Sunday, May 06, 2007

One funeral, lots of singing and one near-death experience

So I went to Boo's funeral on Friday. It necessitated a trip to Hereford, which involved catching a train at 8.35am, changing at Birmingham and arriving in Hereford at 11.30am. Funeral at 12.

I nearly arsed the whole thing up because my bus was late so I had to run (I say run, I actually mean I ran a little way then walked, then ran again) to the railway station. I don't do running, I'm horribly unfit, but I managed it. Actually I was there 5 minutes before the train was. Bah.

I did have to wait a while at Hereford station. Pete and Nic picked me up from the station, but Pete hadn't got a map of where the station was, because he didn't know I was going until Friday morning. My fault, I'd been so busy with concert and rehearsals that I hadn't confirmed that I would be there. Anyway, we just about got to the crematorium on time.

The service was lovely, very moving. It was sad, but it made me smile to hear all the things she'd achieved. It was also nice to meet her family, and share a few stories and memories of her. I'm glad I went, it's definitely made me feel better.

The hymn was The Lord's My Shepherd, and as I was singing it I couldn't help noticing several things. Firstly, it struck me that hymns are not designed for altos. The highest note in the last line ("The qui-i-et wat-ers by") is a touch high for me when I'm having to sing quietly.

Which leads me into the second - the general public, even if they are regular church-goers, are too self-conscious to sing out. I mean everyone sang, but in a very mumbly quiet way. I was singing pretty softly to try to blend in but I could hear myself above everyone else, apart from the vicar who was loud. It's a shame really. Maybe I don't understand because I've always been confident in my voice, but I think that if you believe in God, when you sing hymns you're singing to him and you shouldn't worry about what other people think of you or what you sound like. Sing out, be proud.

And third, something I notice with songs on the radio. No-one thinks about where to breathe in the song. It's natural to breathe at the end of the (musical) line, or when you run out of breath! But often that doesn't work when you look at how the lyrics form sentences. I'll use The Lord’s my Shepherd as an example.

The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want.
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

If you breathe after want, lie, me and by, the sentences get a bit chopped up and it makes less sense. It sounds like "he makes me lie down", "he leads me in green pastures", and then "the quiet waters by" just tacked on the end for no reason. In my opinion, the breaths should follow the punctuation - after want and green only. Then it means "he makes me lie down in green pastures" and "he leads me by quiet waters".

Maybe I think too much.

It seemed a bit inappropriate to be distracted like that at a funeral, but I can't help it!

I was so tired by Friday night, I just curled up in front of the TV with two hours of The House of Eliott and a double pepperoni pizza.

Saturday I spent all day rehearsing. Our next concert is on the 12th of May - both the main Society Chorus and the smaller Socii Cantorum are performing. Some of the Socii stuff is hard, the Missa Kenya is quite tricky in places, especially the Sanctus. Still, we're on top of it now I think. Harriet made us all move, we weren't allowed to stand next to anyone in our part. I ended up with a soprano one side, and a bass the other. It was really difficult because shamefully I often rely on the other altos to help me when I'm not sure of myself, but it was very useful because I realised that I actually can do it without their help... in fact I sometimes end up going wrong because someone else does, when actually I was right. I just need to be more confident.

I tried to have an early night Saturday, but I was just settling down when Michael told me that our neighbour's two dogs had gotten into our garden again. They are those big hairy mountain dog types, like Newfoundlands or similar. They break through the fence by simply bashing into it. I said I hoped they weren't upsetting Basil, who is in a pen in the garden, and Michael went out to see what was happening, maybe catch them if he could.

When he went out one of them crashed through the hedge back into the garden, with what looked like a football in his mouth. Michael got him to drop it. It wasn't a football, it was a terrified Basil - the dog had smashed through the pen and grabbed him. Michael brough him inside in a box, and we left him alone for a while so he'd uncurl and I could check for injuries. Almost an hour later, and he hadn't relaxed very much and didn't respond to my gentle rocking, so I had to put him in the sink with a little warm water to open him up.

Luckily he seems fine, except for oviously being in shock. He seemed quite stiff in his back legs when he moved, but I guess that's a consequence of being tightly curled for an hour - he probably had a bit of cramp. He's inside now, until we repair and reinforce his outdoor accomodation. Poor prickler, this is the third time we've saved him from death, he's very lucky. If Michael hadn't gone out he'd probably have been left injured or dead somewhere, and we wouldn't have found him.

I'm having a nice quiet day today.


  1. Just catching up, christ that's awful Anna about Basil. Can't you force your neighbours to pay for a decent fence to keep the bloody things out? It's not good enough, they could kill any pet you had in the garden, like a rabbit or guinea pig. I would be livid.

  2. The problem is, they come through one garden and then into mine. So they are breaking through at least two fences.

    If it happens again we'll have to have strong words I think.

  3. Oh no thats awful. Glad you got to him in time and hope he makes a speedy recovery.

  4. Thnks Janine. Fingers crossed for him!

    Poor hoggy, he's certainly been through it.