Ab-Fab and Dope!

Absolutely fab rehearsals with Hearties Tuesday and Friday. Hail Holy Queen is excellent, America is full of life (that’s our only two group songs) and the duet and solo pieces are ready to be unveiled. I reckon songs take around 3 months to be at their best. We go over and over and over them and finally, they sink right in and we can perform them with feeling and meaning. This is why I’m sliding a few Feb ones in now. Cabaret is always a bit hit and miss – but that’s it’s style now; some great songs, some fun ones and some Christmas singalongs – a chance for the choir to let their hair down too. I’ve been working away on a song idea for an event we have next year. My first idea is to try, ‘When the Party’s Over’ and stick a chunk for the (other) guys inside it – it’ll be like finding a sixpence in your Christmas Pudding. Then, drop a Hearties bomb on top of that. That’s the recipe, but putting it together is a another story, haha! It has to be a well known song (in our own unique style) for this project – an original song would never work. I think not many of the ladies will know it, which will help them learn and hold on to new harmonies. The song also doesn’t lend itself to being too ornate – I listened to loads of covers online and frankly, I’m sick of all the ultra clever, jazzy, a Capella covers of songs online. Pentatonix have a lot to answer for! Give me a backing track, give me clean voices, give me simplicity! Anyhow, Vybes (who is very sweet) says that so far, “it’s dope!”

Watching, The Grinch who Stole Christmas, yet again!

I’ve had my sewing machine out again! I love to sew! It’s the speed at which you can totally create or transform something. Beth wanted a Christmas canopy/parachute thingy for the little ones – the mums hold these over the toddlers heads and bits dangle down on them. This was made from a £4 charity shop tablecloth (recycling!) and all my scraps and bits of ribbon I couldn’t part with! I hope the technicolour-dream-coat-canopy is big enough…it’s edged with fake snow to give a few more inches. I was also intending to buy more locally sourced, ethically produced, tasteful Christmas gifts. I then went on Amazon and got the boys a plastic game, made in China, called, ‘Flushin’ Frenzy.” They will LOVE it as it involves a toilet and various additional times (!!!). I will try and buy some adult presents locally, but the five little boys want toys! The three bigger ones are FULLY EXCITED and studying their toy catalogues and Amazon. Rufus has his tree up and video-called me to explain exactly what he has on it. Bless him. “Here is the cute reindeer, here is this funny one, here is the triceratops on top.”

Joseph’s parachute of many colours.

Miriam Margolyes was on, This Morning and being a bit of a Christmas agony aunt. A lady called in and said she was very overweight and had lost all her confidence, but wanted to start dating. Miriam said that she had no experience of dating, but believed there were now dating websites (where the hell has she been living for the last twenty years?). “I think there’s one called Grindr that you may like to try?” Haha. Oh dear, but how hilarious. She then went on to tell the lady to “just lose weight!” Yup, plain, simple, sensible advice. Then she added, “Wash! Wash all the crevices you find hard to reach.”

The Whatman’s tree is looking grrrreat!

1000 Dreams and Dinners.

I was filling out a questionnaire recently and one of the questions was, what do I dream of achieving? I don’t actually dream of anything or have any major goals. Of course, to stick around and see my little guys grow up into fine men. Not opening the Christmas pudding before it’s actually Christmas, haha. For singing, it would be to set foot on the stage at The Royal Albert Hall (or London Palladium…). I’d love to see the ladies faces and for them to get some recognition for being such a kind, compassionate, lovely and hardworking bunch. Who knows!

SEN Elves. Xxxx

Sat next to Louis Theroux at my (dream) dinner party, would be Stanley Tucci. I’m thinking to invite Sam Ryder as he’s bursting with human sunshine and has the worlds biggest smile. Stanley just loves his food and has a nice way about him. I need a couple of ladies too – definitely Judy Dench who has always interested me – she is so down to earth and genuinely believes in living your life to its fullest. I’m not inviting any vegans as I may find the Wagyu beef on offer again in Waitrose. I have non-vegan Christmas puddings in the cupboard ready and waiting too, as surely they will need to be on my dream dinner menu. If I can invite dead people, I will invite Nanny Ada and Ernie. I hope if this is possible, they can also be fairly young – before the deafness kicked in.

