She said YES to the dress, Canaries and Amelie!

Beth has her wedding dress sorted for next year! That’s my girl. It’s strange because it is EXACTLY what I always imagined she would wear for her wedding. I can say no more, my lips are sealed. We have now sorted the venue, dress, DJ, lighting, flowers, live band and we are finalising arrangements for the food. With a year to go, we are on top of it all! I’m not sure I feel on top of things right now. I often go through periods where I feel like I’m lacking direction in my personal life and that I am not on the right road to get where I eventually need to be. I am thinking once again, that I will move next year. I’ve never settled properly in the little house I’m in, it’s never felt like home, or comforting. The years I’ve had here are tinged with some completely awful times. I’m a townie type, who loves apartments and as I’m no spring chicken and single, with too many allergies to do gardening, something with a balcony and minimal upkeep would tick all the boxes. Oh my God though – my loft if full of a lifetime of show props and stuff the kids can’t part with. I do like the idea of starting all over again.

Brothers! Rexy loves Ru so much xxxx

It’s been a non-stop weekend again. Dad has a birthday next Wednesday, so we took a trip to Canary Wharf on Saturday, with Ma and Pa in tow (well in the back seat). We gave them a guided tour, did a little shopping, had brunch in LPQ and then cake and coffee in a nice café; we all sang him Happy Birthday. Today, we went to London to see the musical, Amélie. About 20 years ago, I first watched (and fell in love with) the French film about little Amélie, the Parisian waitress, who brings happiness to those she encounters, with extraordinary acts of kindness. If a musical had been written just for me – it would be this one. It includes EVERYTHING I love. Even the set was beautiful; part Paris Metro, combined with a traditional French café. There is a cast of about twelve actors, who are all incredibly talented – all multi instrumentalists, all singing and dancing on stage throughout the show. Violins, accordions, guitars, cajons, beat boxes, cellos and two pianos. It did remind me at times of another musical that I love, called, Once.  I would highly recommend seeing this, but be quick as it’s only running for another month or so. The music in it is so exciting and so beautifully written. It’s also VERY funny at times, an absolute feast for the senses. Joyful and spirited… do try and squeeze in a trip to see it!

Ma and Pa on their first trip to Canary Wharf. xxxx

Strictly is back on. One of the few things I watch on regular TV. Once again I had to decline their constant requests for me to take part, even though they’ve already made my frocks and sewn on 78,000 sequins and 20 metres of marabou trim. I can’t be learning the Rumba when I’ve got Think Pink coming up, or wasting time waltzing when we’ve got a Macmillan coffee morning next week. I have new Rockits to settle in – Strictly will have to wait!

THE JOY OF BOYS, ERASE AND REWIND.

You boys will never know the joys of audio cassette tapes. Firstly, they were analogue. They came either prerecorded, OR blank, so we could record our own stuff on them. I’m rubbish at understanding how they worked, but I do know that the thin tape inside is magnetic and when this tape passes through a tape recorder, the magnetic particles on the tape get jiggled around by magnetic heads inside the recorder. Then, the newly positioned particles on the tape, as if by magic, are the actual music! I picture this like a miniature pianola roll. Exactly how this all happens is quite a mystery to me and I will no doubt lay awake trying to work it all out, unsuccessfully. Anyway, EVERYONE made “mix tapes.” You recorded your favourite songs from your vinyl LP’s, or from the radio, on to your blank tapes and hey presto! It was a nightmare when the tape got caught in the machine and unravelled, bloody miles of it and you’d have to carefully attempt to wind it back up by turning a pencil in the spool. I remember the first time I bought a CD; who even buys those now? I don’t like aspects of this new world. So little is tangible. Gone are shoeboxes filled with those precious mix tapes from early boyfriends, real handwritten letters and photos. I do often wish we could erase and rewind life, but we’ve gone too far now. I have a 1920’s gramophone in the loft and lots of old records to show the boys one day.

Little Max was four last Monday. Bless him. He had lots of Robots as that’s his current favourite thing. We had a little party here in the morning and then sent him home full of cake, with his huge foil helium balloons tied to his wrist. He loved them. Sadly, he wasn’t allowed to keep these lovely balloons and they were quickly released into the air while he watched.

