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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Past Lives?

Kitty, I'm so glad you liked "Liebesbotschaft."  I listened to it again just before writing this, it never fails to start tears to my eyes and wonderful feelings somewhere inside me.   The rippling piano accompaniment, an effective representation of the flowing stream, is not easy to play, though quite simple.  Schubert's modulations (change of key) are so telling!  In a few days I will post another of my favourite Schubert songs here.  I have published the text of the words of Liebesbotschaft, in German and English, as a comment on that blog post, in case anyone is interested.

Dannah - you wanted to read about Elizabeth.  She was a physics student in her 2nd year, I was still a first year student, though a year or two older than her. We both attended a lecture by CF Powell, Physics Professor, well known for his work on photographing the effects of cosmic rays at high altitudes.  I saw this girl from my place at the back of the tiered lecture theatre, she was sitting somewhere down at the front, with her back to me.  I immediately found myself seeing mental pictures of life with her in the Canadian forests (I have never told her about this.)

The details and chronology of my few meetings with her in Bristol are not clear in my mind, but I was to play the piano accompaniments to three of Vaughan Williams' "Songs of Travel" (poems by R.L. Stevenson) to be sung by another student at a public concert; I forget his name but I remember he was fond of archery.  It's customary for an accompanist to have an assistant turn the pages of the music book while he is playing, and I asked Elizabeth - a good musician as are many scientists - if she would do that for me.  I hardly knew her, but she agreed.  That made that event memorable for me, having her sitting next to me and helping me at a somewhat stressful time seemed exactly right.

Just before the end of the academic year the Student Union Ball took place - the major social event of the year, really.  Some time before that I had broken up with my previous girl friend, Jenny (that story might interest certain readers of this blog, too!), and had no one to take to the ball. I did not want to go alone.  Elizabeth seemed to my inexperienced eye to be outside my league, as she seemed to know a lot of students and was a good deal more sociable than me, I thought she would have a number of invitations to choose from;  I was very gauche and uncertain with women, however, I plucked up the courage to ask her if she would come to the ball with me and much to my surprise, she immediately agreed.

I had been used to dancing with Jenny, who was a fluid mover, easy to lead and we had often gone to dance classes together.  Dancing with Elizabeth felt unfamiliar and a bit wooden (I'm sure she will not be reading my blog, but I think she would agree with me!).  After the ball, in the early hours of the morning, I escorted her back to her Hall of Residence, and that seemed to be the end of that relationship, more or less.  The year finished with little further contact that I can remember.

But it seemed fate had other plans; I kept running into Elizabeth, sometimes half intentionally, sometime quite by chance.  While I was living in London I found out that she lived quite near me, in the house of a well-known conductor, and although I was already married then (but not happily), I visited her.  We did exchange a few letters but they were not love-letters.  I seem to remember even visiting her at her parents' home in a southern suburb of London.  I met her once again by chance at a music camp somewhere in the South of England.

In due course I left London and took a job in Oxford.  In a restaurant in Queen Street I ran into Elizabeth again, and we talked.  I hadn't known she had moved to Oxford.  She was then living in Chalfont Road, Oxford - a road I knew well as my cousin's grandmother had lived there and I sometimes visited.  I lived with my aunt further out, and Elizabeth gave me a ride on the back of her scooter.  This showed me once again a very weird and unusual effect: when I was with her, and for time after, I lost all interest in other women.  

This has never happened with anyone else.  What ever woman I happen to be with, and however much attracted to her I may feel, I never lose the impulse to weigh up other women I happen to see.  But with Elizabeth, that impulse disappeared without trace.  Sitting on the back of her scooter, she was the only woman of any interest to me.  The attraction didn't seem to be physical sex, that never occurred to me.  It took hours for this effect to wear off.

At the time of that ride, Elizabeth told me she was getting married, and told me her future husband's name.  Since then, I never saw her again.  I have never read the book on Schubert she wrote, though I would like to (the price is too high).  I feel glad she has attained some measure of success and respect, she's a good woman and industrious too.

Human relations have many factors bearing on them, and past lives is one of the most interesting.

1 comment:

  1. Malc,

    I loved this insight into your life, plus I love stories. Please share more of your life, if you don't mind:)!


    P.S. Daddy and I went to the symphony last Saturday night. I love many types of music, but classical is so intense.


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