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The Iberian Horseshoe — A Journey

Part IV. North East

The Pianist

Steve Porter
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Josep has gone to visit his parents for the weekend. Meanwhile, Francesc invites me to his home over the road where I get to meet his girlfriend. After tea and a discussion about the merits of the Beatles, Chopin, Bach, Simon and Garfunkel, she takes me to the music room.

“I wish I understood better the words of these songs,” she says.

I tell her that some of Simon and Garfunkel’s lyrics are very good and promise to translate “Homeward Bound” into Spanish for her.

“Thank you. But that isn’t necessary,” she says, while I make a mental note to do it anyway.

She has a brief look at the musical notation and begins to play “Hey Jude.” I watch her small thin fingers moving back and forth over the keyboard. Later she tells me it is a myth that piano players need to have long fingers. This comes as something of a disappointment to me as I thought I held a positive advantage with my extended digits. I suppose, a significant part of her ‘talent’ is down to hard work. This is true of many things. ‘Not having an ear for foreign languages’ is a convenient excuse used by many British people for not bothering to learn any.

“Can you read music?” she asks.

I used to read a little when I was learning to play the guitar as a teenager. But now I feel dyslexically challenged. Recently I have been playing Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” on Josep’s acoustic guitar. I manage to translate a little of that to the piano by playing around the chord of C.

“Very good,” she says. “You are a natural.”

In fact, I have no great ear for music. I depend on the page, the written word. I struggle to tell a story verbally or to recite a poem off by heart. Maybe these things require a great deal of repetitive effort that I am just not prepared to put in. But most people can at least tell a joke without getting too mixed up. Perhaps that’s why I’m always writing things down.

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Copyright ©Steve Porter, 2004
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Date of publicationJune 2007
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
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