusted most and trusted least at the same time, the experiences I enjoyed the most and hated the most.
But that band…I felt for them doing their bit. They would be cold and tired, frustrated at not really being listened to and having so many people just walk past them. For once I actually got my purse out and gave them a couple of quid though I couldn’t make myself make eye contact or stick around to listen. As I walked around the shop you could hear them when the doors opened and I found myself humming the parts I had played of that music, transitioning between the clarinet and sax parts depending on the song as I had had to do during performances depending on who was there and who needed to go and warm up.
I love Brass band music and Big Band music to this day (and at the same time hate it anyone seeing a pattern?) I’ll watch Brassed off at least once a year (that’s another experience to write about another time) and will always get those goose bumps down the back of my neck for some pieces of music that move me.
Music was my life, literally, for a very long time. It took up all of my free time and some of the time that shouldn’t be free skipping lessons to play rather than learning about things that I wasn’t interested in. I spent weekends and weeks at a time with those people and those songs.
I could still play with them if I wanted to…but I can’t stand the thought of being in that town, being around some of those people again, going through some of those experiences again.
Bless all those who have been doing those performances this year, you have my admiration and my sympathy in equal parts.