I watched “Everybody’s talking about Jamie” on Prime (free) at the mo. It’s a musical and one that didn’t interest me in the least as I am very bored with watching shows about drag queens; there are far too many (shows that is) and I really can’t see any talent in dressing up and miming to a song. Madonna has done it for years, haha. Anyway, I was attempting to take an evening off singing to try and give my voice a rest, so I watched the film adaptation of this musical, which is also a true story. I have to say, it was very entertaining and among the songs, there are a couple of real winners. I thought the song, He’s my Boy, is very good, but I also disliked many of the more clichéd, upbeat songs. The music was written by Dan Gillespie Sells (he’s the singer from the band, The Feeling) and lyrics are by Tom McRae, who I have always loved – I played his album, Just like Blood, for weeks on end once, haha. Give it a try if you have nothing better to do! xxxx

Four of my boys. Rufus, Rexy, Rudi and Little Max xxxx

FOUR THOUSAND WEEKS AND A NEW HALL IN ASHFORD!

Sessions were lovely this week. This term is about getting back on our feet and slowly returning to normal after eighteen strange months. Maintenance. Some won’t come back for a while, but many have returned and we have loads of newbies too! We have already cracked the new ABBA song and we’re gallopping through our new rep, so I am back to arranging songs for later in the year. I guess arranging music is a favourite part of my job and it needs doing differently for The Rockits and The Hearties. When I’m doing a more choral piece, I find ways to build big, resonant chords – there’s actually a science to sound (and intervals), but this blog will be ginormous if I attempt to explain. Basically, I tend to put bigger intervals for the lower groups and then place the parts for the sops and upper altos very close, it’s like a pyramid. This gives depth; a really strong foundation. I try not to double thirds too often and I hate parallel moving fifths – “We are Siamese if you please.” Hugo is a bit like my Siamese twin now and always close by.

Nothing escapes Hugo. xxxx

We have found a gorgeous new hall for the Singleton Rockits, in the primary school hall opposite! Phew! It’s a bit more expensive as we have to pay for a caretaker to be present, BUT it’s worth it. Sarah and I also got stuck in the Singleton Village Hall lift on Wednesday. We’ve been pals for so many years, but this was the moment I found out that she’s terrified of being stuck in a lift! Oh dear. A metal arm actually fell out and got jammed between the floor and the lift and there we were, suspended between two floors. The colour drained from Sarah’s face. The girls shouted encouragement from the floor above and Caroline started taking things apart below us, like Rambo. I started wondering about breaking through the glass door with my speaker stands and wished I had brought a packed lunch.

A trip to Bedgebury for the Willy Whats. xxxx

I just read that the average human lives around 4,000 weeks! That seems hardly any time at all when you consider how quickly a week goes by. We absolutely must make the most of those weeks! I have been thinking about how I can improve at being me. I am hugely disorganised, I do things on impulse, I’m a dreamer, I get very sidetracked, I’m muddled…yet somehow, I manage to always get what needs doing done, even if it’s by the skin of my pants, haha (get it?). If I was more organised it would be better, but I do get help along the way, thankfully. Running the choirs is much more than a full-time job, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I believe that if you are leading any kind of group, Brown Owl at Brownies, a parent, or even the boss of a massive business, your priority must be to (naturally) care for those you are leading. Some people really aren’t cut out to be any kind of leader, just as some people aren’t cut out to be parents. Having a degree or an enormous amount of training at anything isn’t going to ensure success, you also must want the best for those you are working with. I have never looked at myself as a ‘leader’ and I feel ill at ease even saying that, but I do steer the Rockits ship and I feel quite honoured to have so many wonderful people in my life as a result. It’s not a job a selfish or egotistical person could do well. A choir can NEVER be about one. It’s a wonderful family, all pulling together. For instance, when a show goes really well, it’s down to all of us and I feel incredibly proud of everyone, but when things go a bit wrong, for me – it’s my fault. I will always want to go the extra mile and work at it. If, for instance, we struggle to get a tough song right, it’s likely my arrangement is a bit hard, or my choice somewhat adventurous, or I haven’t given enough rehearsal time to one of the groups. If I do my job well, when our singers arrive at an event, they will be full of confidence and bursting to show everyone what they can do. If I haven’t done my best, they might arrive with doubt, thinking “buckle up, it’s gonna be a rough ride.” I hope this isn’t the case too often! Haha xxxx

You really can buy anything from Amazon! xxxx

Single Ladies about to get married.

