The Blues

The sun was shining, and I decided to pick up my trumpet and blast out some jazz to the accompaniment of a lawn mower a few doors down. I warmed up with the staccato James Bond theme, before launching into its swinging chorus. I fluffed the crescendo into the top notes, and covered my embarrassment with a comic bass G booming like a fog horn. On my second attempt, I squeezed my lips tighter and my eyebrows even strayed north to reach the note, but I still couldn’t find top F.

I moved on to Goldfinger, and the languorous notes and unexpected minor keys drifted out across the garden. I wondered how many of the neighbours could hear me. Imagining the screaming brass at the each of each phrase, it was impossible not to channel some Shirley Bassey swagger into the performance, albeit balancing on one leg. My leg brace hovered, and I tried to make it useful as a dangling metronome.

Fred wasn’t a fan, and skidded past me down the steps and off into the border. Despite the lack of encouragement, I pressed on, playing the soft Lord of the Rings theme tune, with soft breathy trills that made my trumpet sound almost flute-like, before the strong brassy return of stately mid-tones. I paused and caught my breath – this was tough going and I wasn’t hitting my usual range. Had my core really withered this much in the past fortnight since my op?

I returned to jazz, and played Fly Me to the Moon. After my first bout of playing among the stars, I had to stop. It felt like I’d stood up too fast. I perched on the chair and waited for the dizziness to pass. When I tried again, it was as if I was inhaling something noxious from my silver mouthpiece. The blood rush didn’t dissipate, so I gave up playing and began breathing deeply.

This was how Mum found me 10mins later. She asked me why Fred was out the front of the house.

‘Oh, I was playing my trumpet for a bit, but he didn’t like it and scarpered. Was he in the front garden?’

‘No,’ she replied darkly, ‘He was sitting in the road.’

My playing had made our dog want to end it all.

Pictures: Fred in his usually happy state; and dreaming about anything but trumpets.

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