Sunday , July 14 2024

An Indyref Romance: Harmony and Dissonance – Chapter 13

Their final term ended, but they barely noticed. It hardly seemed to matter beside what they had found with each other and what they were learning about music and about themselves. They danced to the music of Rachmaninov’s Vespers, only their dance didn’t involve any use of feet or at least hardly any. They caressed as Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta seemed to bring something new into their world.

“That one’s strange,” said Paul.

“But you like its strangeness?”

“I like your strangeness, Jenny.”

“Oh, I’m strange now?”

“I didn’t know that it could be like this. I didn’t even imagine.”

“What didn’t you imagine?”

“Well, I had an idea of what it should be like to be with a girl, to love and be loved, but it didn’t involve watching old films I’d never heard of and music that frequently has no tune.”

“This has a tune. Just a different sort of tune.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Think of it like when you were learning French.”

“Sitting in a dull classroom learning irregular verbs?”

“No, of course, not. You went beyond that.”

“Sure I did, eventually, but what’s that got to do with Bartok?”

“Mozart and things before Mozart is a language, a beautiful language, but we’ve been learning another language that plays a different tune. When we’ve learnt it, we can begin understanding what comes later.”

“What comes next?”

“There’ll be some Shostakovich.”

“Grim Russian stuff.”

“I don’t think you’ve actually heard any, have you?”

“No. I’ve just heard about him.”

“The hardest thing sometimes is someone’s reputation. It scares people off.”

“Like Dostoevsky.”

“You enjoyed it in the end.”

“Yes, but I didn’t understand all of it.”

“Who does?”

“Who do you like best?” asked Paul.

“I like different people in different ways.”

“You like Alyosha best, surely, and the Father Zosima. Isn’t that what you’re going to study?”

“I like them, of course, but I think I like even better the characters who are weaker. I like Ivan’s mind. I like Katya’s jealousy and her way of loving in the end. Most of all I like Grushenka for her onion.”

“I don’t think I remember that bit”

“There was a wicked old lady who only did one good deed in her life. She gave a poor person an onion. When she died, she was in hell but an angel gave her that onion and used it to pull her out. All the other sinners held on to her legs and were being pulled out, too, but the old lady tried to kick them off and at that moment the onion broke.”

“Do you think that’s true?”

“Yes. But I’ve no more knowledge of these things than you do. But I like the idea that only one tiny good deed may be enough. It gives me hope.”

“Hope about me? Aren’t you a bit like Alyosha or rather like good Donald Duck sitting on my shoulder, while bad Donald Duck tempts me?”

Jenny saw his smile and the way he was mildly mocking her.

“Have you found me especially pious in the last couple of weeks?”

“I wouldn’t describe it as piety, but what we’ve found is something more beautiful than I could imagine before.”

“Why is that?”

“Must we always analyse?”

“No. Sometimes we just have to dance to the music and find out what’s nice. I love learning about you. I love our new found freedom.”

“Clothes do have a way of constraining. We should be nudists and never wear them.”

“You’d have to learn German,” said Jenny.

“I only ever thought of myself before.”


“When I imagined being with a girl, I imagined what it would be like for me I thought only of what I would do.”

“Now you think about me and what’s nice for me. You forget yourself and you think how can I do what Jenny wants? Everything you do has me in mind. Do you  think, I don’t notice?”

“I never even thought that way before.”

“Because you never had a relationship before.”

“But I did.”

“I know, but you didn’t really. You just had two people who were acting on their own for their own ends.”

“I suppose that’s true.”

Soon the results came through and Jenny got her expected first while Paul got an upper second.

“I don’t deserve it,” he said. “I hardly did any work. Nothing compared to you and yet I’m only one grade below.”

“I didn’t do much work on theology in the past few months.”

“You did Russian.”

“Yes, and some other things.”

“When are you going?”

“Not long now.”

“Must you go?”

“It’s only for two months.”

“I’ll miss you, Paul, of course, but I’ll be glad to get away from Scotland.”

“We’ll have to disagree on that one.”

“I know.”

“I wish we could keep up with our music.”

“We’ll not be able to keep up with all of it.”

“What part can we not keep up with?”

“The dancing.”

“You mean the horizontal dancing?”

“That’s quite a nice way of putting it.”

“But I can leave you some CDs and point out the order in which you should listen to them.”

“That would be nice, only I’m not sure I’d understand anything without you.”

“You’re going to spend all summer campaigning?”


“But how will you live?”

“I’ll claim benefits and I expect my parents will chip in.”

“You’re not going to look for a job?”

“Not until after the referendum.”

“But you plan to stay here?”

“I’m not going anywhere, Jenny. Whatever the result, we’ll be together. I’ll find something then.”

“Don’t you think it a bit strange campaigning for independence when you depend on the British government for your money?”

“That’s a bit below the belt.”

“I’m sorry. It’s all so pointless. I don’t see anything changing. You’ll spend all summer campaigning for something you really can’t win.”

“Oh, we’ll win all right!”

“How can you be so sure?”

“I’m out nearly every day campaigning talking to people; we’re gaining momentum.”

“Lorna said she’d seen you with Roisin.”

“She’s my campaign partner. We work together. Lorna’s stirring Jenny. She resents that I’m no longer one of her courtiers.”

“She said that you had your arm in hers.”

“Maybe I did. We were close once, Roisin and I. We’re good friends now.”

“What does she think of your Unionist, Tory girlfriend?”

“I could hardly mention that.”

“What? The bit about the girlfriend or the bit about the Tory?”

“My friends in the campaign wouldn’t understand.”

“You’re ashamed of me.”

“No, Jenny. But don’t let’s fight about it.”

“You see, now while I’ll be glad to get away from Scotland.”

This post was originally published by the author on her personal blog:


About Effie Deans

Effie Deans is a pro UK blogger. She spent many years living in Russia and the Soviet Union, but came home to Scotland so as to enjoy living in a multi-party democracy! When not occupied with Scottish politics she writes fiction and thinks about theology, philosophy and Russian literature.

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