I seldom allow myself to sit down with a cup of coffee and a magazine. That's why I have come to cherish my daughter's guitar lessons.
Every Tuesday afternoon from quarter to six to a quarter past six I get to sit and do absolutely bugger all. Sometimes I don't even bring a magazine. I just sit and stare at the walls, being mindful, but without all the trouble of actually trying to stare at a flower whilst trying to breath deeply.
To just sit somewhere without the slightest opportunity to do something useful, is fast becoming the highlight of my week. And the timing couldn't be more perfect. Most weekdays I seem to go totally blank around quarter to six anyway. Dolefully looking in the fridge, figuring out a way to magically transform it's meagre contents into a nutritious meal without too much trouble. Some days I am moderately successful at this, but these are few and far between.
The fact that I get to sit down and relax at that fatal time just before dinner, really is a blessing for all that are living under my roof. Since my daughter started her guitar lessons, most Tuesdays dinner either consists of pizza, or something delicious that I planned at a time, when my thoughts concerning food are still more or less coherent, thus leading to an altogether more satisfying meal.
Despite it's decrepit paintwork, it's rather harsh lighting and uncomfortable chairs, I have really come to like the little coffee corner at our local music school. If you don't bring your own reading material, there's only a stash of yellowing leaflets on learning how to play the trombone, cello or flute. Since I have no inclination whatsoever to learn how to make music in the near future, there is absolutely no need to read any of the brochures, which is nice. (In equally depressing waiting rooms I always feel morally obliged (or is it my ocd?) to read all sorts of disgusting brochures on nail fungus, piles, or psoriasis.)
Back to the coffee corner, where by now I have got to know my fellow inmates, like you get familiar with the commuters on your daily tube ride into work. There is the granddad who eagerly awaits his granddaughter to come out of one class and go into the next. In the meantime he feeds her sandwiches and provides her with a drink that he brings in a small blue thermos.
Before and after the meal the old man reads his football magazine with an enthusiasm that makes me think he has a nagging wife at home who never lets him have a moment's peace. But come to think of it, he might be the little girl's father, having traded in his wife for a younger model years ago and now making up for the fact that he was too busy with work to see his first children grow up, by giving this precious girl all his love and attention.
I will never know of course, like I will never know, nor understand, why the father in the left hand corner of the waiting area, reads through the same old tattered free newspapers that must have been left behind weeks, if not months ago. Although come to think of it, it might proof to be utterly relaxing to read news that stopped being news a long time ago.
Not that I will ever ask him, because letting my imagination run wild is such fun. Has the mum that accompanies a blond boy and a very exotic looking girl adopted one of the children, or both, or is she just looking after her neighbour's kid? What will the stony-faced father of the only boy in the ballet class talk about on the way home? And is the guy at the far end of the room actually waiting for someone, or just looking for a place to while away the time? Over the weeks, I have come up with several plausible, or less plausible stories, all the while carefully avoiding actually talking to any of these people as I feel the truth will probably come as a bit of a disappointment.
Thirty minutes of me time every week do of course come at a price. For every five minutes of silence on Tuesday afternoons, I am made to listen to a thirty minute guitar improvisation by my daughter, who loves to 'compose' her own songs. On top of this she tells me that she is too young to learn how to tune her guitar by herself and so far, I haven't had the audacity to go ask her teacher if she is telling the truth.
Besides, I really want her to learn how to play the guitar, as I can totally see her around a campfire somewhere creating a wonderful atmosphere. Or traveling the world, guitar strapped to her backpack.
In the meantime I will just have to listen to my daughter not getting it quite right. Which is easier said than done, as she plays most days and once she has started, there is no stopping her. But I have found the perfect solution in the form of the extractor fan.
My daughter can strum away and sing as loudly as she pleases, while I hide under the extractor fan. This way most of the guitar music passes me by, while I am still physically close to my daughter, so that I can give her a big thumbs up every time she proudly looks up at me. As an added bonus, every practise session will end with a - hopefully- lovely meal.
Now all I have to do is come up with a really good reason why guitar concerts can best take place roughly half an hour before we sit down to eat. Ideas, anyone?