Monday, 20 March 2017

World Rocks Against Dementia and the Purple Angel Singers Tour - 2017

Well, it has been a while (again!) much to Norman’s disgust, but I can’t let this weekend’s events go unrecorded can I? Where on earth do I start to record all the events of an epic period in the history of the Caroline Sharpe Singers? I’m thinking of writing a separate post for each day of the tour,  rather than one huge deluge covering the lot.
So, let’s start with the build up and Day One. Welcome to….
The Purple Angel Singers Tour, 2017: Part One.
If you know anything about my wife Ruth and her sister Caroline, you’ll know that if they are going to do anything, they will do it properly. Nothing will be left to chance. Every last detail will be assessed and catered for. Following the phenomenal success of the 2016 Loughborough World Rocks Against Dementia (WRAD) event at Trinity Methodist Church, the opportunity to perform for the ‘main event’ was too good to turn down and plans had been slowly formulating ever since. A good number of choir members seemed to be up for the trip to Devon for WRAD, but we all thought we needed another ‘gig’ or two to make the long trip ‘darn sarf’ worthwhile and memorable. Well sort of half way-ish is the Forest of Dean and the home of a relative, Penni  Vincent who had been keen for some time to put together an event involving Caroline Sharpe Singers and thus the concert at Viney Hill evolved. But what about the day after WRAD? A simple email to The Avenue Church in Newton Abbot brought a quick and enthusiastic response, so there it was – The Tour!
Of course, not everyone from CSS was going to be able to come away for the tour proper and not wanting them to miss out or for our  ‘home crowd’ to miss our WRAD 2017 ‘set’ it was decided to do a coffee morning at Trinity Methodist Church on the Saturday before the tour on 11th March. Ruth again took the lead in setting this up with volunteers recruited to do the coffee, tea and heaven knows how many cakes arrived from all corners of Loughborough. Justine and Jennie from MAE Interventions agreed to come and set up a display outlining the work they do in dementia care, in addition to Ruth’s Purple Angel display. I nearly forgot the essential purple balloons which arrived right on cue. Ruth even sorted me out with a purple waistcoat and bowtie!
As ever, we hoped for a reasonable audience to make all the effort worthwhile. Did we get one? Well yes, you could say we did. Trinity was packed! So much tea and coffee was drunk that the 10 pints of milk we had initially, quickly disappeared and yours truly had to make an urgent trip around the corner for another 8 pints!
The concert went well and everyone seemed to enjoy it. For last year’s WRAD concert it was supposedly ‘for one night only’ that Caroline Sharpe Singers were to become The Purple Angel Singers, but here we were again! This coffee morning was pretty much a dress rehearsal for the following week and at the very least enabled me to exorcise a few demons. I’m afraid I succumbed to the dreaded nerves in the week before this to a point where I didn’t think I had it in me to do Fat Bottomed Girls again. Doing the ‘Freddie thing' once more seemed beyond me at that point. Anyway, I won’t witter on about this now, but will return to the subject of pre-performance nerves and anxiety in a future blog. I learnt an awful lot over the last couple of weeks that will hopefully help me and maybe other similarly afflicted singers in the future.
This humble little coffee morning concert generated a packed audience and raised another phenomenal £500 plus for dementia charities. So, ladies and gentlemen, if you need to generate an audience and raise some cash for your favourite charity, you could do a lot worse than ask my wife for a few tips, though she may not thank me for saying that!
Any road, with that out of the way was it time for my wife to relax a bit? Nah, not a chance, not with the finer details of the tour to finalise! There were goodie bags to prepare (weren’t they just bloomin’ brilliant?)  with Anna-Ruth compiling the quiz complete with caption competitions and guess the composer photos. There were little sweetie bags with random confectionery. Someone even thought of WRAD Tour pencils with which to do the quiz!!!

The now much sought after 'Purple Angel Singers 2017 Tour bag!
So, as the glorious day approached we were all ready for the off. Well, almost. I think Caroline and Charlie could’ve done without the call from the minibus hire company saying that one of the vehicles was no longer available and we would need to have I think, two cars instead! WHAT??? That wasn’t acceptable, leaving Caroline and Charlie to source another. This they duly did, meaning they’d paid twice over for one vehicle and needed to demand a refund. Nowt is ever simple these days is it?
Anyway, the chaos was sorted and two minibuses, well, one minibus and one 9 seater car, arrived at the agreed rendezvous point, our abode in Loughborough for a 2 pm-ish departure. Our driveway became a car park for the weekend and we wondered what the neighbours thought about all these cars in the driveway and yet not a hint of noise emanating  from the house!?!
We were now ready for the off, with Charlie King driving the minibus and Granville Mercy recruited to drive the big car. The latter vehicle, transporting Sid and Carol, Me and Ruth, Chris and Gilly Deborah and driver Granville plus Theresa was to be dubbed ‘The Intellectual Bus’. I’m saying nuthin!
A few hours and comfort breaks later we arrived at Penni’s house  in Blakeney in the Forest of Dean. How Charlie and Granville got those vehicles up that hill and parked the damn things is utterly beyond me. Good job guys! How Penni managed the catering for our entire party was astonishing and what a spread it was! From there it was a short drive to Viney Hill Church for our first concert.
This was to be a concert in aid of The MS Society with the local choir’ 'Smart But Casual’ and was a really enjoyable, fun evening, with a singalong of Jerusalem to kick things off. On a personal note, when it came to performing Fat Bottomed Girls once again, I was as confident as I could be that I could crack it. Maybe I was too confident as I neglected to do my usual thing of writing the first line of each verse on my hand – just in case. Net result was that I had a complete blank re verse one. Couldn’t remember the first line to save my life so proceeded with the second verse in the hope that it would come to me eventually. It didn’t, and what was bizarre was that as I was singing, I was simultaneously thinking “I still can’t remember the first verse but I can’t now sing the third verse as that will completely mess up the end, so I’d better sing the second verse again". That I did, with gusto in the blind hope that maybe no-one would notice. I’m sure Caroline did but it didn’t show on her face. So I can only apologise unreservedly for the lack of ‘big fat fanny’ in that night’s rendition. A lesson learned - write a few of the words on your hand and you’ll never need ‘em. At least that’s the theory.
So a splendid concert all in all, to a modest but appreciative audience. Choir members were then deposited at their guest houses while a select few stayed at Penni’s abode in Blakeney.
So that was Day One over. Stay tuned for Day Two and the 'Main Event' and a ‘motorway flashmob’ shocker!!!

P.S. To whet your appetite for our WRAD performance, see the video  link on the right hand side of this blog!

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