Friday, March 23, 2007

Mostly SingSoc stuff

This will be a long one – bear with me, I’ll use sub-headings. How organised of me. ;)

So SingSoc had a formal meal last Saturday. Three course meal, champagne, fire-jugglers, disco/karaoke and a masquerade ball theme. Pete (choir director and my singing teacher) did the food, and I offered to help. On the Thursday we went to Tesco for the ingredients, Friday I got my hair done in the morning and spent all afternoon and most of the night preparing 40 portions of sweet potato and red pepper soup and 20 potions of baked cheesecake. I had a slight panic when I burned one of the cheesecakes and had to go out for more ingredients, but it turned out okay, as the next ones were far better anyway.

Saturday I was in the kitchen all afternoon. I made the other soup (creamed spinach) and helped with the lasagnes for the main course (a meat one, a salmon and prawn one and a veggie one) by cooking the fish, and keeping an eye on the meat sauce - tasting and improving it, and making what seemed like gallons of white sauce, and grating huge blocks of cheese and shelling 24 boiled eggs. I also made chocolate cream for the pavolva. All in all, cooking for 50 is hard work, but it was very much appreciated by everyone and everything tasted really good. I was very proud of us and enjoyed it so much even if I was knackered afterwards.

I dashed off to get dressed just before we served up. I've never got dressed up in 10 minutes before, it was an experience! Luckily my hairdresser had made a fantastic job of my hair the day before and it still looked really good so I didn't have to do anything with it. I've had it coloured (it's a warm brown with fine red streaks in the top) and she straightened it and now I have to buy myself some ghd straighteners because they actually made my naturally wavy, frizzy and uncontrollable hair look shiny and healthy as well as poker-straight. Expensive straighteners FTW!

The dress was a different story. I'll do bullet points.

* Wednesday. I meet Pippa at Meadowhall.
* We go to Debenhams.
* I find a dress I like. Blue, simple but classy, floor length, little detachable halter neck strap.
* I try dress in an 18. Too big.
* We look for a 16. There isn't one.
* I ask at the till. They check with the Sheffield store to see if they've got one. They have. They reserve it for me.
* We got to Faith, where I buy shoes. Cream, high heel, round toe. I predict that they will kill me, but Pippa persuades me.
* We buy strapless bras. Pippa buys makeup and a brush.
* We head back to Sheffield.
* After some searching, we find the Debenhams.
* I pick up the dress.
* I try the dress on. Too small.
* I panic.
* I look for another dress, but can't find one I like in my size.
* I panic some more.
* I realise that I could buy the bigger dress and get it taken in, especially as it's only the bust that's a problem.
* I call the dressmaker round the corner from my house. She says she can alter the dress in time for the formal on Saturday.
* I steal Pippa's all-day tram ticket and go back to Meadowhall. She goes home to finish making masks for the decorations.
* I buy the dress in an 18.
* I head home on the train.
* I call in the dressmaker's on my way home. She askes me to try on the dress.
* I try on the dress. The dress fits.

I guess what happened was that the dress I tried originally was actually a 20, but had been sized as an 18. The third dress (the one I finally bought) was sized correctly. Debenhams will be receiving a complaining letter from me, as they caused me unnecessary hassle. Gits. But I got the dress in the end, and it looked fine. Would look better if I lost a few pounds, but still... it suited me, and I was happy with it.

And the formal was great fun. :)

And last night Pete asked me to be in charge of the food for next year, and I accepted. I'm actually very excited about it.

Last night was the SingSoc AGM, where new commitee members were elected. I nominated myself for Membership Secretary because I'd love to be on the commitee. Unfortunately I was running against Sarah, who is a friend of mine from the Small Groups choirs on Monday nights, and she's lovely. I'm going to refer to her as SopranoSarah from now on, because I'll be talking about another Sarah soon. We both felt pretty bad at having to run against someone we like, but as I pointed out it's better to lose against someone you like than someone you don't even know. SopSarah won the vote, but apparently it was very close. I didn't mind losing to her, I think she felt worse than me, so I allowed her to buy me a drink in the pub after rehearsal to relieve some of her guilt. How kind of me. I'm still going to help out with commitee stuff, even though I'm not on the commitee.

