Last week, I was asked if I wanted to join a choir! A friend of mine has recently joined, and is really enjoying himself. He's done two or three performances already (he calls them gigs - *rock and roll*), and they are looking for new recruits.
Dear reader, I have what may be called a chequered singing career. I started in the school choir when I was fourteen, and stayed until I left school at seventeen. We sang a lot of church music (I attended a large Catholic comprehensive), although once a year at Christmas, we would put on a Gilbert and Sullivan production for family and friends, and whoever else wanted something to do on a winter's evening. Before anybody gets any ideas, we used to perform in school uniform.
I have never, ever dressed like this. Ever.
I remember singing a piece from 'Carmina Burana' at the school prize giving one year. For some reason, the girls were stood one side of the stage, and the boys on the other. The longer the piece went on, the more out of time we became with each other! I can still see the look of panic on our conductor's face, but thanks to a miracle we all finished at the same time; as far as I know, nobody noticed!
The Gilbert and Sullivan productions were a lot of fun. Dressing up and playing the fool; what's not to like? When we put on 'The Pirates of Penzance' I got to be a pirate........
I looked just like this. Well, almost. Jack Sparrow, eat your heart out......
I'm sure you're all familiar with the story. After many twists and turns, everybody pairs off, and all live happily ever after. As a pirate, I 'married' one of Major General Stanley's daughters, in this case a girl called Frances. Now luckily, Frances and I got along fairly well, (I always think that if you're going to spend your evenings manhandling someone, it's just as well if you don't hate each other)! The plot requires the pirates to surprise the maidens in a forest clearing, and to seize them, intending marriage (they didn't mess about in those days). Now it wouldn't have done to wrestle the girls to the ground, (I've a feeling the boys would have come off second best anyway), so we just put our hands on their waist, they would scream and wriggle a bit to make it look good. Job done.
All went well until the opening night. Either Frances struggled more than usual, or I didn't have a tight enough grip. Consequently, she broke free, and after taking a couple of steps backward to balance herself, ended up standing (on her own) slap bang in the middle of the stage! Dear reader, should you ever feel the need to experience extreme embarrassment, making a fool of yourself, on stage, in front of a couple of hundred people, should do the trick nicely. I can well remember the feeling as my heart sank into my boots, and my mouth turned dry in a nanosecond. Not to mention the look of horror on poor Frances' face! Luckily for us both, she had the presence of mind to leave a trailing arm, I grabbed it and reeled her in with as much piratical swagger as I could manage!
Afterwards, when the director asked us what happened, he listened to our breathless explanations, and said that it looked quite good from where he was, and we could keep it in. So we pretended to the rest of the cast that it was all deliberate. Not sure anybody was fooled though........
About this time, I went for an audition for the local amateur operatic group, run by a Doctor of Music. I was absolutely terrified, and was unable to sing a note. I was told to go back when I left school if I was still interested, (get lost, in other words). However, a couple of years later, the Doctor of Music disappeared overnight, leaving a trail of debts. It was soon discovered that his qualifications were all in his imagination. And to think I thought I was the fraud, when I was standing in front of him!