This morning’s presentation to our Choir Conductor, the Redoubtable Muriel, simply couldn’t have gone better.
readers will remember that I had been prevailed upon to organise a collection among our choir members so that we could mark Muriel’s ninetieth birthday in a truly fitting manner. Yes, I did say, ninety. Ninety years old and still driving from Hove to
Worthing every Friday morning to take us through our vocal paces in a bid to turn us into a More or Less Tuneful Choir.
She really is a remarkable woman, hence my apt description of her as “redoubtable”
which means (according to the Thesaurus) formidable, impressive, terrible, mighty, fearsome. Muriel is all of these things in turn, depending on whether we are (i) failing to pay attention; (ii) chatting among ourselves instead of listening to her instructions;
(iii) forgetting what she taught us last week; or (iv) pronouncing “amour” as “a-more” instead of all Frenchified. She spends an hour and a half scolding us, threatening us, occasionally praising us – all the time listening,
listening, listening to pick up even just one person singing the wrong note. That’ll be me, then.
I was gratified that, due to the generosity of my fellow
choir members, I collected an impressive £125 which enabled us to buy Muriel a completely over-the-top orchid floral arrangement to accompany a cheque for £100. One of the more curmudgeonly of our choir members (there are a few, though mostly we
are all sweetness and light) moaned that I should have asked everyone for a fiver a head rather than a minimum of £2 but, as I told him (holding my ground because after all who was doing the collecting anyway) it’s impossible to know how everyone
is placed and some people might not have been able to afford a fiver. He harrumphed a bit and said £100 wasn’t much these days which I thought was a trifle hurtful, all thing considered. Mr B said he would take him on for me but I said I
didn’t think fisticuffs would be seemly, not at our age, not in the hall at the community centre, not when we were just about to start singing “Lilies and roses, made into posies, the Country Gardens come to town.” To which Mr B said
he wasn’t thinking fisticuffs, more a verbal riposte. I suggested perhaps not.
That was last week. Today was the Day of the Presentation. Here is how it
happened. Muriel arrived a few minutes before 10 a.m. and busied herself, as usual, discussing the morning’s play-list with our pianist. At exactly 10 a.m. she stepped onto her podium and beckoned for us all to stand for our vocal exercises. At which,
as one, we rose to our feet and burst into song – “Happy Birthday”. Her face was a veritable picture. It was, indeed, the very happiest of moments.
I had brought along the Us-Pad with the aim of capturing the happy scene in photographs but I have to say the photographs I took leave a lot to be desired. The first one shows Muriel being presented with the Over The Top Orchid which is so large and
so over the top that Muriel is completely hidden behind it. I mean it, you can’t see Muriel at all, just her legs. The next one is a little better, showing Muriel with another choir member who was celebrating her eightieth birthday the same day,
and our choir convenor. It is, unfortunately, a trifle blurred, which is about par for the course with my photographs. I tried to take a few photographs of Muriel in the centre with choir members grouped around her but because the hall is so small
and the choir numbers so many, I couldn’t get everyone in. Plus, trying to organise our choir (as Muriel knows to her cost) is a bit like herding cats. I wanted to make sure that Mr B was in the photo but when I reviewed my efforts later I found
that he was gossiping away in the background and not paying the least bit of attention either to me (which was normal) or to Muriel (which was unforgivable.)
actually knew the name of the Over The Top Orchid which, she explained, was the Orchid Gloriosa. She had always hankered after one but they were just too....and here she tripped over the word “expensive”, bless her.
I checked it out on the World Wide Web later and discovered that the Orchid Gloriosa (aka the climbing lily) is guaranteed to create “a bright and joyous atmosphere”.
I no longer think our floral tribute is over the top – rather, I think it is totally appropriate and, quite simply, Rather Splendid.
Just like Muriel.