Hey sweeties, how are you all?
Apologies for how long it’s been since I last posted. In my defence, 2016 has been the busiest year of my life, one way or another. I took a couple of weeks off in August to recharge my batteries but hectic life started up again in September.
Some highlights: as a volunteer, I now run a monthly creative writing workshop at a mental health charity here in Stockport. I have also delivered other workshops elsewhere, including at the school where I’m a governor. I’ve given a number of poetry readings. I finished the holiday club script and dived straight back into editing my second poetry collection. I have been up and down the country by train for various reasons, most of which – but not all – involved watching Alex perform in one thing or another. We’ve had both boys home, together and separately. And I joined a community choir (because I obviously don’t have enough to do).
I love to sing. I have a pleasant voice; not great. Naturally, if I’d had training, I’d be a massive superstar a la Kylie Minogue (same height) or Susan Boyle (same great looks), but instead, thanks to my parents’ complete lack of foresight, I’ve had to settle for a wobbly command of mid-range notes, sung in the my-dog’s-embarrassing-howl style. Nevertheless, I love being part of a choir.
I especially loved it last Saturday, when the choir held its fifth anniversary concert, singing a collection of music down the centuries, from Mozart and madrigals to the Beatles, Coldplay and Adele (what is wrong with that woman? Someone Like You…total stalker anthem).
Here’s my problem: I’m easily distracted. If I sit in the middle of the Altos, I can sing the alto line-tune-harmony-whatever. Place me anywhere near the Baritones or Sopranos, however, and I’m all over the place, and not in a good seeing-the-world-and-all-its-wonders way. I’m the musical equivalent of a wrecking ball, bashing the closest notes in a frenzy of must-get-through-this-no-matter-what and taking down anyone within range before they’re even aware that the trill under the bridge has escaped to eat anyone unfortunate enough to cross its path.
This is not a case of false modesty: I cannot hold a tune if my neighbour wavers even a little from my particular party line. It is for this reason I opted to sit near the back of the Altos on Saturday night, at the end of the row closest to the wall. I was safe there; and everyone was safe from me…until three surplus Sopranos were moved to the only empty seats on the stage, next-but-one to me. Ah well; I smiled a lot, sang the unison parts and mouthed the words when the tune overpowered me. The audience seemed to enjoy themselves all night so I don’t think they noticed; though the Mayor of Manchester did leave early…he said it was for another engagement, but he would say that, wouldn’t he?
The most exciting thing for me was that I got to perform with Alex! Granted, he was a featured soloist and I hid behind my scores the whole night, but still, I performed with my baby! He sang the lyrics to Billy Joel’s For The Longest Time and the choir sang all the backing ‘woh-woh’ bits. Thirty-six members of the choir sang the ‘woh-woh’ bits, that is; and one member kept getting distracted and forgetting where she was up to.
The harmony lyrics are basically, Woh-oh-oh-oh…For the longest time. How hard can it be?
Pretty hard, actually, if you’re trying to listen to the child who once sat in your stomach like lead pillow stuffing sing like the angel who gave you stretch marks on top of your other angel’s stretch marks, and thirty-six other people won’t shut up so you can hear him.
Now for the promised entertainment: I’m not going to give you For The Longest Time because there’s some woman in the back out of time and out of tune; instead, I give you a little bit of Gershwin. You may recall Alex’s frequent collaborator, Sam Gilliatt, who played Jesus to his Judas in Godspell; and Greville to his Bert in two separate productions of The Tree of War. Here they are showing off their natural onstage chemistry. You can thank me in the comments. Incidentally, this performance came after one ten-minute rehearsal, thirty minutes before the show. Both boys had been busy with other things and that was their first opportunity to rehearse together.
My favourite comment of the night came from the sweet geriatric lady who told Alex, ‘I’m one of your groupies.’