In which Life Sort of Replicates Art
. . . wherein dropping your music all over the stage is like not getting killed because your enchanted sword, your equally enchanted bracelet-shield and your mighty war-horse have you covered, not to mention a regiment of Falcons coming to your aid.
Because St Margaret’s is short of musicians cough cough cough cough and are not fussy about the quality of their volunteers and because (almost) Any Fool Can Sing and I’m certainly somewhat less of a fool and more of a singer than I was two or three years ago, I’ve been signing myself up on the rota to sing every other week. Tonight was one of my microphone nights.
Not till yesterday—there’s kind of a lot going on*—I suddenly thought OH MY NEON STROBING WHATSIT, I HAVEN’T HAD THE PLAYLIST FOR SUNDAY YET. I scrambled on line to check who the music leader for the evening was—Samantha—and discovered . . . that my name wasn’t on the rota. It’s there for a fortnight from now but not for tonight. ARRRRRGH. SOFTWARE HATES ME. Not that this is news or anything.** But they were still short of singers, so I emailed Buck. . . .
I SHOULD HAVE TAKEN MY ABSENCE FROM THE ROTA AS A SIGN. I SHOULD FRELLING KNOW A FRELLING SIGN WHEN I SEE ONE.***
Buck emailed back that they’d be glad to have me, and forwarded Samantha’s music-leader email from earlier that day—yesterday—saying that SHE HADN’T DECIDED YET. But that her final choice would PROBABLY be from AMONG THE FOLLOWING 1,000,000,000 possibles. . . .
I arrived tonight already beginning to hyperventilate and found Buck and Samantha arguing about key signatures. Samantha is an alto and always wants stuff pitched extra low. Okay, I can bellow, but there are two or three notes in the middle where I can’t get much noise either from chest or head voice . . . and of course those are the two or three notes most used in tonight’s selection . . . which Samantha was still swapping around. Fortunately Janey was there too; I might very well have been reduced to making fish mouths if I hadn’t been standing next to someone singing what I was supposed to sing—Samantha is up at the front of the stage as leader, she’s no use. Practise started late and got bogged down in key signature changes and esoterica like bridges. Hey, you sing one verse, and then you sing another verse, and then you go on to the next song, okay? It’s not like it’s Mozart or something.†
But because we kept coming adrift over superfluities like what the guitar or the keyboard was supposed to be playing we didn’t get to sing everything and raced over two songs saying oh we don’t have to practise those, we know those and I’m saying NO WE DON’T. I DON’T KNOW THEM and they’re saying OH YES YOU DO. YOU’LL REMEMBER AS SOON AS WE START. And I’m saying GLEEEEEEEEP.
So I’m in a weakened condition when I totter off the stage to fetch my standard cup of Crimson Glory tea†† and then sit down for a moment before the service begins, and on my way to the kitchen I am WAYLAID by the Greeter Steward Person who (among other tasks) usually has the perhaps less than happy duty of ensnaring readers: there are two (Bible) readings per service and therefore two readers are necessary. Wouldn’t you like to do a READING tonight? she said. Erm. Well, I don’t mind, and—as mentioned on these virtual pages several times previously—the thing about getting involved with a church community is that you want to be careful to pitch in on the stuff you don’t mind doing or sure as eggs is eggs [sic] you’ll get nailed for stuff you do mind. So I said yes.
I managed to miss the band intro because I was still staring at the floor from my chair during opening prayers and I look up and everybody else is on stage and they’d already begun by the time I stumbled up the frelling stair and grabbed my microphone. Since the first song is one of the ones I don’t know nobody was missing much.†††
Janey and I were sharing a music stand which would be okay except for the part about how it’s not quite wide enough. Our sheet music is in plastic covers, and three-pagers fold out, and the music stand is only two pages wide, and the plastic covers are floppy. So I cleverly borrowed a stiff notebook to widen the music stand a bit so we could see all three pages at the same time, since sometimes you go back to the beginning for the next verse, you know? Arrrgh.‡ And for the last song, which was a three-pager, I was delicately arranging it and then twisting the stand slightly so Janey could see it too and I managed to drop all the rest of the music all over the stage in a snowstorm of pages AAAAAAAUUGH KILL ME NOW. So we finish the final song of the set and I’m on my hands and knees frantically scrabbling up pages . . . have I mentioned that the Bible readings come immediately after the singing? And that I was doing the first reading?
I flung the music back on the stand, fled for my chair—usually sitting in the back of the congregation is fine—and Bible, and shot for the front again where Buck, who did not know who was doing tonight’s readings, was fiddling with the microphone stand and said laconically, in typical Buckminster manner, Hey, I was getting worried.
I read. I didn’t drop the Bible or get my tongue twisted and say ‘—-’ or ‘—-’ inadvertently.
Not a whole lot else happened.‡‡ I didn’t fall down or throw up or knock over anybody else’s music stand for the final song at the end of the service. I even got up on stage more or less on time. But I don’t think the Falcons would have bothered rescuing me.
* * *
* I’ve told you Fiona is coming back this Tuesday to help me further whack Third House into inhabitable condition. The problem with this is that I need a clue what to ask her to do. Aside from the standard Oxfam run with the several million more slightly used books in the boot, making her car hunker down like an American moonshine runner.
** And this programme in particular has decided that I am devilspawn and every time I open it it assigns me a Small Blue Flashing Escort Box with Special Powers that follows me around and messes with what I’m doing. Because you can’t be too careful with devilspawn. What I want to know is if as we approach Sunday fortnight my name will disappear from that rota too.
*** I write fantasy for a living, you know. Lots of signs and portents in fantasy. I like signs and portents. In fantasy.
† Singing from the front does help my attitude toward Modern Christian Worship Flapdoodle I Mean Music but it hasn’t exactly revolutionised it.
When I started going there, St Margaret’s didn’t have any herb tea bags. What is the MATTER with these people?! So I brought them a box of Crimson Glory. Nobody seems to drink it but me. I brought them a second box a while back. The tea ladies see me coming and bring out The Red Box.
††† I should perhaps elucidate that there are two kinds of songs I don’t know. The ones we practised—not enough—and the ones we didn’t practise. At all. Tonight’s first song falls into the first category.
‡ Also one of the songs I half know is too much like another song and it’s one of those with no music at all, just a lyric page so I kept trying to sing the other melody and . . .
‡‡ Except one of the admin—one I don’t usually have much occasion to talk to—made a point of coming up to tell me how well I’d read. Snork. It’s Paul, hectoring the Corinthians for immorality. I can do ranting.
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