Well I think I've failed in my wanting to establish a frequent blogging habit. That's Ok, because I'm fairly used to not turning over a new leaf, or turning over a new leaf once and then leaving it in a mouldy heap with all the other aging leaves. So apologies to frequent bloggers, I think my offerings might be a little erratic.
I did want to blog about the Jubilee though as it seems like a good idea to mention the historic alongside the completely mundane.
We didn't do much at the Golden Jubilee - in fact we went away and camped to avoid the neighbour's planned celebrations in Worthing - semi detatched house, very loud neighbours. My memories of that holiday are fond, we were on a campsite outside Devizes near the canal, but the jubilee part of it was restricted to trying to hear the concert on our wind up radio whilst freezing cold in our tent.
This time I was determined there would be something a bit more substantial to remember although I'm not a huge royalist I do have a sneaking fondness for the Queen. It's not enough to persuade me to head to London with face painted to line a street and wave a flag but I did want to do something communal.
We found ourselves in the fairly strange position of celebrating the Jubilee in song, twice, in different villages. Raymond's brother and his family live near Rolleston-on-Dove, a rather nice village in Staffordshire. They punch weigh above their weight in Rolleston and had a whole four day festival of activities planned, including a Rolleston's Got Talent type concert. My sister-in-laws father was panicking a while ago that he had almost no acts for the concert so we rather tentatively offered to sing/play and the Von Lesley Family band was formed.
I don't really rate myself as a singer and don't play any instrument well. I murder a few numbers at church on my recorder at evening service and was chosen as a singer I think because Fiona the music group leader wanted Raymond as a guitarist/singer and thought she'd stand a better chance if I was involved too. I could be wrong - she claims to have spotted me worshipping with great gusto, hands in air. The fact that I almost never dare to do it when in front of the congregation is by the by, I worship and sing as best I can and no-one seems to mind too much in my hearing.
Raymond and his brother Simon are though Musical with capitals. Simon (soon to be Dr Lesley with a doctorate in music) plays just about everything well and Raymond has sung in bands in public for real money - and sometimes for beer. So it started off as they would do a couple of numbers as a duo. Whilst practicing in our living room one evening, they invited Carys to join in with a Jessie J and a Bruno Mars number. And I picked up a tambourine. It wasn't so much getting the band back together as something amoebic (not dysentery I hasten to add) growing gently.
The next practice saw the band expanding again to include Fergus and his cousin Hannah on cornet and trumpet and my sister in law Becky on clarinet. Surrounded by all this musical genius I was beginning to feel a lot like Linda McCartney, not helped by the fact that our set was half Beatles numbers.
Meanwhile, back at our church, the Duffield carnival celebrations were being planned and we were asked to put together some rock/pop stuff for the St Alkmunds celebration. Confusingly this took place a week after the rest of the country celebrated the jubilee but as I'm often reminded at music group practice when I'm singing something as written and everyone else is adding in an ectopic beat, there is time and then there is Duffield Time. Once again I found myself with a tambourine in hand feeling very under qualified to be included but this time with friends Emma,James and Tom plus Raymond.
I am pleased to report that despite my intense nerves on both occasions, both bands seemed to go down well. Carys was jaw-droppingly good, I so wish I'd had the wit to get someone to video her. Not only can my lovely daughter sing, in tune, she is virtually nerveless and enjoys an audience. She got a huge round of applause for her songs. Fergus did a great job on his cornet during Yellow Submarine, another one with the Lesley musical gene I think. What I'd have loved would have been to have Emma and Kieran joining in but frankly they would rather be ritually disembowelled than perform anything in public despite having beautiful voices.
The St Alks do last Sunday was really good fun. Better I think because I was struck by a real sense of feeling among family there, of being part of a Christian fellowship: something I have not felt and have yearned for for a very long time. In truth we've been at St Alks for six years but I think I've held the family feeling at arms length for too long, my fault not theirs. I had a strong feeling of peace and surrendering and belonging.
The weather was unexpectedly beautiful, the audience in the church were kind. I think we sounded OK but to be honest no-one in a church audience is ever going to give you anything other than a kind appraisal are they really? I shall choose to believe it was OK and ignore the nagging voice that tells me I murdered Let it Be - but then I watched the Buckingham Palace concert and Macca I think did a worse job. At least I had the sense not to try hula hooping.
Sadly we did nothing at all in Belper and I'm quite sad about that but I thought the events that were organised were poorly publicised or not worth turning out in the rain for. I'm sad because I have vivid memories of celebrating the Silver Jubilee in the small village where I grew up. I wonder if it's just that villages do it better with their oh so British roll your sleeves up, put a hanky on your head and make a tit of yourself for the Queen attitude. However I hope the children did enough to make them feel that they celebrated and whilst it's perhaps not a major moment to tell my grandchildren about, I'm glad we didn't just slouch about indoors with the t.v. on. We were a part of something, however small a something.