I took my harp to a party ….

Today I took my harp Brandden, named  after his maker, to a party. It was his first outing in over five years. I had been asked to play at a Christmas function at a palliative care home. About twenty residents attended the party in the dining room, most of whom walked in or were wheeled in. As they took their places at the dining tables, Brandden and I were seated next to the Christmas tree. The last person to make an entrance was Barry, who was pushed in a wheelie bed and parked next to Brandden and me. 

A feast for the senses

The home was a very happy place even though the residents were there for end-of-life care. Every member of the staff showed such love and compassion to all those under their care but still made time to prepare for this event. Christmas decorations, potted poinsettias, lit candles, table runners made from holly sprigs, small red baubles and tinsel, bonbons and candy canes filled the room and decorated the tables. The smell of freshly cut pine trees wafted around the room from the aroma therapy diffuser.

The carol singing

At 11 am the festivities began with carol singing.  Gabrielle, the organiser, led the singing. She belted out the carols with her strong alto voice assisted by a backing track and words flying across the TV screen   No one needed any encouragement to sing as she wandered around conducting with one arm swinging wildly from side to side. Least of all me! I adore Christmas carols. 

The bubbles

After the singing, it was time to rehydrate with Champagne. As the corks popped, the bubbles started flowing and each resident was offered a glass. They were loving it! It’s a shame I wasn’t offered one, but I made up for it later! I guess they thought I was hydrated enough with my big glass of water sitting beside me. And it’s a well-known fact that musicians don’t drink.

The bonbons

Finally, it was time to pull the bonbons. Some residents needed help because they didn’t have enough strength for the task. As usual, the same old garbage bin fillers tumbled out of each one. The tissue paper party hat, the plastic toy and the awful jokes typewritten in the smallest font on the tiniest bit of paper. One of the staff members with good eyesight took it upon herself to take the floor and read all the jokes. Judging by the raucous laughter in the room they were all side splitters. If you’ve never experienced a bonbon joke, here is a sample.

Did Rudolph go to school?

No. He was Elf-taught!

What happened to the man who stole an Advent Calendar?

He got 25 days!

Why did the turkey join the band?

Because it had the drumsticks!

Funny eh?

After the festivities had finished, the residents were served a traditional Christmas lunch of turkey with all the trimmings.

The harp playing

Although Brandden had been  poised between my legs for over an hour I still hadn’t plucked a single string. I thought lunch time would have been my cue to start playing. But no. It was time for speeches.  My mind drifted back to some of the music I was exposed to as a child. I thought of Gracie Fields’ voice resonating from Mum’s HMV record player  ‘I took my harp to a party but no one asked me to play’. As the stylus scratched its way around the grooves of the old 78 record, Gracie gave it her all in her saddest voice. That’s exactly how I felt until Gabrielle interrupted my thoughts with “you can play now’.

And play I did! I went through my list of old standards. Moon River, the Sally Gardens, Amazing Grace and Somewhere over the Rainbow for starters.  I could barely be heard above the clatter of cutlery on crockery. I didn’t mind because it was an ideal time to attempt something I’d never done before. Sing ‘Danny Boy’ solo with my own harp accompaniment. As I said, it was just an attempt. Throughout the event Barry hadn’t shown much sign of life until I was packing up to go when I turned to him and said,  ‘Barry, I hope my music was OK for you’. He turned his head towards me and gave a beautiful smile. I took it to mean, ‘it was OK.’

More on Gracie Fields

Gracie Fileds singing ‘I took my harp to a party …’

The tragic lyrics

Christmas is comin’, Christmas is comin’
Christmas is comin’ again
But that never thrills me, the thought of it chills me
I tell you it fills me with pain
It makes me remember a Christmas gone by
When I was extremely upset
A night in December, an evening that I
Would very much rather forget
For I took me harp to a party but nobody asked me to play
The others were jolly and ‘earty but I wasn’t feelin’ so gay
They might have said play us a tune we can sing
But somehow I don’t think they noticed the thing
I took me harp to a party but nobody asked me to play
So I took the darned thing away
They asked Mrs Morgan to play her mouth-organ
And somebody else did a dance
They Let Mrs Carter perform a sonata
But I wasn’t given a chance
A north country person called Sandy McPherson
Played bagpipes and took off his coat
While both the Miss Fawcetts bust out of their corsets
In trying to take a top note
But I took me harp to a party, nobody asked me to play
The others were jolly and ‘earty but I wasn’t feelin’ so gay
I felt so ashamed at not strikin’ a note
That I tried to hide the thing under me coat
I took me harp to a party but nobody asked me to play
So I took the darned thing away
They sang Home Sweet Home and The Banks of Loch Lomond
And All the King’s Horses, then Trees
While nephews and nieces kept playin’ their pieces
And spreadin’ their jam on the keys
A daughter called Lena, played her concertina
We all played ridiculous games
‘Til old Mr Dyer, set his whiskers on fire
And a fire engine played on the flames
But I took me harp to a party but nobody asked me to play
So I took the darned thing away!-acap

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Noel Gay / Desmond Carter

Featured Image: Thankyou Dreamstime – Beautiful free abstract image of harp under blue neon lighting



2 Responses

  1. Strange you were not offered some bubbly; maybe it was the non-alcoholic variety which they knew you would not enjoy as much as your glass of water.

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