Sunday, 23 September 2012


“But I’ve got a silver medal in my L.A.M.D.A acting exam. With honours”, I lamented to Mags, who was patiently listening to my wittering, “I shouldn’t be nervous. I am though. I don’t have pretty little butterflies fluttering around my tummy either but great big, hairy, ugly moths”. I took a swig of my Americano, shuddered, wrinkled up my face and stuck my tongue out. It was very strong. “Not to your taste?” she asked. “Bleurgh. No. How can you drink this stuff? I haven’t even got a complimentary biscuit to dunk in it. That, at least, would take the edge off it”. “You are such a wimp Alice. Honestly. They do two shots here. It’s meant to pep you up”. I looked at her beseechingly. “Do I look like a woman who needs pepping up Mags? I am a bag of nerves.” “For God’s sake woman! Pull yourself together. You are singing as part of a choir. No-one will even notice you. You are hardly one of third of Banana-bloody-rama”. She had a point. “But I’m tall. What if they put me on the end? I don’t know the words to the songs and the musical director has told us we should be music free.” The trouble with an Americano coffee is, is that there is no redeeming feature to it. Nothing sweet. No froth. No chocolate sprinkles. Either of the former would have soothed me at this moment. I was looking for something comforting to suck off my spoon. “When is the concert?” Mags asked, making a concerted effort to sound interested. “Tomorrow night”. “What are you singing? “Well”, I said, “The rest of the Torpoint Lady Singers will be singing The Nun’s Chorus, The Rose, Wherever You Are, to name but a few. Personally I’ll be some oxygen starved guppy, opening and closing my mouth in desperation.” “But your first gig was ok wasn’t it?” Mags asked. I shook my head. “The rest of the choir were harmonious but the minute the bride entered the church, I lost my concentration. I was too nosy looking at what dress was like. Beautiful by the way, but I couldn’t find my place after that so I had to hide my face in my music folder”. “Hardly a Sarah Brightman moment then?” I shrugged. Mags squeezed my hand, “The next gig isn’t a wedding though is it. Just try and relax and enjoy it”. In the event, apart from the faux pas of helping myself to an egg sarnie before being told to do so – I felt as though I’d drunk the port before a toast to ‘The Queen’, it was a great success, mostly due to the fact that my fellow lady singers are very practised and professional and know the words and harmonies in their sleep. The musical director relented and allowed me to read mine and, as we took our places, my ladies were very supportive and guided me to my singing spot. I was relieved to find that even being tall, due to the lady in front having had her hair professionally coiffured, the lacquer was such that it obliterated my face. I was delighted and, for a short time, obliviously enjoyed a certain false sense of security until I was suddenly manoeuvred to stand in the front. In front of a packed audience is not the time to question the whys and wherefores of such a decision. Afterwards, I was told that it had something to do with sopranos and second sopranos. I took their word for it. Not that I’d like to imply that my life is one large mug of coffee, but no sooner had I recovered from the concert than Hubby, dearest, darling Hubby, was home again on Easter leave and I was making the most of being able to leave the house without so much as a backward glance and so, I arranged to meet Mags again, although in Polperro this time at the house of a mutual friend. Well, I’d planned to meet the girls, but I was stymied at the last hurdle. Without thinking that I might need a bank loan to park my car, I left Torpoint and its banks, drove straight through Looe and another few banks and continued my journey to Polperro which not only has no banks, but no cash machines that I’m aware of. I was already five late when I pulled into the car park and couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I saw that the price to park my car was four quid! Four. Quid. For three hours. There were no concessions, no half an hour drop offs to get essentials – like milk and bread or to run down to your friend’s house to inform them that you would not be joining them for coffee after all as you didn’t have four pounds in small change in your purse. Even if I had, I wouldn’t have paid it. That’s just extortion. Starbucks would have been cheap by comparison. I don’t know how the summer visitors will manage. Fuel prices have already changed our Easter holiday plans dramatically. How can families on, let’s say a multi destination day out – Looe, Talland Bay and Polperro be expected to pay these parking prices on top of the horrendous price of the fuel they’ve had to fork out on to get here in the first place? And what about the loyal locals? There is literally nowhere to park in Polperro apart from the top car park. I can’t imagine anyone being prepared to pay four pounds for the privilege of getting their groceries. I texted Mags to say that I was turning around and going home again. Her reply was ‘Shopkeepers are up in arms. Come back and sign a petition. All the shops have them”. Had I been able to afford it, I would have signed it. Gladly and with a most emphatic full stop. April 2012

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