June 9, 2018
Oh all right, the choir I have been singing in (in the loosest possible sense) will be performing at the Eden Festival tomorrow, which is somewhat less rock’n’roll but probably more my speed.*
The main issue will be getting there. We’re getting into the festival for free – but car parking costs £15 (there was an audible intake of breath at this news – round here even paying for parking at all is considered a breach of human rights). I could try and scrounge a lift, as I normally do, but at the moment, mainly because the sun is shining, I’m toying with cycling there. I love the idea of getting there by bike and it’s 20 miles, which is perfectly doable. The problem is, while almost all of it can be done on quiet roads, but there’s an unavoidable couple of miles on the A701, which is a nightmarish road even in a car. There’s also the bus, which takes full-size bikes, so I could keep my options open if it all turns out to be a bit too hair raising.
We will also be performing tonight in Kirkcudbright, if anyone happens to be at a loose end and wish to hear some excellent singing (and me). It’s all very different from the village choir and the odd music evening in the village hall …
* One of my junior colleagues back the day once tried to persuade me I should try going to a festival until I pointed out I don’t do camping, don’t like crowds and am not that interested in going to hear bands. “OK, so maybe Glastonbury isn’t for you”, he conceded. This seems like the perfect opportunity to dip my toe in the festival-going waters without any of the camping part and possibly less in the way of crowds…
November 28, 2012
Here’s one unexpected benefit of cycling in the winter: staying warm. No, bear with me. Every week I venture out into the cold night to cycle down to choir, sometimes getting drenched and almost always windblown, and get in to the village hall, where I instantly strip off my scary yellow jacket, gloves and hat, full of the joys of autumn and ready to roll while everyone else is still standing round shivering in their fleeces. Clearly that fifteen minutes of pedalling is enough to raise my core body temperature (why does that sound so much more scientific than ‘warm me up’?) for the evening. Tonight, it already being well below freezing before I set off, I wimped out and asked the other half for a lift down and ended up spending the entire evening huddled in my fleece, absolutely frozen. ‘Now you know how the rest of us feel,’ my fellow choir members said a little resentfully when I complained.* Clearly I’ve been overdoing the whole rosy-cheeked fresh-air-and-exercise thing a tiny bit.
The sad part is, I could probably have cycled down perfectly well because the only bit of the road that was actually icy was the patch outside our gate where the permapuddle has turned into a permarink – but that is skiddy. Even the poor hare we started up on the way back had difficulty cornering as it bolted for our gate, its four paws heading in about five different directions. Might need to get some grit on that before I tackle it on two wheels. If only so I can get out in the cold long enough to get warm…
* You’ll be glad to hear I refrained from suggesting that they could always cycle too.
October 28, 2011
As I may have mentioned before, there’s a fairly large English contingent within the village choir, amounting to about half its members. In order to make a feature of this, the choirmistress had the idea of some sort of sing off between the two groups, with the English half singing an English song and the Scottish half a Scottish one. I think she had the idea of a medley of music from two distinct, yet complementary folk traditions, bouncing off each other in an exciting and engaging way. The only problem was that, on the English side – philistines that we are – we none of us knew any English folk songs while on the Scottish side they knew some lovely ones but Scottish songs do tend towards the gloomy being mostly about exile, loss and longing with a side order of the odd light massacre. As we were all in the mood for something a little more upbeat and a little less wistful, the search for suitable songs got widened somewhat and, musically speaking, possibly went a little bit downhill.
Which is why the highlight of the next village music evening is likely to be the great musical showdown between ‘My old Man’s a Dustman’ and ‘Donald where’s your troosers’.
I for one cannot wait.
August 12, 2011
Wish us luck – for tomorrow the village choir (motto: nobody is too bad or too deaf to join) will be performing at incredibly short notice at the church fete, in front of an invited guest and TV personality who, I hope, will be too polite to unleash her famous catchphrase on us. Normally we are drilled to within an inch of our lives for these affairs, singing songs we’ve done a million times before, but this time we only had two rehearsals and put it this way: even the choirmistress is praying for rain. Unfortunately, although it’s been raining solidly for two days now, with more to come, Saturday afternoon remains a stubbornly bright spot in an otherwise dire forecast. Who knew the weather gods were actively sadistic?
Our only hope, given that we will be performing outside, is that the breeze, combined with the average age of the average fete attendee, will render most of what we sing inaudible.
The things we do for village life …
June 1, 2011
I had a strange sensation as I pitched up at choir this evening. Things have been busy lately and I’ve been using my bike a lot to get around – into Bigtown for a meeting on Sunday, down to the papershop on Monday, papershop AND Bigtown for another meeting (it’s worse than having a proper job, I tell you) yesterday, Bigtown and back again today and then Nearest Village for choir this evening. And as I collapsed into my seat and awaited the arrival of the mid-choir practice tea and cakes, I realised that I would be going absolutely nowhere on my bike tomorrow … and I was looking forward to it. Sometimes, you can just cycle yourself out.
Normal service will be resumed on Friday.
May 13, 2011
Our choir sessions have been somewhat irregular of late because we’ve been rehearsing for an unexpected appearance at Intervening Village’s Summer Soiree and it’s been hard to arrange times when everyone can make it and the hall is free. So as we were finishing up last night we had the following exchange
Choirmistress: Right, well that’s it, see you next week – oh no, we have to arrange when we’ll meet again
Choir: *spontaneously and simultaneously bursts into full-throated rendition of We’ll Meet Again*
March 14, 2010
… and by ‘those days’, of course, I mean ‘Friday’, when the choir had its debut at the Nearest Village music evening. The other half was dragged along (it was a three line whip) to watch me and the rest of the choir not quite make fools of ourselves – which counts as an artistic triumph, as far as I’m concerned. In fact, it looked like half the parish had been dragged along to watch the other half perform, with anyone left over lured in by the prospect of the interval tea, and the chance to eat their body weight in tray bakes. (There’s a sociological treatise to be written on the role of the tray bake in rural Scottish life. Do you think I could get funding?)
Actually, I’m going to drop the cynicism for a minute here, and admit I had a fantastic time. Partly helped along by the bottle of champagne we’d smuggled in for the interval, after the tricky bit was over (but before the Scottish Medley, which could only be improved by a little booze). The performers ranged in age from six to well into their seventies and while it wasn’t that polished nobody was terrible, not even us, and everyone got cheered to the rafters. Even the announcement that the accordion player would be playing some pieces of his own composition couldn’t kill the mood. I certainly left on a bit of a high, although that could have been the sugar talking.
Most of the time when I pass through the village the only thing that prevents it looking like a ghost town is that it’s not big enough. But for once, the place was hopping, just because some people had decided to put on a show. There was no particular occasion, either – except that we could, and it’s spring, and besides the hall needs using. ‘Shall we do this again next year?’ asked the compere at the end, and the shout of ‘yes!’ was loud enough to raise the roof.
Nothing on God’s earth would have dragged me to an amateur – or even a professional – music evening when we lived in London, let alone perform in one. Maybe rural life is beginning to soften me a little, or maybe I just don’t get out much. Or perhaps it’s simply that musical evenings in London don’t generally come with tray bakes…