Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Diary of how I came to join the choir
January 2007 - It’s not every day you retire. After 39 years I’m just waking up to the fact that my daily bike commute to Leeds
Road is over. What now? I’ve worked in IT since the age of 19 so maybe provide a service to anyone in difficulties with home PC’s
or who wants to know a bit more about software, particularly Microsoft Office. Broadband is a minefield for some so there’s work
there too. Have you seen how much PC World charge for these services? Must be an opportunity to undercut those guys. So let’s
March 2007 - Remember when you were in work and that smug retiree told you how busy he was? You didn’t believe it. Well it’s
true. There’s lots of things to do, often unpaid and time consuming but nontheless rewarding. Social life expands into daylight
hours. Is this the transition into ‘The Third Age’?
May 2007 - Met Graham in Holmfirth. Still banging on at me to come along to New Mill Choir. Some of the guys play bowls on a
Tuesday afternoon. Come along. Sounds a nice change to bashing bike pedals. Although I can see through his cunning plan, I have
to admit to an interest. But it’s raining.
June 2007 - Still raining.
July 2007 - More rain.
September 2007 - Met Graham in Holmfirth again. The seed he planted in May must have germinated somewhere. I provisionally
agree to go along to a choir concert at St Paul’s in October. My resistance is weakening.
October 2007 - The concert is good fun and enjoyable, but can I sing like these guys? Three pints in the Star and it’s agreed I’m a
baritone and I’m going to the next rehearsal at New Mill club.
Three days later - Hustle and bustle, smiling faces, lots of introductions and before I know it I have a thick book of music and
I’m invited to join in and sing. As 50 male voices rise to a crescendo, the hairs on the back of my neck rise. I must be part of this.
The music is hard at first but I quickly get the hang of the simpler stuff. Afterwards there’s a sociable gathering in the bar with
supper and a well-earned drink. This isn’t bad!
November 2007 - That first night sets the pattern for the following weeks. Raymond, my neighbour, puts aside his apprehension
and comes too. We sign up to go to the workshop in Scarborough.
Scarborough 2008 - Excellent way for any choir ‘newbie’ to broaden his experience. Energy levels are high and the concentrated
workshop sessions give me more confidence. Bags of opportunity to meet and chat with the people I sing with, even though I
wondered whether the invitation to go for a run at 7:00 am was a wind up. Most impressive is the Tadcaster concert. The choir
produce an emotional performance despite a full weekend of singing and, for some, long and deep drinking. I can only assume the
Spirit of Elvis is upon them – those at the ‘show’ on Saturday evening will know what I mean.
Spring Concert, St Paul’s - First sing in public. I’m pretty nervous. Take the words of some songs to Town v Tranmere. A quick
run through at half time and again in Sainsbury’s café after the match. I sang in the massed choir event at the Town Hall but that
was relatively anonymous and we had the words. This time it’s from memory and I know it can suddenly go blank. Even though
I’ve appeared in amateur shows and performed simulated sex on stage at the LBT (yes, really!) the nerves drag at the stomach. We
begin with ‘The Heavens Proclaim’, a chance to open my lungs, have a good rant and settle down. I make a contribution to many
of the other pieces. In certain songs, I really should keep my mouth closed, but instead try to follow Elizabeth’s guidance and at
least do something. Note to self – make more effort to get these things learnt! The concert finishes and, with trepidation, I seek the
verdict of my partner and ex-choir accompanist, Sue. She judges it a success.
So it’s back to the Star to round off the evening with a beer or more. Which is where this started really.