Saturday, 6 October 2012


 Just a few light taps of the fingers and a unique, almost spiritual reverberation emerges.

A Bongo drum, small but beautifully formed, wearing the skin of some long ago eaten pig whose spirit lives on in the form of echoes in the air. Skin stretched over a carved wooden frame produced with loving care for a few pence.  More likely thrown together for the gullible tourist eager to bring home something handmade,  adding credence to  the story of a day trip from the four star hotel or the cruise around the med. Given pride of place for a while on the living room hearth, handed around at dinner parties always twinned with the holiday photographs discretely used to fan the yawns of guests who have to endure the regurgitation of their host memories. Perhaps this is a small price to pay for a free dinner, good company and flowing wine but a poor substitute for interesting conversation.

Not for me the memory of holidays long past, more of an image plucked from history capturing my big brother in a snapshot holding the beloved little Bongo held between his knees.  Spiking hair in need of a brush, frayed collar from student days of poverty, eyes huge bespectacled in national health glasses which glint the reflection of single light bulb as he attempts to keep up some semblance of a beat. Alongside stands his tall, lean friend Jim plucking a makeshift base fashioned from a tea chest, stick and string. Whilst in the shadows a real musician, Theo, strums his guitar. I adored my brother but I worshipped even more, Theo with his thick blond hair and deep blue eyes. When you are a thirteen year old girl the Bongo drum holds the key to memories of a little girl yearning to be noticed by a boy who only had eyes for his guitar.

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