Friday 12 October 2018
We came down from Northampton on Wednesday (10 October) – we stopped at Bicester for lunch. Not the pretty tiny village near Oxford – no, the extraordinary fake shopping village that is basically a DFO for the large brands. Think (Melbourne people) ‘Chadstone’ stretched out into one street and outdoors! There is a chain of these ‘villages’ in China and Europe. It was one of the most surreal experiences I have had wandering up and down – looking for somewhere cheap to have a bit to eat and thinking to myself – this is truly the sad end of civilisation.
We arrived at our hotel in Kensington – after a massive battle with the London traffic – now the countdown was on for Saturday night’s concert at the Royal Albert Hall
Thursday (11 October) was for me a day of intense swotting. I had been to London several times before so didn’t feel the need to go out and about but many of our party did. West End shows were seen; many took the ‘hop-on-hop-off’ tour around. Others had specific places and things to see. However, the one thing on all our choristers’ minds was the fact that this night we were rehearsing with all the other international choirs, under the watchful eye of the host choir – the renown London Welsh and their imperious Musical Director. It is one thing to blend in with 800 others on the stage of the Royal Albert – another thing altogether to be with 100 and be examined! As it turned out the baritone section from the Australian Welsh were in the front row – mere metres form the ‘ears’ of the MD!
We survived – and two things emerged. One, we were not the worst choir to be participating, and two, thanks to Tom our MD, and some bloody hard yakka we did know most of the required material! We drove back to our hotel that night a confident choir ready to sing our hearts out!
On Friday (12 October), feeling that I could sight-see a bit, I took a No. 10 bus to the British Museum. It was my first time on an official London bus and I sat up top – watching Hyde Park; Kensington Palace; Marble Arch and Oxford St pass by. I love the British Museum and it was a delight to visit once more an ‘old friend.’ It was ironic that, having been in Cairo Museum six weeks ago, I felt better acquainted with the Egyptian section – but also sad that the ‘Rosetta stone’ is here and not there!
We had the great delight and privilege of singing this night at Australia House at a reception put on in our honour. Mr George Brandis, Australia’s High Commissioner in London, was very pleased with our performance, and in fact, it was one of our best. An important occasion to shine and it may be the catalyst for other concerts back home.
One night to go to the BIG concert – very excited!