Cornwall 2013: male voice choir heaven
Cornish pasties – too much pastry and dry, but too iconic to refuse. Narrow lanes and high hedgerows behind which the countryside is hidden from the lowly car
traveller. Restricted view maybe, but sometimes better than a tightly-fitting higher, longer and wider forty-seater coach. You may have to get out and walk.
Some of us fail to be moved as to whether Trelawny will live or die. Great welcome, average to good ‘tucker’ as our Australian friends would say, and comfortable
accommodation. Massive bed, not goodnight but goodbye. Heaven save us from middle european schoolkids with perfect pitch and undescended voices.
One guest from the choir took the kettle to reception because it didn’t work. A polite enquiry as to whether she’d located the keycard in its slot next to the door solved the problem.
Another of our party asked for a vegetarian breakfast. A commendable effort at a healthy option? He then asked for two sausages, some bacon and fried eggs as well.
Friday morning. Met up with a girl we last saw 40 years ago. Ex-wife of a college friend. A series of horror stories, but she looks well – despite rheumatoid which thankfully is well controlled on the new treatments. The bloke was a local gp who was always off on expeditions and after he’d left the practice, the partners and nurses had a party to celebrate that he’d gone. Coffee at Trethtow an, a surfing village. Lunch at The Pandora with a gold letterbox, presumably celebrating Ben Ainslie’s success.
Friday evening. St Andrews Church, Redruth. Edwina Currie is President of Tideswell MVC in which her husband sings. We were discreet about eggs and John Major. They did a great version of ‘He Ain’t Heavy’, originally by The Hollies. The church was full, half audience and half Harmony Lindenholzhausen, a German outfit who took 15 minutes to get on stage and took the prize for the most flagrantly outrageous conducting. Four Lanes MVC, the hosts, did a great piece, if a bit long, sending up the male voice choir genre. St Petersburg Boys Choir was our first contact with sweet little hand-picked angels. Their ‘Alleluyah Chorus’ was stunning.
Saturday morning. Competition for 40 voices and under. The Hall for Cornwall. Some of us had heard the eventual deserved Finnish winners during a Friday lunchtime event. Singers who also study music. We didn’t win anything for deportment, courtesy of yours truly and a nervous guide. We got the sympathy vote however when JRR’s blood pressure fell below bottom C. Deathly white. Many a corpse looks better. Geoff Gill was on hand, a true trouper, continuing to sing as he held on. John eventually had to go and sit down, with a request to lose weight from Geoff ringing in his ears. All ended well, albeit prize-less.
Saturday evening. St Pol de Leon Church, Paul. A short walk from a stuck bus, followed by a great welcome from hosts St Buryan MVC. They did a super novelty piece -‘Little Tommy went A-Fishing’. Sydney Male Choir was given a loud cheer which they carried on. Soft was not in their repertoire. The pick was a small group of tight harmony experts, The Falmouth Glee Singers. ‘Calm is the Sea’ was my favourite. During the afterglow in The King’s Arms, they continued as a tight group, singing in a circle, not overly concerned whether anyone listened. The hosts held sway in the front room. A lot of people in small spaces. Most had more then one drink. Christmas had come early for the landlord.
Sunday. Eden Project. Relaxed, polo shirts, except for Colne Valley MVC who, in 3-piece suits, looked like bank managers who’d escaped for a day. Not the best set we’ve ever done. Followed by the S Wales Gay Men’s Chorus, who were terrific, especially in ‘Stand by Your Man’. The Eden Project is green, in and outside and as part of its ethical values. Easy to walk and enjoy the gardens. Massive biodomes shelter rainforest and Mediterranean countryside.
Monday. Tate St Ives. With Basingstoke MVC. A small covered auditorium overlooking the beach and great sets from both choirs. They did ‘He Ain’t Heavy’ – brill. No one was over concerned that the arrangements went south, with no piano and no audience and no lifeboat gig. It all came out right in the end. Great beaches, sunshine and a cornish lunch on the roof of The Tate. Can’t be bad. We easily won the prize for best applause. They had one old scrote who didn’t clap once and looked thoroughly miserable throughout their performance.
The expedition was a bit like a concert. Some good things, some things could be better, but the overall performance hung together, entertaining and enjoyed by the majority.