Another school concert last night. Although J has a jinx of having his name left off the program for such things, last night he played piano and bongo drums to accompany the junior girls' choir, sang solo with a friend on acoustic guitar (Red Hot Chilli Peppers' "Snow"), played cello in the vastly improved Camerata strings, and sang in the vocal group, taking a two-line solo. Plenty in the evening to gratify his parents' and grandparents' fond hearts. And just generally an excellent evening of music. Particularly affecting was the flute teacher's tribute to two year 12 students playing their last chamber music concert for the school, after six years of performing there — and winning prizes in national competitions, too. You could feel the generations swinging through the school.
Some of these kids will go on to start a career in music: the school has a strong record of such. Others will just always have music in their lives. Others will stop learning violin, and won't sing again after they leave school. But they will all have had that chance to make music together in a group, and to experience the terrors and pleasures of a loving audience.
I went to sleep instantly, as is the nature of this never-ending jetlag I'm still suffering. I've been waking on the dot of 4.30, and been unable to get back to sleep for thinking about the things I've been too tired to do during the day.
But last night at 2.00 I woke to a tremendous screech of brakes and a loud crash. I went downstairs and looked out to see a car crashed into a fence on the other side of the main road that runs at an odd angle from the house. The car's rear end was lifted a metre off the ground, its nose pointing down the garden bed near the bike path. I had the phone in my hand to call the ambulance, but then saw three or four taxis stopping (where did they all come from?), and people walking around calmly. I realised people were making calls, and I thought the people walking around had miraculously survived. So I went back to bed. I heard the sirens coming, then for another hour or two heard a low murmuring and rumbling. I assumed it was the tow truck struggling to lift the car out of the fence. I lay there, trying to sleep, refusing to get up again.
I woke, however, to the alarm clock radio speaking of two deaths in North Fitzroy. And at the same time the doorbell rang. Paul got there first and was faced with about eight people and several television cameras and very bright lights, asking had we seen or heard anything. P had not (he is a *very* good sleeper), but I started to stumble out my story, till I realised, and said, that I did not want to appear on TV, at which point they switched off the lights and went away. I've never liked those interviews with neighbours, especially since I know I'm not a brilliant eye-witness at the best of times. Besides, I was still in my dressing-gown...
But two people are dead. The driver of the stolen car was a 17 year old boy from Thornbury, two suburbs away, whose learner's licence had already been cancelled. His female passenger has not yet been identified. He was speeding, heading north, and lost control of the car, that must have then spun across the road and into the power pole, then tipped down the embankment. I hope it was instantaneous for them. I keep thinking of the sound of that dreadful screech of brakes: the last thing they heard; the terror of that moment; the shocking finality of such a death.
But it's hard not to be struck by the contrast between the proud parents of our school's beautiful young musicians, whom we took home safely in our cars, and the trauma of today for two other families. The age difference is minimal, and some of our kids will be out driving on these streets in a year or two. When they do, I think we won't be sleeping soundly till we hear them come home.
Update: well how annoying is this? I just checked a news website again to see my own face on the video footage. Clearly it's convenient enough for them not to show the bit where I say "I don't want to be on television". Hurrumph. Could I be bothered making a complaint? But you can catch a glimpse of the car. It's worse than it looked when I peered out the window; as it's clearly wrapped around the pole...