Now, more than ever, it strikes me how music brings about memories. I know that this is not an original observation, but it hangs around for much of my days.
Because many of my conversations with seven-month old Magoo (as she has recently become known) are fairly one-sided, I find myself sprinkling these monologues with fragments of half-remembered songs, which I find highly entertaining and hopefully she does too.
There’s the one about “wind[ing] the bobbin up” that my much younger brother used to sing when he was a little boy of about four. It’s a strange one this one – kind of a stream-of-consciousness flow of words about pointing to ceilings, floors, windows and doors (in which order I can never remember) and then clapping your hands together “one, two, three”.
Then there’s one I learned from my older brother that I regularly sing to Magoo at bedtime and I think she likes it. In about 1988 my brother’s senior class was putting on a production of Oliver Twist. I was completely in awe of the girl (fancy!) who played Oliver. She had an incredible voice, and my favourite song she had to sing was one that started: “Who will buy this wonderful morning, such a sky you never did see”. I looked up this particular song on YouTube recently and it’s the bit of the musical where Oliver is looking down from a window over a London square and watching milk maids and strawberry sellers in bright costumes happily advertising their wares as they dance in formation through the streets. Anyway, I was particularly taken with this song and memorised the words better than my brother (sorry, bro). I sang it in the car constantly for an entire road-trip holiday with my family.
A curious thing is that most of the songs I only half-remember are about God and Jesus. This isn’t a problem; it’s just a bit odd, as I don’t adhere to a religion.
I learned most of these songs as a small girl in primary school in Scotland, where I grew up. Apparently I attended a non-denominational school, though we recited a Christian prayer before lunch every day and had religious service every Tuesday and Thursday, during which the Reverend Gordon would attend and tell us lively stories from the Bible. Then the 200 or so children aged between five and eight would launch into a song about “God’s bright sun riding the Heavens, chasing sleepiness away”. I loved this particular song, and I would picture a smiling, bearded God riding his bike through the sky, his white robes flowing behind him in the wind.
There was another line which went “Father, gladly we greeeet you, here commmme, running to meeeet you” and I would imagine running to meet my own Dad after school (this was particularly poignant as my parents had recently split up and I only got to see my Dad on weekends).
Thinking of this song again, and occasionally singing it to Magoo, brings back these memories of sitting on my wee bum in that big school hall, only a few years older than she is now.