The Bacon Bap Brigade is discussing music and membership. But not necessarily in that order.
Regular readers will recall that the Bacon Bap Brigade meets in the Heene
community centre café immediately after our weekly Singing for Pleasure choir session. This week we have finished ten minutes earlier than usual because our conductor, the Redoubtable Muriel, is feeling just a bit fed-up by all the shenanigans which
have dominated our proceedings thus far. At least, she doesn't exactly say this is the reason, claiming instead that we all appear to be weary which is becoming obvious in our failure to (I) concentrate on what she has been telling us and (ii) sing as if we
mean every word. Better to finish early, she tells us, stepping down from her wooden dais with an air of finality.
Personally I would prefer to carry on singing until our usual stop time because I feel I have
been concentrating and I was definitely singing as if I meant every word. Though, to be honest, the Gloucestershire Wassail is not my favourite Christmas song. Witness verse 2: "And here is to Cherry and to his right cheek / pray God send our master a good
piece of beef." Followed by verse 3 which begins: "And here is to Dobbin and to his right eye / Pray God send our master a good Christmas pie." Do you see what I mean? The tune is decidedly jolly, which makes up for quite a lot, but now wouldn't you struggle
to mean every word?
More importantly, I am concerned that we are finishing earlier than usual because I have promised to buy my friend Avril a bacon bap and mug of coffee for when she finishes her Short Mat
Bowls session at 11.30 a.m. At this rate, I ponder, both coffee and bap will be stone cold by the time she emerges from the main hall to join Margaret, Zoe, Zoe's husband Richard and me at the convenient round table we have managed to grab. I could, of course,
wait before placing my order but if I do that the queue at the counter will be three times as long.
Margaret and I are trying to persuade Richard to join the choir. Zoe, while informing us that her husband
has a far better voice than she does, nevertheless doesn't join in our general pleading, doubtless knowing that it is a Lost Cause. We press on regardless, Margaret and I, being aware that the Men's Section is sadly depleted from the days when they sang in
strength and were undoubted Teacher's Pets. Since those giddy heights of tunefulness, we have lost several men which may be considered either unfortunate or careless, depending on your point of view. A few, like Mr B, have left due to ill health. Some have
left to join other, more challenging choirs where they sing in parts and read music. My dear friend Ian has gone onto even higher things, joining the Celestial Choir where, I have no doubt, he is winning favours with the heavenly Powers That Be by turning
up early to every choir session to help put out the chairs, as he used to do for us every week without fail until he fell ill. All in all Fings Ain't WhatThey Used To Be in the Men's Section.
We relate this
sad story with feeling, Margaret and I, but I can see from the steely smile on Richard's face that it is no good. I have seen exactly the same smile on Mr B's face when I am trying to persuade him of the value of a particular course of action which he is determined
not to accede to. Kindly, apologetic but determined to stand firm, that sums it up perfectly.
Olga arrives at our table to try to drum up support for the Ukulele Group. We cannot imagine, she tells us, just
how much fun it is. Margaret inspects her beautifully manicured nails and says she doesn't think so. Avril, who has joined us and is tucking into her bacon bap has nothing to say. I hide my nails, which are not beautifully manicured, under the table and fix
a grin on my face which I hope resembles that Apologetic But Determinedly Steely smile of refusal which Mr B and Richard execute so very well. To be honest, I would actually quite like to join the Ukulele Group if only because it would be an entertaining topic
for inclusion in my letters to ukulele-playing grandson Jack, away at Uni. I am sure there's plenty of mileage, word-wise, in a ukulele but I fear there are just not enough hours in the week for every new pastime I would like to take up.
Next Saturday morning I will line up with the rest of the choir to entertain visitors to the community centre's Christmas Fair. We will all wear our red shirts with black trousers or skirts so that we will look like a Proper
Choir. I will sing my heart out, Dobbin and Cherry and all because - with all due respect to the ukulele - there is nothing quite like singing to make the spirits soar.
It was one of my friend Ian's favourite
songs and he it was who introduced it into our choir's repertoire. I think of him every time we sing it.
"Thank you for the music."