Sunday, 3 December 2006

Bloody amateurs

Great Scott, it's like Little Shop of Horrors here - the bit where the plant is getting bigger and begger and yelling FEEEEED MEEEEEE! Except that the infant doesn't articulate it - it screams very loud, and then it screams even louder. Then it knaws its tiny fists to show that it is STARVING and you are CRUEL... This is while you're running through all the other things it could be - wind? boredom? nappy change? - because it's only *half an hour* since the last feed and you really can't believe that the child can be hungry again. And all it can do is convince you by sheer volume. WAAAAAAAAH!

The midwife said this might happen, and that it might betoken a growth spurt. So now it's going to be a Giant Baby, too? Eek!

Otherwise, life is slightly lacking in anticipation, as we watched the final episodes of Buffy on Friday night. It did not disappoint - what a fabulous series, and a fitting ending. In all seven seasons, there was only one episode that we both thought was under par. Astonishing. Joss Whedon is our god. We've been telling people we're going to watch them all again from the beginning and watch Angel concurrently. They think we're joking.

A lovely poncey afternoon yesterday: we got together five singers (well, three plus A and me) to do the Britten 'Hymn to St Cecilia' as a slightly belated celebration of her day on 22 November (she's the patron saint of music, and the day was also Britten's birthday). Last year we did a workshop on it which involved quite a lot of analysis of the text, and some of it made sense for the first time. The year before, I got together a group of singers at the very last moment (eventually phoning every bass in Cambridgeshire); two of them are now dead, including the tenor who was one of my two best friends in the whole world. So now I want to try to sing the piece every year and remember previous occasions.

We worked our way through the Oxford Book of English Madrigals, too, and once again managed to find one we'd never sung before. This seems to happen however many years you've been using the book for. This time it was 'Adieu, ye city-prisoning towers' by Tomkins: the words seemed a heartfelt farewell to city life, something with which I felt a great deal of sympathy, having just finished seven years of commuting.

One of the singers was complaining about some group that had chucked him out, which seemed a bit rich as he's a member of a group that's recently chucked me out... Amateur singing is mostly fantastically rewarding - especially when you realise what a dog's life a professional singer has (I'm thinking about rank-and-file consort singers, not the tiny proportion of mega-stars) - but when there's back-biting it can't half get nasty. The most successful groups I've been in - well, maybe there's only been one, in fact - are those that stay very clear about the fact that if you were a pro you'd be doing it for the money, but if you're an amateur you're doing it for the FUN, and so if it's not fun, you've got it wrong. Almost all groups at some stage seem to get ideas above their station and either start wanting to be terribly terribly good - which would be okay, except that it invariably means aiming beyond the abilities of the group, which makes it all a horrible fag, which means it stops being fun, and kapow, you've blown it - or get completely sidetracked. Almost every choral society I've been in has had some ongoing saga whereby *somebody* wants the women to wear something 'to make us look more professional'. It's never the men - they stay in their DJs and nobody messes with them. No, it's always the lay-dees, and it may be scarves, or little jerkins, or some ghastly frock or robe or sash or... aargh. Hours and hours of committee meetings. Like vampire slaying, music-making can have only one leader. Wasn't it Shaw who said the best form of government was a benevolent dictatorship?

I seem to have got rather earnest. It's because I've been sucked dry and left an empty husk. The child is whickering again now. Wasn't there something like this in The Midwich Cuckoos?

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