I’m officially OLD. You know when people say they’re ‘officially this’ and they’re ‘officially that’, well I’m officially middle-aged, officially menopausal, officially going downhill. My youthfulness is sadly in the past.
I know this because yesterday I attended a local secondary school, where a mini-rehearsal took place for a mass concert, comprising 6 junior schools from my local area, and is due to take place next week. In my capacity as one of the kiddiwinks’ voluntary minders, I helped shepherd them through some very windy back roads (to avoid a kid based calamity by going the busy main road route) to the massive ‘big school’ and then sat in the equally massive hall, while 200 kids sang their little hearts out.
Yesterday, in my neck of the woods, despite persistent rain almost every day, it suddenly came out all sunny and boiling hot. The trek to the school involved the wearing of nylon hi-vis jackets (which promoted a lot of sweating) and, in my case, the carrying of a first-aid kit. I don’t know what types of first-aid is usually administered to kids, but this kit came in a rucksack that possibly weighed a ton. The combination of the heat, and the monster backpack, meant I arrived at the hall on the verge of a heart attack, and a stone lighter than when I’d set out on the 20 minute hike through suburbia.
What a palava, thought I, as the sweat ran down my back in rivulets (this is a word I promise you) and also into my eyes, from my very sticky forehead. The school hall was airless and filled with 200 kids (not a good combination), along with a few assorted teachers.
Then one of the teachers stood in front of a large stage. This was a rehearsal, so the kids were seated on chairs in the hall facing the stage. There weren’t enough chairs for the adults, until the Head teacher had the brainwave of knicking some from the school canteen. So there I sat, fanning my overwrought face with a piece of card I intended to use as a shopping list later on, listening to the almighty racket that is the sound of 200 little blighters engaged in excited chatter.
Then it all went quiet. And the little blighters began to sing. A song called ‘Sing’’ by Gary Barlow. I had never heard of it and about half way through a tear came to my eye; and I got caught up in the youthful innocence of it all; in the straight-to-the-heart way that only a group of kids, singing en masse, can get to you. ‘What is that song?’ I asked another volunteer helper. ‘It was that military wives thing,’ she said, ‘Gareth Malone, have you never heard it?’ she added in total and utter surprise.
I hadn’t, but I have now, and this post ends with my attempted rendition of a song I’m currently calling ‘the best song ever written.’ (Of course, it’s not the best song ever written, it just feels like that when you hear 200 kids giving it their all.)
So, I’m old, and I’m old because I’m slowly losing all my cynicism; all my opinionated opinions; all my pessimism and misanthropy. And I know this because, yesterday, I started crying at a bunch of hot, sweaty kids in a dingy, unattractive Secondary school hall.
(Some notes on the recording. In my quest to become a one-woman choir, I added several voice layers and a couple of harmonies which may, or may not have worked. The beginning harmony is very dodgy, being that I was trying out harmonies and recorded the result. Audacity can’t take loud sound levels, it would appear, and this whole song registered in the don’t go there red zone, which has probably adversely affected sound quality. Listening through headphones (if you want to go to that bother) works wonders, I don’t know why. Failing headphones just play it very loudly so you can recreate the effect of those 200 kids in that hall. I welled up round about the time the instrumental comes up, towards the end of the song – you may find yourself weeping, but probably for entirely different reasons. The video is a lyrics one to enable you to sing along if you want to, however I just discovered that you can’t mute videos on mobile devices; if you were going to bother to play both that is.