Jack oscillated between wanting a harmonica or a piano accordion for his fourth birthday.
I did not want to discourage his early quest for musical knowledge but I knew what would happen.
Jack was already the proud owner of a drum, a tambourine, a recorder, a toy electronic organ, a guitar, a musical book with assorted animal noises that, when played quickly, could be mistaken for Old McDonald Had A Farm, and several whistles. He also had easy access to plenty of kitchen pots and wooden spoons which make very fine banging sounds. AND HE TOOK GREAT DELIGHT WAKING ME UP WITH HIS LATEST COMPOSITIONS.
I worked a bit of night work, and often slept in our guest room so as not to wake the family — and to sleep in.
But when my wife Katherine said the word, Jack was allowed to come in and wake me up.
‘He agonises over which instrument to use,’ Katherine told me.
‘Would daddy like to hear the recorder, mummy, or the drum?’
I suppose I should have felt grateful that Jack was unable to wheel the family piano into the guest room. But whatever instrument he chose, it seemed to have the desired effect. I woke up — and quickly! No matter how many times he did it, I still woke up in a startle, shouting, ‘What the …!’
This brings me back to my dilemma then about which instrument to get him for his fourth birthday.
Would I rather be rudely awaken by a smiling piano accordion player foot-tapping his way through the Hillbilly Polka, or a would-be Bob Dylan droning his way through Blowing In The Wind before launching into a harmonica solo?
It was my fault, I suppose. It was obvious that Jack had inherited this interest from the rich vein of musical genes in my family.
My father had such a unique singing voice as a child that he was asked to take up a permanent position at the back of the choir, and kindly mime.
I was expelled from my music class in grade eight, and never returned to the fold.
I CAN sing, however, as anyone who has ever heard me in the shower will attest. Unfortunately, they might also assert that I have a one-tune-fits all singing style that ranges, incredibly, over one-third of an octave.
I have also been known to pick up a musical instrument, any musical instrument, and instinctively not been able to play it.
Except the recorder.
I mastered that before I was ejected from my music class.
Well, I mastered the notes to The Good Old Duke of York. Funny, I thought that would be a useful skill to fall back on in later life but so far it has not paid dividends.
I did also toy with the clarinet early in my high school music career. I did not like it much though. The problem was that, although you had to provide your own reed, you had to use the clarinets used by people in the classes before you. After use, the clarinets were placed in a rack under a blue light which, allegedly, killed germs. Unfortunately, it did very little to diminish the copious amounts of spittle the last users had left in or about the mouthpiece. If you were unlucky enough to land there in a late afternoon class, the insides of the clarinets could be quite disgusting and the only thing you could play on them was I’m Forever Blowing Somebody Else’s Bubbles.
We ended up opting for the harmonica for his birthday.
We also bought him a new box of crayons, pencils and textas so he could redecorate our house, a Bob The Builder video tape so he could get some ideas for redecorating the house and a small chess set.
Why the chess set?
To wake me up with, of course. Shhhhhh.
THIS IS ONE OF THE STORIES IN THIS BOOK. BUY THE eBOOK
Until a father can wipe his baby son’s piddle off his chin, he can’t call himself a man. At least, that’s what John Martin tells himself — and anyone else who enjoys this book of 51 funny stories.
They say confession is good for the soul — and has Martin got some things to confess!
Among other things, he was the getaway driver at the teddy bears’ picnic, and he knows where the bodies are buried the time the story of Jack and the Jellybean Stalk came about.
The collection, too, takes a light-hearted look at some serious issues, including childbirth, nappies, circumcision, pets, religion, Santa Claus and learning on occasions to cope without mummy.