Other Sarah, and social stuff
I noticed AltoSarah last year, sitting at the front of the alto section. Actually I noticed her guide dog, and wondered how on earth you can manage to sing in choir when you can't see what the conductor's doing, or read the music, especially when the conductor says something like "Right, let's start from bar 11, top of page 4". Being me, I was too nervous to say hi because I didn't know her, until we both went to a SingSoc picnic in October. I took Summer, so that broke the ice a bit - we got chatting and she's really nice. We took the dogs for a walk afterwards and got on well, so I've made the effort to go and talk to her when I see her, because she can't see me and can't really approach people.

I'm full of respect for her, especially with the way she copes with the problems of singing. I have enough trouble, and I can read the music and see the directions and the beat that Pete's giving us.

I do find it difficult though, mostly because I don't know how much help to offer her. I don't want to ignore her needs, because obviously she does need consideration, but I also don't want to offend her by trying to do too much, and babying her. I'm approaching it by just being honest, and telling her to let me know what she needs me to do, and to complain if I'm being really stupid or something.

She's said a few times that she often feels very left out, especially in the pub after rehearsals, because no-one talks to her. And of course she can't approach them as she can't see who people are, and can't see obstacles, etc. And she can't go ot the bar to get her own drink because of her dog, and she can't find her way back to the table. Recently she's stopped going at all, and just goes straight home, which is a shame. And she's thinking of leaving SingSoc, which is an even bigger shame.

I think that, ironically enough, people just don't see her. They talk to their friends and that's it. It's not just her, it's everyone who isn't part of what I call "the hardcore group", i.e. people who've been in SingSoc for ages, know comittee members, or are part of Small Groups (because there are fewer people, it's easier to get to know everyone) - the ones who go to the pub and socials and join in with stuff that isn't related to the main concerts, like carol singing and the recent 24 hour sing. And there are little cliques even outside the hardcore group. And I don't think the committe realise what's going on.

It's going to be my mission to sort it out. I'm going to talk to SopSarah and Pippa (who is the new Social Secretary) about how we can integrate people more. I was thinking about some sort of cheesey team-building type events, like ice-breaker stuff. Maybe starting with putting people into groups of maybe 5, then asking them to find out 5 interesting facts about each person. Then the groups present all the facts to everyone, maybe from memory. And hopefully we'll all then find out eveyone's name and remember at least one thing about them. Anyone else have any good getting-to-know-you type activities I can steal?

The new kitchen is now under way. We decided to incorporate the unility room into the kitchen design, and we'll have units and worktops in there. There's a door in their that's now been bricked up, and a new window put in overlooking the orchard. Yesterday the installation of a new hotwater/heating boiler in the utility was finished. Once everything's in place, the fridge and the washing machine will be in there, and we'll have a dishwasher in the main kitchen under the sink (where the washing machine is now). There will be a new oven and hob, new dishwasher, new microwave, and all the cupboards will be new. Once it's fitted (hopefully by the end of next week) we'll choose a new floor and wall tiles and redecorate. Loads of work to do. but it's going to look fantastic.

I'm feeling okay. I'm dealing with the uni situation by not thinking about it until everything's sorted with the kitchen. then I'm going to talk to a different doctor, and tell my tutor I'll be repeating Level 2 next year (but possibly I might do a couple of the modules in the summer to lighten my workload a little in the autumn semester).

Actually being busy seems to suit me, because I'm sleeping better and I generally feel better if I haven't got as much time to worry about stuff. And I'm trying to think more positively - I'm happy with myself right now and I think I'm dealing well with my self-esteem issues, so next I'm going to work on my other negative thinking about stuff outside me. Like thinking that things are going to go horribly wrong no matter how hard I work, things like that. I'm not feeling negative like that at the moment, but it will probably come back at some point and it's better to work on it before it starts to make me feel shitty.

I'm probably not going to be around that much until my house stops being a building site. So don't worry if I don't post, or don't come into chat. I'm contactable by text though - if you haven't already got my number then mail me and I'll consider passing it on... ;) - replace the AT with @.


  1. Thanks for the update!

    I think it's wonderful that you're thinking of AltoSarah and her possible needs.

    What a good friend you are!

  2. Hiya Anna....just to say hi.

    I thought of you - I have just arranged to go to Barnes with my friend Pat - she is the one with the feeders in her garden who is a photographer who know takes better photos than me of Birds!!

    She used to know Barnes when it was a sewage plant! She has only ever visited there for a conference - so I thought it was high time I took her!!
    I will see if she will let me post some of her photos!!

    Sean Dennis - an ozzie who came to Costa Rica has kindly allowed me to publish his photos on my blog and on Bigg Bird Forum.

    Enough of this wittering!!
    See you soon I hope!!