Edinburgh trip – singing, a foil blanket, and that iceberg again

29 Aug

Hi everyone

Hope you are well rested and fully recovered from our fabulous trip to Edinburgh. Wasn’t it great? Didn’t we have fun and sing our hearts out? Do your feet still hurt? Isn’t it nice to have running water again?

I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and thought it was expertly arranged by our lovely Sue. I’m so proud to be part of the choir which is now more like a big singing family, and enjoyed the company of my friends (old and new). Although Gary couldn’t be with us, we were all thinking about him during the concerts and missed him during our stay. Andy did a great job, picked up the baton and kept us entertained with his conductor’s wiggle and a raised eyebrow. Mark wowed us with his musical prowess and at one point sported a horny Viking hat, though as we all know by now Vikings weren’t that horny.

No photos of Mark in the Viking Helmet are available, but believe me when I say it was nowt like this

Gosh I’m not sure where to start. So much to write about, so many superlatives to describe our singing experiences, so much fun and laughter (more of which later). So I’ve decided to take Julie Andrew’s wise advice, and I’ll start at the very beginning. Well not literally as that would take ages, but if Julie sang “let’s start at the very beginning of the last rehearsal in Gosforth” I don’t think the ‘Sound of Music’ would have been such a hit.

Tuesday 21st August: So back to Gosforth and signing in to what seems like a very small choir of 150 or so people. Mark is taking the rehearsal as unfortunately Gary can’t be with us; we’re all disappointed but understanding, and pick ourselves up to follow Mark’s head eyebrows ears lead. He plays a cruel trick on us in his warm up exercise, which shows that not only are we struggling with words in places (mainly Scotland), but now we can’t even manage to count from 1 to 8 – “one, one two one, one two ah shit, one two shit mumble, mumble, six, oh no eight” etc. The rehearsal is very good and we leave feeling ready (almost) for the big singing fest ahead. We’ve come away more confident and wiser, even though we still can’t count. Mark has shown us how to be cool (not his words) and how to honour Manowar (the band who brought us ‘The Crown and The Ring’) with their sign of the hammer, but immediately cringed and asked us never to do it in public………..as if we would embarrass him 😉

Manowar. Sign of the Zimmer Hammer

Wednesday 22nd August: Hardened Inspiration travellers know that due to time constraints and space restrictions in concert venues, it is best to wear black and red at all times during the day. So I pack my case full of black items, and throw in a pink T-shirt for luck. I feel like a professional mourner, but I’m secretly thankful we don’t wear mainly white as I’d have egg yolk down the front of it in 30 seconds flat. Black hides all kinds of slops and stains, so I’m happy.

Proof that white with a splash of red wouldn’t work

Thursday 23rd August: I’m still having problems with my back, so decide to opt out of the coach trip to Edinburgh. I have it on good authority that there was singing on the coaches as expected, and also that everyone had eaten their lunch 15 minutes after boarding as expected.  I get the train up as it is quicker, and easier for me to walk around if required. I sit next to a Scottish couple who I can’t understand, so I try not to give them any eye contact. Unfortunately I can’t keep it up, and they say something like “ah hoo yaaa hooo ahh hooo yyaaa heee” (apologies to anyone Scottish at this point) to which I answer “ooohh is that right”.

As I’m arriving after 9pm I miss the first concert at St. Cuthberts Parish Church. Everyone I meet is buzzing about this concert, and it has been very well received. Well done, wish I’d come up earlier to watch it but I was trying to conserve energy.

We have a few drinks and some food, then retire back to Pollock Halls for a nice quiet night – NOT!

We only just get into bed (just to clarify that’s me in my own single bed, I’m not in bed with the whole of Inspiration Newcastle and Leeds) and have been asleep for a short while. Then the bloody fire alarm goes off and we have to evacuate the building.

Everyone for themselves

My mind says:

But my room mate, let’s call her errmmm Valerie to maintain her privacy, is moving slower than a slow sloth on a slow day in Slowland and that is making me PANIC.

