Saturday, April 22, 2017

An Era of Music

A year ago I wasn’t even in a choir; now I’m running one.

It’s not my fault, really.

I know I have a tendency to want to be out front, and often throw myself into things with misguided enthusiasm, but this time I swore to myself it would be different. I joined a daytime choir, and made myself content with being one of a group, a cog in the wheel, and applied myself to learning to be the best choir member I could.

I liked it so much that, after a few months, I joined a second choir. I was really enjoying myself, singing in the more challenging daytime choir, and having a ball with the evening choir singing show tunes. It was a fun and exciting time.

Then the rumblings began.

Only a few months into the evening choir, it was announced that we were not making enough profit for the company that ran it. We were facing closure, but we were given another chance after the choir leader agreed to take a cut in pay to keep us afloat.

That worked for a while, but then the choir leader had to quit. Not having anyone to replace him, they told us, again, that they were going to close down the choir. The disappointment was palpable and, as we continued to sing for the remainder of the session, and the others came to terms with their loss, a dark thought entered my mind: “I could run this choir.”

The reason I thought something so undeniably insane was that, as a franchise choir, all I would have to do was lead the songs. All the admin, the venue, the bookings, the equipment, the song selections, the harmonies and how the songs were performed were decided by the couple who owned the choir. I knew I didn’t have the talent for that, but I did have a talent for teaching. All I needed to do was learn the songs the way they wanted them done and show the choir how to perform them.

Easy, right? Well, even I’m not that crazy; I knew it would be a challenge, but I was determined to do whatever it took to keep the choir from folding.

So that night I sent them an email volunteering to take on the choir. The next morning they answered and said, “Yes.”

I was equally delighted and terrified, but my wife had a more pragmatic thought: “Didn’t they even want to hear you sing?” she asked.

So, I met with the leaders. They liked me, they liked what I did, they tried me out with some live choirs; they were encouraged and they encouraged me. Then I had an intense session with the leader to go over the finer points of the songs. This, too, went well, and we parted looking forward to the upcoming rehearsal.

Then, at 10:30 that evening, I was fired. By text.

Okay, not exactly that dramatic. I got a text telling me to check my e-mail. I was fired in the e-mail.

This put me in a horrendous position. The choir’s hopes had been dashed, then they had been raised—by me—and now I was going to have to dash them again. It was a prospect I found unacceptable, and so—because I never let lack of qualifications or any relevant experience stand in my way—I decided to run the choir as an independent, community choir instead of a franchise.

This left me less than a week to put an entire choir program together, which is hard enough if you know what you’re doing, which, of course, I did not. Still, I managed to pull something together, and the first rehearsal went about as well as you could expect under the circumstances. But despite the few glitches and hiccups, everyone had fun and the prospects for next week look even better.

So now I’m a choir director, learning as I go, with—I hasten to add—some invaluable help from my daytime choir director, the ex-choir director and even the franchise owners (who have kindly loaned me the equipment I need).

I feel like I’m heading into a new era in my life. It’s rather scary, but as long as there’s music and singing, it should be all right.

This is more an orchestra than a choir joke, but it
sums it up nicely.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

My Final Say on Brexit

Well, we finally did it. David Cameron loaded the gun, and Theresa May has pulled the trigger. Article 50 was delivered to the European Union yesterday (well, a couple of days ago; I did write this the day after, but I was a slacker and didn’t post it until the first of April) and now we are beginning the job of extricating ourselves from the EU. A process that promises to be the most exhaustive and expensive divorce in history.

For people like me, there is nothing left to do but get on with it. Like it or not Brexit is going forward and all we can do is deal with the consequences. However, there is one thing about this whole Brexit deal I would like to get off my chest once and for all. And, hopefully, once I do, I can stop shouting at the telly every time it comes up (it really startles my wife).

To recap: Two posh boys got into a pissing match and one told the other that he didn’t have the cajones to call a referendum. So he called a referendum. And when he lost, he took his ball and ran away.

His unelected successor is determined to see this through, despite the fact that it was merely an Advisory Referendum and the outcome did not have to be implemented. It merely needed to be discussed and voted on in Parliament. She is within her rights to do this, but she wanted to do it all – issue Article 50, negotiate and implement any deals – without any involvement of parliament, and the courts had to step in to remind her she is not a dictator.

She clings to her decision because it is THE WILL OF THE BRITISH PEOPLE, and when Parliament was allowed to debate and vote on it, she warned them not the thwart THE WILL OF THE BRITISH PEOPLE. She has a moral duty to make Brexit happen because it is THE WILL OF THE BRITISH PEOPLE.

I call bullshit.

Yes, the referendum was passed by a slim margin, and yes, that legally entitles the government to enact Brixit, but please stop telling me you’re doing it because everyone wants you to. Because that is patently not true.

Official Chart -- not one I made up
The British people were asked if they wanted to leave the EU, and the British people pretty much said, “Um, we’re not sure.” The 52% of the people who voted Leave weren’t even sure. Some admittedly voted the way they did, not because they wanted to leave the EU, but because they didn’t want to vote for anything David Cameron supported, while others claimed they voted Leave but didn’t know that it meant to leave the EU. I’m not sure how that is even possible, but let’s for the sake of argument, say that all the people who voted Leave were adamantly in favor of it. You still do not have THE VOICE OF THE BRITISH PEOPLE.

You wouldn’t even have THE VOICE OF THE BRITISH PEOPLE if 52% of the entire population voted that way, which, in fact, they did not.

The Leave voters represent only 52% of the electorate who voted. And the electorate represents only a percentage of the population. In total, the people who voted Leave amount to only 27% of the British people.

Therefore: Dear Ms May, you do not have a mandate—THE VOICE OF THE BRITISH PEOPLE is not screaming for you to save us from the EU—so stop saying you do. You’re doing this because…well, I don’t have a faintest idea why you are, but you are, and you have every right to do so, and you are apparently determined to do it, so just get on with it and stop pissing down my back and telling me it’s raining.

And while you’re at it, lay off the Remainers. They have every right to be ticked off, and every right to shout about it. Tell me, if Remain had won by so slim a margin, would the Leave crowd have quietly gone back to their lives and put all this behind them? Would they hell. They’d be screaming blue murder and demanding another referendum.

So just get on with it. If you’ve got the cajones to take us out of the EU, then you’ve got the cajones to stop pretending you’re doing it because everyone wants you to. Admit that you’re doing it because you bloody well want to and don’t care a wit that you are dragging the other 67% of the British people who either voted Remain or didn’t get to vote at all with you.

There. Now maybe I can watch the 6 o’clock news in peace, and not have to scream at the telly every five minutes.