So there is this fella, hankering after the love of a (presumably) good woman. He obviously thinks he is God's gift to women because he expects the Object of His Affections to gaze into his eyes and plant kisses in his
wine glass. Moreover when she returns the roses which he has made bold enough to send her, he keeps them for himself, savouring the fact that their fragrant scent is hers.
"I reckon he's a stalker!" declares
my friend Sue, who sits next to me in the second row of the Alto Section.
You must admit, it could well be the plot of a hard-hitting drama on Channel Four (no, I'm not talking Bake-Off, please don't be silly)
involving a heartless Hunter stalking his innocent prey, plying her with wine and roses and not taking "no" for an answer. In actual fact the words were penned by Ben Johnson, back in the seventeenth century, in a song which those of you who have reached my
Great Age may remember singing at school. It's called "Drink to me Only With Thine Eyes."
Yes, the conductor of our Singing for Pleasure Choir, the Redoubtable Muriel is back in Fine Form, determined that
she will make us really think about the words we are singing - and so will put each song over with greater meaning. I'm not sure she would approve of Sue's interpretation of Ben's poetic plaint.
so we need to sing Autumn Leaves. After all, says Muriel, it's a beautiful song and we only get to sing it once a year. It's all about the memories of lost love: "The wind of forgetfulness blows them into the night of regret..." we sing. I have a lump in my
throat. Despite (or perhaps because of) this, Muriel doesn't think we are putting enough feeling into the words. She decides to demonstrate. "But I miss you most of all, my darling.." she sings at full throttle and with a theatrical flourish.
"It must be the romantic in you," suggests Myra, slyly, from the front row of the sopranos. Muriel, who is still single at 93 years young, reminds her that romance has passed her by - "but not passion, oh, no, not passion!"
she adds with feeling. The five gents who make up the Men's section make whooping noises. I think it's fair to say that, at least momentarily, the spell of those Autumn leaves of red and gold drifting by the window, is well and truly broken.
Here's another song we used to sing at school - Linden Lea.
"Let other folk make money faster in the air of dark-roomed towns;
don't dread a peevish master, though no man may heed my friend.
I be free to go abroad, or take again my homeward road
To where for me, the apple tree do lean down low in
I rather think the author of Linden Lea was retiring in style. A bit like me. Muriel tells us the story of the man who came to pick the apples off her tree for her and, somehow or other, the discussion
moves onto pear trees and this year's poor pear harvest. You could say it was a Fruitful Conversation, though not particularly musical.
My friend Margaret had picked a rich harvest of blackberries which she
had gifted to Kevin who manages the community centre café. While sitting over our bacon baps after choir, he arrived at our table bearing a blackberry and almond cake, still warm from the oven, for Margaret to taste. With true generosity she shared
it with me and it was Truly Scrumptious. I know a song about that, too, now I come to think of it.
There's an ongoing debate - occasionally descending into good-natured argument - about the fact that we don't
sing enough modern songs at Singing for Pleasure. Rock Choir, we most assuredly are not. Me, I am unashamedly in Muriel's camp, word loving person that I am.
The last song we sing today is a new one, a round
with music by Purcell - who is, of course, famous and so to be treated with respect and awe. We have only managed the third verse so far, the heartfelt words of which go like this:
"Sir, tut tut, I scorn your
charge, you are a lunatic at large, so eat your words, your temper keep and go, go along."
I do so love a song that you can really sing with feeling...