Our choir conductor, the Redoubtable Muriel, wants us to transport ourselves into the mountains. Though we would all love to oblige this is a tall order, seated as we are in a hall at the Heene Community Centre, perched
on rather uncomfortable chairs and feeling a little hot under the collar, due to the stuffy atmosphere.
Malcolm asks if someone could borrow a key from the office so that we can open a window or two (and,
possibly, though he doesn't say so, allow in something approaching fresh mountain air. Though, living at the seaside as we do, we couldn't really be farther from the mountains.) Morag, our pianist and my Most Excellent Accompanist (see previous blog) bustles
off to do his bidding and returns, minutes later, brandishing a solid looking key. Malcolm unlocks a window at the back of the hall and the hall resounds with the collective sound of forty choir members breathing in, obviously in tuneful unison. You would
expect nothing less, would you?
We are attempting to sing "Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves" which we all love singing. Unfortunately we keep forgetting our conductor's strong views on exactly how we should sing
it, where we should swallow the sound and sing softly, where we should project our voices, where we should emphasise those pesky consonants so that we are making the words clear for our audience. Even if, as this morning, there is no audience.
Muriel reminds us of the historical context; we will sing with so much more meaning, she implores us, if we inject real understanding into the words. I know what she means - on one occasion she told us the story of a young
girl who dressed as a soldier in her dead brother's clothes and went off to war to join her soldier lover, only to find him virtually on his death bed. When at the conclusion of her tale, we came to sing "Sweet Polly Oliver" it definitely was much more heart-felt
Muriel hates it when we gaze fixedly down at our music files, nestling in our laps, as we sing. "Look up! Look up! You know these words," she yells at us, "You have sung them a hundred times or
more!" My friend Sue and I, being obedient souls most of the time, lift our song sheets high and do our best to gaze up at Muriel whenever we think we can remember the next line without looking. Mr B is not at choir today but I think he is one of the people
Muriel is complaining about as whenever I look round at him he is always gazing downwards. He says, in his defence, that this is because we keep singing Scottish songs and he can't get his mind or his mouth round the "confounded words." His least favourite
song is "There's noo luck aboot the hoose". Whenever this is announced as our next song, I honestly can't look at him in case I laugh at his grim expression.
It's perhaps a good thing he wasn't at choir this
morning because, after transporting ourselves to the mountains and bewailing, as the Hebrew slaves would have done, the fate of our country, we sing "Let's call the whole thing off". This, you may (or may not know) begins: "You say eether and I say eyther"
and proceeds to draw attention to the differing pronunciation of the same words as employed either side of The Pond. "Let's call the whole thing off!" the song goes - Mr B would doubtless agree wholeheartedly.
of us who are performing in tonight's Soirée stay on to practise our songs from the musical Oliver. Muriel won't be with us tonight but she is still keen to have her say in the interests of a Good Performance. Unfortunately Morag, who is playing the
piano for us, is up against a tight timescale as she is performing in another concert this afternoon so she really doesn't have time for Muriel's many interruptions. Muriel retires to the cafe and I worry that she might be in High Dudgeon (as opposed to high
on a hill. Or a mountain...) - but when I seek her out afterwards she seems perfectly sanguine.
Shirley is in charge of refreshments tonight. She is remarkably calm about this major responsibility. She has
people to help to set out the tables, somebody else has done the shopping, and the checked tablecloths are all ready in a bag. Avril asks if there are going to be table decorations but it seems not. I tell the story about my friend Vera who once organised
a Fisherman's Supper for her church (as opposed to a Harvest Supper) and decorated each table with tasteful arrangements of seaweed and shells. Unfortunately as the evening heated up, the shells all opened and the tables were literally crawling with crustaceans.
I wish I'd been there. Shirley doesn't think anything quite so exciting is likely to happen tonight.
Still, we can always hope...