Sixty years ago, when I was ten years old I joined the brass band at Shirley Oaks children’s home. I’m not sure if I wanted to join or if I was told I had to join. Kids didn’t make their own decisions in those days and I wasn’t much of a joiner-in in those days so I suspect it was the latter. The band leader/master/teacher was Mr Parr who unusually in my sad experience of authority figures was a kindly man. Mind you he fell out of favour with me temporarily when he wouldn’t let me play the cornet and insisted I play the baritone because my lips were too fat for the cornet (he may not have put it in those terms but that’s what he meant I’m sure). To me the word baritone didn’t even sound right. The boy next to me played the euphonium and that sounded much more of a proper name for something. Mr Parr taught me how to blow into the mouthpiece to get a sound out. No, he didn’t, he taught me to spit into it. If my memory serves he was always pursing his lips and making little spitting noises and blowing raspberries. I think he had done it so much that it had developed into a habit. Thinking about it he probably didn’t get invited to many dinner parties. However, as I say he was a nice old man. Probably not an old man in those days really but seemed like it to us kids. Mr Parr had once upon a time been in the band of the Coldstream Guards. When I discovered that fact I liked him even more. Those days just after the 2nd World War all soldiers were real heroes in our eyes. None of us could read music very well and Mr Parr used to spend ages writing the valve numbers above each note so we knew which ones to press. Every now and then all us band boys would bundle into a coach and go off to give a concert at some exotic (to us children’s home boys anyway) location such as Banstead and Seven Oaks. Probably only a few miles up the road. Goodness only knows what we sounded like. I can’t imagine we were too pleasant on the ear. But the audiences received us kindly and there was always sandwiches and cakes to make to whole thing very bearable indeed because we were always hungry. After about a year I had to leave the band when I went to live with foster parents. That was the end of my musical career. Apart from a couple of days at sea-training school when I volunteered to sound the bugle calls when the regular bugler was too ill to do it. I volunteered on the strength of my time playing the Baritone in the band. Sadly, I forgot how rubbish I had been at it. My bugle calls received lots of comments. People can be so cruel at times. Anyway, to cut a long story short. Hahaha! Six weeks ago, when I reached the grand old age of Seventy I decided it was time to learn to play the cornet. I went out and hired one from the music shop. (I hired it just in case it was a passing fad. Well, you know what us kids are like). It was then I discovered I needed to be able to read music too. I bought a book, “A Tune a Day for Trumpet” apparently it works for the cornet too. I am really, honestly enjoying it but it is much harder than I anticipated. I wish I could practice for more than half-an-hour a day but the book says not to overdo it and I am obeying the rules. The hired cornet (maker unknown) is rubbish I have already decided, so I have bought a second/hand Yamaha on Ebay. It should arrive soon. I hope I have done the right thing? Maybe I will get good enough to join a brass band one day, that would be nice? But I don’t think I am good enough to go and audition just yet. Although, and I don’t want to sound boastful here, I did play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star all the way through yesterday. Almost note perfect it was too.