I’m sitting on a train on the way to Edinburgh, looking out at the sea to the east. I’ve just received an email from one of our committee members reminding me that it’s my turn to do a blog post. Could I write about one of our new songs? Or an artist we’ve covered? An arrangement, maybe? Or about what the group means to me?
That last one resonated with me, but not in the way I was expecting. What does an a cappella group mean to anyone? It’s a chance to sing, to perform, to challenge yourself. It makes you look silly on stage and learn to accept that that’s ok. It’s a weekly opportunity to bop around, belly laugh and drink white wine. It’s a way to develop your sight singing skills, your ability to blend, the range of sounds you can produce. But it’s more than that.
Like far too many of my recent trips north, I’m on my way to a funeral. Two years ago, when I lost my dad, I spent the evening at a rehearsal. I sang and I cried, but I did neither alone. It was one of them who stayed with me that evening to ward off the darkness. And they were there to support me a couple of months later when I dusted off my dad’s old guitar and took it out for its first – and only – public performance.
It was on Christmas Day last year that I lost my godmother. The funeral would surely be delayed by the festive season, I thought, and so I joined some of ItS for a New Year’s jaunt to somewhere remote with log fires, long walks, and lots of gin. So the call on the 30th to tell me that the funeral was to be held in Dundee on the following morning came as a bit of a shock. Again, ItS rallied round, got me to Peterborough and on train so I could spend 24 hours in Scotland, stayed sober so that I could be picked up from the station on New Year’s Eve, and delayed dinner so that I could be there too.
This time I’m going home to say goodbye to my uncle. And I know that when I come back, ItS will help make life feel normal again, not by doing anything in particular, but by just being there every Tuesday night, as usual.