Eddie Ayres launches his new book ‘Danger Music’

radioinfo’s Wendy Whalley attended the launch of Eddie Ayres‘ new book Danger Music this evening in Sydney.
Eddie was known and beloved by Classic FM Breakfast listeners as Emma Ayres, who arrived in Australia from England having cycled to Hong Kong with only a violin for company.  His first book Cadence traces that journey.
After a long period of depression in 2014 Emma left radio and Classic FM, and applied for a position in Dr Sarmast’s renowned Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul, teaching cello to orphans and street children.
This book charts his course teaching music and helping to run the music school in a war zone.  It takes readers through the bombs and chaos of Kabul into the lives of Afghan children who are transported by Bach, Abba, Beethoven and their own exciting Afghan music.
It was during this time that Emma made the decision to transition to Eddie, shortly after his fiftieth birthday and he now lives in peace with himself.

ABC Radio’s Julie McCrossin introduced the evening and took questions from the audience at GleeBooks.

In the discussion, Eddie talked about one of his Afghan students, Laila. Laila came to the school in year 8 and wanted to join; the head of school said that she was too old to start learning an instrument, that she needed to have started in year 4.
Laila promised that she would catch up and in three months learned what it would take many children three years to learn, and she was accepted.

Her birth father had ended up in a Malaysian refugee camp before she was even born and has not been seen since, so her mother remarried. Laila now had a step-brother who was so anti-music that Laila could never admit to playing an instrument, and certainly could not practice at home. She brought home a piece of wood that had the right dimensions that she could practice the fingering of her viola, but her mother was so terrified of her stepson finding it and asking what it was for, that she burned it.

Laila often walked the two hour trip to school each day, because her mother could not always afford the bus fare.

Eddie read an extract from the chapter “You won’t need much tweaking” and described a day in Afghanistan:
“Winter continued its descent, the cold dribbling on my skin. No matter how many clothes I wore, I simply couldn’t get warm. I had lost so much weight that all my natural insulation had gone. Emotionally and now physically, I was defenceless.

On 11th November 2015, thousands of Afghans, mostly Hazaras, marched through the streets of Kabul demanding justice.  Seven Hazaras had been murdered a few days earlier in the Southern province of Zabul. The victims – four men, two women and a nine-year–old girl – had been abducted and had their throats slit. The marcher carried their coffins through the city, when breaking with traditions by carrying the women’s coffins.

The first thing I noticed was the sound……
…It was the sound of death marching. It was the sound the death protesting.
A silent noise, almost a suppression of sound, and then the chanting, the shouting, the wailing, the rage………… What had been happening to the Hazaras over a very long time had a name. It was genocide.

 Eddie credits his writing skills to former English teacher Miss Spicer, at the Girls Grammar school that she attended in England in the late 70’s.


Danger Music is published by Allen & Unwin.


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