by Noel King


Dust dances in the light above my son’s violin. I am recalling the days I never heard him practise. Being a CEO, I was busy, away a lot, when I was at home it was down-time for all three of us. His mother heard him practise. I wish she was here now. This is his homecoming to Dublin city; back from conducting his Philharmonic in Budapest. I’ve been over there too of course, but this is special.

I am a guest in his hotel room provided by the concert promoter. My son has brought me my favourite whiskey from Duty Free. Before leaving the room, I poured as much as would fit into an empty medicine bottle and nipped it just before taking my seat.

I don’t know why I am nervous. Subconsciously I must be in dread that he’ll break a string or something. Not that that has ever happened when I’ve been to any performance of his.

After the concert, my son and I share the whiskey in his room. Neat. We drink it neat. The alcohol is to his tongue what resin is to the bow. It helps him talk. I get the story about the American mezzo-soprano I met in Budapest and why they broke up. “American girls have such high expectations,” he says “expect the romance to go on forever.”

We talk about his mother. We drink to her. I tell him I love him. “We, protected your hands, your mother and I,” I tell him with a slight slur. My good job meant he didn’t need a part time job in a supermarket, it allowed him time to practise.

I say nothing of the new woman I am ‘sort of’ seeing, keep my mobile switched off because she keeps texting. I tried to make it clear I was in town with my son, that there would be another time for her, that we are sharing a room. I’ve half promised to go to her flat tomorrow before catching the train home to Clonmel. She says she will ring in sick to the office so that I can come to her. She sounds pathetic. Meeting my son would take our relationship that next step I don’t know I want to take.

Vittorrio Monti’s, Czardas is what he played tonight and instead of “Cheers” as we clink our glasses, we say “Czardas” and giggle like girls.

I think of the piano keys my mother tried to make me play, the smell of my father’s breath with porter and whiskey, the heavy fist of my father upon us when drunk. I never went too far with either the drink or the music, but thank God my son did with the music at least.