‘Wine, women and song’ and ‘A legend in his own lifetime’ – two days, two clichés. A well-ordered windy weekend in the wide open spaces of North Wales. Seaside, a little sun, shingle and loads of fun. Comely Conway for to stun, beautiful Betws and Cantorian.
The song came in three varieties. The ‘rosy’ glow of rehearsal, the naive pleasure of informal performance and a humble stumble along Snowdon’s foothills, gazing at the lofty peaks that are Colin Jones and his singers.
The wine was mostly beer, not many a pub left unvisited. We shared the stage in one downtown hostelry with a sixty year old ‘Willy Nelson’ look alike complete with pony tale and scouse accent. He was ‘the turn’ at a 40th wedding anniversary, a north west collage of bruisers and babes from whom you wouldn’t buy a second hand car. When he introduced his numbers he dropped in the odd name, ‘I remember what John Lennon said to me . . . ‘ Apparently, he’d seen better days. Some idiot said we sang, so we did, and brought the house down. Well they’d been there since opening time. Its quite nice to be able to do it.
Word had got round we were doing our main gig at ‘The King’s Head’. It was packed anyway. We met the owner’s of the best and the second best hotels in Llandudno and gazed at it’s beautiful people.
After midnight, at our hotel, Rod and Dave were at their best. On the strength of their recent successful Christmas sixties revival tour of Huddersfield’s rest homes, they are about to embark on a short tour of Bhagdad’s well women clinics. A blue comic also did a set. No great change from his day job which was selling tat, wholesale. The following morning, a serious senior moment was experienced by all the late night choir members. Few could recall any of his stories.
In between singing and drinking there was rest and recuperation, like long walks on short piers. And we had to eat. Allen Green and I thought we’d combine the two and take a sandwich for a walk along the prom. It was the sandwich from hell. We were dive bombed by thirty or more four stone coronation chicken crazy seagulls with no fear. Right put us off our lunch.
The food in the hotel was all right, but don’t have the cold buffet. The service was delightful and obviously in demand. Some of us had to look twice at the three behind the bar in one downtown pub we visited. All of them had served our breakfast that morning. The service was so delightful that some of us had to look several times at the waitresses.
Did anyone browse through the endless red clown hats, Welsh flags, handbags and other mementoes of balmy summer holidays?
The women in our lives are of course the New Mill matriarchs, Elizabeth and Ann, guiding and cajoling us to be the best we can be. Its easy to become cynical in the final third, but there they are, going ten rounds every week with the likes of us crusty old lifers. We learned that music is simply a matter of pitch and rhythm. Inevitably the Stephen Hawking junkies needed to see the wiring diagram, I totally lost it in complex time and spent the next half hour daydreaming pleasantly of waitresses. If it works its OK by me.
There’s been loads of debate as to whether Clan actually did or did not. We’re so grateful to Ann who has it on good authority that Clandidnot, with a silent ‘t’.
Colin Jones is the legend in his own lifetime. An impeccable CV and presence in spades. He stands and looks and you can hear a pin drop. He speaks and grown men sit forward and mutely beg for more, even in reproof. The result is technically awesome, especially the dynamics, you know, the bits when the sound swells and swells and swells and your breast nearly bursts with pride and power. I’ve been known to nearly break into a smile on such occasions. Or the bits when it gets quiet, shiveringly quiet and your soul gently weeps. Apologies to George Harrison – the Beatles remain so pervasive, don’t they?
Colin and his choristers are formidable, but they will have their doubts and fears. George Orwell wrote, “A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats”. Cantorian have to perform consistently at a high level within the competitive classical Welsh male voice repertoire. We, thankfully, are more eclectic. It suits New Mill’s purpose ie. anyone who wants to make music with can come and have a go. Elizabeth and Ann will do their best to make sure we are the best we can be, but we all can still learn.