The man wore purple. He teased and joked with his audience. He was perhaps the most gifted musician that ever walked the face of this earth.
Nah, I’m not talking about that Prince fella (although I did quite like him too.) I’m talking about another chappie who happens to be linked to royalty. Well, only as a knight of the realm, you understand.
Sir James Galway has always been a bit of a dude, hasn’t he? The Man With The Golden Flute, they call him. Now, I think that I’ve blogged many times before about the kind of music that I’m into – or WAS into – when I was growing up (’cause these days I have no time for such selfish indulgences such as actually selecting and enjoying music of my own choice…) First came Shakin’ Stevens (haaahhhh! Seriously! Sorry.) Then I became was a Duranie, then a metal-head of many years standing and then… then I had children. Nuff said.
So how was I ever exposed to the music of Sir Jimmy? Well, any parent worth their salt does their best to impose their musical tastes upon their children don’t they? (And don’t worry – I’ve removed the death-metal CD’s from the 8 yr old’s bedroom recently. He’s beginning to sing along to some shockingly colourful profanities, you see…) Meaning that my dad got me and our kid into The Beatles and Elvis – and we frequently had Buddy Rich and various Jazz albums inflicted upon us. But my parents were never enormous classical music fans. UNTIL….
….They realised the soothing quality of such music on their offspring. I’ve got vivid memories of sharing a bedroom with my brother (I was probably 15, times were tough then y’see – and come to think of it, our bed was very hard and had two shiny taps at the end of it) and every night the sound of James Galway’s masterpieces would come floating up the stairs from my dad’s record player. (Accompanied by ‘Will you two GO-TO-BLOODY-SLEEP? Or you’re never staying up to watch ‘The Professionals’ again!‘)
And yet it wasn’t me who introduced my daughter to the magic of the maestro. My dad was to blame once more. I’ve blogged previously about the fact that my daughter is also learning to play the flute and I guess that Grandad must have been searching for something a bit more inspirational, in order to prevent a you-must-practise tantrum. So this is how my gal developed a huge interest in the work and in the life of Sir J.
To cut a long story short, she decided to write a ‘proper-old fashioned letter’ to the man himself. It managed to find its way to his abode in Switzerland. And we were then astonished to hear back from him. It turned out that Sir J is also a huge fan of The Beano too – and frequently can be seen chucking piles of horse manure over ‘softies’ who annoy him when he’s jetting to and from his swanky concert venues (ok, I made that last bit up.)
But seriously. What kind of a person – the best flute player in the entire universe – takes the time to write back to a little girl in Yorkshire? A *good* guy, that’s who. A true, golden-at-heart, down to earth fella.
So we decided to pay tribute to Sir J by battling the M6 and driving all the way to Birmingham to witness him in concert, along with his wife, the fantastical Lady Jeanne. We bought new shoes for the kid! We bagged front row seats! We saw Jimmy get awarded an honorary doctorate from the University! We laughed! We cried! (well, I did.) We chewed fruit pastilles! We said ‘hello’ to Julian Lloyd Webber and thrust coffee at him (‘Mother! Have you NO shame? Marketing your coffee at a Lloyd Webber!’) And we watched the most astonishing performance that any of us had ever seen. One man, managing to sound like two flutes were playing. Unbelievable. Truly spectacular.
Afterwards, the man in the purple suit welcomed our little lass on stage. She presented him with her very own precious Beano egg-cup (don’t worry folks, I managed to rub the egg yolk stains off it before we thrust it at him.) There was a group hug and a photo opp.
And then, the best thing that a parent can ever hear (especially after you’ve given up your day off in order to go head to head with the sodding-Bull Ring) rang in my ears; “Mum – thank you! This has been the best day of my life!” Followed by Grandad agreeing that it was the same for him too. And her replying; “But NO Grandad! That was supposed to have been your wedding day!”
We both noticed a pause at that point. Or perhaps Grandad’s hearing is failing. Who knows?
Anyway. Perhaps this isn’t one to repeat to Grandma.