Singing is a lark don’t you think?
I feel like singing a lot of the time and sometimes in the wrong places such as the dentist’s waiting room or in a queue at the airport. In my imagination I play out what would happen if I did sing. That old lady over there would probably smile. The kids would gawp and wonder if they had stepped into a movie and all the rest would study me from top to toe and think me bonkers. None of that would matter if I could guarantee sounding good, which is never a given. I would have to be travelling alone because being with someone else puts me in a situation of being One of Two, giving Two the right to an opinion and to take preventative action, neither of which boost conifdence. I can feel very sure about a spontaneous decision and very unsure indeed about that same decision in the flip of one second when I am One of Two. No, I need to be One of One if I plan to orchestrate my own flashmob without the mob. I suspect this leaves me ‘flash’ and all my minders will roll their eyes and nod their heads at that association.
What, I wonder, is so wrong about bursting into song all alone whilst completely sober just because other people are around? Other people are always around. I would have to wander a desert or fly to the moon to find no people around. It isn’t the same singing in the shower, or the car or when the house is empty and I don’t know why but it just isn’t. There’s a sudden joy that pre-empts a desire to sing which I just don’t feel in the shower or the car or when the house is empty. There is something about being out in the world, being among fellow humans, being alone among the crowds; a sort of devilment, a pixie sense of fun, a frisson of excitement at absolutely nothing. This is when I want to jump over the railings or tightrope walk a garden wall; when pavement squares threaten bears and, in their less dangerous moments, hopscotch. I like sitting on the pavement and I do if I feel tired of the concrete seeping into my legs but rarely, if ever, has anyone joined me. Why do we hate to stand out in a crowd when we so long to be individual and recognised as such? It’s about looking foolish isn’t it. (not a question)
The thing is this. We are a long time dead. A boarding school best friend, lost over the years and found again quite recently has just contracted a wasting disease and died within months. She was the same age as me. When we unwillingly schooled together, we recognised a fellow scallywag immediately. She didn’t want to knuckle down to ancient scratchy-knickered traditions any more than I did. We found many ways to make life fun, and to make fun of everyone else. She was wiry and fizzing with energy and always up for a lark. And now she’s gone. But I did know her and I am remembering her and that time we hooked up in London and shared lunch and memories. Our lives had been different and neither one a merry breeze but we were resilient, strong, feisty women who ‘sung’ our hearts out at every opportunity whether it sounded good or not. If I had Kate behind me as my foolish imagination began to propel me into a flashmob without the mob, she would have joined me, not having a clue what to do but looking all enthusiastic about it anyway. Perhaps we are born bonkers and perhaps this bonkerness is so deep within us that no man nor beast nor disaster nor catastrophe can even dent, never mind eradicate. Well YAHOOO! to that is what I say.
When we talked, Kate and I about the other girls there, we discovered she had kept up with them whereas I had not. She knew bits and pieces about each girl’s life and had met up with a few of them, even returning once to an old school reunion which I most definitely didn’t, not least because by that time I had 65 children and lived on the moon. I wonder about their lives lived – what they really dreamed of. We never talked that way at boarding school. We talked about netball and ghastly cheese pie and who had fallen out with who, and why. Most girls kept in line. The risk of being punished was way too great for any out-of-line-stepping. It was all about the ‘Team spirit gels!’ – a team spirit structured by Them for Us, regardless of allergies or differences of opinion on the ‘how and why’ of such a structure. Clomping to church in galoshes on a dry morning did little to encourage this team spirit and a whole lot for my inventive imagination. In fact, I think it may well be precisely because I was grown in Boot Camp and then, at my most difficult stage, packaged off to Corntonvale au Sud, that I learned singing at all. I don’t mean this literally, although I was a choir member and I did take my pianoforte exams, but more the sort of singing that comes from a deep place, one that won’t be stopped, one that doesn’t mind how it sounds when allowed to escape; that singing that lifts and separates better than any playtex living bra; when one of two is suddenly one in a million and forever fixed in 999999999 minds, with adjectives various affixed; that singing you meet in another’s eyes, the one that tells you it’s ok now. There are two scallywags in this convent.
Singing is a lark. Kate was a lark. Therefore Kate was Singing.