Whenever I hear the smooth notes of a Frank Sinatra song, I am taken back, way back, transported to the time when I was six or seven, to when I was small and my parents were still happy together. Perhaps there were stirrings of dissatisfaction and dissent between my mother and father, but my six-year-old self had not noticed anything amiss. I knew I was loved, I knew my parents loved each other, and my world was composed of the three of us.
Every night, both parents would kiss me goodnight. I would lie in bed, with the golden light from the living room spilling down the hall and glowing softly in my room - not enough to keep me awake, but enough to chase away my fears. With my door ajar, I could hear the rise and fall of my parents voices as they talked. The words were indecipherable, but the murmur of their conversation was a sound that I loved. If my parents laughed about something together, I felt that my life, at that moment, was utterly perfect. It was one of my favourite times of the day.
Sometimes, Mum or Dad would ask me if I wanted some music to listen to as I fell asleep. They had given me a recording of 'The Nutcracker Suite', and I remember listening to its familiar refrains as I drifted off to sleep. But mostly, I would be serenaded into the Land of Nod by the music my father loved .... Ivan Rebroff, the music to Dr Zhivago, but mostly, more than any other, Frank Sinatra. And if you have to listen to the same man singing, night after night, I can assure you that Ol' Blue Eyes was an excellent choice. His honeyed voice, his perfect pitch, his corny songs of love - they still appeal to me now. It's not that I don't love many other types of music - rock, pop, blues, classical, country/rock. Yet Sinatra's music still draws me in, holds me, soothes me, reminds me of when my world was much smaller. It reminds me of the warm yellow walls in my room, the kiss of my mother, the chuckle of my father, and the simplicity of a six-year-old.
Though my life has changed a lot over the past 30-odd years, and though my parents' marriage did not survive, one thing has remained constant. I know that both my parents love me dearly. And that knowledge I have carried with me like a talisman throughout my life. That, and the uncanny ability to sing the lyrics of any Frank Sinatra song you may care to name .....
"You make me feel so young
You make me feel like spring has sprung!"