So many of the Hearties have been with me, more or less, since day one. Countless years, ups and downs, highs and lows, great shows, problematic productions (haha) – what a journey we’ve shared. I think music really brings people together, exposes them, shows who they are inside. I’m so grateful to have these wonderful people in my life. The run up to cabaret has been very odd as we’ve had no full rehearsals. I’m actually very glad I did close general rehearsals down early, as the wave of coughs and colds has been massive and of course we need anyone displaying signs of any illness to be ultra careful. If they have been unwell, they get a PCR and make sure there is zero chance they have Covid before returning. Zero. If they are well, they take LFT’s before coming to sing. This is why we have done so well and kept singing. I will really miss the Rockits last couple of December rehearsals; they are my favourite singing weeks of the whole year, but I felt too uneasy continuing with all the colds flying around.
We set up the town hall today, ready for tomorrow’s first show. The audience will be smaller, but the main thing is that we have managed to pull it together. For me, Christmas starts with cabaret. By the way, the dance routines at the start are great!!
12 Days of Christmas! 12 croaky voices, 11 sipping lemon, 10 new arrangements, 9 husbands watching , 8 wait for boosters, 7 nervous newbies, 6 confused about folders, 5 Ruby Sisterz, 4 groups on stage, 3 mince pies (per plate), 2 nights of shows, that’s this years Christmas Cabaret.
Sadly, we’ve decided to break early for Christmas. There are several reasons and it certainly wasn’t an easy decision to make. If it were just me, I’d carry on regardless, but it’s not just me. We have elderly and vulnerable members and we also have families to consider. Covid infections are on the rise. Loads of us have awful coughs and colds and the problem is that we can’t risk anyone coming singing with the slightest thing, just in case it’s Covid. Nightmare. December is just about here and so many of us have plans to see friends and family and I’d hate anyone to get unwell and end up stuck at home alone again, as many were in 2020. The costs of running the choirs is so much higher than anyone would realise – if we aren’t using our three halls, some still have to be paid for. I’ve literally just sat (with tissues stuffed up my nose) and paid out over 1k for current hall hire and a sound man for cabaret and that’s just the start, haha. It’s only money though and we will be just fine (Rodney) once this bloody Covid sorts itself out. We’ve simplified cabaret as much as we possibly can, no costume changes and the choir sat in the main hall, instead of being jammed together backstage. It won’t be quite the same, but I am confident we can do it safely. Christmas WILL happen!!! Hearties are on VERY limited (small) rehearsals too, in an attempt to keep them fit and well and banish these nasty colds that so many have. Many of us have had coughs and croaky voices for most of the year, but we are a tough and determined bunch. A clear PCR and we are back to singing as soon as possible.
Ollie always tops me up with interesting things when I visit. Did you know that in, A Christmas Carol, the chapters are called staves, because Dickens wanted to reinforce the idea that the book is a carol, a song in prose form. I never noticed this! It’s a great story and it was also both a political and emotional (?) message. Tuesday 21st is Tenterden’s carol service, a lovely community event and held in the (super airy) church. I’m hoping lots of our gang go and meet up there to sing.
Watching the very long documentary series, ‘Get Back’ – quite an eye opener for any Beatles fan. Yoko is there throughout, like an uninvited guest, a shadow permanently sewn to Lennon’s side. Wouldn’t that drive you insane? You hear all the songs starting out as random tinkerings on the piano, while everyone goes about their business, unaware that some of the worlds most famous songs are being created; if you listen carefully you hear the chords to ‘let it be’ forming, the little run in ‘long and winding road.’ The Beatles all got along so much better than we were led to believe and McCartney; he’s clearly the boss and the most talented.
Bloody Covid. It’s back with a vengeance, forcing many countries back into lockdown. Due to our brilliant vaccination program, we were doing fairly well, but now there’s a very worrying new variant (S. African) that’s shaking the world up. There will always be variants, all the time a population is not vaccinated. These new variants may beat our vaccinations. South Africa has just 5% vaccinated and with such a high rate of infection floating around, variants are able to develop. Simple. We’ve just been told that face masks will become mandatory (again) here in shops and on public transport and we are no doubt heading into further restrictions. I’m a bit sad, as that brings concerns for the choirs and I know some are getting worried about coming to sessions. With Christmas just around the corner, I have to ensure everyone is kept as safe and well as possible. Numbers are dropping, as we have also been hit quite badly with seasonal coughs and colds (they say due to last years lockdown). Cabaret is just one week away and we have all the measures in place that we can think of to keep it running safely.
