My desk partner

In the days that followed my last post, I promised that my next post would be about being in the Loughborough Orchestra. Why? Well because for one thing, there aren’t many settings in which one can inadvertantly attract weird looks from about fifty people just by sending music flying with one page turn or by accidentally playing the wrong note very loudly. Oh and also because my friend and desk partner, Katy, has asked me to blog about her. As bluntly as I like. Hopefully not so that she can then tell people I’ve been saying mean things about her on the internet, as she (teasingly) threatened to. But hey ho, I guess there is only one way to find out.

For those of you who have never been in an orchestra, a desk partner is basically the person you share a music stand with. In my experience, they are also there to be accidentally nudged, poked, or in last week’s case, scratched across the arm when playing or page turning overenthusiastically. Not a rehearsal will go by without one of you helping the other to knock the music flying when you’re both trying to turn the page simultaneously. If your desk partnership is anything like the one I am in, the two of you will be able to express dismay at the (impossibly hard) music in front of you with just one glance. I occasionally get the feeling that our particular role in the orchestra has turned out to be more entertaining for the other members than functional, but I somehow doubt that this is the case for everyone who has ever shared a music stand.

As a joke, Katy suggested that I put that she is “very tall and annoying”. She’ll be pleased to know that I do not agree with the annoying part, but I cannot deny that she is taller than me. As someone who has grown up with a reputation for being the tall one and who has never until now lost a height competition to someone of a similar age, I am still coming to terms with this. It may be that at the grand old age of twenty it isn’t too late to hit another growth spurt – one can keep hoping!

Another of our many running jokes is my distinct lack of commitment before she joined the orchestra. Until that day, I sat next to a different person as often as each rehearsal. To make it more awkward, I never even remembered any of the names of my multiple desk partners. Unsurprisingly, Katy has frequently expressed disgust at my disGRACEful ways (her words, not mine) and is convinced that it is thanks to her that I have finally settled down after many months of promiscuity. I may have to agree to disagree with her on that one. Then again, if I join an orchestra at uni while still at the one in Loughborough, I might end up cheating on her with at least one other partner and slipping back into my old ways. In which case she could be on to something.

But don’t get me wrong, I have certainly had my moments of extreme generosity towards Katy, most notably on the Saturday before Christmas. I mean, who else in the orchestra have I been kind enough to give a Christmas present? Anyway, some of us had volunteered to spend an hour that morning in Carillon Court playing Christmas carols. Such is my luck that I arrived not only soaking wet after a walk in pouring rain but also full of cold. You know, the type that quickly uses up every paper tissue within a 100 mile radius and leaves you sleepless at night and asleep on your feet throughout the day.

I spent that hour complaining to Katy, blowing my nose and trying to remember whether or not I was playing the harmony. After spending the hours that followed at home and asleep, I then thought nothing more of that morning. Until Christmas Day, when I checked on Facebook to find a thank you message from my dearest desk partner, oozing gratitude for the delightful Christmas present I had given her that was my cold and saying how it had really made her week. Christmas is definitely a time for giving, and if there had not been a hint of sarcasm in the aforementioned message, I would say that my present to Katy had simply been a generous token of friendship on my part…


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