Singing in tune and I are very distant bedfellows. They say bashing out a tune has all manner of healthy benefits. Breathing, being high on the list; an important if not vital attribute of life of which I thought everyone was already very familiar with.
My absent singing skills go way back to music classes in school. The music master, who incidentally killed himself playing Russia roulette and therefore entered school folklore in perpetuity, had a habit of walking slowly down the rows of signing pupils to weed out the chaff.
‘Singing is an art of which you appear devoid of all the brushes. You therefore sound like someone attempting to paint with just their fingers’ was the best appraisal he produced. I thought at the time this was a little harsh. I consoled myself that being part of the church choir, of which I was, would neutralise such a brutal analogy. Mentioning this to my elder brother produced a shrug of the shoulders and the advice that “I was only in the choir to make the numbers up” and reminded me I had long been told by the choir master to mouth the the lyrics rather than utter quite disturbing sounds.
Undeterred I dreamt of becoming an operatic marvel to prove them all wrong. But this plan lacked all substance. Years of growling through hymns, pop numbers and a very short lived bash at folk singing had proven this to be truly, madly and deeply adrift of reality.
I still try to avoid any sung church services, including weddings and funerals. It takes at least five verses to approach any sound that might be considered to ‘fit in’. Most hymns being five verses long always leaves me in the starting blocks. But l always give it a crack; he tries bless him, he does try.