Our choir conductor, the Redoubtable Muriel, is completely confident in her ability to multi-task. And when someone has reached the Grand Old Age of 91, we spring chickens are not likely to argue with her.
It is, however, a Tall Order. Morag, our pianist, ace stroker of the keys, is away on holiday somewhere (I missed out on the conversation about exactly where) so Muriel has stepped into the breach. She would, she informed us
a few weeks ago when we first became aware of our pianist's holiday arrangements, be both playing the piano and conducting at one and the same time. She would also be announcing each song on our programme and telling a few stories to explain our choice. See
what I mean about multi-tasking?
The Redoubtable Muriel is not averse to introducing last minute changes to the programme which can be immensely troubling to those of us who, like Boy Scouts, prefer to Be
Prepared. Mr B and I have done our best to ensure we know what we will be doing and when. I have typed out the words of every song in 18 point Arial font so that we will not have to peer down at our files but can fix our eyes on our audience with just a flicker
of a glance downwards every so often to check we are still on song, as it were.
Then, after bidding a fond farewell to members of our lovely Nomination Whist group (who generously agreed to meet in the morning
instead of the afternoon so that we didn't have to miss the concert) we sat down at the table together to check which lines were to be sung by the men and which by the women. There were a few lines of which we were not at all sure so Mr B suggested we just
mime these. It did occur to me that if every member of the choir had reached the same conclusion, there might be a few awkward silences but I didn't say anything because Mr B was obviously well pleased with his solution to a potential problem.
So here we are in the Rustington Methodist Church hall with an expectant audience ready to sing along with old favourites and listen entranced (possibly) to less well-known melodies. Muriel announces that we will start with
our choir anthem, Viva La Musica. This is news to us - but as I said before, Muriel is wont to make sudden changes to the programme as she sees fit. Worryingly she indicates that she is expecting we altos (aka the Failed Sopranos) to start off the round. Why
she thinks that this is a good idea, I can't begin to imagine but we do our best as always. I think we get away with it. Just about.
"Loudly Proclaim" is appropriately patriotic; our audience applauds fervently
and Muriel announces that our next song will be "Old Father Thames." There are a few appreciative nods from spectators as we launch into verse and chorus. Then - disaster! We are only prepared to sing once through but as we singers fall silent Old Father Thames
- and Muriel - just keep on rolling along...
We gather our wits about us and prepare to embark on "Country Gardens". We have sung this at many a concert so we should be fine but, possibly because we are still
a little unsettled about Old Father Thames we get our crimson roses mixed up with our lazy daisies so that our ditty isn't as pretty as it should have been. "People may stare, but what do we care," we sing, unconvincingly. Luckily our audience is sympathetic
to our plight, which is kind of them. In particular, there is a lovely lady in the fourth row back whose beaming smile never leaves her face. I imagine she must have had a few moments herself with Old Father Thames or his equivalent in days gone by.
After that, you will be very pleased to hear, things improve no end. We romp through Sheep Shearing, Twankydillo, the Umbrella Man and the Spanish Folk Song. As for Go Down, Moses, well what can I say? I haven't been
able to sit next to Hazel, who would have helpfully led me through our alto part, so I improvise. Quietly. Our finale, three songs from "Oliver" goes down a storm. Though I say it myself, as shouldn't. The leader of the Church Fellowship thanks us all - with
a special and well-deserved mention for our multi-tasking pianist / conductor - and invites us all to join members in a cup of tea and a biscuit. What's more, she says they are hoping we will come back next year.
It seems that, despite a few problems with Old Father Thames and the Country Gardens, we are considered worthy of reward. We have Sung For Our Supper.
Or, if you insist on being pedantic, for our Tea