Sunday, July 17, 2005

Let me entertain you!

IT'S NO secret that when it comes to singing, dancing or acting I fall short of the mark, but what I lack in talent I make up for in enthusiasm.

I've come to realise that while a couple of years ago I could hide in a corner and refuse to sing or act the eejit, spending a considerable amount of time in the company of children means that crushing shyness and embarrassment is no longer an excuse I'm allowed to use.
I've taken to singing, a lot, in every possible situation- be it walking round Tesco to do the weekly shop or leading a rousing chorus of "The Wheels on the Bus" on the Altnagelvin bus.
That's not to say I'm suddenly busting with a burning desire to get up and stage and sing along with the Karaoke. My one shameful experience singing backing for "Mustang Sally" in the Strand Tavern on my 20th birthday was enough to put me off that notion (Having seen The Commitments it is impossible not to get the urge to sign "ride Sally ride" in a heavy Dublin accent- singing in a Derry tone sounds like you have sucked the air out of one too many helium balloons).
Both my niece and my son love singing and anything musical. It's impossible to get in the car with the wee man these days without hearing shouts of "Ah want jingles", meaning he wants to listen to his Jo Jingles CD- which necessitates mammy singing, and doing all the gestures along with the songs. I'm pretty sure the people in the cars travelling behind us think I'm mental as I dance along to "Wind the Bobbin Up" at half eight in the morning.
And for Miss Abby and her acting antics, well you can't enter her house without being forced into playing a part in her productions of either Cinderella, Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat or, more bizarrely, Chicago.
Generally I get lumbered with the part of Ugly Sister Archie (Abby preferring to re-enact the Balamory version of the Brothers Grimm classic) and it's my task to destroy Cinderella's (played by Abby) invitation to the ball before she gets to meet the handsome prince (played by either my mum or occasionally Joseph who acts as an oblivious understudy to all the main roles).
Alternatively we have Abby playing the part of Maria in Joseph (Maria being the name of the woman who plays the Narrator in the Donny Osmond film version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic). While she sings with a deep sincerity in her voice that "a man who can intergrit (Abby for interpret) could go far", her cousin bounces around the floor dizzy with the excitement of just hearing the classic "Go Go Joe".
The innocence of their play and their fun is infectious and I can't help but join in. Admittedly it gets a little tired after the 50th time of laughing evilly and telling Cinders she can't go to the ball, but more times than not you can't help but get a glimpse of the joy of childhood through their actions and before you know it you are acting a looney with them.

High pitched and squeaky
I've always been stupidly ashamed of my singing voice. It really is dreadful. I'm all high pitched and squeaky and while generally speaking I can get all the notes right, I just don't necessarily get them all in the right order.
I have annoyed my family, all talented in the vocal department, with not only my obvious lack of talent, but also my reluctance to share my dulcet tones with them. For a recent birthday my siblings recorded a version of John Denver's "Poems, Prayers and Promises" for my daddy, each singing a little part of the song. Even Abby, then seven months, added the contribution of a wee gurgle at the end. I did nothing. I would have happily played the Triangle as an accompaniment if they asked me, but there was not a chance in heaven they were going to hear me sing!
It would have been one humiliation too far for me. I know family are forgiving at the best of times, but some things are unforgivable and ruining their efforts to record my father's favourite song would have been pretty much at the top of that list.
But oh, how things have changed. Two weekends ago the wee man took ill with yet another chest infection so off we went to the hospital to get checked out. While we sat in the Casualty waiting room, our son sickly, wheezing and needing loads of cuddles, I was surprised to find myself bellowing out "See Saw Marjory Daw" and "Twinkle Twinkle" while rocking the wee man back and forth on my knee.
Some young girls across the waiting room were in fits of giggles. It could have been at me, or it could have been a private joke- but regardless it wasn't enough to stop me soothing my child. If anything it made me sing a little louder to drown them out.
Yes, I was still aware my singing voice was never going to get me to number one or win me a place on the new series of Musicality- but it was enough for Joseph and it's enough for Abby as we sing our special rendition of "Any Dream Will Do".
And I've found it quite freeing to let go of my inhibitions and belt out a tune when the notion takes me. I still have no desire to record my voice for posterity- but I'm going to keep singing- at least until Joseph is old enough to be embarrassed by his tuneless mammy.

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