It was Performance Time this morning! To be honest (and as regular readers know, the Daily Blog always seeks to be unfailingly honest, sometimes at the cost of street cred and general reputation) it wasn't our fault. That
makes a change, did I hear someone mutter?
We were singing at the Heene community centre's Christmas Fayre. What's more, we were the first act on, after the Mayor had warmly welcomed everyone and exhorted
them to dig deep into their pockets. He had set a good example, he made sure to tell us, by buying a ticket for the tombola but had not won. I wondered if he meant we should all follow his example by being losers - but I probably had that wrong.
Let me set the scene. Yes, please let me set the scene, it is really, really important or you won't understand What Went Wrong and why None Of It Was Our Fault. Thirty chairs had been set out in readiness for us in two
long, straight lines at one end of the Main Hall. This was Problem Number One, in that it meant we were all strung out and the singers at each end couldn't see our conductor, the Redoubtable Muriel, even standing on her portable dais and waving her arms about
in a bid to attract and keep our attention. For the sopranos at the end nearest the piano, there was another issue, which was that the piano both obscured their view and rather overpowered their voices. We won't call that Problem Number Two, I think we shall
just refer to it as a sub-set of Problem Number One which is, after all, about Placement.
Problem Number Two was even more troublesome. At the other end of the hall from where we were placed (as in Problem
Number One - I do hope you are keeping up. Perhaps it would help if I drew you a diagram?) were a number of stalls, selling all manner of exquisite crafts, many of them (not surprisingly) Christmas-Related. It was unfortunate that selling opened at precisely
the same moment we started singing. The hubbub was considerable.
To one side of us, the queue for Santa's grotto, where little ones whinged and moaned at having to wait in line and exasperated parents sought
to hush them. Loudly. This, once again, is not a separate problem, it is a sub-set of Problem Number Two, which can be categorised as Disturbance.
The Redoubtable Muriel, who had travelled all the way from
Hove to lead us, said she just knew it was going to be like this; she remembered it from last year and the year before. Muriel is 92 years young but her memory is far better than mine because I can't recall Problems One and Two being quite so bad in past years.
This may be because I wear rosy coloured spectacles. I should have gone to Specsavers. Oh, wait, I did. I don't remember seeing a display of rosy coloured spectacles but then my eye-sight is pretty bad.
rather worried me, the Redoubtable Muriel being so put out. She is generally so indomitable, hardly anything fazes her. It was not on her own account, she admitted later, but she felt keenly for us, the singers, trying hard to do our best against all the odds.
Olga, who always sits next to me because she says she wouldn't be able to find the songs in her red file without my help, was entranced by the glittery haloes being worn by centre staff. She set off to find one, earning
a hard look from our conductor for her flightiness until she returned bearing a halo aloft which she proceeded to fix onto Muriel's head. This is the thing about my friend Olga: she may be a touch wayward and inclined to wander off on Missions Of Her Own Making
but her heart is most definitely in The Right Place.
Oh, but it was hard, trying to sing above the background noise. We did our utmost to convey the Spirit of the Season, to encourage our audience
(yes, we did have some loyal supporters) to dream of a White Christmas, to engage in some Walking in the Air, to deck the halls with boughs of holly. I was grateful to members of Worthing's Rock Choir for singing along with us and adding to the festive spirit.
They were appearing later in the programme and may have been worrying about whether Problems One and Two might affect them too.
Afterwards we all tried to reassure each other that it hadn't been All That Bad.
Muriel seemed adamant that we would not be repeating the experience next year. It's tricky though, isn't it, because the idea of our (happily) short performance was that we were just one of a number of groups showcasing the facilities on offer at the community
centre. We were, like, a singing advertisement. Think John Lewis. Without the furry animals. Or the trampoline.
Who was coming next? I asked the Master of Ceremonies. (I presumed he was the Master of Ceremonies
being as he was in possession of the microphone. I am canny like that.) Apparently it was the Health & Fitness Club. The mind (such as it is) boggles.
I couldn't stay to witness how they overcame
the problems of Placement and Disturbance, as I had to get back for Mr B - but one thing is sure.
I really, really, really wished them well. As in, a Problem Free Performance.