(Hundreds and Thousands)

Grandma’s Hands

(Articles & Program Notes)
Published – 29.11.2014
(Writing)

As a pianist, your hands are crucial, and because I’ve spent so long criticising and fighting against my own, I tend to notice other people’s. Their wear and tear, how old they appear, how they rest when the person is not thinking of them. Hands tell so much about a person. They told so much about my Grandma. Hers never stopped moving; always busy, always reliable. My grandma’s hands could make anything, and fix anything – they seemed invincible and impossible, and although they were frail, they were strong. I have a very early memory of my Grandma and I walking down a tree lined path near the suburb she lived when I was young. She was singing, her accent making the words comical; a Northern English lilt that I lived with and laughed at but almost forgot was there. She had made the tiny coat that I wore, and she held onto my hand tight and gathered me up when I wandered off to collect pine cones. She used to send me outside to play, and told me stories about picnics in England, and taught me about fuchsias when I still had time to worry about flowers. As I grew older, and stopped passing my time in the garden, and stopped asking about the flowers; instead reading novels and eating apples away in isolation, she would force projects onto me, teaching me to knit, crotchet, bake. “Idle hands make the devil’s work”, she would scold if I complained. She ran a tight ship, did my Grandma. She was a nurse before I knew her, and a seamstress, and she took both of those roles and re-worked them as a mother and a carer. She had a tough childhood, a poor family, but a strong will and a great heart. She didn’t believe in luck, and taught me to work harder, to want it more. She helped me believe in my hands, and to appreciate what our hands can do, if only you are willing to use them to create something of your own.

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