Chapter 15, Part 2 — Edgbaston, 27 March 1962: First Rehearsal – Part 1 [section 2 of 3]

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I’d barely time to say a rushed “gud-bye-and-thank-ye” to the teacher who’d championed my cause for so long before a student showed up from the grammar school to guide and escort me to my new class.

As I stood before the classroom door, I was momentarily tempted to replicate Stan’s grand entrance on his first day in choir. But, before I could summon the nerve, my “guide” half-led, half-dragged me into the music room where the theory class was taking place and left. Letters from the board of governors, my Headmaster and my teacher had already been delivered, collectively presenting me to my new instructor who, in turn, did the same to the class, making a particular point of saying I’d successfully completed four-and-a-half years of theory study between November and now.

I could practically hear the knives being drawn and sharpened.

I was desperately looking for a place to run and hide, when I saw a friendly, familiar face, two rows up, on the far left end, waving at me. Rashmi, to my surprise, was also in the class. She pulled up a chair beside her and I was only too glad and grateful to join her, sensing for the first time how Stan must’ve felt when I’d done the same for him in choir just over 18 months earlier.

She graciously agreed to be my partner when we were paired up for that night’s homework assignment to illustrate at least two harmony techniques we’d studied lately.

I’d an idea, and we agreed to meet halfway through lunch at the grammar school library to see if they had the sheet music available to the “Flower Duet” from Delibes’ opera Lakmé – then only starting to emerge from relative obscurity.

I was hoping to illustrate parallel thirds, contrary motion and, if the teacher bought my argument about it, the fugal form.

By lunch, Drusilla, hoping to regain some modicum of credibility, began changing her story, saying she, Rufus and Tiny had been there, but Ian and I’d chickened out and hadn’t shown up at all. She said they’d been leaving out of boredom when they got caught by the police. Asked to explain the changes from her earlier story and to reconcile the contradictions of her accounts, she had another tantrum and flounced outside to an unknown secret pouting place.

With apologies to Ian, I wolfed down lunch, left him by the fireplace in the main room and rushed to the grammar school to meet Rashmi on time. I still had a hall pass from this morning, but was confronted just outside the library. It kept me from being forcibly escorted back to the prep school, but I was still a trifle late, and Rashmi was waiting when I arrived.

We found a book with the duet and piano accompaniment near a back alcove of the music section and checked it out


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