Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The little pile of sand

I find myself a great deal calmer this evening. I’ve just had a rehearsal with the musical theatre choir in our loft, complete with Jaffa Cakes and those camp, bright pink wafer biscuits. We ran all six movements. There’s still a bit of private homework to be done, but I think, considering that we have four hours in the studio, we’re in a very good place. I've also fixed five adult singers to replace the choir of children I wanted to perform in the piece, but couldn't find. It's a bit of a shame, because we now have a choir in the work who don't have a USP. I don't even know what to call them. I've gone for really pure sounding voices, so maybe they should all stand there in white frocks like those dreadful blonde string players who appear in the background, as if by magic whenever Ronan Keating sings on the telly. Or maybe they should look like that unfortunately named girl, Eimear Quim, who won the Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland in 1996. The very fact that I'm dressing them in my mind must mean that I'm feeling a lot more upbeat this evening!

Eimear Quim... No you're not!

I’m still not entirely out of the woods. I’m missing a gospel tenor, and today I found out that the school, St Clement's, who provided the lovely children for our previous performance of Oranges and Lemons had decided not to do it this time. Their music teacher, who wasn’t around last summer, said she hadn’t heard from me in the three weeks since she’d confirmed that the kids would do it, so assumed it was no longer happening. What? Did she want daily updates? The head teacher waded in, "Whilst I  know we had the date and confirmation that things were happening,  school organisation has to be such that we know everything well in advance, children don't learn things as speedily as adults." How long does it take a child to learn four lines of Oranges and Lemons!? Perhaps she's forgotten that it took the kids exactly one hour to learn when I last taught it to them. Don't patronise your kids, Mrs, and don't try to pull the wool over my eyes!

I really must learn to avoid taking on community projects in London. There's very little sense of community in this town and everyone is utterly spoilt for choice when it comes to finding ways to occupy their free-time. There’s always something bigger, better and more exciting going on. The teachers in the schools don't marry themselves to the kids like they did back home in the Midlands. Most are too young or too busy living exciting lives in the metropolis to bother with the types of extra-curricular activities that gave me my creative mind. But who can blame them? The kids can get their culture fix out of school time... And as many free tickets to watch the Olympics as they like!
Today has been miserable; grimy, cold and rainy. My new hat smells like an old dog. We had a greasy spoon on the Archway Road because sometimes when the weather’s awful, there's little else to do. We drove down the A1 towards Kentish Town and passed under Suicide Bridge, which is an enormous iron structure over the road just short of Archway. The bridge gained its macabre nick-name as a result of the sheer number of people who've thrown themselves off the road above into a tarmac oblivion below. The police had cordoned off one of the carriageways as we passed. There was a little crimson-stained pile of sand on the road. A temporary memorial to yet another jumper. One wonders how bad a life must get for someone to feel they have no other option in life. Suicide is such a cowardly thing to do. Someone always has to find you, and there will always be people who'll miss you, and feel crippling guilt after you've gone. Part of me still hasn’t forgiven Kevin a year after his death. I wished I'd had the chance to shake him and scream; "look around you, Kev... Look at all the people in the world who are desperately clinging onto their precious lives! Live for someone else if you can't live for yourself."

Friday 19th October 1660, and Pepys was proud to write that his dining room had been finished with “green serge hanging and gilt leather,” which he thought very handsome. He also wrote that the last of the King’s regicides, Francis Hacker and Daniel Axtel were hanged and quartered. Dreadful. He sat up late in the evening, making up his accounts, and discovered that Sandwich still owed him 80l, which obviously made him feel very happy. There was nothing that Pepys loved more than counting his money!
We also have a bass singer for the gospel choir. He's a rock singer, but at least he's got a distinctive voice. The Navy has pulled through as well, and we've found a slot in the studio that they can all do. Hurrah!


  1. Good to know that things are looking up :-)

  2. In my years of experience working with both adults and children I always believed children learnt things much quicker than adults. They have no pre-conceived ideas, consequently less questioning to the director. The problem isn't just in London either. Last year all the schools in Wellingborough were invited to form a mass choir for a town carol service in the shopping centre and my school was the only one to bother turning up. My head and I felt quite ashamed with the apathetic response
    What is reassuring though is the fact that there are a few dedicated people who love to get involved so keep trying they are there somewhere.