Every night after dinner, while my mum washed the dishes, I’d sing to her. Sometimes I treated her to a recorder recital or to a flute rendition of a Kris Kristofferson song – on the odd occasion I pulled her into another room to hear me play a chord on the piano, but more often I just sang – unaccompanied,  right there in the kitchen.

I’d regularly force my parents to come to my ‘concerts’. “I’m having a concert at 6 o’clock.  You’ve to come, ok?”, I’d say.  “Mm-hm”, my parents would reply, rolling their eyes, bracing themselves. They would sit side by side on the sofa like a proper audience and I claimed the living room rug as my arena. Sure, they’d rather be somewhere else, doing something else most times, but come they would and listen they did – applauding in all the right places as I took my bows and curtseys.   One time, on holiday in Spain when I was about 8, I convinced my dad that were we to haul the pull down bed out of the wall and lay the broken door of the wardrobe on top of the mattress, it would serve as a rather fine stage for me to perform on – much, much better and at least ten times more exciting than the carpet at home. After some arm tugging, my dad did as I asked. There are photographs of this particular concert hanging on the wall of my mum and dad’s living room. I can’t remember the details of my ‘set list’ now but I’m quite sure Al Jolson songs featured highly.

I do remember I invited my dad on stage at some point.  I think we may have sang, ‘Who Wants To Be Millionaire?’ but since it turned out we only knew a few obvious lines, his guest appearance and our father/daughter duet came to an awkward and premature end.  “You can sit back down now, Dad”.

As well as performing solo live shows for my parents, my sister and I held more intimate acoustic jams in her bedroom on weekends.  Mostly we sang in her room but sometimes we’d sing in my room.  My sister plays guitar you see, so technically I was in a band. Our repertoire included all the hits. Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, The Everly Brothers…

Lately, I’ve been thinking of joining a choir. Such is my urge to sing, I’ve taken to treating my journeys to and from work as snippets of musical theatre.  I put my big green earphones on my head and I sing-along-a-Spotify as I bounce along the street in time to the music. The more fun I have, the less I care about who hears me or who looks at me funny. And people do, you know.  Hear me.  And look at me funny. But it’s London – so no sooner has someone glanced at me sideways, than some guy rocks past in a clown suit with a kitten on his head and takes the heat off.

I’m working up to turning the walk to the train station into full blown choreographed performances with chorus members and dance routines and everything… The other day, a girl sidled up to me on the pavement and tapped me on the arm mid-verse.  I pulled my earphones off my head. I’d made a mess of my hairdo.  “Are you listening to Camera Obscura?” she asked, smiling.  “Yup”, I said, embarrassed.  “I love that song”, she said and she skipped off. I put my earphones back on.  Pleased.

5 thoughts on “Singing.”

  1. Jenny, I’m not sure if you’ve just thrown caution (and norms of sanity) to the wind and just had a right good sing song in the street, but I can whole heartedly recommend it! It’s quite liberating, you know! :) But. Probably best I find a choir or some other performance outlet soon… Thanks so much for reading. I am honoured. I love your work :)

  2. I have done it only once or twice and yes, great to feel like a weirdo, but people used to look at other people weird when they were talking on mobile phones without there being a mobile phone in sight (headphones) so really we should all be fine with singing to ourselves in the street, and so many other places (not just in the safety of your car if you have one) :)
    And Ditto, I’m very pleased to find your blog. Were you in the Parsonage when I drew them way back in 2007?

  3. I love singing, but I’m not so sure that singing loves me :( However, I’m pretty sure I could disguise my vocal misgivings in the back row of a choir. I, too, have been looking for a choral home and I think there may be a community choir over Tottenham way (I picked up a leaflet ages ago), so I shall investigate further and let you know. I long to sing showsongs in a loud voice, belt out 60s girl group classics and tackle the Great American Songbook in the company of others. I’ll keep you in the loop-de-doop, sister! 💗💗💗

  4. Oh Jenny… I didn’t ever actually sing with The Parsonage – as much as I longed to. I did however attend many of their shows and Clare and I invited the choir to sing at The Lighthouse as part of our Made in the Shade Holiday Hullabaloo a few years ago :) Big fan. If I could find the East London equivalent, I’d be there! Kali – yeah… Let me know how you get on with the Tottenham thing. I’m TOTALLY with you on the show tunes and girl group classics… Throw in some country gems and a bit of kitschy notalgi-pop and I think we’ve got ourselves the dream repertoire. I’m wondering if we DO just start our own choir… ;) Rehearsal – my garden – next Tuesday.


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