Sometimes I’m like a ruddy xylophone. Strike me right and I will emit the note you want. It’s annoying. I wish I was less predictable, not set to a spectrum of choosable tones. Clonk.
I am aware of it in films, I am aware of it in music, I am aware of it in emotive speeches or compilations of ‘best moments’ of anything or edited clips of people winning awards or dairy cows dancing when they’ve been set free. Especially dairy cows dancing when they’ve been set free. No matter how much my brain is computing bad dialogue or emotional manipulation or schmaltz or somesuch and I feel I should be cerebrally more present to examine or dissect or counter, strike me right and you’ll get me. I am yours. I’ll feel it. I’ll let you have it. Especially if my hormones are at play. (They’re the real boss of us really, aren’t they?)
I went to a Burt Bacharach evening with my mum and step-dad the other night. I went with duel expectations. Half of me thought that a tribute night would make me a bit twitchy and want to throw maltesers at everyone’s eyes, seeing if I could stop an entire song with one well-aimed ping, and half of me was like “if they do that song from My Best Friend’s Wedding I’m a frickin goner.”
I went with love in my bones. Not just people love from seeing friends in the day and being out on a date night with my mum and new dad but that sort of naked tiredness that makes you feel stripped back like a twist of live wires. That feels like love. Because you’re open. Because I am a wise old bird now I drank wine, because that’s always the best way to whack a cork in the emotional orifices. Nice one, Hasler. I sat in the dark next to my Step-Dad and my Mum and settled in my seat for some good old songs.
The man who started the singing was very West End Theatre. He had one of those little half-smiles people do to the side like they’re allowing the sparkle out of one half of the mouth because they want you to have some razzmatazz fun, but keeping the other side straight because they also want you to know that actually life is very serious and a bit sad and here’s a lovely song about it all. Half-happy, half-wise, half-consoling. That’s a smile of three halves, it’s not even mathematically possible, but that’s what you get when you are trained in Musicals. Sense goes out of the window.
I liked it when the ladies sang best. They were curvy and loud and skilled and in sequins. They made me want to wear a dress and heels. I beamed at them owning their fulsome women’s bodies, wiggling and owning it, the soft meat of living, and wishing I felt similarly about mine. Maybe I’ve just not found the right dress.
While I kept chuckling at the showy showmanship of it, I realised halfway through that the seats were rocking back and forth, because we were tapping our feet. I was cast back to when I used to go to Rock n Roll nights with my Dad. Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Billy Fury. He’d tap his feet so vigorously the whole row would rock back and forth. Half of me was embarrassed and half of me was glad those old songs brought him to life. And here I was with my Mum, listening to songs we loved and tapping our feet. And I had tears streaming down my face because I’d had wine and felt love and they were singing What The World Needs Now and I’m a stupid xylophone and I’m sort of fine with that because maybe being a bit malleable means you have that something to give.