With the kids back at school this morning after a wonderfully busy halloweenish half term, there is a definite feel of the year rushing wildly to its conclusion. Looking back I can see that I have achieved a lot over the months. Some of these achievements have been driven by substituting New Year Resolutions with a monthly challenge to change something for the better. I still have two months left - two more challenges - hopefully two more things to be proud of.
For October, I decided to have a go at something new.
The town where I live was having a go at something new too. In an ongoing commitment to raise its profile as a regional centre for arts, sports and culture, the Drayton Arts Festival was launched. This event ran from Thursday to Sunday at the end of October with all sorts of activities and performances on offer throughout the town.
On the Saturday, I accompanied my daughter Liberty to my favourite pub (didn't need much persuading) to attend an Open Mic poetry reading session organised by the local Writers' Club, of which Liberty is a member. Tears streamed down my face as she took her moment and read her poem Mum is a Bitch, No Wonder Dad Hates Her to a rapt audience. A gentleman came up to me afterwards to let me know that I wasn't the only one who had cried at the heartfelt beautiful words.
Another event was a performance from a Pop Up Choir. I had seen an advert appealing for choir members saying: Please Join! All Welcome! No Auditions! No ability restrictions! No need to read music. This sounded like something I could do! The fact that the choir was to be lead by a family friend well known for his sense of humour and easy going nature was a bonus. I asked Liberty if she would be interested and before we knew it, we were at the first rehearsal.
It isn't strictly true that this was 'having a go at something new'. I was in a choir at school too many years ago to count. It was a shockingly awful choir. It did not seem much of an over reaction when the sixth form boys put ear plugs in their ears during our rendition of "All in an April Evening" in morning assembly. Even the teachers were grimacing... except for Miss Nunn, the music teacher, who waved her arms around enthusiastically and ineffectively to conduct the caterwauling cacophany which somehow, to her ears, sounded marvellous. We only ever did the one performance!
I love to sing. I sing all the time - in the shower, in the car, doing the housework...
I do not love to perform.
Singing in a choir seemed like a good way to do something I love in a more structured way and deal with my dislike of being in the spotlight by the safety in numbers concept. It might also lay to rest the memories of the April Evening disaster.
The first rehearsal was great fun. The 'Pop Up' nature of the choir meant that we would have only four rehearsals, once performance and then it would be over. It was not a huge commitment.
Despite it not being a huge commitment I missed the second rehearsal. Luckily for me, Liberty was able to give me all the help I needed to get up to speed. By the third rehearsal, my daughter Charis was home from boarding school. As she had two weeks holiday (and is a brilliant singer) she joined the choir with us. It was lovely to spend this time with two of my girls and we were able to practise a little at home together.
The day of the performance came. I was mostly confident about all of the songs. It was a lovely relaxed event and I think I will always remember with great fondness our version of the Hallelujah Chorus accompanied by ukeleles.
I loved being part of the choir (which has the promise of 'Popping Up' again for future events) and being supported by family members in the audience. I am a little sad that it is all over (for now). I'd better start thinking of my next challenge!