Monday, 1 November 2010


It is not for nothing that Wales is known as the Land of Song. I have probably done more singing in the past seven years than I did in the previous 40. It is just a part of life here, and there is none of the apologetic mumbling that you get at weddings and funerals dros y clawdd (across the dyke - my favourite way to say "in England" in Welsh). For a long time, I always carried a little piece of paper in my handbag with the words to the national anthem - to ensure that I never had a John Redwood moment!

I don't think it is just a rural thing either; certainly not if you have ever heard the rugby crowd singing at the Millennium Stadium. The eisteddfod tradition has a lot to do with it. Every school, even at the primary level competes in local and national eisteddfodau, so getting up on stage and singing, dancing or reciting is not a thing to be feared. Most people seem to be able to tell a few jokes, play an instrument, sing tidily or act on stage.

I love singing myself. I'll never make a soloist, but I can hold a tune and love being part of a bigger noise. And I quite enjoy being on stage and making a fool of myself, so I was rather pleased a few years back when I was asked to take part in our village's entry in a local "entertainment" competition. And rather more surprised when, a couple of years later, I found myself writing it as well.

For obvious reasons, I took some time out from this after R died. Then last year I had a small part which did me a lot of good at the time. This year, the writing baton somehow got handed back to me so, for the last couple of months, I have been totally absorbed with scripts, props, casting, rehearsals, finding suitable music and all the other minutiae of putting on a playlet. It is amazing how a 30-minute performance can totally take over your life - it is the ideal distraction for the widow with the slightly obsessive personality!

Well, we entered the competition. It wasn't a stellar performance, but we came joint second, which was probably a fair result. But as it always seems such a waste to put all that effort into just one night, we repeated the performance at our local village hall as a fundraiser for the church. And the winning team was asked to join us too.

"Where on earth is she going with all this?", I am sure you are thinking to yourself by now.

Well, all this goes some way to explaining how, yesterday evening, I found myself standing on stage introducing the Master of Ceremonies for the event - who was none other than the funeral director who buried R.
This situation was made all the more weird by the fact that he was wearing jeans and T-shirt, rather than his sombre funeral garb, sang in a rather excellent tenor voice and told a lot of slightly risqué jokes over the course of the evening. I am not sure what I expected a funeral director to do in his spare time, but it certainly wasn't this.

But it didn't end there. The other team performing this evening was led by the couple who own R's burial field. They are lovely people, and made sure I was OK, but it was all very peculiar, standing there having a post-performance glass of wine with them.

Oddly none of this was the least bit upsetting.

But it was very, very weird.


  1. A sure sign that you're healing, weird instead of sad, overwhelming, or gut wrenching. I love your description of the culture that surrounds you. It sounds lovely.

  2. I find that really nice -- life is shared, we all have different roles, life moves on. Weirdly, but it moves on.