The Building Blocks of My Life

It would appear that people are like houses. They’re built out of interlocking blocks. Strands of DNA. Complex chemical compounds, amino acids, calcium and a host of other elements. And then we are 91% water. And between the atoms that make up our being there are hoards of open spaces. Apparently, if we look closely enough we will discover that there’s not much substance to us at all. I find it quite cool to imagine myself as the see-through ephemeral chap help in a corner by some Velcro and a lump of bubble gum. To prevent me floating away in time and space.So much for chemical me. That’s what the World gets to see and to interact with. The hodge-podge melange of gooey bits with a bit of stringy stuff and a frame to hang it on. My human body. The me of mass, weight and substance. The creature that will expire if not fed and watered daily and will then get to stinking up the place with the chemical reactions called decomposition and putrefaction. Yuck! How bizarre is that?

But, there’s another side to my humanness. The side of me that is built of an infinite number of blocks of human experience. The sounds of musical instruments, voices uplifted in song. The power of the spoken and written words. These are all sounds which have the power to uplift our spirits to the realm of the divine, for want of a suitable word. This potent trio of sensory input, language, literature, the spoken and sung word with the adrenaline rush of musical recital is what makes us unique amongst the beasts of the Earth and her Ocean. It has been said, inter alia, that “music soothes the savage breast” and also that “music is the food of love”.

This calm, artistic side of me was initiated and inspired by a love of and deep respect for music and musicians from all genres. As a young child I was exposed to my parents’ music. The vocals of Bing Crosby, The Ink Spots, Porgy & Bess and Vera Lynn. My father is a Royal Air Force ex-serviceman who served from 1938 through WWII and into the “Airbridge To Berlin” from 1945 to 1948 and finally leaving the military service in February 1950 after 12 years of warfare. He was posted to the Far East Theatre of War immediately following the Battle of Britain. This entailed a stop in South Africa for some months. It was during this time that my mother met my father and his piano-playing crony in East London where my grandfather had a successful brick business. My mother was an avid collector of 78’s and, at the time of her death in 2005 had a comprehensive library of some 1,000 individual discs, at least one of which was a one-sided recording of Dame Nellie Melba singing “Home Sweet Home”. My Mom and Dad corresponded keenly during Dad’s time in India and Burma. Romance blossomed at a distance and he returned to South Africa in 1950 to marry my Mom.

I started my vinyl collection at age 12 with a copy of the 1966 album “Come On Down to My Boat” by an American group calling themselves Every Mothers’ Son. The brothers Wilson went on to morph into the Worldwide sensation The Beach Boys. I was hooked on music and collecting the records of a new generation of musicians. My twelfth year was a watershed for me as I immersed myself in the musical phenomenon which was sweeping the planet. I boasted a record collection of eclectic note by the time that I was 16. At that point I owned just on sixty albums by the Gods of music from Alice Cooper, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Quintessence to Jethro Tull and Frank Zappa. It is now over 50 more years and my music collection comprises a number of Classical music albums, a broad spectrum of genres and numbers about 2,000 titles. Each album has contributed to the mosaic which is me. This is true too of the hundreds of books which we own and the thousands more which we have read over the years.

My heavens alive! I have been blessed all the years of my life and those blessings continue to roll in with new releases on record and in print happening all of the time. At this rate it seems that I’m going to live forever!

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