Our choir conductor, the Redoubtable Muriel, is back this morning. We are oh, so pleased to see her.
She has had a quite spectacular run of bad luck - a car accident,
a bump on the head when the door of her new car opened at an unexpected angle, followed by an infection which laid her low. But you can't keep Our Muriel down, even at 92 years young. I just hope I have a quarter of Muriel's energy, endless curiosity and love
of life when ( or if) I reach her Truly Great Age.
Sue One, who sits on my right in the Alto section, second row back, agrees with me that the Indomitable One is looking much more like herself. It's only when
someone isn't around, we say, that you realise how much you are missing them. So though we may sigh heavily when Muriel asks us to stand and exercise our vocal chords; although we find ourselves roundly chided when we chatter between songs; although her desire
for accuracy means she keeps stopping us mid-verse when we are not singing on our vowels and pronouncing our consonants - we can recognise that there is a Rhyme and Reason to Muriel's approach and we appreciate it all the more for having missed out on it for
a few weeks.
Sue Two, who is sitting on my left hand side is a trifle put out by the fact that lots of new people have been saving seats in the second row for late-coming friends. I stay unusually silent on
account of the fact that Sue One did save my seat for me. Sitting between Sue One and Sue Two is like being the filling in a Sue Sandwich. I have to keep turning my head from side to side to ensure I am paying equal attention to each Sue; it's a bit like being
a spectator at a tennis match.
Being as it was St Patrick's Day yesterday, Muriel has selected all the Irish songs in our extensive repertoire. We start with "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" (remembering to put
a lilt in our voices when we reach the line about "the lilt of Irish laughter" - Muriel is most particular when it comes to lilting) - then move on to "The Spanish Lady" which is - well, who'd have guessed it - a traditional Irish song. Now there's Irish for
you. The men stamp their feet when we get to the "whack for the toora-loora-laddys" and Muriel smiles at them approvingly. They have always been Teacher's Pets.
Muriel is less pleased with us Altos when, encouraged
by her to sing a particular line on our own, a kind of strangulated yelp emerges from our collective mouths. Sue Two mutters that the newbies taking up seats in the second row back need to toughen up a bit.
sing "My Love's an Arbutus" which makes Sue One giggle because she remembers how I managed to weave the title into one of my annual Christmas songs, just for her. On to Kerry Dancing which sounds as if it should be full of joy but is really quite mournful,
all about growing old and the shortness of youth's sweet passage. Then, to ensure we are all totally depressed we finish with "Danny Boy". I love "Danny" but, boy, is it sad!
In the community cafe afterwards,
the Bacon Bap Brigade is split over whether it has been a less than cheery session, given the combined effect on our spirits of Kerry Dancing and Danny, you understand. Ann is adamant that it has, even though we ended up with the Jolly Miller of Dee, having
managed to skip from Ireland to Scotland before we could so much as take a "drink of air." Muriel swears by the effectiveness of a drink of air to improve our chances of reaching the high notes. Well, not in my case, of course, I'd need a whole bottle of air
and I would still squeak a bit.
I divert Ann's attention by pointing out the sweet knitted tea cosy decorating a small teapot on the table next to us. It has a bright red pom-pom on top. The tea cosy, that
is, not the table. The girl who works in the kitchen proudly shows me a whole shelf of tea cosies, all topped with pom-poms in the brightest of colours, which were apparently knitted to order for them. Honestly it is almost enough to make me order tea instead
of my customary coffee.
The tea cosy is, indeed, a cheery sight. I am still smiling at the thought of it as I make my way to Tesco's to buy Easter Eggs for my young'uns. I'm humming "Danny Boy" as I push my
trolley round the supermarket aisles. I congratulate myself on my success in finding tiny eggs to decorate the cake I plan to make for tomorrow's coffee morning in aid of the Children's Society.
a lovely morning, thanks in no small part to the Redoubtable Muriel. Welcome back! How we missed you!