Now and Then

It’s been full-on since my Wellington book launch; fielding enquiries regarding the purchase of my book while preparing for a second launch at the Depot Artspace where I volunteer. This is because I am not only author and publisher of my book, but also the promoter and distributor – jobs I am learning the skills for experientially. It’s been a learning curve, that’s for sure, but I am improving with each transaction.

The Depot launch went very well, and I loved doing the readings. This time I chose a different piece to read aloud, as it involved my character, Sophia. That was fun. I was a visual learner – hence my becoming an artist – but back then, aged ten, I wanted to learn piano like my brothers. Instead, I had to make do with watching and listening to their very different performances. My older brother was gifted, the younger one not so much. And, I guess this is when my visual abilities became clear to my family.

I’ll take you to that scene from The (almost) True Story of a Man Called Jack (p. 163)

Girl at piano (a stand-in for my younger self).

The family had gathered in the lounge after dinner, when the phone rang for Kathleen. She spoke in a louder-than-usual-voice. His ears weren’t the only ones to prick up.

“Oh, is that so, Mrs Campbell? It is good to hear that your daughter wants to learn the piano. You’re thinking of buying a new one? Right…”

Jack watched Sophia creep quietly from the room and disappear into her bedroom. Mm, he thought. Something’s crook in Mussel Brook. He leaned against the wall divider and tried to pick up the thread in Kathleen’s conversation but she replaced the receiver in its cradle, turned her head towards the passage and yelled, “Sophia!” And in a more sotto voce to Jack, said, “No, you stay here.”

Sophia looked on from the hallway. 

“Did you know that our Sophia is teaching music these days?” she said, catching her daughter’s gaze. “Is that right Sophia?” he asked, wondering how on earth this story would pan out. 

She looked directly at her father; tilted her chin. “That is right, Dad”. I’ve been teaching Susan. But Kay wants to learn too.”

“Pray tell, just what do you teach Susan?” her mother asked. Sophia folded her arms firmly across her chest.

“I teach her the tunes in the Piano for Beginners book.” 

Jack smiled. “James’ book?”

“Yes. When he’s at sport, which is every single day. I practise the piano. And when I showed Susan the tunes I could play, she begged me to teach her, so I did. Her mother thinks I’m a very good teacher. She gives me tea and cake when I have finished.”

“Well, well, well,” her mother said. “This is most ingenious of you Sophia, but it can’t continue.”

“Kathleen…”

“If you’re as good as others think you are, it’s about time you played something for your family.” With poise Sophia lowered herself on the seat and lifted the lid of the piano...

You’ll have to read the story to find out whether I became a musical virtuoso.

From next week I’ll give “Jack” a break as I am soon returning to tutoring at a local art establishment. I’m looking forward to putting on my teacher hat and assisting adults with the fundamentals of drawing. I’d better get sharpening my pencils.

The (almost) True Story of a Man Called Jack can be purchased in store or on-line from Paradox Books (Devonport), Women’s Bookshop (Auckland), Unity Books (Auckland), Time Out Bookstore (Mount Eden), Unity Books (Wellington), and the Te Papa Store (Wellington). It is also available through RealNZBooks, MeBooks (ePub), and Amazon (Kindle).

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