Sunday, 18 January 2009

Land of Hope

The trouble with choral scholars, I find - apart from the fact that they can't hold their drink and are permanently skint - the trouble with choral scholars is, and I am telling you nothing I wouldn't tell them, nay, haven't told them to their faces - no, the trouble with choral scholars is that they are too enthusiastic. They are like a litter full of restless puppies, bouncing up and down behind the song-school super-desks and bobbing up and down in the choir-stalls as keen as mustard. They make anyone with slightly older bones look tardy, jaded and cynical. And call me what you like, I am certainly never tardy. (My punctuality is second to none; it helps, of course, living within a gnat's crotchet of the cathedral, but no matter.)

We have two new choral scholars this term. I shall call them Ben and Michael, chiefly because those are their respective names. Now let me say here and now, once and for all, that the two aforementioned striplings are perfectly decent fellows. They are fresh of face and sweet of voice, clean-shaven of cheek and modest of coiffure. They are also wet behind the ears. And damned keen.

For a start Michael has assumed responsibility for giving out and taking in the music. You might recall my mentioning in a previous post that this is customarily a task incumbent upon the newest lay-vicar. But Michael volunteered, first to help and thence to do the job completely. And Bernard Wiggins, Decani Alto II, was hardly likely to demur. And as for Ben, if there are pages to be turned in the organ loft, he's your man. Or boy. Because, dear reader, it is most definitely a sign of age when choral scholars start looking younger. You can forget the grizzled old faces of the county constabulary here in Wilchester; take one look at a cathedral choral scholar and it's like looking at a beaming, fresh-faced third-former, which is of course what most of them were a mere twinkling of an eye ago.

Now they are perfectly decent fellows, the sort any father would happily allow escort his youngest daughter to the local tea danson, or for a bite to eat at a Lyons Corner House. I myself, if I were blessed with female progeny, would happily allow either one of Michael or Ben (or is it Ben and Michael, for they are deuced difficult to tell apart from one another?) to accompany my daughter to a showing at the moving kinematograph. I have nothing whatever against either one or both of them personally, musically, socially, or bibulously. No. But if only they would refrain from beaming so ecstatically whenever the Organist announces he would like one of them to do a solo; if only they wouldn't drool over the music list; and if only they wouldn't spring up like be-cassocked jack-in-a-boxes whenever it's time for us to sing. But then, I suppose, if they struggled to their feet at the first chord of the hymn, if they cursed the appearance - yet again - of Dross in D for evensong and if they rolled their eyes at the thought of the extra (unpaid) work required in some interminable Restoration verse anthem, I suppose there would be little to distinguish them from your own correspondent. And as he relies on them to be technically savvy, perhaps he'd better not complain too much. After all, we were each of us young once I do believe. Even Can Bass had his salad days. Oh yes. And he could tell you a thing or two about them, too. But not now, dear reader, not now. For it is time, I fancy, for a little nap. Because the real problem with other people's enthusiasm is... it's so damn tiring.


Gadjo Dilo said...

True, other people's enthusiasm is so tiring. I was raised by an compulsive enthusiast and a recluse: I've been bipolar ever since ;-)

Can Bass 1 said...

How very unfortunate for you, old bean. Still, chin up! Being bi-polar never conquered empires.

Eryl Shields said...

I agree that the bouncingly enthusiastic can wear you out, but the most exhausting, I find, are those who refuse to engage at all. I teach language skills and pretty basic argumentation to university students and some of them just don't want to learn. They are the killers.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Actually I can't claim that, Mr Can Bass, and it was crass of me to do so. No, I'm actually tri-polar - the family cat also had a (generally non-invasive and moderating) influence, though this does mean that I break into a loud purr from time to time.

Ninon said...


I'm glad you like my blog! It surprised me that you asked me if I was interested by your choir, since I never mentioned I was singing (although I have, but never on a higher level) and since I'm living in Finland it would be a bit hard for me to visit the rehearsals, don't you think? :)

Kind regards,


Kim Ayres said...

Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment on my blog :)

I was a very enthusiastic 2nd trombonist in the school orchestra once. I prided myself on being the loudest instrument of all.

Layclerk said...

My goodness, I've just noticed I've been honoured by being newly included in your links sidebar. I feel the warm glow of acceptance into polite society!

Thank you Can Bass 1, you are a gentleman!

Kitty said...

I took my daughter to the doctors fairly recently. He (the doctor) was about 12 years old.

It's so depressing.


Ms Scarlet said...

Most things are better when done with gusto. There is nothing worse than lack lustre singing or a reluctant organ.

Kevin Musgrove said...

I'm constantly being chastised for my boundless enthusiasm. We all have our crosses to bear.

Barry Teeth, Beet Poet said...

Alice was bi-polar. P.O.L.A. Polar.

I am enthusiastic about kebabs and Stella, but that's about it.

Re the tromboner earlier, I think you're very brave to admit tromboning on a public-ish weblog, well done. Do you feel better for it?

George Tarasuk said...

While she's hardly a scholar, my mother-in-law has a knack of drinking her 6 morning cappucinos and then calling us at the crack of dawn.

I totally hear what you're saying. That level of enthusiasm makes me want to go out and slash somebody's tires.

Nota Bene said...

Other people's enthusiasm can be just so infectious...just like the flu :-(

Lucy Fishwife said...

We had a choral scholar as a lodger when I was at school. Not remotely bouncy or enthusiastic - he used to write unbelievable obscenities on the fridge with my little brother's magnetic letters. Luckily we were laughing too much to be offended, although I remember my mother asking me once "what IS a minge, dear?"

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Aw, what a sweet posting.

Don't pour any vinegar on their salady days Can Bass!

Though of course feel free to tell them that beer rots the vocal chords and they won't reach a high-pitched D major if they indulge in nookie more than once a term...or whatever the correct most coveted note happens to be!