When Alex and I lived in Francophone Africa, there was a custom that at the end of a dinner party (almost the only form of entertainment) the guests had to suggest thrice that it was time to be going; only after raising the subject for the third time could they take their leave. So now Alex and I are coming to the point of our third departure from TPC, the previous occasions having been in 1987 and 1997. This time it will indeed be permanent as we move to Scotland, but in today’s strange circumstances it’s likely we shall fade out gently rather than exit with a bang –not even drinks at the pub! Thanks to Zoom, our physical absence may only be noticed when rehearsals become non-virtual once more.
It’s now more than 45 years since I first joined the Choir, though from this must be deducted two spells of absence totalling 9 years, so I haven’t quite spent half my life in it, though very nearly. Alex is a relative newcomer, having only become a full-time member in 1991, though she was a frequent “guest singer” in the 1980s, notably on trips abroad, and often helped behind the scenes. Thanks to her vocal transmogrifications, between us we have sung in all sections of the Choir, which may be our most enduring record.
How many concerts have we sung in? A trawl through the TPC Performance History tells me I have been in over 180 concerts, and Alex over 110. This includes 9 trips abroad, and in addition we have both done almost 120 cathedral services including those on 18 summer residencies.
But statistics like these don’t begin to describe the experience of being immersed in TPC. It’s true that both of us suffer from a tendency to “get involved”, which manifested itself when I found myself on the Committee before my first year was out. (I did eventually manage to leave the Committee again –three times, I believe!) Alex has succeeded in never being on it, though by dint of volunteering for all sorts of things instead, including mass catering. For a while in the 1990s I was a “singing only” member when the demands of my job made anything more than that impossible, and just getting to rehearsals was a struggle. But it was always well worth it: there can be few other pastimes which oblige one to switch off from work as completely as does choral singing.
Having succeeded in disengaging myself somewhat and then taking 5 years off while in the Far East, I lowered my guard at a critical moment and was sucked back into the TPC system. This happened during our extensive post-retirement travels Down Under. I had managed one day to get a mobile phone signal from some lonely outback mast that was strong enough to let me dial up (remember it?) and download some emails, one of which was from Rosie. “Are you going to re-join TPC when you return?” she said, “and if so would you be Treasurer?” As a greenhorn retiree, having no notion of how rapidly a vacuum fills, it seemed obvious to say yes, why not? –little realising I’d signed up for 15 years!
Nothing builds friendships better than working with people to achieve something that satisfies all concerned, whether it be a musical performance itself or everything else that goes into it. Alex and I have certainly made many friends for life in TPC over the years, and although we’ll be a good deal further away from now on, we will stay in touch and hope to get to concerts whenever we can. We’ve signed up as Friends twice before, so adhering to the rule of three, this time it’s final!