One of the newest members of our Singing for Pleasure choir tells me that she thinks the group should be renamed as The Happy Hour. This is because, she says, every time she enters the hall at the Heene Community Centre
where we meet, everyone is smiling, chatting and making newcomers feel welcome. I am lost for words, so happy has she made me.
Did I tell you that our conductor,
the Redoubtable Muriel, has called it a day at the grand old age of 95? While we search for a new conductor we are relying on our stalwart pianist, Morag, to take us through our paces but today, in Morag’s absence, we were led by One of Our Own. Also
known as Pat.
It was Pat who had chosen the songs we would sing today - a selection from pages 9 to 21 in our red files, plus three songs from our music selection
and four strays from earlier pages. Introducing one of these - “Kalinka” - Pat explained that she had chosen this particular song because it brought to mind the memory of hearing the Red Army in concert. Her family were all seated in the front
row, heads upturned to watch the performance which was, it went without saying, unforgettable. We did our best to do “Kalinka” justice but we are not the Red Army. I can only hope we didn’t tarnish the memory of that concert.
It had me thinking, however, about the way a song, a tune, a lyric can bring memories flooding back - memories which are almost always wholly personal. So it was for many
of the songs we sang this morning.
“Catch a Falling Star” was one of the songs hitting the charts in October 1957. Perry Como sang it along with “Magic
Moments” which was on the B side of the same record. Okay, I accept that you have to have reached a Great Age to know about A sides and B sides. To be honest, if you are too young to have heard of them I shouldn’t worry over much. I have to say
(with apologies to poor Perry) that neither song would have fixed itself in my memory were it not for the fact that the record was released when my Little Sister was confined to hospital for what seemed like endless weeks to me. Forbidden to visit her
on account of my tender age (our Dad did arrange for me to be lifted up once at the window of her hospital ward so that I could see her tucked up in bed) the songs took on a new meaning for me.
A change of pace - we are singing “I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside.” It could well be our Family Anthem, I think. Indeed, lines of the song are inscribed on three of the wooden slats which Mr B and I purchased
for our Tremendous Ten grandchildren on Littlehampton’s longest bench. And we still always refer to the “prom, prom, prom” when taking a walk along the seafront.
Pat thinks we might like to try out a round? We are well up for it especially when it turns out that the round in question is “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree”. I am immediately transported back to my days as Brown Owl of the 3rd Staplehurst
Brownie Pack, sitting in a Brownie Ring on Pack Holidays, looking round the circle of bright, shining faces and feeling that rush of intense happiness that comes with knowing that this is one of life’s unforgettable moments.
We sing “Lullaby of Broadway” which was the very first song I learnt when I joined the Singing for Pleasure choir seven years ago then Pat announces our next song will be “When Irish
Eyes are Smiling” - a nod to the fact that the latest news suggests a possible breakthrough in Brexit negotiations following a meeting with the Irish Taoiseach (I always pronounce his title as “Tea shop”. You know it makes sense.) That particular
song will always remind me of a concert we gave to a home for retired ex-service personnel when our rendition brought tears to the eyes of one Old Soldier in our audience. I am choked up just thinking about it.
I’m not the best of singers - in fact you might describe me as musically challenged - but I do know that every song is a precious memory for somebody.
That’s the Power of Song.