Way back when in my dim and distant past I was a woodwind player. I haven't played regularly for years though, so I'm not sure I can still claim it. Flute was my first instrument, I think I was 9 or 10 when I took that up. Then when I went to secondary school (age 11) I started playing the tenor saxophone.
I'm only 160cm tall now. An 11 year old me with a tenor sax must have looked a bit ridiculous. But Dad found a second hand one going cheapish, so that's what I got. It wasn't just second hand. It was 50 years old (give or take), a slightly grubby, silver Pan-American. I still have it.
That makes it somewhere over 75 years old. It's grubbier now. I haven't taken the very best care of it.
That receipt is taking the place of a piece of felt that I lost over a decade ago. It still makes a beautifully mellow noise, but it's never been the easiest to play. Some of the keys in more modern saxes have been shifted to make them easier to reach. The octave key, for one.
These days they are slightly to the right, they sit better under the thumb. And the rollers for my little finger, well, I can't remember them ever actually rolling.
We live in a detached house now and I'm out of excuses for not playing. A friend sent me word of a local concert band who were desperate for sax players, and I've gone and joined them. But I did something first that I still feel horribly guilty about: I replaced my old Pan-American friend.
I bought a shiny, brand new Jupiter. Brass, like all the other saxophones I've ever seen. With my old mouthpiece it sounds beautifully mellow, and I can reach all of the keys, and it's a lovely thing.
But oh, the guilt.