Twinkle Twinkle Little Earth – a timely tune from Sestus Omicron 3

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Have you considered the possibility that on a star, the star-people wish upon an earth? For example, ‘Earth light, earth bright, first earth I see tonight’, or ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little earth, how I wonder what you’re worth.’

Sound strange? Well, on Sestus Omicron 3 the all-time hit song is ‘Earthdust’. Also people will sing ‘Catch a falling earth and put it in your pocket’. And might you not have difficulty accepting the idea of a national anthem called ‘The Earth-Spangled Banner?’

– From Leonard Nimoy presents Mr Spock’s Music from Outer Space

“Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit.”

“Grizzly Bears Don’t Fear Animals.”

For my sins – of which in a long and eventful life there have been many – I am learning to play the piano. Well, let’s qualify ‘learning’. I am just two lessons in with a delightful and necessarily patient teacher here in Discovery Bay, Hong Kong. I am rather proud of qualifying as her oldest student but rather less so of currently surely rating as her worst. Make that career-worst.

Being adept on one kind of keyboard (the QWERTY variety) does not, alas, make me a natural on the musical kind. Combined with a lifelong inability to grasp shapes of any kind, I confess that simultaneously trying to read music and translate what I am reading into notes on the piano is proving about as frustrating an exercise as plotting out my travel programme for a new year that is about to kick off in the giant shadow of the Omicron variant.

That darned perfectionist cum obessionist in me wants to be able to play Sorabji’s Opus clavicembalisticum (Of the final movement, the composer himself wrote: “The closing four pages are so cataclysmic and catastrophic as anything I’ve ever done—the harmony bites like nitric acid – the counterpoint grinds like the mills of God.” – Classic FM’s Hardest pieces ever written for the Piano), while I’m struggling mightily with Frère Jacques.

As any piano player will know, the phrases at the top of this Blog are commonly used to help students remember specific piano notes – the first letter of each word signifying notes on the treble and bass clefs, respectively. The device is known as a mnemonic phrase and there are versions for the spaces between the lines as well – All Cows Eat Grass (ACEG), for example on the bass clef, and the simple acronym FACE on the bass clef.

So far, so good, but as my aging right brain (the creative side) struggles to coordinate with (or even locate) my left brain (said to be the methodical side), I’ve struggled in vain to associating the various letters with the various keys.

A new approach was called for. After a few Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs, ‘mnemonic phrase’ starts to sound vaguely like bubonic plague, which seems apposite given the hysterical nature of much reaction to the latest COVID-19 variant. So as I am attempting to learn piano during the Omicron era, I have decided to come up with my own variations on the theme, not of Paganini by Brahms but of mnemonic phrases.

The first one is pretty straightforward. Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit is horribly archaic and way too gender-exclusive anyway for our modern age. So I have opted to be parochial and apply the formula to the endeavours of my own company and all those in travel retail which have endeavoured to survive, even thrive during this wretched period. It has not been easy and just as things appeared to be getting much better, they’ve in fact got much worse.

So Every Good Business Deserves Fortune it is, and may mine and yours get exactly that in 2022. For Grizzly Bears Don’t Fear Animals, which is surely stating the obvious, I have chosen Getting Back Down From Alarmism, something the world simply has to do if we are to learn to live with COVID as inevitably in some form or another we must.

All Cows Eat Grass is straightforward enough but overlaying a travel retail context I have gone for a vaccination-inspired Avoiding COVID’s Evil Grip in the belief that until we end the shameful vaccination inequity around the world we will never be free of new variants.

FACE? Well’s that’s a basic acronym just as travel retail has a pretty basic proposition in the months ahead with fewer people travelling, i.e. to ensure that those who do travel spend more. So… Foster All Consumer Experiences, right? FACE.

With all these new mnemonic phrases in my repertoire, I shall be tackling Mozart’s fiendishly difficult (take a listen via the YouTube link below if you don’t believe me) Piano Sonata No. 18, K.576 in no time. With business diversification likely to be necessary in 2022, I’m available for weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs and trade show opening cocktails. Rates eminently reasonable.

In fact, the good news is that I am already playing Mozart very well. You might know the tune. One much beloved at this time of year and therefore highly appropriate for this seasonal Blog. It’s called Ah vous dirai-je, Maman, and was written by the great man in the early 1780s at the age of 25.

It is the base melody, of course, for the lullaby Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (the Christmas carol’s words stem from a poem written by an English woman, Jane Taylor, in 1806), a tune at which most of the world has had a go (including, I discovered, albeit with variations, Louis Armstrong, The Supremes and the wonderful, much-lamented Israel ‘Iz’ Kamakawiwo’ole) and at which I am already a dab hand.

As the opening to this Blog reveals, it’s also been covered (with a suitably alien twist) by Leonard Nimoy, of Star Trek fame. And as you saw, there is even an Omicron reference in there. On that timely note, as it were, I shall finish this Blog. My left brain and left keyboard are calling and it’s time to play Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Earth.