“Carry on like that and you better pray God’ll help you young lady!” shouted my Glaswegian mum as I tickled my younger sister until she was sick. Literally sick.
I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. I annoyed her so much with my constant and frankly, idiotic questions that in the end she got me a kids Bible. I read the whole thing in one sitting. I loved it. As soon I had read the last page I ran downstairs and said “What great stories mummy but do people honestly believe it? You can tell it’s all made up”.
Having said that, I still used to pray before I went to bed, mainly for a glittery pink pencil case. I prayed every night for a week and when I didn’t get one I immediately dismissed the whole idea of God. I gave him a chance and he blew it.
The following anecdote cemented my thoughts on the whole God thing.
I used to play the recorder, I use play very loosely. What I mean is I used to blow violently into a recorder and expect a round of applause. I was terrible at it. For want of a better phrase, I was totally shit at it.
Knocking out classic tunes such as Hot Cross Buns and Three Blind Mice all sodding day was never going to make me even an average recoderist. Everything I played sounded the same. A constant blend of squeaks, an assault on the ears.
I was so bad that in primary school my favourite teacher looked straight in to my innocent, big brown eyes and said “Ilaria, you’re not very good at this, practise all weekend, play for me on Monday and we’ll see if you’ve improved enough for the nativity play”
I practised like a mad woman for the next few days. So much that I needed to up my asthma inhalers. My mum was not a fan of my ‘music’.
The grown – up me would think “Well sod this” and throw the recorder away and have a gin. The little Ilaria was determined, blinded by the world and partially deaf to the feedback and hints to just stop. Stop Ilaria.
“Listen love, you’re more of a drawing person”
“No mummy, this is what I do now” I insisted.
“I’ll get you some lovely new colouring pencils this weekend” said my mum with desperation in her voice.
No! Im a musician now. I have been set a task. I must master the recorder. I will conquer the recorder and you will not stand in my way by tempting me with noiseless past times.
“But Ilaria, you’re awful at it, love.”
That’s the great thing about my mum. She’s always honest. A big fan of tough love. The woman does not hold back. She has pink hair and a sharp tongue.
In short, never ask her if you look fat in something.
I was momentarily distracted when my mum said we were having spaghetti for tea. But only for the amount of time it took to eat two bowls of spaghetti. That’s right I said two. The days of me inhaling multiple bowls of pasta are sadly/thankfully in the past. My love for the recorder is also dead and buried.
The second the plates were cleared I was back to my recorder playing a hideous, albeit, original rendition of O Come All Ye Faithful. Being an asthmatic this was a terrible thing to persist with. The recorder has never sounded shittier than when played by an asthmatic kid with a point to prove. I’d like to blame it on my asthma but the harsh truth is that I’m just not musically gifted. I have skills in other things like falling over, eating all the crisps and letting down my parents. These are skills that sadly couldn’t be utilised in the nativity Christmas show. The show really lacked for those things I feel.
I went to bed on Sunday evening feeling out of breath and excited. Surely my favourite teacher would see how hard I’d tried and realise how much the school nativity needed me and my recorder? I knelt down by the side of my bed with my palms together and an earnest look on my face – I’d seen it in all the films. I’d perfected it. I prayed for everything to go my way. Please God, please. I’ll be your best friend and invite you to all my parties. I really pulled out the big guns. My birthday parties were great. He wouldn’t be able to resist.
Monday morning arrived. I was extra chirpy. A final practise on the recorder, peanut butter on toast eaten and off to school I went. I saw my favourite teacher. Moment of truth. This was the biggest moment of my life to date.
I took a deep breath and played what I considered to be a beautiful rendition of O Come all ye faithful.
My favourite teacher looked at me, her grey curls falling over her face.
She’s going to say yes…
“It’s a no Ilaria, you’re not good enough for the nativity play. Maybe next year.”
“Are you kidding?! I turned down colouring pencils for this!”
She shook her head “Sorry Ilaria. You can play the triangle instead” said my formerly favourite teacher.
“The triangle? The sodding triangle?!” I shouted.
That’s it, I thought. God, consider yourself uninvited to all of my birthday parties. Find alternative plans for every October 2nd until I die.
My once favourite, now most hated teacher looked horrified.
And that’s when I secured my ticket to Hell. A special kind of Hell that only little girls who exclude God from their birthday parties go to. It’s not as bad as regular hell, but its still pretty bad.