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Tuesday 19 June 2012

The Fates be Damned!

A back room full of magpies that she kept as pets
away from the obligatory cat, Now Wait! Not black
but, like the magpies, black and white. Ah, ha! we'd say
with knowing wink, A black witch turning white, or white
witch turning black! We didn't know which witch,
so crossed ourselves each time we passed her house. One day
the fever ambulance was there. A double cross and hold your nose
while walking backwards one by one. Her husband died - you did
if you were taken by the yellow bus. He should have died the day
before, but saw the Fates damned first if he would keep their diary to
the day. That seemed to be the mission for her life. To put
the spirit powers back in their proper place. Predestination
must not win. Whatever you must do, do one day late! In tribute
to her comes this post a day adrift.

                                                    I played with Pam, her daughter
now and then. Her one big superstition was a musical belief. She played
the violin - and played it well, I'm told. School orchestras, that sort
of thing. Whenever gales and high winds were the scene, she'd play
a certain tune or tunes and they would send the wind off course
if played against the gale. Along with this were superstitions for musicians:
a blue tie round the neck is necessary playing Gustav Holst or Brahms;
blue knickers must be worn for Chopin; Liszt required a  grey arm band,
Johann Strauss a spotted dress. There were many such, all followed
in the cause of pacifying the unruly spirits of the compositions.

This is #10 in my Monday Suburban Village Series.
The precise matching of garment to composer as set out above I cannot guarantee. I do remember certain examples, but not which went with which. Stranger and stranger, when I later got to Grammar School, the music teacher there was a spiritualist with similar beliefs,


Brian Miller said...

what intersting mannerisms, the desire to put the spirits back in their place...in life and in music...i take it the dress color helped? smiles...makes me ponder other superstitions we have...

pam prince said...

This intrigued me .. I like the name Pam (of course. Glad I'm not at all superstitious having been born on the 13th (haha) sounds like so much hassle I would never remember to do. Neat to read because you kept it concise but said all needed - I don't like stuff that rambles (better go :) ) Pam

kaykuala said...

It's quite amazing to be able to match dresses and colors not just to music but composers. Interesting thoughts, Dave! Something good to be aware and to know!


Carl said...

I love this series. Each tells a story on its own but also helps paint a bigger picture.

Mary said...

What an interesting character study of an eccentric!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Interesting post. I try to avoid too many superstitions.

Tommaso said...

Great energy. I have enjoyed the black and white criss-crossing.

Dave King said...

The colour was the one essential as I understood it, though she'd have her own additional routines, like a hanky of a certain colour tucked in her knickers to soothe the spirits of certain composers.
What has always intrigued me is that I have not come across such beliefs since, nor heard of them, yet within a couple of years I had met two people holding them.

A warm welcome to you. Great to have your company. Thank you for your kind words. I agree about the name "Pam", a fine traditional name. There are not enough Pams these days, in my opinion!

Yeah, maybe it was that the match would inpsire her - I'd not thought of that. The credit goes to you! Thanks for.

Thanks Carl. They don't rank among my most popular postings, so that's good to know.

Yes they were both SO eccentric, mum and daughter.

Very wise!

Thanks for this.

Ygraine said...

Cheating the fates and 'superstitions for musicians' set me thinking about how even those of us who claim to be unsuperstitious still have our own secret rituals.
While writing about Ayrton Senna today, I had the powerful urge to put a pair of gloves on inside out!
Don't ask!!!