24th – 26th September – Jaene’s Stanley Blog

AKA If you can’t beat ’em join ’em!

My first night at Pamela’s choir was as good as I thought it would be.It’s now my third year with this choir, and it’s the perfect way to finish the working week, and begin the weekend. I had a new folder and pencil, and was so excited all day on Friday. I went to the cafe I like beforehand, for a cheese scone and a cappuccino, as a little treat but was left a little disappointed as they didn’t warm the cheese scone up in the sandwich grill, like they normally do. It was nowhere near as nice as usual. There are heaps of cafes in Durham, but I am actually a creature of habit and don’t really like trying new places. When I find something I like I usually stick to it, but I think I may need to branch out after Sconegate.

Anyhow, Pamela was as posh as ever, and we had a wee conversation as I handed over my £102. Posh people do that. Deflect from the coarse act of transactions, by making smalltalk, in plummy accents.

We only looked at one song. She always begins the term with one she thinks will be accessible to all, as attendance is sometimes sporadic after the summer break, while people are still off jetting about and holidaying. I, of course, didn’t manage a day at the seaside this summer, and have been counting down the days until the return of the choir. So, we are learning a familiar sounding tune called ‘Blame it on the Bossa Nova’. No-one seemed to appreciate my Michael Jackson reference to sunshine and moonlight, but I found it amusing. There are 4 second sopranos this year. Because she classifies us as her ‘elite’ class she whizzes us through, and believes most of us can read music (most can/I can’t) so it is always a challenge. As I type this, I see that the recordings she makes (to help us learn our parts) are sitting in my inbox. The thrill I feel when I see a Pamela recording in my inbox really cannot be underestimated. I shall settle down to it later. Up until now I have no idea what other songs we will be learning this year. She teasingly mentioned ‘West Side Story’ towards the end of last ter which is one of my favourite things in the world. I am just curious to know whether we shall be Feeling Priiiitttyy or Officer Krumpkying our Friday nights away. One would be sublime the other ridiculous.

The event to showcase the CD I recorded backing vocals for, one very hot day during the summer, was on Sunday afternoon. I had been asked to go along, and perform with other musicians, who had also recorded for the album. Jack Burness said I could ‘sing a song’, too. As the CD was about Stanley, I thought it best to try and keep with the theme, so chose to sing the Tommy Armstrong song ‘Trimdon Grange Explosion’. I had a couple of other ideas up my sleeve, and decided to wait and gauge the atmosphere/audience on the afternoon.

It was held in the lovely White Room Gallery on Station Road, which is such a good space. I nearly bolted before anyone ever played a tune, as there was half an hour of generally sitting, and chatting, and eating, whilst waiting for the music to begin. Since my partner and companion is away teaching in China, I had attended on my own. I generally have no issue with going places by myself, but I always have an issue with chitchatting and small talk. Someone asks me how I am. and I actually tell them.( Poor souls – like they needed to know I find life at best tolerable in the main and at worst a constant torment…)

After Allen (who is the superb singer I backed with vocals) had been over and spoken to me, I felt more relaxed and less liable to exit left. We found it amusing that we had never met during the recording of the songs. It made me recall those performances on TOTP, where a duo were shown singing, but not from the same studio? I can’t think of an example, but I am sure there was something tres moderne about it all in the eighties.

The afternoon was wonderful once the music began. A lovely set of performers. I missed Kevin lots at that point, as we would have shared the joy of particular songs and moments. A man and woman played harps they had built themselves, from kits, and it was quite the loveliest thing ever. I must find out what the name of the lullaby they sang was as it was so beautiful. It was some Geordie expression which translated as ‘settle or snuggle down’? There were many, many lovely moments and I enjoyed singing with Allen, and Jack, and also singing a Tommy Armstrong song by myself. I have known the song for a very long time, and know the words by heart and I felt I gave it a good shot. I was especially pleased when some of the audience spoke to me afterwards, and said that they had enjoyed the song, as I know they were all experienced folky folk so their compliments meant a lot.

Aside from my singing over the weekend I shopped, and lunched, and cried a little, over my best buddy being on the other side of the world, and talked to my kids in Leeds, York and Stanley. There were no cyclones, or seaswimming, but many moments of excitement and adventure nonetheless.

Thank you for reading x