After the Cobham at Christmas celebrations (29 November 2009, 3.30pm)
I have never checked my emails so many times in one morning - surely it would be cancelled - after all, it was pouring with rain, what better reason for cancelling!
But, no, I phoned Cliff at 3.00 pm and he was out in the rain sorting out the sound arrangements and a mere deluge was not going to put him off! Nor did it put off about 60 devoted and loyal members of the Mixed Choir who turned up complete with umbrellas, wellies, red hats, scarves and gloves.
Little did Carphone Warehouse in Cobham High Street know it, as it was closed, but it was our sanctuary. Thank goodness they did not feel the need to save electricity so they had left just enough lights on by which we were able to read our music. So we all huddled towards their shop front for light and shelter.
Our first song was 'Everywhere Christmas Tonight' but it didn't look it - it was dark and there were only a few passers-by and loyal supporters who stopped to listen to us but we soldiered on for about 10 minutes before we took a short interlude whilst a band piped and drummed up some more support.
We then resumed our programme with 'Do You Hear What I Hear' which was more a question to our fellow choir members as many of us were finding that we couldn't hear each other and felt that each one of us was singing a solo which was rather unnerving but, I think, out in the open we can get away with a multitude of sins! I was frantically trying to remember what Robert Dean had taught us and was wondering if there is a special open air singing technique - maybe miming! 'One Candle' was added to the programme at the eleventh hour - we needed more than one to add more light!
Just before 5 pm we stopped again whilst the local MP took time off from filling in his expenses forms, made a short speech, introduced the main campaigner to reinstate the Christmas lights in Cobham and then switched on the lights on cue.
Previous years the event was called 'Cobham Extravaganza' but I note that it was changed to 'Cobham at Christmas'! Maybe the organisers felt that they had not been quite extravagent enough in providing the modest street decorations but it was agreed that they were a definite improvement over last year's no decorations at all!
We continued with our programme, our extremities losing more and more feeling in the Winterlight and were Joyously singing to the World when we were rudely interrupted by some other musical competition - it was none other than Father Christmas himself in a glittering float and accompanied by a marching band with pipes and drums and illuminated lanterns and snowmen. After they had passed by, Cliff, in his commanding authoritative voice, managed to entice our audience back for Christmas Auld Lang Syne followed by community singing lead by two choir members.
Hot drinks were then high priority to thaw us out so Strada, opposite, experienced an unexpected rush of black and red-clad drowned rats!
We sang: Everywhere Christmas Tonight, A Glad Noel, Chapua Kali Desemba, An African Celebration, We Three Kings, Do You Hear What I Hear, One Candle, Can you Hear The Christmas Bells, Winterlight, Away In A Manger, Joy To The World, Christmas Auld Lang Syne.
Community Singing: Ding Dong Merrily On High, Silent Night, Hark The Herald Angels Sing, Frosty The Snowman, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, Jingle Bells, We Wish You a Merry Christmas
(Click on any photo for a pop-up photo gallery)