I arrived at the Friends Meeting House this afternoon in what I thought was plenty of time.
Brave Pam (my friend from the Birdy Group) was on the door, serving up glasses
of wine or soft drinks to all-comers. "The choir is just about to start singing," she told me, pouring me a glass of Pinot Grigio - then watching me hot-footing it into the garden to join my fellow choristers, leaving my wine behind. I'd understood we weren't
taking to the stage until 2.45 p.m. though I should have remembered that U3A (University of the Third Age) time is always, shall we say, flexible?
When I say we took to the "stage" I am guilty of blatant misrepresentation.
We were, in fact, gathered in a corner of the garden, on the grass, facing an audience of fellow members of the U3A. They looked a friendly lot, I was pleased to see.
My friend Sue (you know her as Sue 1,
as distinct from Sue 2) had phoned me to ensure I was aware of our programme though, like the timing of our performance, this was Subject To Change. I was unable to attend last Friday's choir session as I was driving home from my sister's home at about the
same time the choir was arguing (mostly) amiably over whether we should include Brush Up Your Shakespeare and whether a rendition of Rose of England would be appropriate in this week following the Queen's official birthday. In the interests of accuracy, I
should probably point out that as I wasn't there, I can't be certain about the nature of the discussion - but I doubt I am too far out.
Regular readers may (or, indeed, may not) recall that our conductor,
the Redoubtable Muriel, was unhappy about us singing in the open. Her fears, it has to be said, were realised when a strong breeze lifted all her song sheets from her music stand, distributing them to the far corners of the garden from whence we all scrabbled
to retrieve them. One of our choir members came to the rescue, producing two bright blue plastic clothes pegs with which the song sheets, once recovered, could be pinned to Muriel's music stand.
me thinking: who, for goodness sake, carries clothes pegs in their handbag just in case they might be needed? I am amazed, puzzled and disbelieving in equal quantities. I mean, I do have useful items in my capacious handbag. An odd Werther Original toffee,
for example. Several ballpoint pens, one of which works. A photograph of a grandchild, just in case anyone queries my grandparental qualifications. Last Sunday's service sheet from Church. You know the kind of thing. But, no, it has honestly never crossed
my mind to add a couple of clothes pegs to the contents just in case.
The Really Rather Wonderful Morag is all set to accompany us on a keyboard though the music doesn't carry too far in the open. We start
off with Country Gardens, determined looks upon our faces as we throw our voices into the wind. Muriel has chosen songs she considers appropriate - Strawberry Fair, for example, and The Teddy Bears' Picnic. She decides against Rose of England at the last minute,
which I think is a pity - but she explains to me later that, being a slow song, the melody might just have been lost in the swirling winds. I am sure she is right ( I would never argue with The Redoubtable One) but I still feel a tad disappointed.
Sue's husband, Roger, finds me a seat and I sit, sipping my wine and listening to the orchestra - The Inspired Instrumentalists, they call themselves - play an assortment of well-known tunes from Rule Britannia to the
Radetsky March. We all applaud them and say how much they have improved since last we heard them. We eat delicious strawberries with cream and the raffle is drawn. I don't win anything but then I didn't expect to. One of the prizes is a ticket for Saturday's
lottery; now that's my kind of prize. One which offers hope, expectation, anticipation, the thrill of not knowing what might befall. Better by far than a box of tea bags which was my friend Sue's prize in the last monthly raffle.
On the way out, I notice that my friend Jim is wearing his second best hat. I know it is his second best hat because he left his best titfer in the Church at our Golden Wedding service. It reminds me that I need to track it down for
him and I make a mental note to fire off an email as soon as I get home.
I'd had a stressful morning at a difficult meeting. Strawberry Tea was exactly what I needed to raise my spirits. I walk to the bus
stop singing under my breath.
Rose of England. What else?