Sunday, 21 June 2020
Father’s Day often makes me think of John Lennon. He was a shitty father to Julian and he knew it, so he made a special effort to be the best father he could be for Sean. This probably didn't make Julian feel any better, but after his father’s murder his music would go on to have a significant influence upon the development of BLUES NIGHT, which must give him some comfort.
This was my first opportunity to understand that teachers are, generally speaking, terrible with music. I shudder to remember the hundreds of occasions upon which a piece of calming classical music (or inspirational M People / Lighthouse Family) was unceremoniously killed with the stop button instead of with a gentle fade so that assembly could start.
Music used in lessons is (nine times out of ten) chosen for its lyrical content rather than the consideration of whether it is any good. And so it was when, as a student teacher, I sat in the hall of a great big Victorian primary school in East Ham, to observe a dance lesson on the first day of my first placement. The teacher sat her class down in a rough circle around the wedge-shaped Coomber CD player (no, I have no idea why schools have to use these) and bade them 'just listen to the words' of this song.
Immediately I recognised the sub-Strawberry-Fields organ intro of Julian Lennon's 'Saltwater' and I was struck by the horrified realisation that these poor kids were going to have to Dance About The Environment. About four minutes later, the music stopped, and the teacher announced, “This song is called Saltwater and it is going to be the theme of your new dance. Does anybody know who this song is by?”
Naturally, I did not put my hand up. I was 27, and a student teacher, not a child in the class. Also naturally, none of the children did either. It had reached Number 6 on the UK charts around the time that they were born. The teacher was undaunted, however. As an observer, I was impressed by her expectations of this group of predominantly Bangladeshi 8-year-olds. “Okay, but after hearing it, can anybody guess who it was by?”
How on earth do you expect them to do that? I wondered. And then I began to worry. Oh no, you don't think…
“Well, I'm pretty sure a lot of you will have heard of him…”
Oh no I think you do think…
“He was very, very famous!”
Oh no. No. Please, no. At this point my hand would normally have been on its way to my forehead, but I was new here, it was my first day and I was eager to impress. In fact, my new ‘Mentor’, the single person it was most important for me to impress in the world at that moment, was just about to say something to which it would take all of my effort to stifle a visible reaction.
“Well, his name was Julian Lennon and he was the singer in a band called The Beatles.” At this point, the invisible latch holding my arm in place suddenly dematerialised and my fleshy, concave palm slammed against my already-sizeable, end-of-the-century forehead. In this hall it sounded like a gunshot, and every single child in the class turned around to look.
The teacher was already facing in my direction. “Oh I'm sorry, Mr Barnes, is that not correct?”
"Um, no, I think that was his dad.” I murmured.