‘Mother’s decided she would like to go out for her birthday.’
‘We could take her to a film matinee at the Regent Centre’ suggested Roger.
‘No, she wants to go to a concert.’
‘Even better, free lunchtime organ concert at The Pavilion, sorted.’
‘I don’t think that’s what she had in mind; she was talking about the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, wants to look at the book when she comes round.’
‘When did she say she was coming?’
‘You’re picking her up now.’
Twenty minutes later Roger helped his mother-in-law out of the car and escorted her to the back door via a conducted tour of the garden.
‘I see you haven’t got that gutter fixed yet’ she exclaimed triumphantly.
With gritted teeth he ushered her into the kitchen, the kettle was already boiling.
Leaflets were laid out on the coffee table as they sipped their tea.
‘How about Melodies From The Musicals,’ said Roger ‘or a piano recital on Sunday?’
‘Too dull; next Wednesday night at The Lighthouse sounds good’ she passed the brochure to her daughter.
‘Shostakovich, an hour and a quarter, are you sure?’
‘Yes, is that the symphony with the big orchestra and lots of drums? Good, let’s go to that, it may well be my last birthday.’
‘It may be rather loud’ said Roger hopefully.
‘Not for someone hard of hearing’ she retorted.
‘Roger, why don’t you go on the internet and see if they have any seats left? Make sure they’re on the end of the row in case Mother has one of her funny turns.’
He stomped upstairs while the two women perused the brochure.
‘Oh look Mum, the second half is a new commission, can’t pronounce the composer. Making full use of the percussion section, this exciting new composer takes Shostakovich as his inspiration. The fifty five minute work is a profound comment on post soviet, Twenty First Century Russia… sounds a bit heavy.’
‘You’re never too old to try something new’ her mother chuckled.
On Wednesday night Roger queued up for a programme as he waited for his wife and mother-in-law to come out of the ladies.
‘Thought you were never coming out.’
‘Long queue, everyone making sure they went before it started, it is a long piece.’
The old lady was pleased with her seat in the front row and settled back to watch the orchestra manoeuvre onto the stage. The symphony lived up to her expectations, the percussionists put their heart and soul into the performance. She tapped her feet and strummed her fingers on the arms of the seat. The vibrations shook every ache and pain out of her body, she hadn’t felt so alive for years.
As the applause died down she turned excitedly to her daughter and son-in-law.
‘You didn’t fall asleep in that Roger. Do you remember the last time we came here, the poor bloke only pinged his triangle twice; tonight he was in his element.’
‘Do you want to pop to the ladies Mother?’
She shook her head. ‘I wouldn’t mind an ice cream.’
‘We’ll try not to be too long.’
The old lady nodded and watched everyone get up to stretch their legs; she was soon sitting alone staring at the empty stage, wondering how steep the steps were. She stood up; within moments she was perched on the seat behind the timpani; how different everything looked from up here. She admired the array of instruments, drums, xylophones, glockenspiels and chimes; just as fascinating were the selection of implements to strike them. She picked up a stick and hesitantly tapped the drum, then struck it firmly.
A young man in tails strode onto the stage then stopped. An old lady smiled disarmingly at him.
‘You don’t mind do you dear, it is my birthday.’
He looked round nervously, then demonstrated each instrument and let her try.
Backstage the conductor was glad to hear the percussion section practising for the difficult new piece.
As Roger returned with three tubs of New Forest ice cream he was surprised to see his mother-in-law being escorted back to her seat by a member of the orchestra. Settling down, he read the programme with dismay.
‘Oh dear, I don’t think we’re going to enjoy the next piece, we could leave…’
‘Certainly not, I wouldn’t miss it for the world’ the old lady replied.