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It's A Great Life, It's A Great Life: 96 - Trophies

Jack Merewood told of family triumphs.

In our billiard room we have a small 'trophy shelf. One day in 1970 when Anne was nine years old she came home from school full of excitement, and hiding behind her back a brown paper bag from which she produced with a flourish a silver cup she had won for 'the pupil having shown the most progress in the past year'. We were very excited too because this was quite an achievement. She could keep the cup for one year before returning it to school, so we bought a small replica for her. This is the first cup on the shelf.

As I've said, we often went to Blackpool, and as we always used to go round the putting green in Stanley Park, decided we'd have a family trophy to be inscribed with the name of whoever made the lowest score. In 1974 Sheila had a round of 48 so she was the first name on the cup. No one beat that record, but ten years later Stuart equalled it. Poor Stuart, in fact he had a chance to beat it. It was obviously going to be a close and exciting finish. At the last hole he wasn't far away and I said that if he holed the ball in two strokes he'd beat the record. He took two strokes, but when I rechecked I found I was one stroke out and he needed to have holed in one.

Disappointment (my fault). Of course he may not have holed in one, but anyhow his two meant he had equalled Sheila's record. Although we continue to try, in the eighteen years since then nobody has equalled the record or beaten it.

Both Anne and Stuart learned to play the piano, and when they were children their teacher entered them in the Mrs Sunderland musical competition held every year in Huddersfield Town Hall and the surrounding college buildings over a period of two weeks. Contestants come from all over the UK, for the competition is not only for children: we have brilliant musicians and singers compete and many excellent choirs, inevitably several from Wales.

It is wonderful to see and hear the children perform, though watching them plays havoc with the nerves of parents. I think they are more nervous than the children themselves. On the first occasion Anne was entered, we felt sure she would win, and so did many other people there, for she played perfectly. The piece was an unusual, we felt tuneless item, not easy to play, called 'The March of the Moon Men'. The adjudicator was an oldish lady, and it seemed to us, from her explanation as to why she had given top marks to the girl who won, that she had interpreted the meaning of the piece wrongly. Certainly she had interpreted it differently from Anne's teacher, and ourselves too. It was a great disappointment to Anne and to us after having had such high hopes of her winning. She had tried so hard and we were so sorry for her. All these years later I still remember that afternoon with a feeling of sorrow.

In 1979 Stuart won the highly prized F. W. Greenwood Trophy, and then repeated his success again the following year, the only time this had been achieved. (It had been won by my cousin, Robert Hargreaves, several years earlier). The cup was to be held for a year, and so on both occasions we presented Stuart with a replica. In 198T Stuart's teacher entered him and another boy in the piano duet class. It was a long piece, they played it brilliantly - and they won. They rehearsed alternately at our house and the other boy's parents' house. I could have listened to them rehearsing all night. They won a cup, and each held it at home for six months. We had a replica made of that too.

That is the total of our trophies. Only five cups it is true, but each has its own story and brings back memories. And who knows, some day another name may be added to the Stanley Park Putting Cup or perhaps even more musical trophies. James, seven, and Elizabeth (though only three) are both showing interest in the piano, and Anne's three boys, Gregory, Alexi and Dimitri, are learning, respectively, the trumpet, the violin and the 'cello. Alexi in particular, at seven, shows real promise as a future first class violinist and is the youngest member of the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Anne and Stuart are now married with families and pianos of their own. Because Anne is in America, we don't hear her play very often though we know what a big help she is to her boys with their music. She and Alexi already play duets, and when they came to visit us last year Alexi insisted on bringing his violin so that he could keep up with his practising. Happily for us Stuart lives only two miles away. He plays beautifully and I could listen to him playing Chopin (my favourite composer) for ever.

Many times Sheila and I have looked at the piano and said we
wished we could play, then one day we decided that instead of wishing, we should learn - we're doing so, and though we'll never be anywhere near the class of our children, we get a lot of pleasure out of playing the simple tunes we are learning.


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