I have spent the entire week trying to find 'singing' clothes. The requirements for my new choir are a plain floor-length black dress (well not for the men obvs) with sleeves but no ornamentation, distractions, slits or other revelations. My plan is to look and sound like Renee Fleming on a personally imposed budget of ...er...£10.
I scoured everywhere from Mole & Foal Sanctuary, Cat's Protection, Labrador Rescue to British Heart Foundation, Oxfam and Hospice...charity shops-a-plenty and was beginning to despair, even upping my budget wasn't helping. To be honest I'm not over keen on buying into someone else's sleeves/ armpits etc, call me fussy I know. Anyway, the very last shop before the car, Children's Hospice (bless them) and home and there were three. One was more of a tube and did me no favours (nor does black as we know) the other a size 20 and that did me no favours either, plus so much diamante I'd have upstaged the soloist, and that wouldn't do. Then suddenly there it was, washable, black, stretchy, flaring out from a twisted pleat under the bodice into a lovely shape, 3/4 sleeves, V neck and a size 14... sniffed it (fine) pulled it on over my trousers, perfect fit, room for a thermal vest underneath... £8.50, done deal. Now I've gone and exceeded the budget with a £4 bolero jacket, but hey ho, I'm sorted and can now 'do' concerts.
I took the jacket into the dry cleaners because all I had seen were the words Professional Dry Cleaning on the label. 'That'll be £10,' said the woman...eek, budget doubled, '...but you do know you can wash this don't you,' and there on the other side the magical 40 degs.
Should have gone to SpecSavers.
Though the choir I now sing with is unaffiliated to any church we will be singing three services at Exeter Cathedral in February, choral evensongs and a Sunday morning choral Eucharist, and I can't believe how much I am enjoying singing psalms and anthems once more, plus some of those good old plod-along Anglican hymns with the antiquated words and the tune that you could never remember twice, as well as a few more well-known ones. Choral Evensong of course means a sung Magnificat and Nunc dimittis (apologies, I realise this may be double dutch for many...significant Biblical passages set to music and part of the tradional round in the Church of England) and for those we will be singing Stanford's setting in Bb. It is glorious and uplifting enough in the rehearsal room, imagine singing it in a Cathedral with full organ accompaniment, and all in my £12.50 outfit. I had wearied of week after week of psalms, Mags and Nuncs, Te Deums and Jubilates twenty years ago when I left the church choir, how good to return to them with new enthusiasm.
And over Easter a concert when we will be singing Stainer's Crucifixion and also Schubert's Mass in G ...I am loving it all.
A pleasing for those who have asked after Magnus of late, let me tell you that he has entered a winter hibernatory phase; in the bedroom window at 8am, onto his fleece blanket and sparko for the next eleven hours before rousing himself for food, a curl up in front of the fire and then back off out on the prowl. It's a cat's life...
Any pleasings for you this last little while...