If you follow my blog regularly, or if you read my last post (daybook entry) then you will know that my life is kind of…busy. Well today has been no exception!
You may know that my son Ethan and I have been asked to play with Besses o’ th’ Barn Band when they play with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in the Albert Hall later this month. It is going to be a big concert. BIG concert. It will be hosted by Classic FM, and the performance will be broadcast on the radio (not sure if it will be live, or recorded to be broadcast later). There are several big name guests, including James Galway – he of the golden flute fame. We are going to be playing the grand march from “Aida” and the 1812 Overture; not an insignificant blow for us brass banders!
We have been rehearsing our bits at band for the last couple of weeks and tonight was the first time we got to play with the orchestra. It was my first time playing with a professional orchestra, and my first time playing under a professional conductor. I was just a little bit nervous to say the least, but I didn’t want my nerves to spoil things and stop me enjoying the moment so I worked hard on keeping a lid on my nerves. Ethan – at 16 years old – was as cool as a cucumber about it all and didn’t break a sweat even though we were playing the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool. We will be playing in this hall again another two times, a day or so after the Albert Hall so it was good to get to know the stage and the acoustics before the pressure really starts. It is a beautiful building, and it has been a real privilege to play in it with this top class orchestra.
One of the ways I cope with my nerves is to try and keep as calm as I can and perhaps do a bit of something random to keep my mind occupied. This afternoon, I got my wish.
Two hours before we were due to leave for Liverpool, we had a phone call from my sister in law telling us that Arthur, my father in law, had escaped from the secure dementia unit he lives in and was missing. Devastating news. He is 81, frail, with a weak heart, limited balance and with rapidly advancing dementia so to hear that he was missing was a huge shock. My thoughts immediately flew to the “he could fall into the canal/be run over by a bus/be mugged by kids/be hurt by someone/fall down and be concealed in overgrown shrubbery and die of exposure” way of thinking, but before we could organise ourselves to go out and look for him a police officer came to our house. We were able to give him an up to date photo of Arthur (the police had a very blurry black and white one that could have been anyone) and he told us that there was about 50 officers out actively looking for him. He said that they were preparing the helicopter to go up and look for him too, which, dramatic as it sounds, was reassuring. They were obviously taking his disappearance seriously and it was a relief to know that the police were on it. They had already contacted the bus companies to alert their drivers to the possibility of him trying to get on a bus and officers from Oldham and North Manchester were putting out a highly visible search for him.
Kevin went out to look with my mum and dad, and I stayed by the phone. I can’t describe the terror I felt at the thought of him out there alone and bewildered, not being able to find his way back and having to rely on other people to protect him. I don’t think I have ever prayed quite so hard for someone’s safety before. It was terrifying. Worse than anything I’ve ever felt.
Thank God that he was found safe later this afternoon. He had managed to get himself a good 3 miles away from the home, and was picked up by a passer by when he was wandering up and down a dead-end street. The passer by asked if he was ok, but had seen lots of police activity in the local area and twigged that something was amiss. Arthur told him he was on his way to work, but the police appeared before anything else was said or done and they escorted him back to safety. Thanks must be to Greater Manchester Police for being all over the area looking for him in the numbers they were or else this passer by might have taken Arthur literally ANYWHERE.
All’s well that ends well, but it could have been so much different and there are some serious questions that have to be asked now, such as, how on earth did he get out of a supposedly secure unit? And how long had he been gone before the staff noticed? And what are they going to do to make sure nothing like this happens again??
After that, I wasn’t really feeling too nervous about travelling to Liverpool to do the rehearsal. Having a scare like that, and the possibility of losing someone in those circumstances puts things into perspective. Nerves definitely under control after that.
Here are a couple of pictures taken during the rehearsal. I will be sharing more of this musical story as it unfolds in a week or so. Look out for posts from that Lundun town on the 22nd September.
In other news from my nutty/busy family, Emma was volunteering today as a steward at a Tough Mudder event in Cheshire, which she will be competing in tomorrow. If you think of a triathlon, then add tons and tons of mud with a bit of climbing over cargo nets, then you will have an idea of what that’s all about. I can’t wait to see the photos tomorrow!
And finally, my brother played in the Last Night of the Proms tonight on TV and radio. Told you we were a busy bunch.