The Flute

Jottings Index

While I was still at school, aged fifteen, my Uncle Charley kindly lent me a trumpet. I will never know why, because my musical talents were almost nil, as my aunt Jean discovered, when she tried to teach me to play the piano a year or two earlier.

I purchased a booklet “Learn how to play the trumpet” and spent many an hour making noises which eventually became recognizable tunes.

Without any tuition, I was eventually able to play simple hymn tunes and was encouraged by my school friend Frank, to join the local Methodist Band in which he played a euphonium.

On Sundays, the band sometimes marched down the street to play a few hymns in the village square. I found that marching and playing at the same time was beyond my capability. The Band-master new this, but he said “just keep in step and pretend to play, no one will notice”.

I was soon able to play well enough to join the school dance band. This was an enjoyable after school activity, and we were allowed by the head master to play at events outside of the school, providing we made no charge for our services.

At the age of seventeen, I left home to embark on a career which entailed moving to Essex, and eventually to do war-work. I was billeted in a home where, understandably, the land lady would not allow me to practice the trumpet, so ended my love affair with the instrument.

On hearing of this, my Uncle asked for his trumpet to be returned. He could see that I was truly upset, and he gave me another instrument, to keep this time.

It was an old flute which needed the keys re-padded. The flute was made of rosewood, it had silver keys. It was in three sections which neatly plugged together. I just separated them, slipped them into a large envelope and filed them away in a bookcase.

Many years later, Betty read an article in a news paper which discussed the value of antique woodwind instruments. Betty suggested we have a look at the old flute to ascertain if was of any value. We sent a photo of it to the author of the article. He promptly replied, advising us to have the flute valued by Sotheby’s.

To cut a long story short, Sotheby’s sold our old unplayable flute for more than £800 (several thousand in today’s money?) which more than paid for to us to enjoy a two week holiday touring Israel.