|San Juan, with houses built into and around it - part of the community|
We'd been awoken early in the morning by a series of loud explosions. At first I thought it was guns and possibly the start of some important hunting season but as I took Darwin out, there were more loud bangs, with the telltale signs of firework explosions - little white clouds in an otherwise immaculately blue sky. My neighbour informed me that there would be a procession that evening as she manically swept up leaves, bits of paper, dust and anything else that just happened to be on the little pathway down from the park. She sweeps and cleans all day; every day. (She is Manuel's wife - Manuel of the accordian playing - and I am unable to fix her name in my head but it could, for the sake of this tale be 'Inmaculada' as it's a common enough name around here.) Cesar tells me that when he talks to Manuel, Manuel tells him his wife is mad. When I speak to the wife, she tells me that her husband is mad. The other evening, Cesar was out having his late night cigarette (disgusting habit) outside, where he met the son of these two mad folk. He was on his little motorbike and had a plastic bag dangling over the handle. In it was a live crayfish. The son, also called Manuel, was not sober and also very cross because his father had brought home the crayfish earlier and now he, the son, was going to have to take it all the way back to the river to set if free again, otherwise it would die. It was about 2 o'clock in the morning....They are a clean, musical, caring family. Mad as hatters all of them.
Anyhow, I was told that the procession would start at 7.30 so I strolled up the hill for around that time. And of course, I was much too early. Much.
|Putting the finishing touches|
|And the crowds begin to gather|
It must have been well after 9 before the statue was hoisted upon the shoulders of the twenty or so men who then carried it around the area, followed by quite a large, loud band. The trumpeters blast their tunes shrilly; the drums follow an insistent, repetative rhythm and the trombones and saxophones are invariably slightly out of tune. I couldn't help thinking that it's such a shame that the bands never play anything really fun or even pleasant.
And later on that same evening, I came home and did some reading of my favourite blogs, including one written by my friend Andy Simcox whose latest entry included a clip of a brass band playing in his local park. As the weather is always unpredictable in northern England - well, England all over - the band had in its repertoire, 'Singin' in the Rain' and as I listened to this little clip and heard those lovely mellow euphonium sounds; trumpets that played loudly - and softly - introducing subtlety and humour; drums providing something other than insistent repetition; harmony, melody, counterpart....well, I admit it, I wept. For me, listening to this long-established but by no means famous band, brought me an overwhelming nostalgia. I spent most of the years of my youth playing in orchestras and bands and then rediscovered the pleasure in my thirties when I started playing again. There is a joy - a pure joy - in making music together with like-minded people that I find difficult to put into words but that probably means more to me, despite my lack of any real talent, than most other things in the world. There's the pleasure of the little perfect musical phrase - it might be played in any section of the band or the orchestra - and in every rehearsal, you wait for it, anticipation building, until the moment arrives and that particular mix of interval, tone and tempo sets off a delightful set of goosebumps. From Mozart's Requiem to Grainger's Country Gardens , (played here by the Yorkshire Wind Orchestra, of which I was once a grateful member (3rd clarinet, second stand), an orchestra otherwise full of wonderful musicians including many good friends) I have enjoyed many a frisson of delight and you cannot beat a good frisson! Music has always done this to me and one day, I will document my very best frissons because I do like to share.
Anyway, here is a link to the music recorded by Andy in his local park in Sheffield...it's more than a million miles away from how bands play here in Spain but it transported me 'home' immediately and provided me with several little frissons throughout! (Love the strong local accent you can hear from time to time.)