My son practices the trumpet while gazing at the ceiling. He can play three notes, C, D and E. I don’t think an interval separates them but playing the trumpet starts with breath control and rhythm.
I read to him most nights, selecting fiction and poetry aimed a few years beyond what he might read for himself. I have just completed Garth Nix’ fantasy series based in an alternative Britain in which a Wall and perimeter defences separate the technological South from the magical North. Against orders from the capital, soldiers patrolling the border use cross-bows because the machine guns fail so close to the Wall, an inconvenience when facing a necromancer’s slaves. In choosing something different to read next, it occurred to me that real boys drafted to fight real wars are pretty much the same age as the made-up characters battling in these fantasy novels.
When he was called up in 1940, Spike Milligan took his trumpet. I have started reading out to my son the first volume of Milligan’s anarchic war memoirs, recounting the daftness of war and of young men away from home for the first time. It has dawned on me that this book is way over his head (I missed most of the implications when I first read it too) but he seems keen for me to carry on. Perhaps it’s because Milligan is playing jazz while the chaos carries on around him.