This is the season when all good choristers tend to go around singing snippets of carols – evidence of the earworms with which they are afflicted. Sometimes the words are obviously misremembered, random juxtaposing of mismatched lines, tum-ti-tums with mangers and oxen, la-lahs with virgins and angels. I have just returned from Somerfields, where I startled an elderly man over the 3 for the price of 2 cheeses by singing “here’s no ox about thy bed” quite audibly but unprepared by any preliminary humming. He moved swiftly off, without any cheese.
But I’m interested in the sudden surge of emotion which afflicts me these days as I sing. Partly, of course, it’s the new grandson: too many carols have me seeing his face and feeling him warm in my arms. But I have a feeling that it’s also being older. Rather than the detached coolness with which I used to sing – not only carols, but at the funerals of friends – I find myself on the verge of cracking inconveniently as I sing “hush my darling” in the new arrangement of Watts’ Cradle Song (by Mr B – glorious). It is especially inconvenient as I’m singing the melody with one other alto – everyone else is singing Oooooo - and if I do crack up, it’ll be horribly noticeable.
So: task of the week. Sing tenderly and beautifully, but don’t listen to the words. And don’t, please don’t, think of grandchildren.