Norman told us about some of his singing history today and a most interesting story emerged. As a young man, Norman went to audition for a Birmingham choir. On arrival he was sent to a room to await collection by a member of the audition panel. There he dutifully sat. He waited and waited, and no one appeared. After a considerable amount of time had elapsed two men walked by the room, saw Norman, and asked him what he was doing. Norman replied that he was waiting to audition for the choir. The men informed him that he had been sent to the wrong room and had consequently missed the auditions. The two mystery men, it turned out, were the audition panel. They took pity on Norman and asked him to sing for them anyway. Norman sang the song he had prepared, the Serenade from Bizet’s Fair Maid of Perth. One of the men didn’t speak any English and when the men discussed between themselves, they spoke only in French. Happily Norman’s audition was successful, and what’s more Norman later discovered that he had just sung for Sir John Barbirolli, renowned British conductor and saviour of the Halle Orchestra, and Zoltan Kodaly (Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist and educationalist who, along with Bartok, pioneered the reintegration of folk material into 20th century music. He also revolutionised the teaching of singing and sight reading). Now that is some claim to fame.
Much of lunch was spent discussing the derivation of the phrase ‘to keep your powder dry.’ Knowledge of and about this phrase definitely split the genders, but it is fair to say that we all left the dinner table a little bit the wiser, except for Norman and Barry who were never in any doubt.
Just for info, all had custard again today.
Libby made an observation regarding the making of a Victoria Sponge, namely that she had never made a really good sponge with a food mixer. The past weekend she had gone back to basics and used a wooden spoon, slowly mixing (not beating) the butter, sugar and eggs and the results (see photographic evidence) was a majestic 1 ½ inch thick sponge compared with the usual, in her words, pancake-like, affair she would normally get using an electronic mixer. Ethel agreed, and said that using a wooden spoon and taking time, not rushing the sponge-making process meant that what was invariably achieved was ‘a sponge to be proud of.’ It’d be nice to think that Kodaly would have had some sympathies with the general theme of this sponge method debate; after all, folk song gathering surely couldn’t have been a quick process.