Every year I write a song for my choirs for Christmas.
joy of Christmas,
lights, gala, gold tinsel, wassail,
because of The Birth.
And the tone?
and this is a real joy for me-
Every year I try to push the envelope.
Do something new.
Learn something myself.
A couple of years ago, it was the scale song-
simple scale melody-
up, down, and across-
a sort of happy polka-ing through the halls
you hear in something like “We need a little Christmas.”
Merrily merrily merrily merrily, deck the halls and trim the tree,
merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, light the hearth and sing with glee,
for Christ the King is born today, angel choirs and shepherds say-
yes, I know.
And the choir wore white and gold,
not the usual black,
and I put my long hair up in braids,
and wound through with glitzy ribbons from our present exchange-
and we all had fun.
Except one of the bah humbugs at our family service,
who wanted a Hallmark Christmas,
like in the dark days after the war,
and insisted, along with the council,
on a black mark in my record if I ever do anything so tasteless again.
Right out of Dickens.
So this year,
being one of the toughest we have ever waded through in my family,
I decided to chuck the music stress for a couple of weeks,
and took off to sing in London-
home of Christmas joy-
we had to explain to friends here in Gutenberg land as:
just like carnival, without all the drinking-
I said it, I mean it-
or do you know of another place on earth that sponsors a charity bike race,
where thousands of participants dress themselves in wrapping paper
and moose antlers,
and ride through the city chanting ho ho ho?
Unless it was, of course San Francisco,
where we bumped into a group of carolers at the airport
and rode the escalators for an hour, while waiting for a connection,
singing improvised Christmas carols.
(this was one very good bunch of singers-
although why I, as a dramatic mezzo,
got the top far too high and far too ornamented part is beyond me-)
back at the manger-
this was the Christmas of good friends and much joy,
which is what it actually should be about.
We visited a Christmas market with my Aussie girlfriend and her husband,
and I even ate my first burger in a REALLY long time,
in a fantastic burger place near the festival hall.
Then we tried out mince pies,
toffee in traditional form,
sticky, intense, wonderful,
tea in a crypt under St Martin in the Fields-
be still my heart,
went to see the English chamber choir sing,
got thoroughly whomped by wet fake snow,
had to dance with Prince Charming-
(why, if they put you in the house seats,
do the front house expect you, as a gesture of thanks-
yes, ok, they were very very good to us,and of course i am thankful,
but I’m just not a fan of close Sambas with a man in tights and feathers on his head
as the entire audience watches and roars-)
So anyway, this was my introduction to the veddy veddy traditional world of the Christmas
with audience participation-
“yes you will” from the villain
“No he won’t” from us in the audience.
Repeat till all the kids are screaming and so wound up feeding them ice cream seems like
taking your life in your hands.
Silly, but marvelous fun.
A place where 2-99 year olds turn into
well, about six year olds.
And this panto was particularly joyful,
since it was potted.
if you count Harry Potter,
like I said-
crazy but fun-
traditional Christmas pantos
complete with naughty winks,
asides to the adults
men dressed as women,
young men dressed as silly looking young men,
and a Tinkerbell that did a strange boogaloo
that was somehow more Friday the thirteenth
than Peter Pan-
So there we were-
Seated in house seats,
meaning full participation expected,
singing the twelve days of Christmas,
for which none of us had a clue how many geese were dancing
and ladies were ringing gold things-
actually, the five gold rings are also birds-
a ring of pheasants,
but somehow it still always reminds me of Beyonce and putting a ring on it.
In a real real real Enlish panto,
with people pretending to upchuck over me,
and water coming down,
and a London fog from an out of control ice machine,
and me thinking it couldn’t get any better,
when they did a recap,
at the start of act two,
and recapping the action
using real caps.
ie good evening ladies and gentlemen-
full bow in strange goose hat,
the queen’s speech-
(I wonder how they got one of those strange saucepot things she wears,)
you get the picture.
wait for it,
yes you will, no you won’t yes you will,
they recapped the entire action in ten seconds.
And since I was there,
where I am now-
did I mention I did a lot of singing,
and Christmas conducting the last couple of weeks?
So now, back in Gutenberg Land,
filled with the remainders of Christmas good cheer,
also turkey, yams and Aunt Elizabeth’s divinity fudge-
my aunt Elizabeth,
the recipe for which supposedly goes back to the puritans,
and contained eel butter
before she took it out-
probably because she got tired of the family sending the box back to her-
often a year later-
in the spirit of too much of everything Christmassy,
but still no way of expressing all the things we are thankful for this year,
instead of the traditional Christmas song,
hey, I’m not wonder woman-
I’ll get it done between the years-
(Christmas here is until the sixth of January
what I wrote was:
a ten-second recap
of the Christmas story.
It goes like this:
God-gift-born-angels-mankind-wisemen-camels-too much divinity fudge-
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