Tuesday, 19 April 2005

Rags To Riches

On Saturday I was toiling away in a dusty basement but on Sunday I was (almost) rubbing shoulder with the elite at the V&A.

I work for the legal services of one of London's councils. Our organisation is one of the few among the London Boroughs' to have been granted the Law Society's LEXCEL accreditation. This was two years ago. Now, each year, Legal Services are submitted to an assessment to make sure that we still comply with the LEXCEL Standards. This is usually the occasion for some furious catching up by many people to make sure that everything they failed to do during the year looks like it has been done regularly after all. To be honest, we should have assessments every month to keep the service running as it should!

Anyway, last week, my former manager, in a different position from the one I currently hold in this place, pleaded with me to help her sort out some of the archived files in the basement. I used to be in charge of that and she claims I am the only one who can do it without her having to keep too close an eye on the proceedings. I am not sure why, but I agreed to this although I loath the place and would like nothing better than to see it exposed for the mess that it is. This is how I ended up spending my Saturday locked in this dark, airless basement sorting through dusty legal files. Not much food for the brain there, trust me. In the end it wasn't that bad. It was something different from what I usually do and because I had my new phone with me which includes a radio, I was able to listen to Radio 4 and then to some music.

On Sunday, I first had a meeting of my reading group. We were trying out a new venue after the cafe we have been using for a couple of year shut down to undergo a "minor refurbishment" which will turn part of it at least into a hairdresser's. Of course the major event in London this week-end was the 25th London Marathon and the street were first empty in the morning when I went to do my weekly shopping and then packed with people when I got to Trafalgar Square in the vicinity of which the new venue is located. As luck would have it, the place which usually opens at 1 did not open till 2 that day (probably to avoid to many people coming in just to use the loos), so we ended up waiting a bit outside, bemused as to what was happening and already thinking about a another place to go to. The meeting in the end went very well with a strong turn out and an interesting discussion. The place will do us nicely too, I think (especially without all the toing and froing due to the marathon). We might even manage to exercise our Pink Pound Musclepower and get then to turn the music down a bit!
It was then time for me to go home and get ready for the next stage of the week-end. The London Gay Men's Chorus was having a posh do to launch their new patron scheme and as possible future chair of Marketing Committee as was attending to give a hand. A selection of 300 or so people (including a few minor celebs: Stephen Twigg, Sandi Toksvig, Brian Paddick, Jasper Conran, Mary King, Gareth Valentine, Clare Summerskill, Linda Bellos, Hamish Clark and Lee Williams) had been invited to a private preview of the new Arts and Crafts exhibition at the V&A and then to partake in canapes and champagne while being serenated by members of the Chorus. The V&A had been very kind by giving us access to their Gamble and Morris rooms. The evening went fantastically well and everybody was full of praises. All the more I think because lots of people came not quite knowing what to expect. I was standing in the Morris Room manning the information table while all the action was taking place in the other room. I did not see much and the evening would have been all in all quite unmemorable for me would not have been for one of the waiters (not sure who cast them, but they have my congratulations. Yum!!!) attending on the our guests that evening. He was quite young (early 20's) with long blond hair and was almost certainly straight. The type who listen to hard rock. After the first set of songs, he came to our table, where copies of our CDs were on sale and asked us if the songs he just heard were on one of the CDs and if we wrote our songs. There was a sort of urgency in his voice as he was asking his questions. He seemed to have been expectedly touched by what he had heard. This might seem quite insignificant but this is what the Chorus is about: not the performances in big venues, not the meeting of celebs, not even the fun we get from it. What the Chorus is about is changing people's lives in that tiniest and most unexpected of ways. This is why the Chorus is important. And this is why I am proud to be a member of it.

And since I am on the subject of the Chorus:
Apart from two performances in Paris as part of the Various Voices conference, the next stop for the Chorus now is our summer show: You'll Do For Now. We have three dates booked at the Cadogan Hall at the end of July. Here is the blurb I have produced for the venue's brochure:

After their sell-out Christmas show at the Barbican Hall and recent success in Paris, the London Gay Men’s Chorus present the premiere of You’ll Do For Now - an unusual exploration of gay life in London since 1945 through dance and an eclectic collection of pop hits and show tunes. This original show guarantees a fantastic evening of laughter, emotion and sheer entertainment in the time-honoured fashion of the 120 strong, world-renowned Chorus.

Well worth coming out for!

This performance will be BSL interpreted for the Deaf.

The show was imagined and put together by one of our members and (from what I understand from the few details we have so far) focuses on the different ways gay guys found to meet over the years, from cottaging to the Internet. I have to say that I am slightly disappointed by the slant the things seems to be taking. I was expecting something more educational and "historical" than what the end result promises to be so far. The show includes songs like Music to Watch Girls By, Another 100 People, Space Oddity, Baby Face and Something Inside So Strong.

Some of these will be used at Various Voices so we have started to learn the stuff for some time now. But last week we really started on You'll Do For Now material and we did so with a bang. The song chosen was one of the most difficult one of the show and also probably one of the most controversial. Even within the Chorus, there were discussions as to whether we should change the lyrics or not. In the true spirit of the Chorus, we are going for it. The song is I Just Wanna Dance from Jerry Springer, The Opera and contains such lines as "I just wanna fuckin’ dance" and "I don’t give a fuck no more, if people think that I’m a whore." Despite that bad language and even after only one rehearsal, i can only tell that is going to be a great number. It truely sounds great and it is such an empowering and liberating song too thanks to these lines: "I'm tired of laughing and I'm tired of crying. I'm tired of failling and I'm tired of all this trying. I wanna do some living cause I've done enough dying."

What more can I say?

I just wanna dance!


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