Piano Key, Florida

When I was seven, I remember being dispatched for a week to the house of an old lady, a friend of my mother's. In the house was a piano and I took to sitting on the wood bench and tapping at the black and white bars, beguiled by the sounds. The old lady claimed arthritis prevented her from using the thing and I begged her to ship it to my mother's house.

When the piano arrived my mother was not amused. She said, 'You're taking lessons!' I said, 'Perfect!' I was triumphant until the lessons began and it was evident I had zero aptitude. Instead of creating music, I was exasperated with dull discordant hours of practice. One day, without explanation, the piano was gone.

Later, in boarding school, aged thirteen, on nights when I could not sleep I would creep along the dark corridors to the music department with its wall of narrow rooms, each with an upright piano and space for two, tops. I'm still afraid of the dark and the experience of getting there and back to my dormitory was terrifying, meanwhile I was compelled to go hide, alone with the tunes, my sanctuary.

I would choose notes until I found pleasing combinations which I would repeat and gradually get lost in, my escape. Boarding school on the English coast in the winter was always damp and cold. Rain drizzled day and night. Wind shook windows and thrashed tree limbs against the red brick building. England in the 1960s was Dickensian. Sure London was hopping, but in boarding school it was all about cold and hunger and abuse. I would rather have moved in with Fagin. Doubtful I pictured a life in the tropics, definitely I daydreamed of escape, even if only in my mind.

Today I live on an island in the Caribbean and someone is delivering a piano. Mainly to store it. Perhaps I'll toy with it. Better yet someone else will, someone with talent, and I'll dance.