Hurry errmmm Valerie or we’ll be burned alive

I know it’ll be some jolly student jape, but just in case I grab everything that is important to me (well some biscuits and a coat). I’m quite pleased to be outside as it is boiling hot in the Halls, and I am able to fart waft fresh air through my pyjamas without anyone noticing. I’m sure Sue has arranged this to check that the red/black dress code is still being adhered to.

Trying to work out if there is a fire or if one of the basses has left their hair straighteners on

After a short while of laughing at each others nightwear and choice of footwear, we are allowed back into the boiling hot Asgaard’s Halls. On top of the oppressive heat, there also seems to be some kind of party outside of the window and it is really noisy. Hooray I feel like we’re getting the full student experience now.

Friday 24th August: I discover that the flat, black, boring picture on the wall is actually a television, so switch on the weather forecast. I’ve packed for every type of weather, except for sunshine.

Fresh heir rising with reign soon

We spend the morning in an art gallery, which sounds quite scholarly until you realise we spent just as long pondering over the sandwich or salad dilemma at the Boots meal deals counter. We go back to the rooms to rest before the concert, and to change from one black outfit into another black outfit. Since early this morning there has been no water in the Halls, our toilet did flush at one point, but now that too has stopped working – oh poop! well no poop really was the wisest action to take.

Again my back is sore so I’m unable to do the rehearsal and possibly not the concert, depending on how I feel after an afternoon’s sleep. I get a taxi down to St. Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, the concert venue, and manage to con errmmm Valerie out of her Boots salad. After my earlier dilemma I ended up with sandwich AND salad. The choir risers look very packed and it looks hard work to stand up for the whole concert, so I feel it would be better for me to sit and be part of the audience. I’m pleased I got the chance to hear it from the other side (the audience side, not Valhalla) and I sing along loudly and probably inappropriately as well.

Jerusalem was fabulous and it gave me the shivers, so I’ve chosen it as ‘Top of the Inspiration Pops’ for this concert. Thanks to our official, unofficial photographer Peter Hopkins for this clip and many more.

I really want to sing so I decide to join in for the 2nd half, and have a seat next to one of Newcastle’s infamous tenor ladies. Erica I loved singing next to you with your fabulously strong voice, I hope we get a chance to do it again though wasn’t it was scary being on the first row.

The concert is excellent and we get a standing ovation. Andy, Mark and the rest of the band (is band the right word?) have done us all proud. We have raised more money for Help the Heroes and brought to mind those servicemen and women wounded in current conflicts. The music is stirring and uplifting, a real joy, and I feel lucky to listen and also take part.

We head back to the hall for the big countdown to midnight. Yes you guessed it, tomorrow Dr Sarah Winthrop is back 🙂

Dr. Sarah Winthrop returns

Saturday 25th August (Dr. S.W. Day): Hooray Dr. Sarah is back, but we have to contain our excitement and get ready for the big day ahead. This is somewhat of an endurance day for me, as I want to be able to do everything – singing, shopping, socialising, walking, Tattooing. We have a leisurely breakfast and then get changed into black (again) ready for singing at Dynamic Earth.

A tenor decides he wishes to avoid breakfast chit chat

There is still no water in the Halls, though it is coming back on in some of the other buildings. So our breakfast cuppa is not a cuppa tea, but a cuppa milk or juice.

We arrive at Dynamic Earth and it is raining men. Mark and the band are under cover, and he tries to brighten us up by playing ‘rain’ related tunes – ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head’, ‘It’s Raining Men’, ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ – I leave when he starts to sing “I can’t stand the rain” but I think I’ve misheard.

We stand on the concrete steps in the rain and sing our hearts out. It sounds miserable, but it was really good fun. I think Gary had promised that he would be standing and conducting from the grassy nipple facing the steps, well he’ll be pleased to hear that Andy left it untouched and it is still virginal. Andy instead joined us on the facing steps, trying to conduct with one hand, the other hand holding his music against the wind and rain, and the other hand (oh bugger too many hands) if he had one holding up an umbrella. It was like ‘Name that Tune’ – Mark and band knew what they were going to play, but Andy didn’t and neither did we. So we got a few notes to which Andy cottoned on first, we all said this is definitely ‘Dare to Dream’ which then turned out to be something like ‘I Believe I Can Fly’. Concert etiquette was relaxed when the tour buses came in and we all waved and coo-eed at them.

