How I came to join the choir – Steve Flynn

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January 2007

It’s not every day you ‘retire’. After 39 years of the day job I’m just waking up to the fact that my daily bike commute to Leeds Road is over. So what do I do now? I’ve worked in IT since the age of 19. Back then a computer filled a warehouse and had substantially less processing power than the average mobile phone. My early intentions are to provide a service to anyone in difficulties with home PC’s or who wants to know a bit more about the software they have, particularly Microsoft Office. Broadband seems a real minefield for some people so there’s probably work there too. And have you seen how much PC World charge for these services? Must be an opportunity to undercut those guys. So lets see how things develop.

March 2007

Remember when you were in work and that smug retiree would tell you how busy they were? Did you believe them? Course you didn’t. But it’s true. There’s lots of things to get involved in, most of them unpaid and time consuming. Projects at home and the odd bit of work, mostly for peanuts but rewarding nonetheless, fill out the days. Your social life begins to expand into daylight hours as well as nights. You begin to make the transition into ‘The Third Age’.

May 2007

Met Graham in Holmfirth. Still banging on at me to come along to New Mill choir. He says some of the guys get together on a Tuesday afternoon to play bowls which sounds a nice change to bashing pedals round on my bike. Although I can see through his cunning plan, I have to admit to an interest. But it’s raining so the bowls will have to wait.

June 2007

Still raining.

July 2007.

More rain.

September 2007

Met Graham in Holmfirth (again). The seed he planted in May must have germinated somewhere in my subconscious and I find myself provisionally agreeing to go along to a choir concert at St Paul’s in October. My resistance is beginning to weaken.

October 2007.

The concert is good fun and I genuinely enjoy it but can I sing like these guys? Three pints in the Star and it’s been agreed that I’m a baritone and I’m going to the next rehearsal at New Mill club. Beer: the salvation and downfall of men!

It’s Tuesday night and I’ve walked to the club. It’s all hustle and bustle, smiling faces, lots of introductions and before I know it I have a thick book of music and I’m invited to join in and sing. I find the experience exhilarating. As 50 male voices rise to a crescendo, the hairs on the back of my neck rise. I want to be part of this. The music, to my ears and eyes, is difficult to follow at first but I quickly start to get the hang of the simpler stuff though anything with the remotest degree of difficulty is mesmerising. Afterwards there’s a very sociable gathering in the bar with supper and a well earned drink. This isn’t bad at all!

November 2007

The first night has set the pattern for the following weeks. Raymond, my neighbour, has put aside his apprehension and come along too. We’ve signed up to go to the workshop in Scarborough which, I understand, is not to be missed.

Scarborough 2008

I won’t try and describe the weekend in a serial manner; rather I’ll just give my impressions and observations. It is an excellent way for the choir ‘newbie’ to broaden his choir experience and anyone new to the choir should go. Energy levels are high and the concentrated workshop sessions give me more confidence. The social elements of the weekend are an opportunity to meet and chat with the people I am singing with and even though I wondered whether the invitation to go for a run at 7:00 am was a wind up, it did happen. Probably the most impressive thing about the weekend is the concert in Tadcaster where the choir demonstrate that they can produce a very emotional performance even when vocal chords have been constantly exercised and many have drunk long and deep at the bar. I can only assume the Spirit of Elvis is upon them – those at the ‘show’ on Saturday evening will know what I mean.

Spring Concert, St Paul’s

First sing in public with the choir. I’m pretty nervous and even take the words to some songs with me to the Town v Tranmere game. A quick run through at half time and again in Sainsbury’s café after the match. I have sung in the massed choir event at the Town Hall but that was relatively anonymous and we had the words in front of us. This time it’s from memory and I know how that can suddenly go blank. Even though I’ve appeared in amateur shows and performed simulated sex on stage at the LBT (yes, really!) the nerves drag at the stomach. Fortunately we begin with ‘The Heavens Proclaim’ which gives me the chance to open my lungs, have a good rant and settle down. The rest of the concert consists of songs I can make a contribution to, songs I know bits and pieces of and some in which I really should keep my mouth closed but instead try to follow Elizabeth’s guidance and at least do something with. Note to self – make more effort to get these things learnt!

The concert finishes and I seek the verdict of my ex-choir accompanist and partner Sue with some trepidation but she judges it a success.

So it’s back to the Star to round off the evening with a beer or more.  Which is where this started really.

Here’s to the next time!

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