One of the things that defines me today is that I love to sing. That hasn’t always been the case. Even though I can clearly recall singing with my mother as she lovingly introduced me to the Christmas music of her Danish childhood. A memory I fondly cherish.
Back in my schooldays I was – for a while – a loyal member of the choir. I can remember singing soprano (or possibly alto!) in a choral version of Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances – and later, when my voice had dropped, singing tenor in the Main School choir.
But I didn’t stick with it. John Holland (then my best mate) and I were increasingly unhappy with our then choirmaster. And finally – when we both thought he’d taken discipline a step too far – we walked out of the rehearsal room. Never to return.
For a while that was it. I had a passable singing voice, I enjoyed singing, I’d sing carols at Christmas (and hymns in church), but that was all.
And then, of course, I got mixed up with re-enactment. And met Rosemary. And returned to the Catholic church (after drifting back towards it for some time…)
And we both volunteered for the church choir at Our Lady’s in Stowmarket. The rest is (almost) history.
Singing regularly, every Sunday, with practices every Wednesday evening, gave new strength to both our voices. As the years passed my skills improved – most especially my sight-reading – and, eventually, I felt enough confidence to join Motet, a group of friends who, like me, enjoyed singing a capella early music.
And my voice was in demand. People knew I could effectively hold a bass (or at least a baritone) line on my own, accurately, and with strength and volume where those were called for. For a number of years both of us found ourselves singing at Christmas as often as three times on the same day (once for Mass, once for the village carol concert, and once for the town Carol Concert in Stowmarket).
This year… not so much.
My poonami in the van was followed by another a couple of days later, at home this time. Equally messy, but at least I didn’t foul the bed. The diarrhoea wasn’t going away, though, and it was clear to me that in combination with my usual post-chemo crash on the Saturday I wasn’t in any shape for a performance of Roger Jones’s Three Wise Camels at the East Anglia Children’s Hospice that evening. (Pity. I’d wanted to be there.) Rosemary went on her own, instead. Nor did I feel anything like 100% the next day – but duty called. I was up to read the lessons at Mass that day, and there were a few tricky bits of music I knew I could help with. And did. Only to have a third poonami shortly after Mass…
This time I was prepared, and sorted it quickly and efficiently – but you’ll understand why I was facing the prospect of our village carol service with a degree of concern. In the end it was OK (just), but I knew that the proposed third concert that day – the Stowmarket Town Carol Service – would be a no-no. I was too tired and stressed out. So I didn’t go.
I’m a little sad about that, but there’s no point pretending that the chemo – and the cancer – haven’t affected me. I’m just hoping that the brain-fog, the poonamis and the lassitude pay off in damage to Boris and his crew. If you’re going into battle you can expect to get hurt. The trick is to hurt the enemy more…