A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Beau Geste On Hold & A Surprising Moonlight Sonata
Sunday, April 13, 2008

There are those stories, the true ones and the ones that are not, of the-soon-to-be blind person who travels the world to see all. And there is the not quite historically correct concept of the barbarians at the walls of Rome. When they breach them the world slips into the middle ages and the lights of learning turn off with a few beacons being kept lit by Arabs scholars who translate the Greeks and the Romans into their language.

I think of all that as I gaze upon Rebecca and remember the film Charly. Cliff Robertson plays a man with a child-lie maind who is given a drug that makes him brilliant. But as the drug's effect begins to wane he now understands what it is that he is losing. He is losing something that he never had. And that is what makes this film one of the most tragic I have ever seen.

Perhaps I am over dramatizing this (I surely am!) in my quest to expose Rebecca to as much knowledge, situations, experiences before her teenage "middle ages" come crashing down. We can all see it coming. Last night she did not want to see Liszt's Rhapsody the film for children (and adults) from the series on composers. We have seen the ones on Handel, Bach, Beethoven and Bizet. Rebecca wanted to go home but only under the insistence of her mother, Hilary did we sit down to watch and Rebecca had no choice. As soon as the super handsome Geordir Johnson (who plays Farzn Liszt) appeared I watched Rebecca from the corner of my eye pick up the DVD case and read the credits. In the end we had a pleasant evening and we all learned something.

My daughter Hilary seems to have some sort of chip on her shoulder that I was not as insistent on the concept of culture and the educational when she was Rebecca's age. She is, of course, absolutely right. What could I have possibly known then? I may know just a bit more now but in our changing world I have come to the realization that knowledge of the esoteric (that which was not so just a few years ago) is a valuable commodity. My friend Abraham Rogatnick and others say I must go easy and not push. But the fact is that the change in Rebecca becomes obvious from one day to the next.

On Friday we attended a concert at St Jude's Catholic Church that was performed by Paul Luchkow, Michael Jarvis and friends. Rebecca insisted in not only chewing gum but blowing bubbles, too. Since we were only a few ft from violist Glenys Webster I could only wonder how it might have affected her playing (it didn't as far as I could ascertain). But I didn't say much. Rebecca had come to the concert and who knows how many more she will attend before the curtain of culture comes crashing down!

At the intermission I asked Glenys to chat with Rebecca. This she did and Rebecca also listened as Michael Jarvis explained to a little audience how his harpsichord worked.

Liszt's Rhapsody became a distant second choice to the film Rebecca really wanted to see Arctic Tale . At the very least Rebecca's original choice was educational. But this word is now a suspect word in our family. It represents something boring and tedious that I try to force Rebecca and Lauren to experience.

I think of the film Beau Geste where the only special effects is the problem of giving a dead legionaire a Viking funeral (complete with burning long boat and a dog at the dead man's feet) in the middle of the desert. The solution is an intellectual one. Intellectual special effects are now pennies in a Loonie currency. They do not hold their value.

So I live in a small fear that while I was under 10 when I first saw Beau Geste with my parents I might have to wait a bit longer to see it with Rebecca. It would break my heart if she soon grew bored. For years (she was past 20) her mother Hilary refused to see The Third Man because it was in ugly black and white.

But there was a glimmer of hope as I experienced a moment of paradoxical sadness mixed with joy. I was in the boulevard shoveling sand into my wheelbarrow when I heard Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. I thought immediately of my mother who often played it and was hit by a wave of longing for her. But then I knew that somehow it was Rebecca playing it on the Chickering and that the living room window was open because of the warm day that yesterday was.

I told Rebecca of my sadness and joy and she immediately sat again at the piano and practiced for a lot longer than she would have on any other day.


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