Friday, 26 August 2011

The Royal Star and Garter heroes and heroines part I

Every two or three times a year I get to sing in this building.

Only a couple of weeks ago Emily O'Hara (of Vila Verde) and I walked along the Thames from Twickenham to Richmond and were stunned into silence at the sight of it on the hill over the river. It was built during WWI for victims of mustard-gas and has housed ex-service men and women ever since.

I wish I could show you the ballroom I sing in. It has a stage, a grand piano, and huge windows looking out at a magnificent terrace which itself looks down at the Thames. Pat Maynard is an octogenarian with heaps of energy, who organises the entertainment on Tuesday nights and who makes a perfect cup of tea and dainty sandwiches and battenburg cake for the performers.
Our changing room: As you can see, I'm putting the Happie Loves It dress to immediate use. With me is Margaret Lion who is from New Zealand and who works harder than anyone I know. She trundles her piano and suitcase of concert dresses from gig to gig, taking buses, trains, underground and taxis all over the country. She has been doing this for a couple of decades.
She didn't have to trundle her piano today, anyway.
We always manage to meet on the walk to venues because we both like to be early and we both like to walk. Here is Margaret as she is almost every day of the week.
We performed an entirely different set of songs than we did last time, and the time before that, and the time before that. We like to mix it up, and well! I have hundreds of gorgeous songs from my collection, and adding more every week. No need for repeats. Particular hits this time included "Trees", "Meet me Tonight in Dreamland", "Grandma's Doin' it too", "Stay as Sweet as You Are", and "Till We Meet Again" at the end. After it, Pat, bless her, came up and asked in front of everyone that I should finish with "We'll Meet Again," which of course is a high compliment but made me rage inwardly, as I am forever and ever trying to end with Till We Meet Again!!! Which comes from WWI and is a far better song. And I like to leave people whistling and humming something they might not normally hear. Lovely though "We'll Meet Again" is, it's Dame Vera's song, and it does get a lot of airplay.
Clive of the Royal Navy showed me his tattoos. I like Captain Cave Man. He was very proud of them. His blood type is still visible on the inside of his wrist, but getting terribly blurry with age. He had them done in Hong Kong. He leaned forward in his wheelchair and slowly started to pull up his shirt to show me a big one on his back, but Pat rushed forward and said "We don't want to see all of it!"


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