Woody Woodpecker

spotted woodpecker closeup

Growing up in the East End of London, in the smog and pollution, you only really saw sparrows and pigeons. No other bird ventured into the area. I am now making up for lost bird time in the Swiss countryside, although not all birds are to be seen.

Imagine my surprise when Mr. Swiss called me to see this bird eating from the food that usually only tits and sparrow eat. Thank goodness for Mr. Swiss knowledge of Swiss birds, as he said “e Buntspecht” and in english it seems it is a speckled woodpecker. I had to take the photo from a distance, otherwise he would have flown away. I just clicked and clicked and clicked and this is one of the photos. He was really big.

spotted woodpecker 10

Daily Prompt: Musical

What role does music play in your life?


Music plays quite a big roll in my life, not only mine, but luckily also Mr. Swiss. He is still playing in a band of golden oldies for fun as the drummer. He began in his teenage years, but let’s return to the beginning.

We always had a piano at home. Mainly for usage at the family Christmas and other parties. My mum and her sister, Aun Lil, would both roll out the old favourites from the twenties and thirties and everyone would sing along or dance. It was the normal family gathering. They could not read a note of music, it was all by hearing. They could play the melody with the righthand, and the left was just one-two thump on the keys and no-one really heard if it was in tune or not. We were just all having fun. My dad loved the old jazz and sort of introduced me to the qualities of Fats Waller (who he once saw play live at a concert in the thirties in London), Glen Miller and many contempories of the time.

Then I progressed to my school days and had the opportunity to join a class where we were taught how to play the piano. There were about ten of us all sharing the piano, but somehow after a year we got the hang of it. Naturally classics, nothing like pop music. Afterwards it was decided I was a promising member of the class and should have private lessons at school. As we got a special price, it was agreed (we were not wealthy) and by the time I finished school, I had six years of piano behind me and could tinkle a good classic (Mozart sonatas, a little bit of Beethoven and Chopin). I enjoyed it very much and was quite into the classics. At the same time I discovered the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, had a tape recorder, and would tape all I could. There was always music of some kind as a background at home. I had also learnt the recorder by myself and at one time did have a guitar, but discovered it was not really my instrument (I sort of had visions of being a pop musician).

I was also quite into opera. My friend had a large collection of opera records, and some real gems. Maria Callas, Jussi Björling, some Gigli and Caruso. At the same time I was lending records from the local library, complete operas. My friend and I would also visit Sadlers Wells opera company quite often, to see operas live on stage. Sadlers Wells was a British Institution and it was their rule at the time to sing operas only in english. We also got a fare share of Gilbert and Sullivan operas – the British opera composers. I just loved music and was open for all.

I then moved over to Switzerland and took my record player with me. I would buy the odd pop music record now and again. I visited the Zürich opera house a couple of times. I remember seeing Tannhäuser, one of  Wagner’s best.

A couple of years later I met Mr. Swiss. We were working for the same company. I was more or less doing the english correspondence for the complete company and Mr. Swiss had a lot of letters to dictate (it was before the days of computer) and now and again (more often again and again) we got talking about music. Mr. Swiss had played drums since he was a teenager and was into jazz, bebop, mainstream, Dizzy Gillespie, etc. etc. I had a cousin, older than myself, in England, who also spent most of his younger years in the jazz clubs of London, many of which Mr. Swiss had also visited when he was doing his England year to learn the language. I think most of his vocabulary came from the clubs and not from school. Anyhow I soon noticed that his record collection was very similar to that of my cousin. Of course in the meanwhile Mr. Swiss has got to know my cousin and they get on very well together, sharing a common denometer when it comes to music. Mr. Swiss still played now and again with a few colleagues in the local Swiss jazz club, or perhaps he had a gig in another village/town and I would go along. Jazz was not unknown to me, but after many years of marriage, I have become quite an expert.

Mr. Swiss still plays. Nearly all of his colleagues are now retired,  but they are all jazzers. The photo was taken when they played at the birthday celebration of one of their colleagues. It is in a large farmhouse, which belongs to one of his colleagues, in the concert room where often jazz concerts had been held. Some well known jazz musicians had played there.

One of my personal favourite musicians is Paolo Conte. An Italian who accompanies himself whilst singing. It is a sort of  jazz. I seem to go for the Italian pianists, the late Lucio Dalla was also one of my favourites. So basically music of all kinds belongs to my life,  I am not so keen on the very modern jazz, or the very modern classics. I like something I can hum along with, or sing to. I can sing, but I would not advise anyone to listen in, because it is not really my speciality. You can’t do everything. So I think I should close this blog with one of my favourites: Paolo Conte singing Via con me.

Daily Prompt: Musical