In Augustus extremis

At the beginning of the month, I signed up for an intensive classical singing course in the village. It was an incredible experience. Music and song resounding all over the place, inside and outside my head. I was shocked by the sheer physicality of the activity – it is rather like a sport.

One of the highpoints was hosting a rehearsal of a Polish tango in my living room (see picture). With Norwegian-born Swiss residing Alto Agnes Martin, Bruno Dottin playing cello and Laurent Bourreau on piano (Christine Box listening enthralled). Another was when I invited everybody back for a drink and was rewarded with a Schubert Impromptu from Laurent and some incongruous combinations of improvisations till 3 am.

For the final concert, being the least classical of the singers, I opened the show in the cathedral with Mary Magdalene’s theme from Jesus Christ Superstar – I don’t know how to love Him. The last day we did a concert at the local retirement home and with the pressure to perform replaced by the opportunity to entertain, I did my best rendition of Memory, based on Rhapsody on a windy night by TS Eliot.

I learnt as much listening to and watching the other singers as I did in the lessons and classes. I had my moment of fame when one of the girls at the supermarket check-out recognised me and told me my singing was "sublime"...

Then I went to Scotland (more later) and found myself singing “Funiculi, funicula” whilst stirring risotto for my father. But it was the piano accompaniment to a piece the choir sang by Brahms (How I sprang up in the night) which seems to have imprinted itself most deeply. It comes back to me in quiet moments.