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Will the Real David Please Stand Up?


I wrote a little piece the other day on request from one of the teachers at the piano school my kids are attending. She had not given me a specific topic to discuss, but as it was to be printed in their little school newsletter, it obviously made sense to speak about something related to musical activities.

So I touched on some of my experiences with music, how I had 'discovered' it during my high school days, and how it had provided a focus for all my energies for quite a number of years. I mentioned the different ensembles I had been a member of and some of the different instruments and types of music I had played. When the piece was finished, after Sadako had put it into Japanese for me I left it on my desk ready to be taken to the piano school when next we went.

It was here that my daughter Fumi noticed it. I came into the room while she was reading through it, saw what she was doing, and stood back out of her way until she finished. When she was through, she turned to me and asked, "None of this is true, is it?" I laughed and assured her that yes, it all was, but I know she had trouble believing this. The events I described all took place before she was born; the David in that story, playing his flute and saxophone, was a different person from her father David, working with his woodblocks and chisels.

Obvious it may now seem, this is something that I hadn't really considered before. If I think back to the image I hold of my own father, I can see two men - one the man as he currently is, a grey-bearded 'gent' living on his pensions, and generally taking life pretty easy - and the other as he must have appeared when I was in my early 20's, and he was a working 'club' musician. I feel I know those two guys, but what about all the 'other' fathers I had? What about that man who married my mother ... and the father of the new-born David ... of the little boy David ... of the teenager David ...? What were those men like? I have no idea, and I guess I never will.

This makes me quite curious as to what kind of image my kids have of me, and which one of their different fathers they will remember. Fumi naturally has no knowledge of what I was like, and what I was doing, before she was born, but how much will she remember of these years we are spending together? If my own experience is anything to go by ... it won't be much! The adult Fumi will obviously see me directly as an 'old' man, but I'd like to think that she will also feel that she knows (knew?) the younger me.

This is why I was so careful not to disturb her when I saw her reading that little piece. It was a new experience for me, to find myself 'talking' to her with my pencil, and it made me aware that at some time in the future, Himi and Fumi will presumably read through many of these little collections of my scribbling ... Will this help them fill in the 'gaps' in their memories? If my father had written little personal essays like these during the years I was a child, would that now help me to understand who he was ... who he is?

Perhaps it doesn't really matter. But it would be a kick to be able to read such stories. How about it 'future Himi' and 'future Fumi' ... are you enjoying these?