Every year the school choir sings at the local Beefeater pub/ restaurant at Christmas. For the kids, it’s an amazing experience. They get the novelty of walking a mile each way, chatting with their friends, they get to entertain diners, they get to miss a big chunk of the school day AND they get free burgers and chips. Win!
Needless to say, as members of the paying public, parents are allowed to go along to watch. In fact, they’re actively encouraged. No doubt this is a sound business decision on behalf of Beefeater. Last year I wasn’t able to go. Because I had to go to work. Imagine that! Not having the freedom to come and go during the day, as long as I squeezed in an article here and a press release there? But that was my reality this time last year. It’s not my reality now and I was going to work round those press releases and articles if it killed me. I was going to watch my daughter singing in the pub!
There’s only way for those kids to get to that pub. And it involves walking right past my house. I was excited about even seeing them walk past. I hoped I wouldn’t miss them. What was I thinking of? Miss about 50 kids walking up a road? You don’t miss 50 kids walking up the road. Because 50 kids, even under the control of the headteacher, are NOISY.
There they were. And I banged on my little upstairs window and my daughter saw me. And all her friends saw me. And the teacher saw me. And they were all waving wildly and jumping up and down in excitement.
Then I jumped in the car ready to go to watch them. I saw them walking again, but I couldn’t find the horn on my new car to beep them, so I just waved at my daughter and hoped she would see me. To be honest, she probably couldn’t miss me.
I’d managed to persuade my husband to come and watch too. He loves to see his little girl singing, dancing and performing in any way, but getting him away from work isn’t easy. My mum and dad would have loved to see it too, but they had my little niece to look after and she would have been hard work in there!
We sat down and ordered food. Then there was NOISE. Fifty kids walked in, pulling off fluorescent bibs and coats and scarves before organising themselves in size order down the stairs. My daughter was at the top of the stairs and, although we weren’t very close, my view of her was perfect. I didn’t know what they were going to sing, but I was guessing it would be the Christmas classics. The choir have so many songs to learn for Young Voices in January that they couldn’t possibly learn a load of Christmas songs too with less than an hour a week of choir practise.
It turns out they could. They started out with a Christmas song we’d never heard before. They sang it so clearly and with so much enthusiasm. And you don’t get much more enthusiastic than my daughter. Her mouth is wide open. She knows every word and she enunciates them so clearly. I just couldn’t stop smiling at her. I felt so proud and happy to see her.
They moved on to another Christmas song we didn’t know and then the big one. Walking in the Air. That is such a beautiful song. It needs to be sung by innocent children’s voices. I couldn’t just stay sat where I was sitting, I had to get closer. I went and stood a bit nearer so I could see her better. From my new position I could hear her perfectly. Her voice wasn’t lost among the others, I could pick it out from them, loud and clear. At one point the words change to ‘We’re surfing in the air’. The kids went a bit quiet, they were uncertain about what they were supposed to be singing. Only one person kept singing loudly, confidently and with enthusiasm. My daughter.
They sang another unknown Christmas song and rounded off with a medley of Christmas classics – Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Rocking Around the Christmas Tree etc etc. The headteacher encouraged parents to join in if they knew the words, but my daughter looked us straight in the eye and the look said it all. We were NOT to sing.
And then it was all over. The kids got to get their burgers and I got to go home to my press releases and articles, full of pride and Christmas spirit.