I could not function without books to read, whether on the Kindle (I am gradually replacing all my books with the Kindle edition as they fall apart or to save space) or the printed page.
Music is a real necessity to me. So much music triggers memories of things that may have happened years ago. When I was a child, I remember all the classical music that Dad used to play, all on 78's. He loved the voice of Dame Joan Sutherland, the Australian soprano, and his favourite record was the Puccini aria "O mio babbino caro", rendered in English as "O My Beloved Father", or it was until yours truly sat on it. Not a good idea. Being a 78, it did not take well to that treatment and was in several pieces. I was not popular. I never had the guts to tell my Dad that it was partly his fault for leaving it on a chair. Fortunately, it was about the time when 45's were becoming popular, and I managed to track down a copy to replace it.
Right at this minute, I am listening to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, the version with Paul Jones in the lead role, the proper version for me. For some reason, it became the tape (and then the CD) that Geoff always played on a Sunday morning when he was washing up. So, if Joseph was playing in our house, it was Sunday and all was well.
My school put on a Gilbert and Sullivan show every Easter term while I was there. We could not be in it until the fourth year, unless we had a fantastic solo type voice, but in the third year, we were allowed to help with the half time refreshments in the dining hall. Unofficially, we were allowed to stand at the back of the main hall during the show, until we had to go to do our duties, which, of course, whetted our appetites to actually join in the fun on stage. I can still remember the order in which I saw or took part in the shows - Pirates of Penzance, Mikado, Gondoliers, Iolanthe, Ruddigore, Patience, HMS Pinafore. I only did the last two shows myself. In those days, we were limited in what we could do by the copyright held by Bridget D'Oyly Carte, but on the final night on Saturday, we had usually been inspected and things relaxed. My abiding memory in Patience was of the two leading men virtually climbing the scenery to get laughs, and then we, as the ladies chorus, had to go on stage, singing a doleful song and attempt to keep straight faces, while we were really cracking up.
I did join in with the Gilbert and Sullivan shows at college, but it was never as much fun - no costumes (we had proper costumes hired in at school) and no clowning around, a much more serious undertaking, so it is the school productions that really gave me my love of G&S.
My love of Christmas music is also sparked by my time in the school choir, and carols have to have the proper descants, the ones I learned so well at that time. Some of the solo songs I remember well for the people who sang them, and it takes me straight back to the lovely atmosphere singing in the local church to the accompaniment of the powerful church organ (it also gave me a love of real organ music). I can see those people whenever I hear that particular music.
In my final year at school, we had an electronic organ fitted in the balcony in the school hall, and it was decided that the morning after the Carol Service, the choir should give a performance at morning assembly. Unfortunately, most of the sopranos section had gone down with a bug overnight, leaving only two of us to hold the high notes and sing the descant. Also unfortunately, some bright (not) soul had decided that the entry of the staff, while we were singing, should be preceded by someone swinging the incense, which wafted straight up to us in the balcony above. Result - the total collapse of the descant into choking. Oops!
Some songs also take you back to sad times, and are difficult to listen to. Abide with Me was my grandfather's favourite hymn, and I remember that after he had died, it was sung as usual at the Cup Final. Dad said something about it being a shame that Grandad could not hear it. I, thinking of my surviving Grandad, said quite innocently that he probably could. That and the 23rd psalm ("The Lord is My Shepherd" to Crimond) have always been difficult for me to sing because they were always played at funerals, and brought back strong memories.
If you are still with me at this stage, do please leave me a message and tell me about your music memory triggers.