Monday, 22 November 2010

Gloria Paige

I'm stranded in central London! I'm in a Cafe on Carnaby Street, a grotty part of town, which I'd normally try to avoid like the plague, but it beats trying to tackle Oxford Street, which is my idea of absolute hell in the run up to Christmas.

I'm waiting for a call from Moss Bros who are presently deciding whether to be generous enough to provide me with white tie and tails for Thursday's performance for anything less than an extortionate price! Considering that one of the main purposes of our concert is to raise money for St Olave's Church, I think it's a pretty poor do that they're even questioning it. There should almost certainly be a reduced rate for people doing charity gigs, but their only reductions seem to be for corporate bookings, which says as much as you need to know about society today. They have a reduced rate for bankers heading off to a fancy dinner, but the rest of us have to pay the full rate. Bah humbug!!

The hideous part about sitting in Starbucks is listening to the Christmas tracks playing on a never-ending loop. Fortunately, the music they've opted for is less Slade and more sub-Ella Fitzgerald, but I'm sure the staff are already wanting to pull their teeth out. At the best of times, there's nothing worse than a female vocalist emoting her way through a song, but when it's I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas, this becomes almost as unforgivable as the lady on the ads at the moment offering her most "soulful" rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, or Cher Lloyd on the X-factor this week noodling her way around the untouchable melody of Imagine.

It must be remembered at all times that "soulful" doesn't mean forgetting to sing the melody! It's also worth remembering that being black doesn't give you the monopoly on soul. Singing from the heart, singing with honesty or singing one's hurt and pain into a song is devastating if it's real, regardless of the colour of your skin. Waving your arm in the air whilst singing, as though playing an invisible Theremin, does NOT constitute soul! Affectation is not soul...

At this point in my rant, I'm reminded of the Abba prom in Hyde Park that I was lucky enough to attend last summer. Word went round that Chaka Khan was going to perform The Winner Takes It All, and as she took to the stage, the crowd went silent in excited expectation. If anyone was going to do the song proud, it was Chaka Khan!

...Sadly, she murdered it. She either forgot to sing, or thought she was better than the melody, and started riffing, wailing like a deeply inappropriate, and slightly senile banshee. The lowest point was undoubtedly the moment she decided to sing "hallelulya" instead of one of the choruses. If Bjorn was dead, he'd be turning in his grave, because he's still alive, I'm sure he was simply reaching for the telephone to speak to his lawyers! Matt Lucas, who was somewhere else in the audience, sent a text message as the ripple of disappointed applause came to a close, which simply read "Chaka Can't".

This was the concert when also I discovered to my horror/ amusement that Elaine Paige has started to resemble Gloria Hunniford, begging the question; which is which?


How can I leave this blog without encouraging its readers to listen to the original and best version of The Winner Takes It All. If this doesn't break your heart, then your heart is made of tin!!

I'm delighted to announce that Moss Bros have come through with an offer of a £60 voucher towards the hire of a suit, so we now like them very much and hope they have exceedingly high profits for this quarter!

350 years ago, Pepys and Elizabeth travelled to Whitehall. They'd been invited to watch the Queen Mother and her two daughters eating a meal, which strikes me as one of the more bizarre 17th Century customs. The Pepyses hadn't be invited to actually sit down and eat with the royals, they'd merely been invited to stand and watch them scoffing. I can't imagine anything more embarrassing for everyone concerned, but Pepys was excited enough. Elizabeth had been offered a very good position, standing behind the Queen Mother's chair, and Pepys was thrilled with the way that his wife looked as she watched the proceedings, no doubt with a great deal of dignity; "The Princess of Orange I had often seen before. The Princess Henrietta is very pretty, but much below my expectation; and her dressing of herself with her hair frized short up to her ears, did make her seem so much the less to me. But my wife standing near her with two or three black patches on, and well dressed, did seem to me much handsomer than she." I sincerely hope he told Elizabeth how nice she looked...

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