Just been doing some admin on Flickr, and came across this, one of my favourite photos. Favourite because this was a good time in my life. A very good time indeed!
In this choir tour of 1990, to aid the cathedral restoration fund, we visited all seven Scottish mainland Episcopal (Anglican) cathedrals in one day, and sang a full unaccompanied choral service in each with completely different music each time.
What a day!
And it all started from an idea mooted in the pub after Evensong. La Taverna it was, now called The Lansdowne, not that it matters!
It was the idea of Frkenny I seem to remember, or if it wasn't his direct idea then he was intrinsic to the whole plan. He's the one holding the teddy bear in the front row. I identify him only because in his own Blog he seems happy enough to have his photo published.
There are others in the photo who have an online presence these days, either by their Blogs, like ChickPea, or on Flickr, like gordonrasmith, or suchlike, but they, like me, choose relative anonymity so I shall not identify where they are in the photo, or indeed where I am. Several of them in the photo are also my friends on Facebook, which as an aside I have found to be a really good method of re-contacting old friends, and keeping up to date with what they're up to.
From memory, we started with Mattins in Oban at around 6am, having travelled there the night before, then an exciting (!) coach ride (with some nursing hangovers) up to Inverness for more Mattins, then Aberdeen for Eucharist, Dundee for Evensong, Perth for probably Evensong again, Edinburgh for more Evensong, and back to Glasgow for Compline at something like 10pm.
Now that I type that it doesn't seem right. The cathedrals and the order we visited them is right, but I'm not sure if the type of service I've quoted for each is correct, there seem like too many Evensongs! Perhaps someone can correct me, or reassure me that I'm right?
Update 1845hrs: Thanks to Pencefn for correcting me. Edinburgh was Compline, not Evensong.
According to AutoRoute, it's about 392 miles, and if you click the map you can see the route in a little more detail. We went clockwise.
The final Compline back at a packed St Mary's cathedral in Glasgow was very moving, and there were few of us who could actually sing the words of the hymn "The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended" through the lumps in our throats and tears in our eyes. Or was that just me? No, I suspect not!
A recording still exists, I have one, but it was never meant for public distribution, since the quality is rather erratic, because due to the time scales involved we pretty much robed on the coach as we approached each cathedral, ran off and into the building where we processed straight into the service and sang it, processed out again and climbed straight back onto the coach. This left very little time for PH, and DW who are professional, no make that VERY professional, sound engineers to rush in and set up the recording equipment as we arrived and dismantle it afterwards before rushing back onto the coach. Oh, and they sang in the choir too! And I don't mean to suggest it's only the recording which was sometimes erratic, it was sometimes the singing too!
Many of the people in the photo above remain my closest friends, although for some we don't see each other terribly often. At the time though they seemed much more than friends, we were a family. Well, that's how it felt to me anyway.
Now that I look closer in fact, I can see that in the photo are my two best friends and three others who I consider amongst my very closest friends, one ex wife (still friends), one significant ex girlfriend (still friends), the man who generously and selflessly allowed me to live rent free in his flat (which he was rarely in) when my first marriage broke up and I was going through an extremely dark period in my life, the man who first introduced me to choral singing in the mid 1970's when he persuaded my brother and me to join the local church choir and who later persuaded me along to St Mary's cathedral choir, and the two men from whom I learned what little I do know about choral singing from 1983 when I joined the cathedral choir.
As well as that, if that weren't enough, there are people with whom I've shared some of the best days of my life (so far) with, some I've shared various levels of, shall we say, kisses and cuddles with (females, that is), and some who've supported me through the worst days of my life.
Occasionally the question is raised "in your mind, what age do you feel you are?" and there are various answers to that, usually round about the 18-21 mark. My answer is always "around 27-28" and I think that's because that's when I felt really happy, felt like I was starting to achieve something and thought things would remain exactly as they were. This photo was taken in 1990. I was 28.
This photo is a microcosm of a very significant part of my life.
And that's why it's a favourite.