"At the end of the storm is a golden sky..." -- Rogers & Hammerstein

Life Nearly a fortnight later and I'm feeling much better thanks. The melancholy from the beginning of the month and the cold both seem to have lifted and I'm beginning to look forward to Christmas. Despite the cold, oh so cold. I'm just ironically listening to England's Glory a compilation cd released to cash in on Euro 96 and picked up by Dad at a table sale yesterday. It's a mix of music which will apparent stir the blood of the fans and players and although in hindsight it didn't work, it's hard to work out why when it includes the likes of Rule, Britannia! and The Dam Busters March. To add to the patriotic fervor, it also includes three soundtrack segments from Larry Olivier's Henry V (Once More Unto The Breach, St Crispin's Day and The Battle of Agincourt).

Stirring stuff, but also this apparently cheap compilation is a wistfulness excursion through time, for three reasons. Firstly, Euro '96 happened at the tail end of my first university course and Holland I think were based at Leeds United. So although I didn't pay too much attention to the matches because I was getting my dissertation finished and revising for exams, I do remember the mass of orange that filled the city centre there, and I'm transported. Secondly, The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (to give its full title) was the first course film I watched during my MA and so hearing Walton's music reminds me of bonding with new classmatesl Emma, as we collectively rolled our eyes over the regional stereotypes in the middle and Agnes over the terrible French spoken by actress Janet Burnell clearly (to her) in an English accent at the end. I'll never forget the way she laughed at that. Blissful.

But lastly the cd's connection is even more direct since I'm actually singing on it too. Obviously. Checking the artist and copyright notice for final three tracks, Abide With Me, Jerusalem and You'll Never Walk Alone reveals they were recorded by the Liverpool Cathedral Choir & Brass Ensemble and Mass Choirs from Merseyside. I was one of the masses. They were recorded as part of three night session in which a thousand, well eight hundred voices, filled Liverpool Cathedral and worked their way through the hymn book and You'll Never Walk Alone which ended up being the title of the ensuing album. Our school, the Blue Coat was there, along with many others. We were told at the time these would become the radio gold standard, but apart from the cassette of the recording which I've stored somewhere, I've heard nothing in twelve years. Now here we are on a cd released four years later. Not that I'm expecting royalties.

Not having thought about it for years, it's quite a surprise to have this sound, this epic sound, filling the space around my head through the headphones I bought for the Proms. All kinds of details I'd forgotten, like the fact that we had to redo You'll Never Walk Alone many times because we were naturally singing the Gerry Marsden version when they'd licensed the Rogers and Hammerstein original which has slightly different notes around 'the sweet silver song of a lark' which on hearing now I notice we still didn't get quite right with half of everyone singing one version and everyone else singing the other.

But there are none musical memories still. Claire from St. Julie's School, who was sitting in front of us, who I naturally crush on and when she told someone I was sitting with off for picking on me. I liked her so much, that coming from a catholic school I wondered if she was catholic and if she was whether I would have to convert in order to go out with her. I didn't really get to speak to her until the last night (having walked around the cathedral outside for ages trying to pluck up the courage to ask for her phone number) and then we only really talked for a few minutes because my parents came and picked me up. I got her phone number, but crushingly never called her because that was something else. I saw her at a garage years later from the back seat of a friends car and she hadn't changed. I had.

Of course since I’ve been to concerts and events in which thousands upon thousands have piled into an enclosed space together, sometimes singing. I expect there were close to that many in a typical school assembly. Except on those occasions I hadn't really thought about it and hadn't been given a number. Eight hundred. It seemed like a lot and as we worked our way through Take Five of The Old Rugged Cross, in that massive space it sounded like it too. Perhaps that's why, during the Proms, I could still imagine the power of the organ and the BBC Singers despite not being there. The reason I don't think I've mentioned all this on the blog before is because sometimes life’s experiences are so immense that it’s almost impossible to put down in syllables. As you can see.

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