I am a failure as a mother. Aged almost eight Olivia has yet to pick up a harp, unlike Ophelia, a five-year old girl who goes to a small school in Chelsea around the corner from where I’m staying.
Last night I had a conversation about bedtimes with the two daughters of the friends I am staying with aged three and five. Like most English children they are in bed by 7pm. I can rarely get mine anywhere near the bathroom before 8pm.
“But my friend Ophelia,” said the five-year old, “goes to bed at 10pm.”
That’s a bit late even by my standards. “Why?” I asked.
“She has a harp lesson at 9pm.”
Call me old-fashioned, but I find the thought of a five-year-old having harp lesson slightly tragic, and a little bit comic. Shouldn’t she be doing ‘normal’ childlike things such as fighting with her siblings or drawing on the walls?
Anyway, it gets worse. Stunned as I am by this news of late-night harp playing I talk to my friend this morning about it.
“Oh yes,” she says. “Ophelia gave a concert at the last school event. I think she was just five at the time. At the end the headmistress announced that it had been a very special performance by Ophelia as she had written the music herself.”
You couldn’t make it up. And I know what Olivia’s getting for her birthday next week. But how will I lug it back on the Eurostar?
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007