I spent this afternoon hoovering the House and washing floors, thought it was about time I played some of my music as I haven’t for sometime now. So on went Karen Carpenter, to hear that most pure voice of Karen Carpenter her tones of Nat King Cole/Perry Como enabled me to do the work and forget the pain I am in – Osteoarthritis in the spine never lets up and the only way I can cope sometimes is extra painkillers with a drop of Brandy which I know I shouldn’t but it does give me some relief. Anyone who suffers with Arthritis/Osteoarthritis will know how it limits one’s life, for me it takes several hours of a morning to get going.
As I was cleaning, with the music in the background, so many songs Karen Carpenter sung meant so much, I found myself with tears, yes I do get emotional too soft I suppose. I was thinking of opportunities in the past that were there for me that I didn’t take, being a teenager being in my early twenties, the dreams I had, the longing to be like every other Girl my age. I never had the confidence that I so longed to have. The first time I recall as a Child that I showed some independence my Mother slapped me for doing so, I was in the Garden on my little tricycle no doubt my white socks were getting dirty, she made sure I did what she wanted. Yes, she controlled me I didn’t think she did, I didn’t want to see it but she did to her Death.
It was the time of the Hippies that special time when there was Freedom all around. I longed to have the flowing dresses, flowers in my hair the beads all that, never happened of course but I kept on dreaming. Life was Home, working at The Prudential, Chancery Lane London and home again. I had offers from Men yes indeed I did. Did I take them up, very rarely. I could just imagine my Mother’s look never mind what she might say. Coming from Irish Catholic background the “Catholic Guilt” was well pushed into one. Bed was 10 pm no arguments, I remember there was a tv programme on I think Monday evenings, the rare occasion when I actually wanted to see something on tv – it starred Robert Powell and it was a drama/science fiction programme, it ended around 10.05 pm. On that evening my Mother would bang on their bedroom floor for me to get upstairs and right now I can still see myself standing by the Living room door calling out “its only got another minute or two”, soon as the programme ended tv off, I fled upstairs to my bedroom, hiding my littler Red Radio under my pillow I would listen to the music on AFN, to be told off next morning “it was gone 10 pm”.
How I was so desperate to be just an ordinary Girl out with a Boyfriend enjoying myself. The night before I Married nothing changed Bed 10 pm. That was life not what I wanted but what I had I never really argued back, I should have but I didn’t, would I have got my way, no. I dreamt of having my own little flat or room somewhere but how could that be, how could I afford it. Every month when I was paid by The Prudential I had to hand my wages over to my Father in return I received my Train fare for the month/some money for lunch and a little to buy stockings/dress etc, never enough so I would at the end of each week put all the money I had left in my purse into a big jar & save it to buy what I wanted. Sometimes that would be a piece of China like a Hummel figure or a dress I really wanted. It used to upset/annoy me because my older Sister I never once saw handing her wages over. I learned to budget I had to and I am to this day still budgeting.
I had my little Red Radio in my bedroom to listen to, I kept my Diary (hidden what else), as for playing music my Sister four years older, had the Record Player I could count on one hand the times she let me play a record supervised by Sister what else. My Mother would enter the Living room as my Beach Boys music played and say “turn that down its too loud, the neighbours will hear”, I could barely hear never mind the neighbours. If I started dancing in the Living room, that was a NO NO, in my Mother would walk “mind my curtains”, her precious curtains, so I would go back upstairs to my bedroom. There were times I felt like just screaming and I did so often over the years, but inside of me.
I know one shouldn’t dwell on the past but today as I cleaned and Karen Carpenter’s beautiful voice rang out, so much flooded back, my eyes I know were red from the tears and later when I made a pot of Tea for myself and one of my Sons, I know he noticed my eyes but he made no comment.
I used to play my music so much after I married, my eldest Son loves his Music when a Baby he would go to sleep at the sounds of Opera/Classical/Frank Sinatra etc music. Last few years I haven’t played so much maybe because I didn’t want to be reminded of many things from the past. I liked to sing around the House and if I did so my Mother would always call out “we will have an argument soon every time you start with that” – that being me singing so I became so conscious of it and well stopped. Today as I cleaned I found myself singing along with Karen Carpenter, her voice just so magical mine well lets say “what voice”.
Is it good or bad to reflect on days and years gone by, when those happy really happy times of being a teenager young woman are so rare. Why did I suddenly remember the evening I realized that I was in Love really in Love with the man that was to be my Husband, my heart was fluttering at that time and as I recalled that moment this afternoon my Heart was fluttering once more albeit 45 years later and a Widow for 25 years. If I were to play Nat King Cole as I used to when ironing my tears would most definitely fall recalling my late Husband & our two Sons in the car on our way for two sometimes four weeks in Cornwall, Free to do what we wanted. Happiest times of my Life, having my two Sons, being Loved by them and loving them.
Depending on the music, it can make me feel happy sometimes sad, makes me remember perhaps thats the idea of it all. I need to start playing CDs/LPs once again, tears or not. One thing is sure I was able to get the hoovering done and the floors washed and it took my mind off the pain at least, the drop of Brandy helped.
The remarkable Karen Carpenter “We’ve Only Just Begun”
annacottage/May 1, 2020.