Last chapter of Pearly. I am going to make the whole story into an audio book, with Tabby as the voice of Pearly, and the very best flute players as the musical voice of Pearly and friends! (and a very good oboe player as the voice of Obi.) Auditions soon!
‘Yes,’ I thought. ‘That’s me. But how do you know me?’
He picked me up and looked even closer. ‘I can’t believe this. This…this is the very first flute I ever made! Pearly. See the ‘y‘? See the crazy underlining? That happened because I was waiting for an important call, and the phone rang and…she slipped out of the clamp. Incredible!’ he said, ‘ I never thought I would see her again.’
‘Well, she’s going cheap,’ said the flute-mender.
‘Oh, no,’ said Ad, ‘I can’t afford anything, mate, sorry. You know, we’re broke.’
‘I’m literally saying you can have her for twenty quid, Ad. She still works OK. Got a lot of sweetness of tone.’
Adam put me to his lips. I thought I would faint with gratitude. I was being played. Thank the wondrous sun. We played ‘Syrinx’. I felt like my soul, which had been kept hidden in months, even years of silence and darkness, was pouring its light over the world.
Ad stopped playing. ‘I will have her,’ he said. ‘Georgia’s nearly eight. She’s ready for a lovely, special flute.’ I heard a flurry of notes changing hands.
A gust came in the window and I could hear Pixie and Clarence and Yammy calling, ‘Bye Pearly! Good luck, Pearly!’
While the flute-mender was writing out the bill, Ad played me again. He played a chromatic scale from bottom C all the way to top C and down again. During those lovely notes, I said, on the way up: ‘Goodbye, my dear friends. I hope you find kind homes. I will always think of you and miss you.’ And on the way down I said, ‘Pixie, Clarence, Yammy, cheer up! You’re in safe hands now, love you!’
I was taken to my new home, in a bumpy, creaky basket. We bowled along. Brakes squealed as we arrived. Adam took me up the garden path. He opened the door with his key. ‘Tokki?’ he called. ‘Tokki, you’re never going to believe what I found for Georgie.’
‘What, love?’ said a voice. I couldn’t place it for a moment, but knew I had heard it before. ‘Oh, a flute!’ she said. ‘It’s not like we’ve got any of them!’
I could tell this was a joke.
‘Not just any old flute, though,’ said Adam, opening my case. ‘Look, it’s the very first flute I ever made.’
‘But Ads! Georgie was going to play oboe!’ she protested. I realised the lady was Toccata. But if Toccata was here, where was Obi?
Toccata shouted for Georgie, who came running in. Hers was a quiet, shy presence. She stepped close and picked me up wonderingly. She stared at my engraving. ‘Is this really the Pearly?’ she asked.
‘Yes, Georgie,’ he replied. ‘It’s Pearly. You can have her for your very own.’
‘She’s the very first one you made? The one you were making when I was born?’
‘Yes, she was born at the same moment that you were!’
Georgie started to play. ‘Kookaburra sits in his old gum tree-hee…’ She played fast and neatly, by ear.
‘…merry merry King of the Bush is he-ee’ came a creaky old voice. ‘Laugh, Kookaburra, Laugh,’ we played together.
He struck up again: ‘There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Pearly, dear Pearly,’ he sang. ‘There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Pearly, my dear.’
‘Then mend it, dear Obi, dear Obi, dear Obi,’ I replied. ‘Then mend it, dear Obi, dear Obi, my dear.’
Obi and I, and Toccata and Georgie collapsed into laughter. Dizzy with happiness, we played ‘Ye Banks and Ye Braes,’ then ‘Loch Lomond’, ‘My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean,’ then, ‘Molly Malone,’ ‘I Could Have Danced All Night…..’
…..then ‘Doh, a Deer,’ ‘The Hills are Alive, ‘Climb Every Mountain,’ then ‘Chim Chiminee,’ ‘Just A Spoonful of Sugar,’ ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite,’ then ‘Greensleeves,’ ‘Edelweiss……’
….then ‘Circus Pony,’ ‘Wind in the Withies,’ ‘Circus Rag’, ‘Toffee Tango’, ‘Dance of the Street Urchins’, …..
…and we carried on playing, Georgie and I, happy year after happy year, until we could play the Martinu Sonata, the Neilsen Flute Concerto, Bach’s ‘Badinerie’, Rachmaninov’s ‘Vocalise’ and even ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’, but….my best times were always the candle-lit evenings when Obi and Toccata would join us for our very favourite, ‘Dance of the Blessèd Spirits’.