We even sang ‘O Fortuna’, which with our new coo-ee welcome built in went like this:

O Fortuna ………………. “cooo eeee bus” ……………

Vel ………. “come on get” ………………. luna ……….

“off” ……….. Sta ………..”and list” ……….tu ………..”en”

Var …………….. “coo eeeee” ………….. iab ………………

“ah ok then byeeeeee” ………….. ilis

‘Top of the Inspiration Pops’ for this concert goes to ‘Wherever You Are’  not just for the lovely singing, but also the ‘coo-ee you’re on the bus’ moment halfway through.

This concert was informal and relaxed. I really enjoyed it despite the rain and my difficulties with standing. If you watch Peter’s clip of ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ you will see some of the audience dancing and twirling each other around, and that impromptu enjoyment of the music really captures the day for me. We’ve also received a fan letter from one of the tour bus drivers, who joined us in singing ‘You Raise Me Up’ and that is great feedback. Very heart warming and more money was raised for Help the Heroes.

We had a nice leisurely lunch and walked 0.8 miles (approx) back to Pollock Halls. This was a pretty energetic day (for me), so I went to bed again to rest up for the Tattoo.

I’d thought the Tattoo might be difficult for me to sit through, but I hadn’t even considered it would be just as bad for me to get into and get out of. Lots of people, cobbled streets, standing in a queue for what seemed like ages (but wasn’t really) and that was all before we even got in. I knew my back was playing up whilst waiting in the queue as I couldn’t stand on the incline, so I ended up half perched on a wall until the wall ended, and then I tried to lightly lean on people without them noticing. Once inside I looked up at the seating and realised I’d prefer if someone raised me up, rather than walk up there at the same speed as the moving crowd. It was my turn to be the slow sloth on a slow day and we were spotted struggling up the stairs by the St. Andrews First Aiders. “No I’m fine thanks, I believe I can fly” I said, little realising that I’d come to need them on the way back down.

An essential gadget if I ever go to the Tattoo again

We got in our seats. Inflated our cushions, some of which immediately popped, but only because they were from the Poundland and not because they were put under such stress. By all accounts the foam cushions for hire weren’t that much better, and were reported as ‘not normal arse size’ by someone who I hope is neither a doctor or a fashion designer.

Once in my seat I was trapped and unable to wiggle about to help alleviate my sciatica pain. I can sit for about 15 minutes and then the pain is horrendous, and the Tattoo didn’t end until after midnight (it was about 10pm at this point). I managed to stand up eventually but it was all too much for me on the way back down the stairs, and this time the St. Andrew’s First Aiders weren’t taking no for an answer. To cut a long story short, I ended up in their Emergency First Aid caravan wrapped in a blanket, with my lovely friends sniggering, pointing and laughing at me. Now don’t judge them, they were distraught at first, but once they knew I was ok they all felt perfectly free to laugh, point and take photos. Imagine their delight when I got wrapped in a foil blanket, they nearly wet themselves laughing I can tell you.

At this point I took full advantage of an offer of a Mars Bar and decided not to share it.

We had to wait for the crowds to lessen and then Peter managed to send a taxi to collect us, which then drove off at speed over the cobbles and more than jiggled us around. I’d been told to keep my foil blanket on, so decided to take full comedy value from this and do a Lady Gaga impersonation.

Lady Gaga. Ro …. ro ….. roasting

Peter and Stephen led me in a slow foil wrapped processional back to Halls, and we sang ‘The Crown and The Ring’ much to Mallory and Jill’s delight. Hilarious and I’m sure a story that will be talked about for years, mainly by me.

