Tell Me, Are Violins For Real?

Because, honestly, having had a violin for years and been too scared to do anything with it because in our old flat I could hear the lightswitches of upstairs and downstairs being flicked, never mind everything else, when I finally, finally unpacked and strung it, was it foolish of me to hope that it would be possible, within two hours, to have all four strings in tune at the same time?

Perhaps it was. Perhaps. I know from guitars that new strings take a bit of time to settle, but then with guitars I never had them so relentlessly slipping all over place and just pwanging down five tones without asking. I watched some excellent YouTube videos about how to hold the thing, and I can make the bow make good sounds and all that, and the video said hey, use these tiny keys to tune it, but they would only move it like 0.001Hz at a time and WHO HAS THAT MUCH TIME and IS THIS NORMAL? Seriously, is this normal? I’d get two in place and move on to the next to and by the time I got back to the E string it’d be all, hey girl, you wanted 163.9Hz, but get this, I’m not going higher than 155Hz and I cannot will it end how do I violin?!

But I’m quite pleased with myself for finally having picked up something I’ve wanted to try for the last thirty years. When I was young, you could have a loan of an instrument from school and free lessons in it because, IDK, my school was in a “troubled area” or something, and they wanted to give us ~culture, and, what can I say, I’m terribly grateful. But if there’s one thing I fail to understand about my 7-year-old self, it’s WHY DID I CHOOSE THE FLUTE INSTEAD OF THE VIOLIN? I don’t know if it’s a regret exactly, because I’m still surprisingly good at the flute, but then again, I don’t think (I could be wrong and it’s just that I was well taught at precisely the age when one ought to pick up an instrument), that playing the flute is that hard. You can only really play one note at a time, and from thereon it’s a matter of tone and moving your fingers fast enough and that’s kind of easy when you’re used to playing the piano and co-ordinating two separate sets of five fingers, both feet, your eyes and brain and all that all at once.

I’m always glad I grew up playing music. I’m a bit sad I don’t play the piano any more, and that all those hours of practice really have rather vanished into the sands of time. I can still doodle in various keys, and make sort of daytime movie soundtrack noises if you leave me alone with a piano for any time at all, but gone are the days when I could knock out any Queen song on demand, as well as a healthy amount of impressive-looking (but, again, quite easy) Scott Joplin stuff.

It’s a lovely thing, to be able to play easily and confidently. It’s a great stress reliever, it’s like running, in the sense that, once you’ve learnt how to do it and practiced it enough that you can do it without it being at all difficult unless you feel like a challenge, you can always go to it and it’ll be a comfort and a joy.

I’m really, really looking forward to that stage with the violin. Tell me, it’s not too late, is it?!



2013: Highlights, in brief.


2013 was a glorious year for me. I’ve always said 13 is my lucky number – I grew up at No. 13, and it’s always seemed auspicious, so 2013 felt like the year to do the big things. And I did.

In 2013 I:

  • Shed the weight I didn’t want, and, with it, a far heavier weight of issues with food, self and negativity. It sounds so strange, so cliche, but there’s no other way to put it. I learnt a lot about my body, and my brain.
  • Moved not only house, but home, home home, to London, where I grew up, to a place I imagined living as a child, but never dreamt, as an adult, I could actually happen to inhabit.
  • Completed, edited and self-published The Pulse, my first novel, and felt an infinite sense of delight and accomplishment at having done so.
  • Got a job in a place I love, doing something I love, being around fantastic and inspirational things, people and history, all day, most days.
  • I had a beautiful summer in Sweden with friends and, really, family. I spoke more Swedish than ever before.

There are many things I didn’t do so much. I didn’t write so much, not from June onwards, I didn’t blog much, journal much, or create much. I didn’t read much or watch many films. I didn’t even keep up with TV. I didn’t exercise as much as I wanted, in the ways I wanted to. But, I feel I made the most of the time… It’s been hard this year in new ways, in good ways, in brave and exciting and challenging ways, relying on things working out, and having it all be just so time and again. I’ve had great fortune and great joy this year. And I go into 2014 with hope and heart and excitement, and a lot of great new things to try and be and do and become.

Next year, I intend to say more, about more. Do stick around, and thanks for reading ❤