To my relief, I found I could move my right arm well enough to play the piano even by day 2 post-surgery. But my concentration was terrible, and even in a well-known piece, I kept losing my place; and my pedalling was shocking although no one had operated on my feet. I am planning to buckle down today and try to practise regularly.

You can hear the soundtrack for my personal annus horribilis on the link above. It’s John Ireland’s “The Towing Path”. I had started learning it before Dad’s death in January. I loved it from the beginning, and it is just so quintessentially English and evokes the slow rural England that Dad so loved. Every time I play it, I still think of him and his shambling walks – always with his flat cap and his stick (long before he really needed it) – along lanes and river banks. Then it sustained me through the Awful Job of the first half of the year – along with my Bach Prelude, which with its rigour and order gave some calming shape to my inner turmoil and anxiety. For several months, I also battled on with Gershwin’s “I’ve Got Rhythm”, too, but for most of this year the mood has not been right, and there were some weeks when I just couldn’t face it (also, technically, I am at my current limits with it).

So back to “The Towing Path” which I have more or less learnt to my satisfaction now, and so played a lot in the days leading up to surgery, when serious practice of Bach (and now Mozart) was beyond me. Its elegaic, peaceful quality was just what I needed, and, I think, will help me as I come to terms with what I’ve lost. Sometimes words just don’t do it.