4 hours ago
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Did I tell you that I can sing? No... phew, then I don't have to apologise publicly for fibbing. I can't sing, not a note, I am tone deaf. That probably has something to do with the fact that I was classed as being profoundly deaf for four years. After surgery a few years back I am now just classed as being mutton and ignorant by those around me that don't know my history. My hearing is deteriorating again.
So when I was asked to get involved in a project working with the regional opera company I was a little nonplussed to say the least. I protested loudly, (I sometimes forget to adjust my volume control), to the powers that be, 'you want me, but I can't sing, I won't be able to hear the flipping music properly.' Their reply, 'ah but if they can get you to sing then it won't be a problem getting some of our morally challenged bods to sing.' I suppose there was some method in their madness. As you know I am always game for a new adventure and things have been a tad slow at work recently, so I agreed.
Yesterday I set off for the venue with an array of the morally challenged in tow. I did not hold out much hope of engaging them as at least two of them thought they were going to the cinema and one very large chap named Junior told me in no uncertain terms that he was only there as it was this or attending the job centre. So we arrived at the dance studio, yes a dance studio, very elegant, lots of nubile distractions for Junior and his new posse. I smiled bravely at the waiting opera singers who were to attempt to engage my morally challenged crew.
The scene in the studio reminded me somewhat the film Zulu. The three beautiful and elegant performers facing a group of bods with eyes narrowed, jaws set and expressions begging the performers to bring it on. As the studio floor was polished wood, they had been told to remove their shoes, I looked down the row to see an assortment of odd socks, holes, socks that looked as though they would walk out of the room under their own steam and a set of brightly painted toe nails with gems. Very pretty, however the aroma wafting up from the said feet was beginning to fill the vast space. It seemed however that our elegant performers were not in the least phased and their gracious smiles glancing off perfect white teeth remained set in place.
As the day progressed I was astonished to see that my dysfunctional brood who barely a few hours previous had communicated in grunts were now bonding, not only with one another but with the performers. Further more they were beginning to make sounds akin to music and moving in a purposeful and coordinated fashion. There was a definite buz in the studio and no it wasn't the feet.
At the end of the day we were performing, yes performing a mini opera. Then Junior opened his mouth and threw his arms out wide and sang solo, with an incredibly rich baritone voice that made the hairs on my neck stand. A huge grin on his face replacing the previous sullen challenge. The performers had broken into his world and he into theirs and it was then that I realised just how much these three beautiful people had achieved. They understood the facade, they are actors who sing, they simply broke down that facade in a new way.
After the performance we all sat together and it was clear that the people I had taken there in the morning were no longer in the room, they had been replaced by a confident outgoing group of people who were now communicating in sentences, making eye contact and smiling, there was lots of smiling. They had been accepted, holey socks, sweaty feet and all, by a group of people who to them were elite and a world apart. They will all be carrying on with the project over the coming months with the intention of gaining work placements with the Opera. this is however only if they stay out of trouble and behave themselves, a huge incentive as they will not want to loose what they have tasted and savoured. As for me, I gave them a few laughs as I attempted to sing, but my days of singing opera are now at an end and it is back to my usual day job.
There are some, perhaps some amongst you, who do not like this form of intervention. I fully understand that and I don't have all of the answers. I suppose being the Saint of lost causes, I like to at least try and think that people can change otherwise I am simply reduced to being a jailer!