Friday, 23 November 2012
The Sound of Music
Monday is given over to playing squash in the morning and recovering in the afternoon. Tuesday's highlight was choir practise. A number of us meet up at the local Sally Army to rehearse the carols we'll be singing on the 20th December.
We're having a street carol event. It grew out of our highly successful Street Party which was held in August. Six months of planning and panic miraculously delivered a Street Party which people in general thought had been "brilliant". Not wanting to lose the impetus gained it was decided that we needed a programme of events centred on our street. A carol service seemed ideal.
Initially, we had rather overblown plans. A children's choir, a tableau, a snow machine, reindeers and some local celebrity. However, we do have a brass band, a folk singer as well as "The Milton Road Singers" a motley crew who believed they could sing - until the first rehearsal - when all illusions were shattered.
We'll be closing off part of our road and with Christmas trees and people's gardens bedecked with lights, this should add atmosphere to the array of home made treats and beverages we hope the neighbourhood will prepare. Initially we'll be singing at a nearby sheltered housing complex, then process up one of the adjoining streets and to the main event. Brass band and the choir joined, we hope, by friends, neighbours and strangers passing through on the way home from work.
People tend to be a bit stand offish initially and you begin to think that nothing's going to happen and no one will turn up. Discussions in the local pub, organising the event were poorly attended and I was worried that the first choir practise at 8 pm on a dark November night might fall flat on its face.
Not a bit of it. We have a professional singer who is training us up and the 10 people who turned up have expressed surprise at how much they enjoyed learning or re-learning carols. It's all part of the neighbours keeping in touch. As news gets around, more people will be joining us. Four more rehearsals and we'll be able to hit those high notes without squeezing sensitive parts of ones anatomy to get there.
Wednesday, I have no idea what I did; except I had a rather difficult call from a Turk who insisted on calling me "Hi, my dear friend". Whilst his English was not bad it's the lack of understanding the niceties of greetings and introductions that jars. It takes at least 6 years for anyone to call an English man or woman "My dear" without setting the nerves a jangling.
It's like those calls from India or where-ever. "Am I speaking to Mr Barry?" I hate that. I also hate it when someone on the end of the phone, who you've never met addresses you by your first name. I have a surname, it's there for a purpose. I have a first name which I share with people I like and trust; it not for every Tom, Dick or Harry to use. Anyway this week has been relatively cold call free - heavens be praised.
Now Thursday, I do know what I did. First I went to a Start Up Business exhibition at Olympia. I go because I get free tickets since I first attended one 4 years ago. They are the pits. It's all accounting, tax, web based services, franchises and leeching. No one makes anything anymore. The Design Centre had a stand. I spent a delightful half an hour bemoaning the state of the UK's skill base with a dead ringer for "The Hitchhiker's" Marvin.
And then to the theatre. Saw "The Magistrate" at the National Theatre. I've heard of Pinero and the play but had never seen anything by this late Victorian playwright. It was a total joy! English farce, based on a single improbable premise, at its finest. I haven't had so much fun since I don't know when. John Lithgow was a gem, his portrayal of bruised (literally) middle class sensibility was a joy to behold.
I didn't want it to end. I and, I expect, a full house of at least 3,000 left beaming, anticipating replaying the choice scenes on their way home. Next stop "Privates on Parade" with Simon Russell Beale in the New Year.
And, ofcourse, our #carolsinthestreet20Dec.