The Boxer

Dear Maura,

I thought about you this morning. I met you when I was 14, and life was quite mundane.

When you came in my Mum’s bakers shop on St Hubert’s Rd in Great Harwood and told Mum that you were willing to teach me how to play the guitar, it was the beginning of significant change in my life. At that time I didn’t have much confidence, and apart from swimming I hadn’t many interests outside school. I was needed to help with the business, which I wasn’t something I particularly enjoyed. Some of my friends (Judith and Lesley) went to ballet lessons at the Conservative Club down the road on Glebe St, and I would go every single week and sit on the benches round the side and watch them. I loved it. I studied the lively pointed feet and graced arms of the dancers longingly, and at home at night I tied long strands of wool together and pinned them to the back of my head (as I had short hair) and danced around my lino floored bedroom. Barbara my older cousin offered to pay for me to have lessons when she learnt of my plight (who from?), but Mum said it would still be too expensive. I often wonder if I would’ve been good.  Anyway, the thought of learning to play the guitar filled me with delightful anticipation. My big sister Susan’s guitar was to be my instrument, as it was being stored in one of our bedroom cupboards whilst Susan was away teaching in Bermuda.

I loved my lessons. I think you taught me four cords only, and many songs. We’d strum along together and I wrote the songs in a special book I had and put the Because of your Irish heritage I learnt some Celtic tunes that I didn’t know, and when I went home to practice and played and sang ‘Love is pleasin’ my Dad shrieked that this was indeed one of the songs his mother used to sing to him as a child. It was significant as that was in Ireland in 1917 and Dad’s mum died when he was a small boy.

It turned out I was OK at playing and singing, and Dad used to get me a few ‘gigs’ in local pubs. Think Mary Hopkins….it was in those times! I can still strum a few tunes, but I am very rusty.

So this morning as we set off for Troon in Scotland, S&G’s The Boxer came on the radio, do you remember teaching me that one? It was one of our popular songs, and I thought of you Maura and wondered where you are.

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By sheenabyrom

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