December 19th, 2005


So fa-la-la, so good

It's been a carol-filled few days, with one thing and another. Friday night was a very civilised carol-gathering at sion_a's over port and mince pies, and hopefully I— (WINOLJ, but who does have a lovely singing voice despite claiming not to have sung for years) wasn't too overwhelmed by the rest of us. The faffiness of Portfolio has left me liable to be a bit bossy, as otherwise nothing ever gets done, but I hope I didn't stand on anybody's toes -- though I probably sounded like somebody was standing on mine when I foolishly attempted the descant on "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing".

Portfolio themselves, faff and all, did the traditional annual busking session at the Craft Market on Saturday lunchtime. I'd feared it would be a bit of a limp affair after this term's record level of absence and apathy, but we somehow managed to sing for 90 minutes without repeating any songs, and even managed a credible "In Dulci Jubilo" despite being at least one part short for the split-choir setting. I love singing with the sort of group where people can swap parts mid-stream, sing organ parts and oboe parts as necessary; we could still do with more people (particularly more girls!) but it's good to know we can still pull together and sound convincing. And judging by the weight of the collecting-tins, we raised a fair amount of money for East Anglia Children's Hospice -- which is, after all, a big part of the point of the thing.

By the time we'd finished singing I was practically frozen to the spot; we (singers and friends) adjourned to Tatties for much-needed warm drinks, which helped to fortify me against the elements when addedentry and I came to cycle home. No time to stand around and get cold, though, because we had to dash to London to put in an appearance at miss_newham's party! We feared we'd be unfashionably early, but we forgot to account for just how damn cool Miss and her friends are. Hell, they were probably still partying from the night before. norantiskitchen plied us with glorious food, we talked to several lovely people (and I matched faces to LJ-names but won't risk embarrassing myself by doing a namecheck here and accidentally missing anybody out!) and it was quite reluctantly that we had to drag ourselves away to Owen's former housemates' party in Greenwich. But then their party was good too, so we didn't feel so bad. :-)

After getting to bed around 2am, dragging ourselves out of bed in time to leave the house by 10:30am was painful, but it meant that we made it home in time to get to Grantchester for their "Round the village Nativity Play". I can't even remember how we found out about this, as it has practically zero web presence (though I see now that the Cambridge Evening News did cover it), but I'm glad we did. It was a glorious crisp, clear day for walking around Grantchester, and the play itself was a veritable multimedia extravaganza featuring angels, shepherds, the Armed Forces, a harpist, a limousine, fireworks, some impressive young actors, a dog, a baby, mulled wine, and Jeffrey Archer. As we were herded from place to place there was a very real sense of getting caught up in the action, carried along by a story, knowing how it would end but not being quite sure how we would get there. They struck a good balance between humour and reverence, and between modernity and tradition; and the sheer fact of the nearly-seamless organisation of the event was testimony to the community spirit of the village.

[addedentry took pictures -- in the bottom right-hand corner of this one, you can see Mary Archer in a furry hat.]

As if that wasn't enough carol-singing, a few members of Portfolio sang carols at lunchtime today for the Christmas party of the Macular Disease Society Cambridge Group, whose president is a former member of Portfolio. He's getting to the point where he finds it too hard to see the music and too hard to hear the other singers, but he still joined us for one of the songs he knows, and the rest of the group seemed to enjoy the short selection of unaccompanied carols we performed. By popular request we did some of the old favourites too, so our audience could join in -- seemed only fair, since they'd generously supplied us with mince pies and cake! I was drafted into playing piano for these last few, which was a bit nerve-racking (though I was glad I'd played a bit at sion_a's on Friday -- the only practice I've done for about a year!) but I didn't make too many obvious mistakes.

I thought that was all my carols for this year, but I've just learned that there's a staff Carol Service at Great St Mary's on Wednesday, so I may just have to go along to that too... but then that really will be it for 2005. Roll on Christmas 2006! :-)