Beth is on a pre-wedding healthy eating plan and I’m trying to follow suit, but soon it’ll be Halloween and Waitrose get toffee apples in and then it’ll be Christmas pudding and before I know it, I’m back to Easter eggs!!! I had best wait until next May to start my diet, haha. We have been wedding dress hunting here in Tenterden and I think Beth has chosen her dress – which was exactly what I always imagined she would wear for her wedding. She’s not a meringue kind of girl (unless it’s the food variety). Sarah P and I watched as she tried on all the suitable dresses. We liked every one and then found a reason we didn’t like the previous one…and then we chose one of the first ones.

I was in Boots getting prescriptions for Rex and in walked Sharon from Eastenders. Now, I haven’t seen any regular TV like this for years, but EVERYONE knows Sharon! I think she’s one of the originals from 30+ years back. I was hoping she would ask for something embarrassing as that would make a better story to tell, but alas, no. She is much smaller than she appears on TV, so I had best not go on TV in the near future. I will keep myself occupied with the Rockits instead; lovely session tonight in Hawkhurst and we were back in our usual hall. The Hawkhurst Rockits make a beautiful sound – really smooth when they sing in unison. Lots of new faces in this group – the MID 1’s seem to have stolen all the newbies, haha. I was super happy as Beth came over to teach with me too. Grrreeeaaattttt!

The gang at Singleton. Gwyn, Sarah, Caroline, Bruna, Rosina and me!

I put this funny song together for The Ruby Sisterz – it’s my swinging version of Single Ladies, by Beyonce. This was nearly impossible to do as the song is R&B (with some disco and pop thrown at it) and doesn’t lend itself to close harmony, haha. I had to pull out the entire bridge and just copy and paste the other bits together that did work. It’s going to appear in Think Pink, along with Ruby Sisterz versions of, I will Survive and All About that Bass. XXXX

Finn has a new cousin, Isla.
Single Ladies. © Arr Max Wilson.

I STILL HAVE FAITH IN YOU.

What a crazy week it’s been! I tend to thrive on busy, but this week has honestly had it’s share of ups and downs. Getting the choirs off the ground after 18 months was a bit of a marathon, but we survived! The new way we organise things is going to work well, but we’ve had quite a few teething* problems. ‘Head Office’ (there is no office, but that’s our name nonetheless) has worked tirelessly. It’s not the sessions as such, but all the organisation that goes with it too, so we work, usually indepedently, through the days to get ready for the evenings. It will ease up though as things settle. I would like to vent and add that rehearsal halls are the bane of my life. Haha. Monday – Hawkhurst. Quiet but lots on holiday and others still not mixing. Lovely newbies! Tuesday, was Hearties; we are getting close to our Think Pink October so working hard. Wednesday – Singleton and our first actual session. I love new groups, seeing the happy faces…and confused ones. Issues there with horribly bouncy acoustics, so that is my current thing to solve. Thursday, was Tenterden and that went smoothly and SO nice to see so many familiar faces. The girls have the registration process running smoothly, the card readers are behaving…

Rufus – Amigo II is off with his dino backpack and new red polo shirt. Good luck (teachers!) xxxx

Run with the hares and hunt with the hounds. I had never heard this phrase until recently, but so many people do this. I guess it’s a way to make your life easier or you feel more popular, but it’s not the right way to be. In my youth I have definitely been guilty of this, but not now. Anyway, I have just this second finished doing the VERY new ABBA song, as the lyrics are absolutely perfect for our next events. It isn’t their best song, but we will definitely be the first choir to do it as it was released just one week ago. We have our own special backing track that is in A major instead of (the original key of) F major; it’s still low, but the ABBA girls have matured (or started chain-smoking) and can now sing about an octave lower, haha. The choirs wouldn’t manage this… so we are singing two notes higher. “There was a union of heart and mind, the likes of which are rare and hard to find.” Lovely. I am going to have a nightmare doing the scores as it sounds as though there are lots of time signature changes in this. Wish me luck, haha. I managed to get virtually to the end before my poor voice crashed out yet again.

Finny. Amigo III. Book bag, backpack and blue school shirt. xxxx

Two of my chicks started pre-school this week – Finny and Rufus. Little Max is already at nursery. First uniforms, new shoes, book bags, shiny wellingtons, water bottles and spare clothes. I would take less on a fortnights package holiday. I am both happy and sad that they are becoming more independent. *Teething. Rex has his first tooth!

My beauties. Rexy has his first tooth. xxxx
I still have faith in you (Laryngitis mix). © Arr max Wilson.