Tra la la etc revisited
I looove my voice lessons. I am pathetic. I am insane. Yeah, okay, so what else is new?
After last week’s lesson when I was cracking on nearly every frelling note, I’ve been thinking, this isn’t just nerves, this is the fact that this part of my body has been three quarters asleep for the last fifty-seven years* . . . I mean, sure, I talk, but I’ve always preferred words on paper, I don’t hang out and I’m terrible at chat.** This means that after an hour on the phone to Merrilee or Hannah I’m . . . hoarse. No, really.*** So I’ve been thinking I just need to sing more. I know I talk about singing whilst hurtling, but I don’t do it enough, especially lately when my head is full of PEGASUS and angst—and especially also lately when I’ve been so short on time we’ve been hurtling around town more.† I do not sing where anyone might hear me. Except Peter. And I prefer to sing when he’s outdoors gardening, or asleep. Bless the man, he can sleep through anything.†† But I’ve also noticed that singing is an inspiriting activity. A good rousing rendition of There Is a Tavern in the Town††† cheers me up every time. Even when I’m waiting to hear about deadlines.
And I don’t know if it’s working, or whether it’s the extra humidity‡, or luck, or despair,‡‡ or Blondel’s latest ridiculous metaphors ‡‡‡, but . . . even I could tell I was better this week. It wasn’t only that I wasn’t cracking—I wasn’t§—or that I can almost get through the ‘he gave his back to the smiters’ part, which I still haven’t really learnt how to practise, because the accompaniment confounds me, beyond counting like a mad person, which I can’t then remember to do when I’m also trying to remember to sing out through my eyes and so on—or that coming in All By Myself in the Dreadfully Unaccompanied Silence is getting positively old hat—you have to do it again, very disconcertingly, at the end of the ‘smiters’ and it’s like, yo, whoof, where’d the frelling accompaniment go this time?
It wasn’t only these things. It was also that there were one or two or even three of those big mezzo notes that almost sounded like big mezzo notes in the making . . . or anyway medium-small mezzo notes as sung by a tubercular wraith with a dubious grasp of melody. I should also mention that Blondel’s studio is the tiny spare bedroom in a nice little Edwardian terrace house and with the door closed§§ even a tubercular wraith can fill that space. Good for morale though.§§§
And . . . should I mention this? . . . my new sheet music arrived today. . . . Mwa ha ha ha ha. I could go in next week having begun to learn something Blondel isn’t expecting. . . .
* * *
* There were a few half-awake moments early on, including that year of voice lessons in college. But that was a long time ago. Plenty of time for extensive atrophying.
** Any of you who have met me in the flesh will be forgiven for feeling a trifle bemused at this point. If I talk at all, I tend to talk at 90 miles an hour.
*** You’d think the amount of screaming I do at inanimate objects would develop me all over the place too but it doesn’t seem to work like that. I sometimes say something to Peter after several hours’ silence^ and think, gee, I’m hoarse. I wonder . . . oh, yeah, frelling WordPress logged me out in the middle of an entry, and . . .
^ Poor Peter would chat if I let him. —No! I don’t want to hear about it! I’m working!
† Classic run-in with Other Dogs and Owner with the Brains God Gave Peat Moss. We were walking along the edge of the town sports ground. This is a deeply fascinating stretch to the hellhounds because every dog in a five-mile radius has been there recently. This means exactly what you think it means. I, however, pick it up.^ I should have guessed, when Chaos stopped for a crap, because Chaos is the one with the mortal gift for crapping at the wrong spot and in the wrong moment, that the dogs we could see proceeding toward us across the field would be a problem. One of the reasons I thought they wouldn’t be is that the fellow with them was facing us. He would see what was going on.
He probably did see what was going on. What was going on was that I had both leads in one hand, had just bent over and picked up Chaos’ deposit and was beginning to straighten back up again . . . when the first of Peat Moss Brain’s three loose dogs arrived at a dead gallop. I was whipped round and upright with the first eager plunge by the hellhounds . . . and was then pretty well trapped by not being able to do anything before I did something else first: I was barely hanging on to the two of them with ONE hand^^ by having jerked the leads a couple times round my palm (ow); I had my feet braced for all I was worth while I was trying to finish standing up; and the great drawback to the biodegradable crap bags I now religiously use is that they’re too narrow, and you need your other hand to get the edge folded back down over the contents. I didn’t have an other hand at that moment, and if I dropped the bag everything would fall out. Messily. By this time Dog #2 had arrived. Joy in Mudville.^^^ Peat Moss Brain now began calling his dogs. Not before Dog #3 had arrived. . . . I was now backing slowly away, dragging hellhounds with me, amid three more or less non-hostile but undesirably large spaniels of some variety, wondering if I was ever going to play the piano again with my left hand, holding my right hand aloft as if bearing a trophy, or possibly something I was about to throw at someone with peat moss for brains. If I were a better shot, I might have tried.
I believe I have posted here that on my top ten of Least Favourite Things is stepping in someone else’s dog crap while you’re picking up your own. I came out of this little encounter with someone else’s dog crap on the bottoms of both shoes.
^ Major rant alert. I don’t like it but I understand people getting a trifle careless when their dog has a crap half a mile from the nearest bin, even when they do it in the middle of the heavily-travelled because this is still in town footpath, but there is ABSOLUTELY NO FREAKING EXCUSE IN THIS FREAKING WORLD for people not picking up crap on the sports grounds, shall I repeat that?, the SPORTS GROUNDS where, you know, people PLAY SPORTS, which have dedicated dog crap only bins AT EACH END. These bins are LARGE and RED and HARD TO MISS, and, furthermore, they are NEAR the TWO—shall I repeat that too? the TWO gates into and out of said sports ground. THERE IS A BIN PER GATE. YOU HAVE TO HAVE WALKED PAST ONE OF THEM WHEN YOU BROUGHT YOUR DOG AND THE CONTENTS OF ITS BOWELS INTO THE GROUNDS. YOU HAVE TO PASS ONE OF THEM AGAIN WHEN YOU LEAVE.
^^ If anyone had asked me before this if I could hold both of them with one hand when they were in full-ecstasy mode I would have said ‘no’.
^^^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casey_at_the_Bat I used to live in Holliston, Massachusetts. Just by the way.
†† Wake up! Wake up! The Black Riders/the Borg/the Colour Out of Space is coming! Snoooooore.
††† Yes. I now also sing it. Well, I already know the words. And the tune.
‡ It’s been raining all day. Heavy enough to be tiresome to hurtle through with reproachful hellhounds, not heavy enough to do your garden much good. Water! gasp various things in pots small enough to be brought indoors easily. Sigh. Trade offs. It’s all about trade offs.
‡‡ Or, you know, practise
‡‡‡ Try to sing though your eyes. You need to use very little breath to sing out through your eyes. It is probably only a function of that focussed Teacher Thing that teachers beam at you when you’re in their range, but this made perfect sense at the time.
§§ There’s a cat who keeps putting in to sing the descant, and Blondel keeps saying no, no, not today.
§§§ And . . . it’s a tremendously moving piece, He Was Despised from Handel’s Messiah. Anyone who isn’t sick to frelling death of the Messiah—which I know does happen, but I’m grateful that it hasn’t happened to me—knows this. Blondel is trying to extract a little audible feeling in my singing, but I’m still having enough trouble with the melody and the tempo. And the coming in when there’s no accompaniment to buoy me up. But I know what he means. I know where I’m trying to go. If I weren’t busy coping with singing the frelling thing, it’d make me cry, you know?
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