Asher Quinn (Asha)

I clearly recall that I began to play the piano intuitively aged about three. Both my adoptive mother and grandfather played the piano, and I grew up to the sounds of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Noel Coward and musicals like Oklahoma, South Pacific and the King and I. At weekends there was a big, warm Jewish family atmosphere with lots of music, pickled gherkins and cigar-smoking, yiddish-speaking elders. And that was just the women!

My style of piano-playing was already completely different and personal, however. I didn't really care for the musicals, and used to play, very simply, what was in my imagination… a lot of minor chord fantasias about faraway places.

By the time I was ten, I was playing pop-songs by ear… things by Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and the Shadows! I used to listen to Radio Luxembourg under the bedclothes, and liked Buddy Holly, Rick Nelson and Elvis. I remember feeling quite concerned about Bobby Vee singing 'Take good care of my baby'. I thought to myself 'Yeah… I hope they do. She's only small.' I was about six at the time.

I had imaginary friends called Bobby and Susan, whom I would now call spirit guides! I also had visions of Jesus aged five, but kept it to myself on account of being Jewish, as it might not have gone down so well amongst the pickled gherkin sisterhood. Otherwise, apart from witches in the corridor, crocodiles under my bed and regular astral travel, my childhood proceeded relatively ordinarily. There was the coal-man who used to pour skulls down into the cellar when he brought the coal, the warm, cosy glow of judicial hanging and flogging on the village green, and of course poltergeists in the kitchen… normal enough suburban, middle-class phenomenon for the early 1960's.