...was to sing for the 'Trefoil Guild' - retired Guiders' group. These are ladies who've given much of their time and energy into making fun and educational things happen, mostly for other peoples' children. I was a Brownie and a Guide by turns myself, when I was much younger, and there was a certain demographic of energetic, capable older lady, who populated the ranks of Guiders, Sunday School leaders, the Church Choir, the Youth Group leadership, the Girls' Brigade leaders, and the dinner ladies at school. Often single, sometimes widowed, occasionally with their own husbands or families, they fuelled the local community with their energy, and I benefited from that as a girl.
I've written, in fact, of the particular generation of women for whom there were to be no husbands, following the war - those women who learned to do more than they had dared, and then kept on giving their time and love. They, and their younger sisters, were the bedrock of all those community groups when I was very young. Their daughters and heirs - figuratively if not in fact - were represented last night, and those of you who know of my secret vice that is the collecting of certain girls' books from the thirties and forties, will understand why I have such a fondness for such ladies.
* * *
For a change, I was completely solo, so I was able to play fast and loose with the form and tempo, throw in something brand new, and I didn't even MAKE a setlist! I had a ... list... and I picked from it as I went along. This only works for very friendly and low-key gigs, but I think I made it work last night. I sang:
The Common Bunting
The Cinder Rock
This Isn't Newport
Can You Knit, Brave Boys?
Cloth of Gold
and after more tea and sausage rolls:
Belling the Cat
Fourteen Hundred Hours
Cast On, Jenny (aka Every Stitch with Love)
The Grace and Gift
I rarely do 'Keepsake' these days - it's a very gentle little thing, and would be swamped on a stage with PA and lights, I feel. It worked well yesterday. I found myself whistling for 'The Cinder Rock' the part Simon would normally play, and that seemed to work. I flung the brand new one at them in a spirit of mishief, and rehearsed them all in the Dave-Clement-style 'Whoah!' that the end of each chorus somehow demands. I don't know why, but it does. It's an activist knitting shanty, and it was *great* fun to do.
Every future audience for whom I sing this will need to live up to the village's retired Guiders for enthusiasm in their 'Whoah!'
And I think I shall revisit the piece I wrote about the post-war ladies, and see whether it can grow a tune...