We all have little things that we do. Signifiers of ‘us’. One of my things used to be a sort of dance, both sprightly and courtly – think the second season of Blackadder – which I used to perform when Rosie was doing her violin practise. I did this dance largely – but not solely – to annoy her. As is the way of these things, the more I did it, the more enraged she’d become. My specialty was to perform it behind her back, so that she wouldn’t notice it to begin with and only the sound of the dance steps would alert her to my presence. Or I’d do it at such an angle that she’d catch sight of me reflected in a window. Her tearful entreaties for me to stop would be met by my sad insistence that I couldn’t stop – that the dance was engendered within me by her music, and I couldn’t resist.
Anyway, three or four years ago she gave up the violin.
And then, the other week, she decided that she’d like to take it up again. I’d forgotten about the dance, and so her practise was unaccompanied by my cavorting. Then, just now, it all came back to me. She was playing that Vivaldi thing in G everyone does. I sneaked up behind her, ready to commence. I flexed and tensed, ready to spring. And then I found that I no longer had the energy to do it. My legs were weak. Both muscle memory and muscle had gone. The sort of core strength and stability you need to prance had left me. Rosie played on, knowing nothing of the tragedy enacted behind her. I shuffled away, my shoulders slumped in defeat. Farewell my pavanes and galliards; adieu noble sarabande; goodbye sweet gavotte.