Lilac and Lime

Contrasts in colour, contrasts in life – Mary Bruce

Orchestral Manoeuvres Hit the Mark


Are our preferences and mannerisms inherited or acquired? When Kimberley’s age was still measured in days going into weeks I noticed an interesting trend.

A brief explanatory regression :
My paternal grandparents lived a short stone’s throw from us at Botha’s Hill ; my grandmother was a teacher by profession and had a willing pupil at hand. Throughout my school years I was only aware of one contemporary who had attended pre-school ; in those days schooling started with “Class One”. There was also some flexibility in the age of first-time schoolgoers so, although my birthday is in August, I started school  just short of five and a half years of age. By that time my grandmother had taught me the rudiments of reading and I responded like a proverbial sponge. We grew up with plenty of reading matter at hand and by high school the librarian made an exception and allowed me to join the Library Club although this wasn’t generally open to “Standard Six” pupils. I thrived in the environment and in retrospect it seems almost inevitable that I started working as an administrative assistant in the local university’s main library straight after I left school. That was some thirty years ago but my fascination with the administration of a system that makes so much information accessible with the least amount of effort (on behalf of the borrower or visitor) has never dwindled.

Kimberley settled into a day/night routine more quickly than many babies but it still took some weeks. She was born six days before my birthday, of relevance at this point : almost mid-winter. This meant that all nocturnal walks with a crying baby were undertaken inside. And so we patrolled out of the bedroom, down the passage, around the perimeter of the lounge, looped around and back up the passage . . . After a few nights she quietened discernibly at one particular point along our route. A couple more loops of detection and I slowed down at the zenith to confirm my suspicion. There was no doubt that as we passed the tallest bookshelf along the way she relaxed while it was in view. Maybe I relaxed unconsciously and she picked up on it. From the time of her birth I made a point of adding at least one new book to her ‘library’ on every payday. Now that she’s an adult she has a track record of bookwormishness. Inherited or acquired?

Moving back a generation

As I’ve mentioned before, I come from a line of serious  musicians and thank the same grandmother deeply for being the only other family member that inherited no apparent musical ability. This corner would be very lonely if not for her. Don’t mistake me, I appreciate music but generating it is beyond my capabilities. I was still in a pram when my folks moved to Durban to accommodate my dad’s position as flute and piccolo player with the Durban Symphony Orchestra. Apparently my mom used to take me for walks to coincide with some of the rehearsals in the Durban City Hall. Family lore abounds with stories of this period but, in this context, I was exposed to genres of music very different from that of most of my peers.

The KZNPO (KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra) visits Pietermaritzburg periodically throughout the year and I do my utmost to attend at least the annual Concert in the Park. Emails pop up periodically with news of the most recent offerings and ten days ago I decided to get back in the programme, so to speak. Kimberley and her boyfriend accompanied me to the Pietermaritzburg City Hall for the sole local performance of Viennese Nights. We had a thoroughly enjoyable evening and feeling so much in my element has been the spur I needed to make me determined to attend these events more regularly. Inherited or acquired? In this case, probably some of both.


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