Finally mixed Christmas Lights at Gordon’s. He is just out of hospital after a very close call! A mixture of post Covid complications and a history of heart disease, combined to make him VERY unwell. He now has SEVEN stents which would almost make him a record holder (we think nine is the world record) and lost 10kg of fluid from his body too! Bloody blimey. He was as happy as Larry today in his little studio. I’m really pleased with the Rockits singing too. Excited!
It’s got SO COLD. I’ve wrapped the boys advent presents. One gift each for every day in December. I must have been mad to start this tradition, haha. My darling Vivian (Prime) is a great watch. A documentary about Johnny Cash’s first, long suffering wife, Vivian Liberto. When you see this, you realise that the huge love affair between Johnny Cash and his second wife, June Carter (as portrayed in films), really isn’t quite what it seems and incredibly sad for Vivian.
Stephen Mangan was just perfect as Scrooge in the Old Vic’s production of, A Christmas Carol, which we saw on Saturday. It’s BRILLIANT. A retelling of the classic tale, while keeping it full of Dickensian charm and merriment, without a single hint of today’s overly commercial holiday trash. The staging is so good (in the round), making the audience feel totally immersed in this uplifting show. Hand bells, snow, traditional carols, laughter and tears and a reminder to us all to be compassionate and generous, not just now, but all year round. If you get a chance, go and see it. It’s Christmas.
Adele’s new album, 30, is out. It’s gorgeously woeful, which suits me, really well written and beautifully produced. Melancholy – that’s my factory reset. She’s on tv tonight; her vocals are great and barely altered since her ginormous weight loss, but for me, there is a slight difference. Her technique though is even better and she has loads more power. Stood in a 10k designer gown, looking so refined and beautiful, some of the chat grates on me a little. Am I a bah humbug? I slightly miss the old Adele (did she have more heart and soul?) pre therapy and hanging out with the Kardashians, haha. I greatly admire her determination, her resilience, even her weight loss! I wonder what Freud would say about it all.
Busy week ahead! All usual stuff like Rockits each night and some nanny daycare, all fine. Then, extra rehearsals on several days, run through of cabaret on Tuesday, viewing Bilsington Priory on Wednesday, one more arrangement to do for cabaret and in my mind, I’m lining up 2022’s new term of music for all choirs. That means a lot of new arrangements in not a lot of time. Any ideas? We’ve already got a title for cabaret 2022! Xxxxx
Hugo had his first trip to the vets today, to have his boys bits sorted out (Oliver calls it his coin purse, haha). Poor Hugo. They had put a sticker on his cat box that read, HUGO WILSON. Funny. When I went to collect him, the vet said he would be very groggy today. Nope. He has even more energy than usual and is scaling the heights even though his rear end looks a bit sore. Rex’s third tooth has emerged and Rufus has had a hair cut. Me – “Rufus, have you had a hair cut?” Rufus – “Yes, I was a lion and now I am a tiger.” This is quite right. His mane of curls has gone and his hair is now flat like a tigers coat.
There were a few quibbles about our events recently and why we do them. Some thought we did them purely to raise money, some thought they were done for the general public and a few thought I did them for myself and my family. Wrong. Truly, I do the events primarily for the choirs, for them to work towards and enjoy taking part in. It MUST be enjoyable for us all. Off the back of that, we make loads of money for charity. Yes, to a degree we do also need the public involved, as half the choir don’t buy a single ticket for their own events and have never done so; cabaret (for instance) costs about £1,500 to produce and that’s quite a few tickets to sell! We have had three tables of generous guests that have been with us every year since our very first cabaret and between them, they put enough in the hat to pay the costs involved in cabaret. That means we can safely produce the show each year AND donate money to our chosen charity. Win, win, win! Cabaret is very nearly complete (phew), I just have a few small groups songs to finish off. We are already working on dates for next year and trying to space the events out evenly so that we don’t have a manic spell. I always say this, it rarely works!
Emissions of greenhouse gases. I never once considered that every time we google, or send an email, that the electricity used across the world, adds up quite a problem. This is a little disappointing – so is ABBA’s new album. This isn’t a return, it just sounds like a big moneymaking venture. The songs are pretty poor; a watered down version of their greatest hits. There is a soundalike Fernando, a Waterloo etc., nothing new and nothing creative. The two best songs are, I still have faith in you AND I like the Christmas one, Little Things. We have covered both at Rockits now. I am working on a big chunk of Christmas for our concert for young Oli, as we have been asked to make it nice and Christmassy. This we can do! I heard Little Things yesterday and have arranged that for the choirs today. Here it is…