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Simon Callow

British actor Simon Callow (born 1969): "One of my grandmothers had been a singer and the house was full of sheet music of the Edwardian ballads in which she specialised (Down in the Forest, Kashmiri Love Lyrics). She had perfect pitch and banned any of her children – who didn’t – from singing. So, though she sang to me, with almost alarming power, my mother never did, and I felt very uncomfortable when asked to sing. I did, however, listen intently to all the 78s, scratched, cracked and many of them with chunks missing, casually piled up in the front room. There was also a piano in that front room, quite a large grand, in veneered walnut. Nobody played the piano and I have no idea why it was there, but I sat for hours on end running my hands up and down the keyboard. Due to the large amount of beer and wine which had been poured over them during wild wartime parties, not many of the hammers actually engaged with the strings, but I was happy. I begged my mother for piano lessons, but she refused, on the grounds that if I had had any real talent it would have declared itself, and time learning to play would be a distraction from my academic studies. So here I am, addicted to music but unable to play a note. It’s a bit sad, really".

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