Yet more SEN Elves xxx

The SEN room was packed for the last day of the Christmas market. The Rockits elves did a wonderful job being jolly and totally traditional. I so want kids to have lovely Christmases, just as we did, with visits to Santa, believing they must be good (no chance for Rex) as elves are watching, eating too much chocolate, watching the Grinch, seeing all their cousins, making paper chains and Christmas cards…worrying about sprouts. I was stood in Waitrose dressed as Mrs Claus and a man complained to me that it was much too early for Christmas stuff. He said he hated everything about Christmas, including having to buy presents and he had to eat beef on Christmas Day, because he loathed dry turkey. I said, “bah humbug! I love it – nothing better than seeing the little ones faces and us all being together.” I also gave him tips on cooking turkey. Despite this, I came home and recorded, A Thousand Miles, by Vanessa Carlton, for the Rockits (I was intending to record 2000 Miles, but got sidetracked). Beth loved this song and I always think of her as a young teen playing it on the piano. I bet she can still play the riff today. We sang it at Rockits tonight and it WILL be lovely, but the Mid 2 part was a bit low. I came home and immediately rejigged it so it’s ready for next week.

Pringle crafts – coming soon, haha. Xxxx
A new one for Hearties – When You Believe.

A Thousand Years – Arr. Max Wilson

Santa Claus came to town!

No caption needed – those smiles say it all.

Tenterden Christmas market is on at the mo. It’s not like the fabulous ones previously held, kindly organised by local residents, with local stallholders, it’s another commercial ‘Zoom’ event. I guess it’s good there is something (thanks TTC for always trying), but I hope it’s not disappointing for anyone visiting Tenterden. I walked along the high street and decided the only Christmas spirit to be found on Friday was at Beth’s little SEN room. They are open each day this weekend for childrens ‘letters to Santa’ and the SEN room girls are all dressed as elves. We’ve had a visit from Santa and his wife and Rudolph too! I am incredibly proud of the SEN room – something genuinely good for our community. It takes an awful lot of work, so is largely a labour of love and many of us help Beth with its running. Community matters and this little room already means so much to so many. There are lots of additional activities on through December which I hope will do well as that will help with the running costs into next year. 🥹

Caro-Elf is taking a quick snooze at the SEN room!

I’ve sorted the running order for cabaret and I think we will stick to it. As cabaret approaches, I get like an expectant mother and start clearing and cleaning everything at home. I think that I always do this. Maybe, without even realising it, I know that I cope better with a chaotic few days if my house is relatively peaceful and tidy. I have no idea how the cupboards fill up within a few months? My problem is that I don’t like throwing weird things away – a strip of ric rac may be just what I need for a kids craft project, an empty Pringles tube too, fairy wings, pretty jam jars, spare cat bowls… oh dear. Tomorrow, it’s upstairs wardrobes after babysitting and then back to work recording for Christmas.

Rex and Grandad Wilf are getting in the spirit xx

I will leave you with some wise words from Bear Grylls. His “message to our next generation” was, “have courage, always show kindness and never give up.” Basic, but quite right.

He is surely on the NICE list? Mummy isn’t so sure…

Elves, Artists and Fleas.

The Rockits SEN Hub is ready for Christmas! Woohoo! It’s SO cute, right from the old fashioned Santa scene in the window, to the little grotto with an empty, fur trimmed chair, waiting for Santa. It’s an upside down world; with an upside down Christmas tree and presents on the ceiling! There’s Snowball Street, with its gigantic silver and white balls hanging and meteor lights in between. There’s Candy-Cane Alley, with its red and white stripes… it’s all just very lovely. The elves have worked SO hard and I have to say, are very proud of the finished result. Kids will LOVE it. My traditional Mrs Claus outfit has arrived. The things we do for Beth, haha!