In spite of all that I did enjoy the Tattoo. I loved the speed and skill of the digital drummers, the rousing pipe music, and the lone piper. Also the fun elements of people in uniform dancing, Dennis the Menace and Minnie the Minx on bikes, and ahh the little horse. Inspiration got a mention as well, which was great and we even managed to sing along with ‘Scotland the Brave’ (but not ‘Zadok the Priest’ thank god).

Thanks again to Mal, Jill, Stephen and Peter for helping me out. Thanks also to Erica for her lovely text message, which said something along the lines of ‘the cobbles are a bit of a *******er’, that added an extra level of hilarity to the laughter. In all I think my lovely friends enjoyed the First Aid trip as much as the Tattoo itself, I’m so pleased to keep them entertained.

Sunday 26th August: I bet you thought Saturday was never going to end 😉

I still felt a bit wobbly after Tattoo-gate, so definitely thought it best not to do the concert at the Royal Scots War Memorial. Plus it was sunny, and I didn’t really pack for that.

The kiss of sweet Scottish sun

So instead I came down in a taxi to watch the concert. I wasn’t sure exactly where it was, but I heard ‘Hymn to the Fallen’ from street level and made my way down to the gardens. What an honour to be one of few people who have been able to sing there; and the backdrop of the Memorial itself made the concert numbers all the more poignant and moving.

I sat on a bench for most of this concert and enjoyed being part of it in this way.

A squirrel dropped his nuts to broadcast our concert to his pals

‘Top of the Inspiration Pops’ for this concert is ‘You Raise Me Up’, which was very moving and impressive. What an ending to a fabulous few days of singing!

After lunch on Rose Street and another afternoon’s sleep it was time to party. Mark, Andy and the band played some great numbers, with even better lyrics.

“Tall and tanned and young and lovely,

the girl from Ipanema goes walking,

and something, something,

something, something,

goes ah”

There were many other something, somethings in other numbers. Perhaps we can go for this approach in the next concert?

Being sensible I decided not to break dance or body pop, well I can’t do it and it would have looked rubbish. So I headed off to relative peace and quiet in the bar, where a small group of us played Iceberg faces (yes the game that keeps on giving) with my foil blanket. The premise being that you were onboard Titanic, wrapped in the survival blanket with the iceberg looming. We then downgraded the subject quality of Peter’s photos by getting him to take pics of us in full iceberg-shocked mode. I know it sounds improbable, but we played with that blanket for hours, and even asked people to come and audition for us. Even funnier not one person questioned why they were doing this, and instead immediately wrapped themselves up and adopted their iceberg face.

I’ll post my own iceberg foil wrapped face on here. If you’re on Facebook you might have seen others wrapped in foil, some looking like pigs in blankets it was said but not by me for a change, and now you’ll know why.

Here goes ———— “Iceberg straight ahead”……………………

That’s it I’ll never find a fella now

At the party Sue read a letter from Gary, who we had missed greatly, but who I know will be very proud of us. Sue had done an excellent job of arranging the room with Inspiration red and black decorations, and with organising the whole trip. Sue I honestly don’t know how you do it.

Sue announced the next Inspiration trip in 2014 to New York, with lots of fabulous singing venues organised. Very exciting and definitely one to save up for.

I feel our work with ‘Scotland the Brave’ will pay off here and we can put the “der, ders” to another use.

“Der, der, der, der, der

Der, der, der, der, der

Der, der, der, der, der

Der, Da …………………………….. Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today”

Monday 27th August: The water was still off in some buildings at our time of leaving. Although some lucky choir members had reported welcoming a strange man called Porter into their rooms to check their waterworks. I waited and waited for him, but had a train to catch and left disappointed.

On the train home I sat and made notes for this blog. Flashes of my friends faces wrapped in a foil blanket kept entering my head, and I tried to stifle my guffaws and snorty laughs. I thought I’d hidden them really well, until I realised that all of the Scottish people around me had made a conscious decision not to look me in the eye 😉

And that’s a foil wrap as they say in showbiz. Sorry this blog is so long, it has taken me ages to write but it’s been fun. I’m so pleased that we have been able to raise a considerable amount for Help the Heroes (approx £5,000 I think) and I feel very honoured to be part of Inspiration and our shared singing experiences.

