Monday, 26 February 2007

The Rise and Fall

Here is the beginning of a new story. I'm not sure about it's length and the title is provisional.

There’s nothing more political than a church choir. I’ve been in one for the last seven years…well, until two days ago. I managed to avoid most of the politics by being the only professional, or former pro at least, in the group. Ten years ago, I was thriving in the London music scene – in demand as a paid member of the BBC Symphony Chorus and even as a soloist for amateur choral societies in the southeast. They are almost as political as church choirs, to be truthful. Cara, my ex-wife, couldn’t stand my odd hours and all my travelling, and I also think that she didn’t trust me with all those women. Most choirs are at least 60 percent women, and she wouldn’t believe me that most were nearly twice my age, or half. Choral societies are always in need of men and adult women that aren’t past their singing prime. Anyone who is half-decent is doing what I did, earning a little extra money with solo gigs.

Cara made me get a “proper job” in computer support. My typical day used to be: practise for a couple hours in the morning, and then play some piano for an hour. Then, twice a week I’d have BBC rehearsals. On alternate days, I would teach, either singing or piano, and voice once a week at the Guildhall. Altogether, I earned enough to get by, at least until I married Cara. She was used to living a more opulent lifestyle than me, and even though she had a high-powered job in the City, she always said that I would need to be able to earn more if we were ever going to have children.

I think she didn’t really want them anyway. She was dynamite in bed until after we married. Even our wedding night was anticlimactic. We’re both Catholic and I think it was the excitement of breaking the taboo that drove our experimentation. Our rotten wedding snapped two years ago, and that set up my downfall at church.

I’ve never really been the most ardent of Catholics, but becoming a divorcee was the nail in my coffin. Nobody actually said anything to me, but I could sense the whispers. A month ago I decide to start over. I quit my job and bought a plane ticket to Chicago. Everyone said they were sorry to see me go, but only a couple were genuine. Penny, Rachel and I were the “axis of evil” in the group. Not really, but we liked to call ourselves that, since we didn’t take any shit from the blue-haired sopranos. They were the worst; most have a vibrato that you could drive a lorry through, and shrieked at the tops of their lungs, calling it singing. And they are always the first to volunteer to sing the psalm. Since I’d “retired,” I never volunteered, but was often drafted when the song was too difficult for the others.

Both Penny and Rachel were altos, and quite good. They knew how to play the game – something that I had no desire to do. Both were good friends, and I even had a few social outings with Penny, who was about 20 years older than me. There was really nothing special about Rachel, except something intangible that I really liked. We inhabited the same wavelength. Both of us were married, and she had a young daughter, so nothing would ever happen…or so I thought.

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