“If Music Be the Food of Love, Play on”.

“If music be the food of love, play on.”

This was the quote of the evening.

My grandmother was a staunch member of the Women’s Institute.  Anyone remember that?  The programmes were designed to educate and ‘elevate’. She looked forward to the meetings which happened once a month.  Well, they should be once a month, but it seemed that any project going involved extra meetings, extra work and my grandmother.  Our living room was often usurped by some project or another.

On this particular meeting night my grandmother was running late and it was mandated that when the attendance was taken instead of answering with ‘present’, ‘here’, or holding up a hand you had to declare your presence by saying a sentence that contained the word ‘music’.   No doubt the elevating subject for that night was music.  A Royal Doulton tea cup would be the prize given to the person whose quote was voted the best of the evening.

As grandma rushed to get out the door she called to me and said: “What can I say that has music in it.”  I told her to say: “If music be the food of Love play on”.

“Who said it? I can’t just say a quote.  I have to say where it comes from, at least who the author is.”  Then she laughed and said:

“Julie says she can’t think of anything so she is just going to say: ‘Gertie plays great music on her organ, I say it.’ ”

Julie was grandma’s very good friend and was full of fun.  It would not have surprised anyone if she did just as she told Grandma.  I loved when she visited as Jennifer, her granddaughter, would come too and then I had a very compatible companion.  We were supposed to be busy with home work, but often we tried to listen in on their chatting as they laughed a lot and we wanted in on the joke.  Turned out it was not funny to us, just boring.

“The quote was written by Shakespeare and it is from his play Twelfth Night”.  I did not have to think twice about this as luckily this was the play we were studying at school.

“Just Shakespeare is enough”.  A delighted grandma shouted a “thank you” as she went out the door muttering; “If music be….Shakespeare”.  I was asleep when she got back from her meeting.

Next morning I got a great big hug and from a beaming grandma who declared: “Thanks, darling, my quote was the quote of the evening”. She showed me the beautiful tea cup she had received.

“I also got a standing ovation!” I thought she was exaggerating until I got confirmation. Sunday morning after service two women came up to my grandma and instead of the usual ‘Good morning’, it was a giggly: “If music be the food of love, play on”.

Julie came running up and in a loud voice declared: “Gertie,  let me tell you my dear that food, music and love make one great combination.” Then she twirled and declared as only she could:  “If music be the food of love, play on, Sister!”

I can still see it all in my mind’s eye, a laughing grandma, two giggly women, one twirling, too loud gesticulating woman and me in the midst with the biggest grin on my face.

The Meander: Memories of childhood are like pop ups.  They appear suddenly and insinuate themselves in the middle of whatever you are doing.  Instead of irritating they are moments to treasure. They are comforting.  They are adult security blankets.  This memory for me underlines the oft spoken adage that the simplest things bring the greatest joy. I wish everyone happy childhood memories.

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