A HOT AND humid afternoon in early July, prior to yet another of the summer's downpours, saw me preparing to tear myself away from the Ladies Finals at Wimbledon on television (could this really be the day set by Monica Connor for a Lymm Old Students' Reunion - Wimbledon Finals' Weekend?!) to return for the first time for almost thirty years to the Hall at the School for a rehearsal with "Bernie" (Norman) Baker and other former choir members for a sing-song after the Hog-Roast evening meal.
Those of you who knew and loved our music teacher will remember his habit of distractedly raising his hand to his forehead when we were concentrating less than usual or when sporting singers arrived hot and breathless for choir practice in the lunch-hour and his inimitable phrase, "running about" as the ultimate put-down for all forms of sporting activity. Suddenly I saw this again and it was uncanny how this memory was reborn after so many intervening years. I was transported back to the concentration on getting the music just right: watching Norman's conducting, the giggling amongst the Sopranos, all was just as I recalled.
Approximately fifteen singers and ex-staff producers of the annual production enjoyed revisiting Boris Ord's "Adam lay ybounden" and hits from various shows, "My Fair Lady", "Oliver", "Salad Days" (on the first occasion in 1970 this was a daring departure from the usual Gilbert and Sullivan) and the "Pirates of Penzance".
I met some old long-lost friends from choir days, Denise Southern (nee Hare), Carol (Miriam) Walton and Chris Limb- not seen since our fifteen year reunion in 1976 and other "stars" from later years, followed by some more familiar faces in the evening.
I reflected the following week, on a beach in Greece, on the significance of place as well as people upon our memories and our lives. The effect which Norman and Cheshire Music Advisers, notably Ron Mallaband and Barrie Allen and the experience of the Cheshire Youth Choir in the days when money seemed to be no object, had upon my life has been profound and clearly had been for others sharing that experience that evening. My love of singing was nurtured and skilfully directed to an appreciation of church music especially from the King's College tradition and continues to give me much personal satisfaction and pleasure.
The evening was great fun for us singers and I hope for the listeners; the Hog-Roast was eaten enthusiastically and so were the "wicked" puddings!
Contrary to the words of the song which Chris and I reprised, "We said we wouldn't look back", going back and staying in touch, particularly in that Millennial year was a very happy experience.
JANET OLLIER (CHRISTISON) 1964-1971