We were listening to Classic FM. Up popped Mozart’s Symphony No 41 in C Major (the ‘Jupiter’). Magic memories came flooding back of Liam’s long past days when he played oboe in minor league orchestras. He gushed about how he was plucked from obscurity to fly solo oboe for the Amadeus masterpiece at Chelsea Town Hall in 1997.  While he was practising his art in the grand Victorian hall on the ground floor, I was practising my trade in the Social Services Department in the basement. We never passed on the stairs and I didn’t get the chance to finger his instrument until 2006.

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Oboe for Hire

Second Time Around

Miracle Child

At the virginal age of 18, Liam moved from the Smoke to South Wales to study for his music degree at Cardiff University. He stayed in Wales for 15 years. Having paid £5 to get in across the Severn Bridge, he wanted his money’s worth. The Principality has a rich history of musical excellence and this rubbed off on the young Liam. During his long exile in the Valleys, he lost his virtue and used his mouth and hands to creative effect on oboe and ivory. He sought satisfaction for his creative juices and found it with the Mountain Ash and District Choral Society who commissioned him to compose Christmas carols. Eventually, he hitched up his skirt and waded across Offa’s Dyke to return like the Prodigal Son to the bosom of his family. Liam’s never quite forgotten those halcyon days of quavers and choirs. Even today, his long-past association with these talented people brings a tear to his eye and joy to his heart. Imagine his pleasure and surprise when, two decades on, he discovered that they are once again performing one of his 20th Century pieces at a 2011 Christmas service. It’s made his year.

As it’s that Christmas time of year again, I give you Miracle Child for your festive entertainment. It’s a bit ropey as it was recorded on an old cassette recorder at the back of the hall. Hey, it beats the hell out of Slade on a continuous loop.

Miracle Child

The book

Oboe for Hire

Working class lad, Liam, was born with an innate desire to blow things. This manifested itself at the tender age of seven when he learnt to play the recorder with noted skill. A year later, he moved on to the oboe, an altogether more difficult woodwind instrument to master. By 15, he’d learnt to play the piano and started composing simple ditties in a classical genre. By 18 he was studying for a music degree, became an oboe for hire for various orchestras and his then more complex compositions attracted a more discerning audience. A career in serious music seemed assured. But, by 20 Liam discovered the love that dares not speak its name and, with hormones raging, his creative juices flowed in an entirely different direction. His classical career in tatters and with penury looming, he joined the civil service.

Liam rediscovered his beloved oboe in the loft when we were preparing for our emigration. It had been sitting in its sad satin-lined box, broken and unblown for decades. Unable to breathe life back into the lifeless instrument, he sold it on Ebay. It was a sad day. That was then.

Find out more about Liam’s music here.