Monday, April 27, 2009

Any plans for an early evening were happily quashed with a phone call from “Uncle” Stanley.

We missed the monthly gig of the Leicester Big Band this time but as luck would have it we were invited to a rehearsal that night. My father passed on a love of Big Band and enduringly romantic songs to me. The Mister’s father was an accomplished piano player who favored that musical era. So off we went, leaving a very tired Jazz behind. Was it vicarious jet lag? We certainly had enough to go around. Twisty fate landed us in Wigston at the Royal British Legion club, a place we’d passed as many times as we used to visit my sister-in-law in their former house, a semi-detached bungalow on Embarton Close. “Uncle” Stanley greeted us and warned us not to disturb the bingo players. Led by Roger Parsons, every band member hails from Leicestershire. Apart from “Uncle” Stanley playing trumpet, Ricky Wilson switches musical gears and leaving the rock and roll for the night, strums a jazzy, swingy guitar in the band. The featured vocalists—Morgan Perkins and Karen Jamieson—between them do a fine job of covering songs made memorable by Sinatra, Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, and Rosemary Clooney.

Siggy, The Mister, and I nearly had the rehearsal to ourselves. No sea of grey heads this time, temperately nodding to the fully danceable band while the Big, LOUD, American in the audience swings her husband around to “The Story of Love.” Frankly, by this time, the Big LOUD American was too bushed to beat the band. I was perfectly content to sit quietly and take in songs like “On the Street Where You live,” “Fly Me To the Moon,” and a delightful duet of “How Do You Like Your Eggs In the Morning?” (I like mine with a kiss…)

It’s clear from the start that this band just does it for love. So, there is only mild disappointment among the brass section pensioners to find out the guy expected to deliver the exotic ‘pastries’ had gone to Devon for the weekend and wound up eating it all.

I think by this point in the trip I was practically hallucinating from lack of a really, really sound sleep and really, really needed some alcohol-free downtime. We did manage a late afternoon “walking and talking” the day before. This is when we are starting a new song with an idea that had been kicking around in our heads and we grab the recorder and just walk and talk the song into form. A good tuck in with a book would not have gone amiss either, or a languid listen to BBC Radio 4. Our friends seemed not too interested in Radio 4 and preferred driving to American southern R&B and watching imported sitcoms like “The Gilmore Girls.” (Full disclosure: I loved that series, even the last, tired season.) At home we listen to Radio 4 over the Internet at dinner and sometimes before we turn in. The Shipping News is airwave Valium. The return of the News Quiz has cheered us considerably. We can watch almost any of the British television shows via the Internet and do. Episodic programs about carping among the gardeners, the cooks, and the resident family of Nicolsen’s behind the scenes at Sissinghurst Castle are addictive. 

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