The Music Room
Most of the teachers in St Mary’s looked down on the pupils. But from the start Cliesh showed an interest in us. In those few months, she taught us that there was more to music than bawling out hymns and sea shanties. We were surprised when she asked us to bring our records from home. Cliesh wanted to know where we’d bought them, and we told her about Saturday afternoons searching for bargains.
Someone handed over a record of Cauliga by Hank Williams and the class sang along with it
“Cauliga was a wooden Indian standing by the door ...” It was good fun.
“Did anyone else bring a record?” Cliesh said.
I’d got to the point where I had to do something or go mad. Cliesh displaced my dreaming of Baltic Crusades and Chiricahua life on the frontier.
The evening before the music class searching for courage I’d walked The Cut, an aqueduct inserted on the hills above the town. I meant to lay my heart bare and to Hell with the taunts of the class hard men that I was nuts and sucking up; or the possibility that Cliesh might reprimand me, then have James Malone thrash me for impertinence. It was crazy one way love.
I stuck up my hand; a smart arse. ”Bessie Smith, Miss.”
She listened to the introduction of Careless Love; it was an old record, the lyric muffled. Cliesh caught the tune on the piano.
“Tim Ronsard, will you sing?”
The hard men tittered.
She played; I sang, voice pure.