~ Hazel Harps On


An odd realisation: I’ve become a pouncer. I never used to pounce. Au contraire, I used to hide. In fact I’d go so far as to say hiding was my forte. And hiding is still nice sometimes and necessary sometimes. But I supplement it with pouncings. What do I pounce upon? Opportunities. Too many - way too many - have escaped in the past, so now if I see one trying to slip by I can’t help myself. Pounce!

Pouncing particularly occurs when it comes to writing and music. An example: I wasn’t intending to go to Swanwick this summer (Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, for those not in the know). After all, I’d been four times already and now I have my publishing contract so it’s not as if I NEEDED to go. But I sneakily WANTED to go because I do love Swanwick. Then came an email from the committee’s chairman. I apparently had great feedback from my course last year so would I consider coming to teach again? Would I? A chance to be useful, too! Pounce!

Hooray that I got to Swanwick this August and yes, the teaching turned out just fine and it was fabulous to meet writing friends and I loved every moment. But there was one little demon I needed to get rid of. Two years ago an opportunity wriggled out of my grasp at the ‘Buskers Night’, the evening where delegates can perform songs in front of an audience. I’d been all psyched up with a song I’d written and I waited and waited in a state of extreme quivering jellydom to sing it, but due to an oversight by the organiser, my song never happened. And last year at Swanwick Busker’s Night, still smarting, I hid. But this year I thought the opportunity might never arise again so…

I took my harp.

I gritted my teeth.

I sharpened my metaphorical claws.

Even though I’d had a six-hour drive that day and it all started very late in the evening and I was last on and dog-tired… Pounce!

I did it!

(Here I am on stage singing ‘Books are Cool' . I thought it was appropriate.)

Not every pounce works out well, of course. Sometimes it gets messy. I pounced on another opportunity for harp-playing on the final night of Swanwick, this time roping in some lovely singers and a lovely guitarist. But for some reason (Nerves? Exhaustion? These things happen) my brain short-circuited and I completely forgot the harp arrangement I know so well. At least I kept going. Luckily the singers and guitarist were so good that we pulled it off. Pouncing is a risky business and some loss of dignity is inevitable - but support from friends always helps you regain balance after a wobble.

Last weekend was a classic case. I’d travelled all the way to Bath to go to a beautiful concert at Iford Manor. But, because of torrential weather, the concert was cancelled. I was gutted but I thought being in Bath would maybe present a different opportunity. I wandered the streets in the rain. The guitar shop door was open.


(A little consolation present.)

This is my new ukulele. I have no idea how to play it yet but it will be my no-pressure, just-for-fun instrument and my last pounce of August.

Pouncing is fun. I’m hoping September will be pounce-full too.

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