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I’m in the choir

Up until about 9 months ago I would have laughed, and laughed, and laughed at the thought of ‘village life’, ‘community halls’, and ‘choirs’ and now it seems I can’t get enough. This evening I found myself in a community hall, at the back of the St Ives Backpackers hostel, listening in rapt admiration to a group of people sing Bohemian Rhapsody, Windmills of My Mind and Angels by Robbie Williams.

I walked in smiling and I left smiling 3/4 of an hour later. Smiling at the choir, smiling at myself, smiling at how disdainful I’d been in the past of all things ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ because that’s exactly what the group reminded me of. It’s archetypal English, village life at its most quaint and most lovable and I genuinely wanted to be a part of it.

At one point I almost expected Maggie Smith to walk through the door wearing tweed, reminding everyone to switch off the lights when they left. Young and old, male and female, with a glass of wine or bottle of beer next to nearly every chair, they all looked like they were really enjoying themselves; and on a cold Tuesday night in March how could you not want to be a part of that?

I don’t remember the names of most of the people I met this evening, but I do remember how friendly they were, how they bustled me off to the pub as soon as they found out I’d just moved into the area, how quickly they made me feel a part of the group, and how enthusiastic they were about the choir. I was quickly convinced that if I was to have any kind of fun in St Ives I MUST join, as quickly as possible.

So join I did. After a swift drink in the pub I walked determinedly over the road to ‘audition’ for the Grande Papa of musical life in St Ives. I ‘aahed’ (or ‘arghed’) to 4 or 5 notes until I was told firmly that I was a soprano and I would be welcome to join. Obviously all those years of karaoke were finally paying off.

It’s so funny where life takes us: I’m sure that someone, somehwere is having a good laugh at my expense. Like the father of the bride at the wedding of his child who was ‘never’ going to get married, or the grandmother at the birth of her 3rd grandchild from the daughter that was ‘never’ going to have kids… there’s a good old laugh coming from someone looking at me – the person that was ‘never’ going to leave London, the person that was ‘never’ going to join anything remotely villagey, the person that would have rather died than gone for tea with a couple older than her parents (which I did agree to do earlier this evening AND I’m looking forward to it), and the person that was judgemental and downright rude about anything quaint or hokey.

Tonight I left the house without wearing make-up in the same jeans that I’d been wearing all day to run errands, and move boxes. My stilletoes are in a box somewhere in the house and I’m not even compelled to look for them; my beautiful haircut which seemed so important to me when arranging my leaving / engagement party in London has now been dragged back into pigtails, and my nails are a hodge-podge of lengths and chipped nail varnish.

I should add that absolutely none of this mattered to me as I hastily changed my jumper for a less revolting top and ran out the house smelling of roast chicken to catch the end of choir practice which is, I feel compelled to mention, just round the corner.

CUE: Hysterical laughter from everyone that has ever known me.

Do I care? Not really to be honest. I had fun tonight. I made some friends and in a place where I know no one bar the people living in this house (currently Danny’s mum and Danny’s (and mine) mate from Bristol) that’s pretty needed; and of all the people I met there wasn’t a judgemental look between them… not even when I ordered a diet coke at the bar and declined a cigarette.

The whole evening was a cross between a Vicar of Dibley episode, a Joanna Trollope novel, a Richard Curtis film and a Roald Dahl poem: And to all my friends and family, still laughing manically about how things have turned out for me, I say this – don’t mock because, like me, one day you too may find yourself doing everything you said you never would, and liking it.

Christine says:

So glad you came to our choir. I have been in the choir for over 3 years now and every week is just as amazing as the week before! Not only is it great fun but also WE ARE GOOD! and that makes it all perfect. Pete is a joy to be around and there is no-one else like him. Looking forward to snaring Danny now into the choir x
Christine ex Porthminster View Guest house
the Guest house that changed your life !!(for the better I hope) Loved having coffee with you on Sunday us oldies and you young people must do it again sometime xxxLOL

michelle says:

Oh dear, you do know i mean that D.I.V.O.R.C.E is a song I remember you singing (very well!) in the Dolphin and not that I think you will get one…!!! Nooooo.. I should have clarified that. I can’t wait to hear you sing again xx

Peter Luing says:

Hello, Lee, we have met; I am the ‘Grande Papa’ of your blog; Pete is my name and KRuners is my drinking and singing club. Thank you for all your nice comments – they were well-pitched (just this side of patronising) and I know exactly where you are coming from. I did the London professional music scene earlier on in my career but I prefer the laid-back life style here – and I have zero ambition except to produce quality music and drink quality beer. I tend to feel sorry for everyone in the South-East – and this from a Guildford lad.
You are welcome on board – you have a lovely voice. I know and love my babies: there is nowhere they would rather be on a Tuesday night than with KRUners and the same applies to me. I would urge your readers to give it a try if they are in the area. We are the Carlsberg of choirs; if they did one it would be KRUners! See you Tuesday. Pxxx

Barbara says:

Hi Lee I did smile (not laugh) like you thought I would but I was so extremely happy for you and Danny – keep on singing and enjoying the life you have both made for yourselves.

ann and andy says:

We wholeheartedly agree with everything you have said. Ann finds living in Devon so much easier than living in London – like you she can go out in anything and not have to worry about getting strange looks when she turns up at the supermarket looking like a scruff. Andy says you can take the girl out of London and take the London out of her in the West country. Looking forward to seeing you. Your neighbours from Devon. XX

Roberta Field says:

Gorgeous Darling – so happy for you xxx

Liz Sloan says:

Lee’s in love with St. Ives. So pleased for you. I’ll look forward to a duet with you when we next meet around Sloaner’s piano!! Luv Liz xx

Rosie says:

I’m certainly not laughing and, if I’m perfectly honest, I can definitely feel the seed of envy beginning to sprout….if only I could sing in tune!

Tim Reader says:

I’m personally *delighted* that you’ve joined the choir! So many rewarding (and drunken) experiences await you :)

michelle says:

Awww I’m not laughing, I’m impressed!! You are settling into St Ives so well.. I want to come and hear you sing at the choir! Go girl (do they do D.I.V.O.R.C.E as one of their songs?)