Musical boxes

When I was very small, I had a tin Chad Valley music box. Some of the keys were broken; I can't remember it ever working. When I turned the red handle, it spluttered out a doleful, dull 'ker-plunk, ker-plink'. Over and over again, as long as I kept winding. I liked it. It was supposed to play 'Over the Hills', the nursery story painted round its tubby body...

'Tom he was a piper's son,
He learned to play when he was young,
But all the music he could play
Was 'Over the Hills and Faraway.'

Over the hills and a great way off,
The wind will blow my top knot off'

(full song here)

The lonely images of windswept trees on distant peaks still repeats itself in my work.

Many years later when I was a poor art student, I found a musical Victorian jewellery box, laquered black with mother-of-pearl inlay and cheap tin decoration. I had just enough money to buy it, not caring that it had a drip of white paint down the lid, the box floor was missing and the little comb was lacking several teeth. Opening the lid released a melancholy tinkling, stumbling over itself as it struggled to fill the gaps.

More recently we inherited a small wooden music box, which has been in Andy's family since it was made. On its top, a battered picture of chubby Victorian children playing in the snow. The handle has been repaired with a length of crooked steel wire and an old bead. Turning it - not unlike the way I used to crank up the Chad Valley tin - I hear a weary suck of air, as it prepares to gasp put its sweet old tune. Like an old car, it takes some time to get going, and you've got to keep winding, or it dribbles to a halt. And yes, it is missing some notes.

Another music box.

All mini-movie links in
'Woodland creep' are now updated.


lorna said...

Hello GP, seeing the words to tom the piper's son really brought back memories and I've been humming it all day.

I do love your music box drawing and can't wait to see it painted.

Have a lovely weekend tromping through the frosty leaves.


Gretel said...

It is a very catchy tune - had it in my head too! Aren't they called 'ear worms'?

There will be lots of frosty leaves! It is very cold outside. Ice over next doors fish pond. In here - we have 4 cats being very friendly indeed!