Ready and waiting, for Santa xxxxx

Christmas is all around us now and it’s got me thinking that it REALLY is the season for spreading good vibes, kind gestures and giving (not receiving). The Hearties all have WhatsApp group chats (for each group) and I am so very happy when I see their endless, friendly chats – it’s one of the best ‘side effects’ of having choirs! Early this morning, I put a shout out for props for the 12 Days of Christmas, for cabaret. By lunchtime, one of the ladies had a ginormous papier mache goose egg, four giant inflatable phones were located (calling birds), cows udders were found, a papier mache partridge was being created, berets loaned (French hens), feather boas found (for swans) and we were almost there. Blue Peter badges for most creative artists, go to the Tenorettes. They are our smallest group but great with a paint brush and some craft glue! We also have some great flea market and charity shop hunters, who source lots of sparkly stuff. Newsflash – there is now an actual pear tree for the partridge to sit in! Amazing!

Ivy & Maxon are both on the NICE LIST xxxx

Last nights dreadfully bad Christmas film was, Baking all the way. It had all the usual ingredients, including lots of gingerbread (a secret family recipe), someone called Kris and a widower with a young child. Another 1/5 candy canes. A random question – has anyone else noticed that Carol Vorderman is turning into Dolly Parton? If you want a (non Christmassy) GREAT film to watch, My Old Lady, is very good! “Precision and wine is the key to a long life.” Half the people rammed in Tesco today were in the wine aisle, stocking up. They didn’t hear about the economic crisis. Everywhere I have been is ultra busy. I’m not sure I agree that everyone needs the financial assistance they will be receiving, sure some do, but certainly not all! I always feel that those on benefits get more help than the young families who try to support themselves, work hard and just manage to keep their heads above water. Maybe they’d get more help if they washed up in a dinghy at Dover?

That naughty elf is hanging on for dear life!

Ashira l’Adonai!

I am slightly fazed when I look at the amount of scribble on my fridge calendar, haha. The Rockits SEN hub is VERY busy (well done our lovely Beth) from next week, which means I’ll be helping out with more bits there, doing my nanny daycare, being Mrs Santa, getting out to the choirs (which is now sometimes twice a day), trying to arrange all the music for Jan/Feb events super quick, pulling us through cabaret and then, somehow have the kids all fed, merry and together in my little house over Christmas. I have a few nice treats lined up (a couple of shows to see), but I don’t have many days off really, until the new year. Thank goodness the choirs are great at pulling together! The GL’s have been brilliant, right through the pandemic and to this present day, working hard to help where they can, thank you. They’ve definitely earned their stripes and when our day comes and we step out on to the stage at the Albert Hall, I won’t forget, haha. I have also been touched to see a few with no voices (otherwise fit and well) at rehearsals, just listening and learning.

Auntie Anita, Uncle Kenny and little Kenzie.

I’ve started my usual spell of watching cheesy Christmas movies at night. The REALLY naff American ones, with fake snow and rubbish actors. Tonight’s, Random Acts of Christmas, was so bad it only just scored 1/5 candy canes. I heard something nice; if kids are writing a Christmas list, try getting them to list one thing they WANT, one thing they NEED, one book to READ, one item to WEAR and something to SHARE – like a game or *tropical disease. The five gift Christmas plan. *obviously not! The Day clan had a get together – I will get to one eventually, I’d love a proper chat with all my cousins and family.

Mum with cousin Linda, the birthday girl.

There I was whizzing through, When you Believe, (by Whitney and Mariah) from the film, The Prince of Egypt, when I hit a whole patch in Hebrew, hahahaha. I really should check a song right through before starting, but I’m always too eager to get going. Oh dear. I made a cuppa and thought it through and decided to continue. Consonantal Aleph’s are a real thing, but I really have no clue as to exactly what they are. The vowel sounds are pretty regular (phew), but there’s the odd, guttural noise that is key to making it sound authentic. The part in Hebrew also gets very fast. I think that by the time some turn their page – the song will be over. Oh well, in for a penny in for shekel, haha. “Ashira, Ashira, Ashira!” Me – that’s what I’m singing as I stand in the queue in Waitrose.

Pop with his little bro.