Róisín Ingle on . . . the singing season
Being able to hold a tune at this time of year comes in very handy. You don’t mind being cajoled to join in Silent Night on every street corner. Nor are you of a mind to murder Santa and all his elves when he asks for a song in exchange for a spot high up on the good list. While watching your first nativity play, your two daughter angels breaking your heart with their wonky halos and all that sweetly earnest crooning while wearing two of your old white(ish) vests, you join in with gusto confident of hitting most of the notes. If you can sing you are winning at this time of year.
Another added bonus is not dreading all the party pieces at family Christmas and new year gatherings. You actually look forward to your chance to shine. In our house we were spoilt for choice between songs from Annie, the soundtrack to Wicked and John Spillane’s Dance of the Cherry Trees which we changed to Dance of the Christmas Trees. When you can sing, when your vocal chords emit pleasant sounds, when you don’t sound like an off-key turkey being strangled, you have a choice in these matters. You can sing the ingredients of a Christmas pudding and it will all sound fine. It’s a simple equation. You open your mouth, a tune comes out and people – apart from the ones who are allergic to singsongs, they exist by the way, I’ve met some – smile.
Until this turkey season I hadn’t thought much about how not being able to hold a tune can be kind of debilitating at this time of year. I’m talking about my mother. (Again.) I know I elevated Ann Ingle to sainthood status in last week’s column which was essentially a poor man’s Angela’s Ashes (Ann’s Cinders?) but now it’s time to redress the balance. Last year I wrote about how the dress she wore all day on Christmas Day, a present from a daughter-in-law, was eventually revealed to be a chemise du nuit. That’s night dress to you and me. Oh, how we laughed. Well, I laughed. She was closer to tears.
This year she came to me and announced that she wanted to do a party piece on Christmas Day. This didn’t seem overly ambitious. I have lovely memories of her singing My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean to me as a child. She also does a great rendition of a song about an East End London woman left in the lurch at the altar on her wedding day which has this punchline: All at once he sent me round a note, here’s the very note and this is what he wrote: Can’t get away to marry you today. My wife won’t let me. It’s done in a storming cockney accent and it always brings the house down.