I wrote a few weeks back about my intention to join a local community choir. This a group of jovial individuals I’d watched perform on Garforth Main Street during festivities for the Tour de Yorkshire. My own particular presence in the vicinity to undertake a voluntary collection for Marie Curie Cancer Support.
Watching the glee this group of 20-30 amateur warblers experienced from their uplifting pastime, manifesting aspirations for me to tap into some of that joy.
Subsequently, two weeks ago I attended the ensembles practise night at Garforth Academy; an undertaking I’d have been apprehensive to countenance six months ago. Undergoing a heart attack in January may’ve diminished (hopefully temporarily) my physical fitness. However, on the flip side it was a catalyst to removal many inhibitions which’d, previous to the life threatening event, hung like a millstone around my neck.
After all, if I’d have taken the wrong decision in the early hours of 11th January 2019 I might now be singing with the choir invisible, not the Garforth Community Choir. If that scare doesn’t motivate me to live more fearlessly then I don’t know what would.
Thus far I’ve taken part in two practise sessions with the choir. With being new to the group they’re not without challenges; such as remembering words, breathing properly through the musical refrain and learning the song arrangements. However, they’re hurdles I’m confident I can overcome sooner rather than later.
Another fly in the ointment is I need to counter my penchant for every now and then switching key mid-song. Again, though, it’s a mountain that with the right discipline and guidance I shouldn’t find insurmountable.
On Saturday, I partook in my inaugural performance with the Garforth Community Choir, at a local schools spring fete. My first occasion singing in public; unless you count my drunken rendition of ‘King of the Road’ I performed the night before my son’s christening. My version sung in an unconvincing, but surprisingly tuneful, Scottish lilt. The song selection a mark of reverence to The Proclaimers, who’d a hit with that particular refrain at the time.
This impromptu performance undertaken as my brother Ian and me ventured along Wheatfield Road towards my then Luton home. I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty sure our kid joined in making a sibling duet, akin to twins Charlie and Craig Reid who form The Proclaimers.
I won’t falsely claim the Strachan brothers performed the song with greater accomplishment than the Reid siblings. However I’d venture our version of the refrain, made famous by US singer Roger Miller, was louder than Charlie and Craig’s offering.
I’ve little recollection of what the residents of Wheatfield Road made of Ian and my raucous rendition of ‘King of the Road’ that snowy December evening in 1990. I don’t recall anyone shouting an approving “Encore!” or “More” from their front doors/windows while we caterwauled drunkenly past their homes.
Alternatively, though, at the same time I heard no dissenting cries of “Shut up, you noisy Scottish b*st*rds!….. We’re trying to sleep here!!” So you never known our Lutonian neighbours may’ve loved the lager infused version by two uncharacteristically boisterous northern Englishman.
Yours truly left the county of Bedfordshire in 1996; moving back to the north of England after developing Luton intolerance. An affliction which, although also capable of manifesting feelings of nausea, isn’t to be confused with gluten intolerance.
Actually, coming to think of it, I’ve also sung publicly at a couple of work karaoke nights. This included me crooning an a cappella verse from the Frank Sinatra refrain ‘Come Fly With Me’. My accomplished efforts bringing plaudits from my work colleagues like “You’re not as s**te at singing as I thought you’d be!” and “Do you want another pint of Fosters, Gary?”
Coincidentally, yours truly also sang Proclaimers songs on those two karaoke nights. Again in an unconvincing Scottish accent, joining the massed ranks of a bank’s IT Service Management team in murdering the song ‘500 Miles’. On reflection, it appears I’ve a behavioural tic that makes me unable to sing one of Charlie and Craig Reid’s tunes without attempting to mimic their strong Scottish brogue.
Anyhow, as alluded to above, on Saturday I took part in my inaugural performance with Garforth Community Choir. Despite not being up to speed learning these songs, my fellow choir members and musical director Liz guided me through the half hour set of refrains, including ‘True Colours’, ‘Shackles’ and ‘Lovely Day’.
After the performance, I returned home uplifted and in high spirits. Among her enquiries about how the performance went, my wife Karen asked what I enjoyed most about the experience. After pondering over the answer for a few seconds, I responded:-
“Probably the fact I didn’t have to sing a f***ing Proclaimers song!”