Here’s to lots more laughter, fun and singing and please, please lots more playing of Iceberg faces.

Big thanks again to Andy, Mark and the band, Sue, and Gary. A special thanks to Mallory, Lindsay, Jill, Carly, Erica, Peter, Stephen, Kathleen, Tony, Tony and David for the laughs.

See you all in a few weeks time when the Christmas fun starts.

Lorraine x

ps. Just to prove that we are not sad, here are some other uses I found for a foil blanket.

Raise thy kitten on this day. Ye shall not meeoow alone.

Mamma Mia. Yes it shows again.

Taking an iceberg face to the extreme


23 Responses to “Edinburgh trip – singing, a foil blanket, and that iceberg again”

  1. Lindsay Bellwood August 29, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    Absolutely brilliant! How do you remember it all? Great memories of the weekend Lindsay x

    • singingalto2 August 29, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

      Ha ha. Glad you enjoyed it. I’ve laughed all over again at the Iceberg faces. Such fun! x

  2. Sue Straker August 29, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    Hey you mad mad woman this was brilliant – you do know that when some of cannot go on these trips that we expect that everyone has just a little bit extra fun on our behalf you certainly seem like you got yours and my share. Thanks to Peter for the fabulous videos we were all proud of you allxxx

    • singingalto2 August 29, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

      I think exposure to tin foil has made me go a bit mad. If you’d been there, you’d also be in the point and laugh brigade 😉

  3. Ali Glew August 29, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    Excellent – laugh? I thought my legs would never dry…!

    • singingalto2 August 29, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

      Excellent. Now that has made me laugh, I think I need to lie down.

  4. Lesley Pearcey August 29, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    Sounds like we missed a corker there in Scotland. Roll on Disney!!


    • singingalto2 August 29, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

      It was funny Lesley. Virtually alcohol free for the Iceberg faces game as well, which is even more surprising x

  5. Valerie Pickering August 29, 2012 at 11:31 pm #

    you are a real laugh Lorraine – captured the weekend really well (snorty laughs and guffaws too). I love reading your blogs.

    Val xx

    • singingalto2 August 30, 2012 at 8:25 am #

      Thanks Val. It was good fun wasn’t it? So a good snorty laugh was in order. See you soon

  6. karen August 30, 2012 at 8:26 am #

    fabulous writing – no peanut game???

    • singingalto2 August 30, 2012 at 8:27 am #

      Karen? No peanut game this time. How did you know about that ? 😉

      • karen August 30, 2012 at 9:43 am #

        i was an eyewitness!

      • singingalto2 August 30, 2012 at 10:25 am #

        Karen Jackman is that you???? Hope it is, cos that’s really funny. I couldn’t remember a thing about the Halls of Residence or any of the bars. Probably because in 1987 I was always drunk or hungover 😉

  7. Eyewitness 2 August 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    Yes I can also confirm that you were either drunk, hungover or scattered in peanuts. Or polishing Kenny’s earring !

    • singingalto2 August 30, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

      Ha ha. Gill how are you? Was thinking of you whilst in Edinburgh 😉

  8. Eyewitness 2 August 30, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    PS Loved the writing Lozza me old china XX

    • singingalto2 August 30, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

      Thanks. Hope you will think I’ve not changed that much!

      • Eyewitness 2 August 30, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

        Nope – Mad Margaret forever X

      • singingalto2 August 30, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

        If I were not a little mad and generally silly I should give you my advice upon the subject willy nilly. I’d show you in a moment how to grapple with the question and you’d really be astonished at the force of my suggestion. Oh god I can remember it all!

      • Eyewitness 2 August 31, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

        Oh my ! How come I can remember that too but regularly forget where I have parked the car? X

  9. Wendy Knowles August 30, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    Bugger! I forgot to put my dinner on (in the microwave actually) because I was so absorbed in reading this. You should have asked around, Lorraine – we have some even sillier things happened to us! lol

    • singingalto2 August 30, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

      Hi Wendy. Tell us all about them on Facebook then. Come on you know you want to!

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