Tonight we will be singing at the Walled Garden again. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m less nervous than I was before the first session, but it’s colder today. There is a chilly wind blowing and despite the chance of precipitation being only about 9%, it’s been raining gently for most of the afternoon. We’ll be OK, everybody will wear the right clothes and the garden will smell particularly lovely as a wet garden does, but it’s brought back my feeling of deep injustice.
Every afternoon and evening on TV we’re seeing football fans singing enthusiastically together, arms draped round the shoulders of people I’m pretty sure they don’t live with. We’re talking about thousands of people here – I think they estimated 22,000 people came down from Scotland to London for the England game. They were shouting and singing and hugging, and nobody stopped them.
But non-professional choirs still cannot sing indoors, standing still, not facing each other, 2m away from the next person, with all the windows open.
Some choirs who charge money for tickets and employ professional soloists have had it confirmed that (in the view of their insurance company) that makes them a professional outfit, and I’m delighted that they can now proceed with indoor rehearsals. Sadly, that doesn’t include us.
I was talking to my stepmother last night and at her Methodist church they have decided it’s time to start singing again. Their minister said that the mostly elderly congregation have all been vaccinated, and that the impact on their mental health was important enough to override the guidelines. Everyone wears masks and they sing softly together in the chapel, and it makes a huge difference to the feel of the service. This seems a considered and kind decision – but it contravenes the guidelines.
My father’s Church of England church is still not including singing in their services. Like us, they are going to follow the guidance even when it seems illogical.
I do get irate about people feeling entitled to break the rules, because they feel their situation is special and more important than other people’s. I don’t want to be part of the Cummings crew. I had a wonderful indoor sing with five choir people last week, and we will be happy enough with our group of 30 in the walled garden for the next four weeks. What happens then is, I realise, anyone’s guess.
But as I print off a copy of Singing in the Rain – just in case it seems appropriate – and put on an extra jumper, I can’t help feeling that life is unfair.