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Yesterday, the City of Glasgow Chorus were 'on tour'. This is what our choral director insists on calling it, although the phrase seems a little ambitious given that we only went as far as Perth -- and not the one in Western Australia. Yet, even with only going as far as the one in Scotland, it came so very close to going so very very wrong.

I will begin by saying that I was running late and jumped into a cab. The driver asked questions about where I was going and what I was doing and if I was a music student and why I had moved to Glasgow, and, once he had established all of these things, spent the rest of the journey telling me all the things that I need to do to fix the NHS and the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service. I am aware that it sounds from that like he was driving me to Perth. In fact we were only going as far as the Strathclyde University building that my bus left from and is all of three miles from my front door, but we were stopped at every single red light between them.

I was late for the bus, only by a minute and a half, but as it turned out that didn't matter much in any case.

It had been organised that there would be a coach for those who weren't driving and that this would leave from our rehearsal building. Our rehearsal building is what used to be the Maryhill police station in vintage Taggart, which, as you may know from ITV, is on a hill that makes the hills in San Francisco look like mere babes. The coach had got up the hill all right. And then we added fifty-three choristers and their assorted baggage to its weight.

The guy hit drive.

We rolled backwards down the hill.

And again.

And we rolled backwards some more.

He wondered if the entire gearbox had died and thought that he'd find out by hitting reverse. We rolled backwards down the hill some more, albeit in a slightly more controlled fashion.

And then he did something that I've never seen anyone do with a vehicle before, although I've seen it done and have done it myself with things like computers and televisions, and thought that he'd try turning it off and turning it back on again. Twice. Punctuated with further attempts to drive up the hill that led to us rolling backwards down it and suggestions, all of which were ignored by the driver, from the choir that we might walk to the top of the hill and get back on once it was on the flat.

It is now half past two and we are supposed to be rehearsing in Perth at three o'clock. The choral director and half the choir are driving to Perth, but cannot start without us as we have the pianists.

I ask if we might just stay where we are and perform the Rossini Petite Messe Solenelle for our driver and the gaggle of people on the street who have gathered around to try to figure out what the fuck we're doing.

We wait while the driver calls his depot and panics and asks for a new bus. They suggest that he should try again. We lurch backwards a bit more. They suggest that he tries reversing down the hill properly and then we'll be on the flat and we can try. We are not entirely sure why this is a better idea than our original one of us walking to the top of the hill, but two choristers dutifully get off the bus in order to guide it backwards. Well, they try. The door mechanism stalls and won't open.

It is at this point that someone asks if we're recording this for YouTube.

It is also at this point that I start telling Twitter that we're all going to die.

Finally, the door opens and they get off the bus. We start moving backwards -- towards a four-way intersection in the middle of Glasgow city centre, mind you. There is a yell from the back as they realise that he is too far to the left and is about to crush a parked car. That particular crisis is averted and we continue moving. We reach the intersection and reverse around the corner into oncoming traffic and stop in the yellow box.

And this is usually where the police come, I said.

We cannot move because the traffic lights are red. Nobody else can move because we are in the way. If the traffic lights turn green and it turns out that this was more than the hill and we still cannot move, we will have basically stopped Glasgow in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.

The bus moves.

A loud cheer goes up from the back.



Mar. 27th, 2011 04:09 pm (UTC)
You, transport ... seriously!
Mar. 30th, 2011 08:36 am (UTC)
I know. I know.

Really, what sort of trouble do we think I'm going to get into trying to fly to Africa? Because I may never be heard from again!
It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up, something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn't need you to hold it down.
It doesn't need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing, and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house and now live over a quarry of noise and dust cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own.,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records.

Since there is no place large enough to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you into everything you touch. You are not responsible.

You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it, and in that way, be known.

- Naomi Shihab Nye

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