After months of empty silence,
two dozen children, like ravenous birds,
fly into St Stephen’s kitchen
and descend on Joy’s homemade sausage rolls,
devouring them under her smiling gaze.
Leaving nothing but crumbs, they chatter and squabble out,
each to their own place, books open, breath bated, and…
(Light glints from twenty raised instruments,
raised like weapons for an aural assault,
and two boys are poised, sticks held ready,
to attack drums bigger than themselves.)
“All together now!” and they start,
a stunning, ear numbing chaos.
But order is gradually emerging,
as the infinitely patient band-master,
(could St Stephen have had so much?)
gently guides and corrects:
“See the coloured in googy-egg with the tail?
that means ONE count.
okay, try again!”
PAAARP! PARP PAAAARP!
“Stop! Stop! It’s one, one, one…”
At the back mums tap at laptops,
trading smiles, trying not to laugh
at the more painful blasts
and peculiar burbles.
And then it is done –
chairs stacked, cases latched,
children scatter into the yard.
And blessed silence returns to St Stephen’s.
Band practice started again yesterday, now that social distancing requirements have eased. I never cease to be in awe of the unflappable patience and kindly good humour that the QJB band master, Mr T, brings to band practice each week – a band he started for the local kids since retiring. And Joy, whose grandson I taught in his first year at uni, makes amazing sausage rolls.