From ‘The Libretto’ – November 2010
In October’s ‘The Libretto’ under ZEN TEACHINGS there was a suggestion that if at first you don’t succeed, sky diving is not for you. Might I suggest the same applies to paragliding off a 7000ft mountain in Turkey. Funnily enough, that’s not when I did most damage to my leg. I fell off a one inch pebble in the garden, partly tore my Achilles tendon and tried swimming before it had healed to complete the job properly! Exercise can be dangerous!
I was in the bath the other night (Coll insists), watching my little plastic boat sail around Gran Canaria, followed closely by a little yellow duck and a pretty little blue dolphin, when I was reminded of all of you on the cruise and wondered if you were thinking of the ones you’d left behind and if you’d ever see them again. Then I realised that you weren’t under sail bound for Botany Bay, and I thought ‘Don’t be silly! You’d all be in the bar.’
Anyway, I was beginning to miss you all and looking forward to you coming back and doing our next concert. Because one of the things I love about this choir is going on stage.
We’re all in what passes for the changing room, making final adjustments to our belts and braces, trying to hang up our bags on a non-existent rail but they keep falling down. “Anyone got a spare pair of cufflinks?” “Are we wearing our waistcoats, now or later?” “Any fluff on my coat?” “No, only on the Potters!” The humour and camaraderie never ceases to amaze me.
Now the moment we‘ve all been waiting for. Mike shouts “Listen to me! Listen up! We’re going to line up outside in four rows, tenors to the left, back row followed by baritones and then basses, then the third row, tenors first and so on”. It’s the ‘so on’ bit that totally confuses us. Besides it’s raining! “Where do we line up?” Someone wasn’t listening or couldn’t hear because of all the chatter. Nevertheless, Mike carries on with “it’s a bit crowded in there but they have provided enough chairs for forty of us.” Bearing in mind that there’s sixty five of us (this is fiction after all) we can see that there’s going to be a mad dash and a scrum for these seats when the solo performer comes on. Tactical plans are already being discussed and drawn up for the forthcoming battle.
“Right! There’s a good crowd out there tonight so when we go in I don’t want any talking like last time. Hang on! There are eight baritones in the second row and none in the back. That’s not right. How did that happen?” It seems to happen every time – who’s on a wind-up? So there’s lots of jostling before reluctantly four choose to go into the back row. Inevitably, they’re the shortest! Is it because the taller ones are harder to shift?
“When you come off the stage, I want you to break in the centre between Roy and Leon and go to the left and right in single file, row by row. Go to the back and come down the sides to the seats over by the organ” orders Mike. Now ‘ang on, this is getting a bit involved. Are we Welsh Guards at Trooping the Colour or what? Ah well, just follow the rest and it’ll be alright? Trouble is all sixty five of us are thinking the same. At least we’re in unison!
Off we go in line, shepherded in by Mike as if we’ve got an appointment with Madame Guillotine. Heads up boys, you’re not going to lose them! Look enthusiastic as if you’re enjoying yourselves! No talking and face the front. All these thoughts are going through our minds. Well mine anyway, but I’m new to this. We get on the stage more or less in order, not too much chatter and face the front. Siân gets on the podium, about half of us can’t see her, the piano starts up and off we go, perfectly on time with ‘Llanfair’. LOVIN’ IT.
We get through half a dozen more pieces to rapturous applause, but now it’s only fair to let the solo artist have a go, so we get the signal to leave the stage. Leon goes off first with Roy alongside up the centre aisle. Then Merv is alongside Roger. Going like clockwork so far, but then the second row decide they should leave at the same time as the first, but all go to the left because that’s closer to the seats, joined quickly by the third and then the fourth so all semblance of order, like the charge of the Light Brigade, has evaporated. Mike’s face is a picture of despair, but at least we’re not talking.
The soloist has finished and it’s time for a break, but where do we go and have they laid any drinks on? They have, but it’s orange squash mixed far too strong so it burns the back of the throat and with half of us having a blood sugar problem, do they want to kill us? We weren’t that bad in the first half, were we?
Soon it’s time to go outside to line up again for the second half. This time we’ve got the hang of it. Four rows, equal numbers in each row except we’re 3 tenors short (no, not those). “We think they’re in the loo” suggests someone. “Well tell ’em to get a move on, it’s piddling down out here as well!” Or words to that effect! We all get together; finally in order and with raindrops on our jackets and heads fetchingly glistening under the lights, we march proudly back onto the scaffold, sorry, I mean stage, with chattering teeth, dripping hair and hyperactive from excess sugar and E numbers. We line up with military precision in our assigned places and wait for Siân to start – and she signals us to SMILE! Wonderful sense of humour. LOVIN’ IT!
Lyn (Baritone, maybe)