Does anyone else sing?
I've long been convinced that singing gets to a happy bit of my brain and does it a power of good.
We had been invited to sing alongside the very distinguished Loveny Male Voice Choir who do exciting things like tour Italy, whilst we've only been as far as Liskeard.
Anyway it was off on a coach jolly down into deepest Cornwall and I can confirm that there was nowhere south of the Arctic colder than that parish church in a little Cornish village last Saturday evening.
It all felt decidedly Hardy-esque and I had been warned about the chill factor, but surely it was all an exaggeration?
And what if my dodgy thermostat suddenly declared itself unexpectedly turned onto full?
Concert rig has to be smart and black with a coloured scarf draped very particularly around the neck, nothing could be simpler but you can have no idea how many hours I spent compiling layers that I could slip off discreetly in case my core temperature went inadvertently volcanic?
I had hoped sufficient to stay warm whilst avoiding the Michelin look, but knew I'd seriously underestimated as the die-hards gathered for the coach. It was like the Russian army setting off for the Gulags, all those usually svelte, colourful people waddling towards me like an encroaching sea of black and then having to be craned up the steps of the coach and lowered into their seats. It was threatening snow too and they were muttering ominous things like
'This is the warmest we'll be'.The trousers with leggings beneath also now doing me no favours, enough static-electricity to power the National Grid for an hour or so.
Anyway, enough moaning, yes we froze, even the well-wrapped ones, and when the vicar walked to the front of the church to introduce everyone I think any one of us would have said 'Yes please' and ripped that cloak right off him in very unladylike fashion if he'd offered it, which he sensibly didn't.
But somehow voices soared to the rafters, and perhaps it is the combined effect of church acoustics and that performance moment working the magic as we trotted on through Adiemus by Karl Jenkins (we
were spot on with our ayacooahehs and counted the right number of yakama yamayakaya mema repeats...five) , then a couple of Spirituals followed by Howard Goodall's The Lord is My Shepherd, followed by Bobby Shafto, I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair, The Long and Winding Road and Amarillo (with audience participation) and The Skye Boat Song as our encore, which thankfully was requested.
There is something stirring about a male voice choir and when Loveny launched into An American Trilogy we knew it was to be something special as the sonorous harmonies of Glory, Glory Hallelujah bounced around the church. By the time they reached their finale, a medley from Oklahoma followed by Speed your Journey from Verdi's Nabucco as an encore, we'd all completely forgotten our hypothermia and rising frostbite and over £1000 had been raised for the Shelterbox Haiti appeal.
Tradition dictates supper for the singers so we all trekked through an icy dusting of snow up to the village institute afterwards, where a table stretching the length of the hall was groaning under the weight of the food. Between us we hoovered it up in harmony and kept the Cornish samovar (a tea urn) tunefully singing away in the background.
Then it was onto the coaches and a very slippery crawl the two miles back up out of the village and onto the main road and home and miraculously only three people got left behind, missed the coaches and for all I know might still be there.
I had worked out in my mind all the things that could possibly go wrong but hopefully in amongst the ranks my mistakes wouldn't show and in the end I only sang half a non-first soprano word when it was the second sopranos turn... saw the word 'Bonny', thought yep that's us and despite an obvious word to the contrary on my score out it came...
I managed damage limitation at 'Bon', and Bookhound and the Tinker sitting in the audience very kindly said they hadn't noticed.