Wednesday 19 June 2019

Did anyone miss me?

Well hello again. Before I begin I just want to say this is not a post that requires you to feel sorry for me. I don’t get out much and very rarely talk to many people about what is really on my mind these days so this is more a stream of consciousness thing than a give me all the attention post. All is very well in my world right now, if a little jumbled.

Anyway, funny how every couple of years since about 2005 I feel a need to rethink my life choices. Funny, also, that this re-evaluation coincides with the Cardiff Singer of the World competition. The heats started on Sunday evening and they always make me wonder if I did the right thing back in 2003 when I was about to start work on an opera in Oxford but then got offered, and accepted, a spot in the ensemble of Jerry Springer: The Opera at The National Theatre.

Of course it was the right thing to do but I never really tried to get back into the opera thing, apart from a short stint as Constanze in Die Entf├╝hrung aus dem Serail back in 2005. To be fair Constanze was top of my operatic bucket list so at least I did it before the whole opera thing went tits up. There were more roles on that bucket list that I haven’t got to sing, some of which weren’t ever likely to happen, like Tosca, although I thought I had a glimmer of a chance of doing this at the Kings Head a few years back. Teeny tiny venue so wouldn’t have been a problem for my medium sized voice, but, alas, ‘twas not to be and it was the only role I’ve ever cried over not getting - probably because it felt like the one and only opportunity. However, Cardiff Singer always makes me think “what if?”

It is a while since I have done any performing, although I do have a gig in the diary for September, but I am not entirely sure I miss it at the moment. I have been doing a lot of teaching. Teaching has its ups and downs, I’m sure every profession has it’s ups and downs, and for the most part I do enjoy it but over the past few months I have come to realise that I would love to spend more time developing a side project I began nearly two years ago, The Songsations.

My choir, The Songsations, has gone from strength to strength. So much so that I started a second choir back in January. Both are doing well and have healthy numbers most weeks. I love everything about what I do with the choirs from the prep to the rehearsals to the concerts (except when I have to play the piano in concerts, that still terrifies me).

Although I love the choir and I do enjoy teaching I really have that fear that I’ll get to 75 (fingers crossed I get to 75) and wonder why I never really gave it a good go. Hearing this year’s Cardiff singers makes me think, in some cases, I was as good as they were (not as good as all of them - the Ukrainian mezzo was freaking fantastic - and she didn’t even win her heat). I suppose my trouble was, and still is, I don’t believe in myself, but I also don’t believe others believe in me either. You may know me and be reading this thinking “of course I believe(d) in you Claire”. You probably did but unfortunately my perception of life as a whole is to always expect the worst.

My old singing teacher, whom I adored so please don’t judge from what I am about to say, used to ponder the fact that I was constantly overlooked at college and then at auditions and would offer up reasons for this. One was my weight, the other was my slightly crooked teeth (there have been some LOVELY teeth in this year’s Cardiff Singer competition). Unfortunately I am the type of person that grabs hold of the negative and runs with it. In this case, as soon as anyone mentioned my weight I’d go and eat a cake. Therefore I went into auditions believing that I wasn’t going to get it because of the way I looked. I stopped auditioning for the serious or romantic lead type parts quite early on, preferring to go for the quirky, fat, funny characters because when I went for these kinds of characters I had a teensy bit of self belief because I believed I was/am all those things (not that I am saying I am funny). Don’t feel sorry for me or start telling me I’m wrong, that’s not why I’m writing this. It’s more out of a need for catharsis and to just put my feelings out there into the world. I don’t need anyone responding with “are u OK hun?” or the like. I am absolutely fine, better than I’ve been in ages, just having a contemplative moment.

Saying all that, and playing Devil’s advocate with my own life choices, perhaps I did exactly the right thing and am now doing what I was always supposed to do. I’m pretty sure we all have those moments when we think “what the fuck is going on?” I feel my problem is balancing work and life. I work all the time and feel I am becoming exceedingly boring to be around (to be honest, I’m amazed you’ve made it this far reading this). I have nothing to talk about except teaching or my choir. Interesting for a while but I would love to have other things to chat about from time to time. This is a problem that can only really be rectified by trying to bunch all my teaching together and giving myself some actual time off. At the moment I do 6-9 hours a day, every day and, even though I have some mornings off, I am constantly fretting about starting work later in the day which leaves me unable to organise the odd rendezvous with friends. I also think I need a hobby. I thought about training to be a Zumba teacher but decided I was kidding myself I could do that (actually a friend put me off by implying I’m a shit dancer so I shelved that idea). Perhaps I should join a choir myself, problem with that is I have never liked being in the background when singing so I might find this frustrating. I wish I could draw but I’m too impatient. I’d love to write a book but, again, impatience is the problem. I’d want to finish it in a couple of hours. Maybe I could join the WI and make jam, I’m about the right age. Who knows! All I know is, the next time I get around to writing another of these things I’d like to be able to talk about something interesting. Ooh how about Brexit?

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