Influence in early years


How much did your childhood influence your choices in later life, example did your parents choices of Christmas and birthday presents make any impression, I recall getting a train set for Christmas when I was about 4 or 5, I still have a model railway.

Mother played piano, father was a good counter tenor, mostly church music & songs of the Victorian era, and so music has always been an interest although the genre has changed, dad was an opera nut and also romantic classical.

Any "popular music" (1940s) was likely to be Paul Robeson, Gracie Fields and other mostly forgotten names, or comedy like Spike Jones, Arthur Askey etc.

I gradually changed my tune (so to speak) when I found myself as a counter tenor in a choral group that majored on madrigals, motets and other early works, this led me to other renaissance and baroque music where my classical tastes have remained. My love of jazz and big band music stems from my first 78RPM disc of Dodo Marmarosa which drove dad up the wall, probably as far up as his opera records did for me!

I got my hands on the family Agfa box camera when I was about 14, it was a while before I could afford one for myself in my 20s, I've not been without a camera since. (Think I've got about a dozen now!)

We always had roses in the garden where ever we were, that has stayed with me, although I no longer have the energy nor agility to look after them properly.
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Staff member
Of all the toys and gifts I received at Christmas or on a birthday, the only one that had any influence was when I got a photo developing kit. It had the ways and means (with all the dangerous chemicals) to develop and print black and white photos. That got me interested in photography which I still enjoy today. I was given my Dads Voigtlander camera (35mm film) and used it until it finally died after I dropped it accidentally at which time it cracked the metal case.

Years later, I had a Chinon SLR 35 mm and then Chinon went of out of business and it was no longer repairable - the refracting lens would stick and overexpose the film.

Nikon is my camera of choice in the present time ... digital SLR ... I have the D40 with two lenses (normal and telephoto) and a tripod and monopod. It does fine for what I need it for.

As for musical tastes, I was reared in an all classical music family - we heard classical music on the radio when we got up each morning, went to concerts, and of course, Mom had a piano, which is where I got my start for keyboard playing.

John Watt

I can't really answer with descriptions about the items of my life, no,
they come and go, and the more I see the more problems I find.
I stay away for the Christmas holidays, even if it means staying by myself.
I'd rather be alone and feel how I would as if my parents and brother were still alive,
for Christmas, and as of Scottish descent, through to after New Year's.

Some nights, I'd watch a movie, soak in a hot tub, as meditative as that can get,
and then watch another movie, nibbling on some goodies, this year wanting lots of peppermint,
and then having another hot soak, snoozing, losing track of time, totally offline.
This is so habitual for me I didn't even get one phone call inviting me out,
what helps the hi in my hibernatory get by.
And I'm sixty-three, walking all the time and going for long distance bike-hikes,
so it's nice to stay off my feet, stretching my spine out, doing chiropractic exercises,
and become pain-free, the nicest way to be for me.
My parents thought I was masturbating, probably too long, in the bathroom.
When I said they could open the door to see if I'm snoozing in the tub,
they insisted on leaving it unlocked, afraid to see just my nose sticking out of the water.
Later, psychics told me not everyone can sleep in water, and I should try meditations,
what could be return to the womb, pre-to-neo-natal, or reviving mammalian attributes.

I'm seeing your descriptions of your lives as not personal, but cultural.
You're not talking about being a lonely musician growing up with an electric guitar,
or any rock instrument, wanting to be a musician, wanting to be in a band.
Your lifestyles reflect a family with classical culture, what you need a community to maintain.
That's wonderful, an everyday lifestyle for you.
But, especially for New Years, for auld lang syne,
I truly recommend soaking in a hot tub, hot like a post-game muscle restorative,
steamy like a world of water rising over you, enough to be a hot enough bath
to absorb your concentration and relax you, tire you out, drain you out.
This will only take you out of your earthly presence, taking you away from all that air and land,
all the items and people of your lives, enclosing you in a heat of your own self.
I said it's nice to be pain free. Sure, but wait until you start sharing your new heat,
that's when you'll be rewarded with the, uh..... heat waves.

I miss my mother's cooking, the tarts, cakes, cookies, turnovers, all her treats.
And I miss my father's smiling face, what last came to me in a dream.
Sometimes, lying there underwater in the dark, all is not what it seems.
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Ella Beck

My parents' decision to take up our local education authority's offer of free violin lessons in school made a big difference to me. I gave up playing in my teens, but the seed was sown, and I'm back playing my fiddle in retirement - and still using the music stand that my father bought me for my tenth birthday. :)

Ella Beck

I have also to thank my parents for my choice of degree subject - English. Mum was a great reader & got me into nursery rhymes from a young age, and my Scottish father used to read poetry to me, as well as constantly singing Scottish songs round the house. I think I have him to thank for my love of poetry and song, which I've used in my teaching, and which has sustained me in dark hours.

John Watt

My father used to play his military bag-pipe records early Sunday morning,
waking us up all up so he could march us off to the Scottish church my parents were founding members of.
Bagpipes were military for us, hearing them meant that blood could be shed,
and the skirlin'a the pipes was supposed to get your nerves on edge, intimidating enemies.

It's only human nature to remember your first time with anything as being the best,
and the further you get into anything the more important it is as a memory.

I'm seeing Ella Beck as saying "sustained me in dark hours",
introducing a new aspect of musical use in this thread,
and for me, that could be very interesting.
The only song I wrote about wanting to play my guitar is called "Deep Dark and Blue".
"Darling you've been gone so long, it's amazing I still feel this strong,
times have changed and times have gone, how could I have been so wrong.
I just don't know what to do, when this deep dark night turns deep dark and blue,
you're not here to talk so what more can I say,
I'm just glad I've got this old guitar to play" violin solo
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Ella Beck

Learning country dancing at primary school and then girls' grammar school gave me an experience of exhilaration, and I still love dancing.

Ella Beck

Being good at writing stories from infant school onwards made me always interested in becoming a writer. Unfortunately, while it's easy to write and to enjoy writing, it's not easy to get published...

Same thing about music, though - there are lots of people who can sing or play instruments, but it's not easy to be successful or well-paid.